Who Is Hannah?

Excerpt from book.

Hannah arrived just before 11pm. It was a Thursday night in September and what a long day it had been for all of us. We had waited for just on nine months for Hannah to arrive and it felt as though the last 24 hours had taken forever.
Hannah arrived to two very relieved and excited parents. She was beautiful in every sense. Her eyes blinked sleepily as she was placed gently onto Gillian’s breast.

My role included performing the final rite-of-passage into this world with the cutting of the cord. Totally mesmerised by the miracle of birth, I was too overwhelmed and too much in love to realise that something was not as it should be.

Extra equipment and medical staff had arrived. Hannah was changing colour. They removed her and started doing what dedicated professionals do. As naïve first-time parents we watched helplessly and unknowingly as they went about their work.

Hannah was not getting oxygen. The medical staff had performed their first miracle and then left with her to do
their next. We waited. We hoped. We were scared too, even though no-one would admit it at the time.

Long brown hair is what I remember most, and then the Irish accent. The Registrar of the hospital had arrived to give us her speech. Critical and unstable heart condition, uncertainty about living and 95 per cent certain that Hannah had Down Syndrome.

They knew we did not know. This was not what we expected at all. Shock … disbelief … confusion. I pretended to know what it all meant. I didn’t. Down Syndrome? Will she live?  What do we do? More questions than answers.

Hannah did live. She embraces life every day.
A beautiful daughter, an awesome big sister to Declan, a niece and a cousin, an enthusiastic reader, a champion swimmer, a caring genuine friend, a competent bike rider, a park junkie, playful cricketer, active member of the school choir, a dance-troop delight and gymnast, a diligent student and a permanent inspiration.

Christmas was very special that year. We were parents.

Hannah would be introduced to Santa for the first time and we knew then that Santa would forever play a special part in Hannah’s life each Christmas. As new parents we were keen to teach our children. So far I am sure we have learnt more than we have taught.