Unsung Heroes: Theo's Mum
Posted by Isaac Spencer on 8 April 2016
Little Theo was born with Trisomy 21 and numerous heart defects, but his mum's love knows no boundaries
Every movement has its great heroes.
Think of the US civil rights movement and you think of Martin Luther King. Think of the battle to abolish slavery and you think of William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson.
We have high-profile names in the pro-life movement as well - we've written previously about the courageous example set by men and women like Lila Rose, David Daleiden, Connie Wood, Mary Doogan...
But so often, it's the unsung heroes who I find the most inspiring - even those who don't necessarily consider themselves part of the pro-life movement. People who you might never see reported in newspapers or on TV, but who are living the pro-life ethic every day, showing love, kindness and compassion to the most vulnerable people in our world.
Take Yasmin, for example.
Her son Theodore was born on Friday 13th November 2015. Five hours later he was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 - more commonly known as Down's syndrome. Three days after he was born, little Theo had a heart scan which revealed numerous heart defects: Complete AVSD, CoA, PDA, PFO, pulmonary hypertension, leaky valves and mitral stenosis.
We live in a society which has a terrible attitude towards people who are disabled or in any way deemed 'less than normal'. Many children like Theo are literally screened out before birth - abortion is allowed all the way up to birth for children diagnosed with disabilities such as Trisomy 21, spina bifida, cleft palate or club foot. 92% of all children diagnosed with Down's syndrome in the womb are aborted.
Theo's mum has responded in a rather different way - by opening up her heart and giving Theo her unconditional love.
She has been documenting Theo's life over the past five months on theosdiary.com and posting regular updates on the Theo's Diary Facebook page. Both exist to raise awareness about Down Syndrome, challenge outdated stereotypes and to help and offer support to families and friends following a similar journey. They contain a variety of support, tips and helpful information about Down Syndrome, congenital heart defects, other learning disabilities and life in general. I really encourage you to check them out!
Pregnancy & testing
She describes what it was like when she was pregnant, how she was offered the genetic screening test, and the lack of support she had from the baby’s father:
"I got offered the routine blood tests to be screened for everything including genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome. I said to the women taking my blood test that I didn’t mind having bloods done to see if I was at high risk of the baby having a genetic condition. I made sure to make it clear that I did not want the all invasive amnioscentisis. It was at this point she turned around and said there’s no point having the screening bloods done if you won’t have the amnio because if you come back high risk we will force you to have one… So I declined the test. For all genetic conditions. The babies father wasn’t present at this appointment and no I am not going to name him. I can say that after the appointment when I let him know that I had declined the screening he was less than impressed. He basically said how I had to have the test because if it came back positive or high risk he wanted me to end the pregnancy. He said something along the lines of saying how he did not want a child that was 'retarded.'"
Theo’s mum also gives a vivid account of what it was like when her baby was born and she first learned he had Down’s syndrome:
"The week I went into labour I was supposed to have another scan because of the poor growth of my stomach. My midwife never did book me in for that scan. I do wonder if that scan would have finally revealed the truth about how special my little bear was going to be. I also wonder about the outcome, if I had done the blood tests. It doesn’t matter. It would never have changed the outcome. That night in work I was in slow labour and didn’t realise it. I had just hit 37 weeks pregnant and we were all joking about me possibly being in labour oblivious to the sheer reality of it all.
"I can't believe he's mine"
"That night I picked up my hospital bag from my old address before going home to bed and at 3:00am I woke up and knew that this was it. I got to the hospital at 4:30am and by 7:00am I was in full blown established labour. No one, not even the midwives believed I would have the baby that day, they were convinced it would be the following day or perhaps that night. I knew he was certainly coming way before that. After a pain relief free birth Theo was born at 9:13am on Friday 13th November, 8 minutes after my waters had broken. They had even started running the waters for the pool 5 minutes before he came. Clearly I didn’t make the water birth I had so desperately wanted.
"The first thing I muttered as he screamed out was “I can’t believe he’s mine, it’s so weird.” Call it mothers instinct but the moment they gave him to me weighing a tiny 5lb8.5oz I knew something wasn’t right. After cutting the cord myself and cuddling into him his head for a start, felt like it was going to flop off, sort of like soggy bread. He also didn’t really look like my baby just yet. They did his baby checks and everything came back ok and his muscle tone was apparently ‘very good.’
"He's my baby"
"I didn’t get long to embrace him as a ‘normal’ baby. As 5 hours after his birth the midwife came and took him off me to check him over. When she came back I assumed the worst, was he going to die? Was he both a boy and a girl? Did he have cancer? I know it sounds ridiculous but I was too naive to even consider that it was Down Syndrome. The nurse asked all but my family to leave the room and blurted out “have you noticed your baby looks different Yasmin?” I replied with a simple, confused no. He didn’t really look like my baby, but what did she mean different? She went onto say that she thought my baby had Down Syndrome. All I could say was a relaxed, right, ok. As soon as she said it I just sort of accepted it. I have never had a negative outlook on the condition and by not originally wanting or accepting the screening I knew that I was willing to accept my baby any which way. Why? Because he’s my baby."
Theo's short life so far hasn't been easy. He's had to spend a lot of time in hospital undergoing multiple operations. Who knows what the future holds?
What is for sure is that Theo’s mum will always love her son unconditionally and do everything she can for him. And that’s why I think she’s a great pro-life hero.