Little miracles are everywhere, bright jewels nestling in the grey dust of our everyday lives. I often try to take time to re-examine my jewels, the gifts that Providence has delivered.
In 1996 I was quite ill. Physically, mentally and emotionally. I had just experienced an ectopic pregnancy, ruptured Fallopian tube and emergency removal of both. My fertility expectation had at least halved, and I was warned that a further pregnancy could follow the same route.
It seemed that all was lost, even before my life had properly got going. I plodded on with my boring job at a London solicitors. I had a hectic life which felt quite empty, and I wondered if my relationship would survive the decades of childless wilderness that seemed to stretch before me.
In 1997 I became pregnant again, and after a few dreamy weeks of expectation, bleeding and stomach cramps seemed to herald my worst fears. Another emergency laparoscopy, a plummeting of my mood and a terrible verdict from the consultant – “There’s nothing there. No baby. Sometimes these things happen, its nature’s way.”
An ultrasound scan was arranged for two weeks later ‘just to be sure’ and the night before this scan I found that I couldn’t sleep. I was inexplicably excited. Multiple fractured dreams accompanied my on-off sleep and in one memorable scenario the lab-coated lady conducting my ultrasound was none other than my late Grandma. I instinctively went to hug her, I hadn’t seen her in so long! She shook her head quickly as though to warn me not to give the game away. As she performed the scan, she turned and winked at me in just the way she would have in real, waking life. I had an ally! A helping hand.
Not surprisingly, the actual mistress of the scanner turned out not to be my dear departed Grandma but was a pleasant lady all the same. I tried to read her expression as she examined the screen and when she turned it towards us, Richard and I both gasped in unison. A pulsing blob, amid the grey dots that represented my uterus. A jewel in the ashes.
This blob was Rosie of course – what were the odds?
And when Daisy arrived two years later, we were back in my home county of West Yorkshire. A long and terrible labour followed by an emergency caesarean section had left me with a general sense of exhaustion and a tiny, floppy baby. Still covered in fuzzy peach fluff, Daisy was silent. She took in her new environment like a wise owl-baby.
The hospital staff left us to it at first, me and Richard looking lovingly at Daisy and her looking around, tiny lips pursed and fluffy face tranquil.
Then they moved in, sometimes in groups or pairs, sometimes alone. They prodded and they poked. They wrote notes. I began to feel protective and asked a junior registrar to leave when he stuck a finger in her mouth.
Despite my state of exhaustion, I sensed a problem, and when Richard was gone I summoned a nurse who explained to me that my baby had a syndrome, probably Downs or something similar. It was impossible to tell how able she would be, what she would or wouldn’t be able to do, though autonomous mobility seemed unlikely. Her muscle tone was very low, and there seemed to be some physical irregularities.
Almost a year later, Daisy was diagnosed with Kabuki Syndrome, and at the time there were only two hundred known cases in the world. This statistic has changed a lot in recent years, but, at the time, I couldn’t help thinking, what were the odds?
She was a vulnerable baby and soon notched up an impressive list of itises. However, she fought these off like warrior, defied the expert’s prognosis that she would never walk, and discarded her wheelchair just before her fifth birthday.
Jumping forward another two years (there is a definite pattern here), and my lone, valiant fallopian tube had come up trumps again. A son made our family complete. And what a son! Vital and strong, he could support his own head at birth. We called him Leonard (Lion-Heart) because he growled rather than cried. He took to the breast like a wolf-pup (the delicate girls had needed much persuasion) and he seemed to me a living vindication – Daisy’s difficulties couldn’t be pinned on me! Rosie’s idiosyncratic ways were merely a coincidence. Here I had strong and healthy son, hours old and already surpassing developmental milestones.
At that point if anyone would have forewarned me that this champion child would grow into the most challenging, most thoroughly autistic young man imaginable, I would have laughed in their face. After all, what were the odds?