My heart is bursting with love...

Bev Ní Chonráin who lives in Castlelyons shares the story of the birth of her daughter Fiadh during lockdown and reaches out to others whose child has been given a prenatal or postnatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome
My heart is bursting with love...
Fiadh meeting her 93 year old great grand mother Nellie Nellie Ronayne.

FIADH was born on April 16, 2020. She arrived 11 days early.

As any other new mother who recently gave birth would tell you, it is a bit daunting bringing a new little baby into the world during a pandemic. Her birth was so quick I just about made it to the labour ward after the temperature checks before entering the hospital and Darren was allowed in just on time.

The whole pregnancy went smoothly, the anomaly scan showed every thing was OK, it was a healthy baby, nothing out of the ordinary (we hadn’t found out we were having a girl) .

Baby Fiadh with mum Bev Ní Chonráin and dad Darren O'Mahony, and big brother Finn.
Baby Fiadh with mum Bev Ní Chonráin and dad Darren O'Mahony, and big brother Finn.

She was born at 4:54. ‘It’s a girl’ the nurse told us. The silence in the room then said a thousand words. I kept asking is she OK. The nurse told us she thinks she has Down Syndrome. I didnt know what to say. I don’t know anyone with Down Syndrome, I don’t know what it meant for our little girl, for Finn, for all of us as a family.

The doctor came and told us she definalty has the features of a baby with Down Syndrome. I held her for a few minutes and then Darren, but her oxygen levels were dropping so she had to be taken to neonatal straight away.

There we were left in the labour room, little Fiadh was gone down to neo, we just looked at each other and cried.

The first person I rang was my mam. I told her we had a baby girl, and she has Down Syndrome. “Everything will be OK, Bev, she will be fine,” mam kept saying. I was brought down to see her in her incubator, and Darren was left in to see her for a minute before I was brought up to a room. I was in a room on my own, I could just hear all the other babies crying. All I wanted to do was go back down to Fiadh.

I think I cried most of the night. I felt like I didn’t even know how to think, my mind was just blank.

Baby Fiadh.
Baby Fiadh.

All the nurses in Neo were so lovely but one in particular came to me and sat with me for about a half an hour and just told me such amazing stories about kids and adults with Down Syndrome, she told me about The Down Syndrome Centre Cork , she told me about the Field of Dreams . She really was the person I needed to talk to.

I was put in contact with other mothers who have babies with Down Syndrome and others whose babies had the surgery that Fiadh needs. I had people to talk to. Even just a few words to see how we were doing. It ment the world to have that support.

Fiadh started to get strong so quick. They told me she has two holes in her heart which can be common with babies with Down Syndrome. She seemed to be doing so well. She was slowly being weaned off the oxygen. Within a few days she was out of the incubator and off the tube feeding, taking her bottles no problem.

It was so overwhelming trying to relay information back to Darren and everyone as he wasn’t allowed in due to Covid-19, but we couldn’’t be happier with how well she was doing. After going up and down to CUMH for nearly a week, she was finally left home with us.

Fiadh meeting her grandmother Angela Conran for the first time.
Fiadh meeting her grandmother Angela Conran for the first time.

There was no big welcome from the whole family like there was with Finn because of Covid-19. Niamh and Finn were there to welcome us and it was such an amazing moment seeing him meet his sister for the first time. He wasn’t even after turning one.

“Our first visitors were her Nana, Grandad and aunties, who doted over her through the glass door followed by her aunts, uncles and cousins on my side. It was this way for the first few weeks, people would come to the window to see us because of Covid.

After a few days we receive a big package from The Perfect Gift. Clothes, shoes, books, a beautiful bunny for Fiadh. It was such an amazing welcome to the community. Now that things have calmed down a bit, three months later she is after meeting her Nans, Grandads, aunts and uncles, granaunts and granduncles — even both her great grandmothers.

“We’re still up and down to Crumlin, up and down to CUH. She will be getting surgery in a few months in Crumlin for the holes in her heart but she is absolutely showing us what a strong little girl she is.

Hopefully when the restrictions are lifted Darren can attend her appointments with me.

She makes me feel like my heart is bursting with love. She has the most gorgeous eyes and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. I know she will bring us places I never thought we would be, teach us amazing things and make us see things in the most beautiful way.

I wanted to share our journey in case there was anyone else out there going through somthing similar, a prenatal or postnatal diagnosis.

“I know I’m new to all of this too but I can be an ear to listen and just a message or phone call away if anyone ever needed someone to talk to. Please don’t hesitate to pass on my info to get in contact if you know anyone who needs it.

I’m so happy for us be part of the Down Syndrome Community. Down Syndrome Ireland. Down Right Perfect.

I know she will bring us places I never thought we would be, teach us amazing things and make us see things in the most beautiful way.

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