herald

Wednesday 15 August 2018

News that my baby had Down Syndrome was like a 'scary movie' but our little Mary is doing just fine

JOURNALIST and TV presenter Brendan O'Connor has spoken for the first time about the birth of his baby daughter, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

The outspoken writer and his wife Sarah Caden welcomed a second baby girl, Mary, into their family just two weeks ago. But he said that they were not prepared to be told by doctors at her birth that she had a genetic disorder.

He describes the first few moments of Mary's life as akin to a "scary movie" and how their lives took a dramatic turn in the operating theatre.

"We went into Holles Street in the morning, tentative but full of hope; and by two o'clock, our hearts were broken and our lives were turned upside down," he said.

"It was dawning more and more but I still couldn't believe it. It was genuinely like a nightmare, but it was real."

He said he and Sarah bonded immediately with the tot and his eldest daughter, Anna, is "bonkers" about her new sister.

"Something magical kicked in within Sarah once she got her hands on Mary," he said.

But he said that the couple felt "dazed" during the last few weeks as family and friends struggled to know what to say.

The editor of Sunday Independent Life magazine said some people tried to tell him he was grieving for a baby that he didn't have.

"I was grieving for my life before, and for my dreams maybe," he said. "But we had a baby and she was very cute."

He said that his close family and friends have been a tower of strength for them through this traumatic time but that some people have said "stupid and insensitive" things.

"Some people tell us we are remarkable how we are dealing with this. We're not," he said. "But what else are you going to do?

Brendan said the experience has been a life-changing eye-opener and he is looking forward to seeing his daughter grow up into a stylish, well educated and confident young woman.

"She may even go to one of those posh schools I profess to hate if it's what works best for her," he joked.

"Whatever is wrong with her, she is our little girl, and we will love her and it will be fine."

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