Joelle Kelly, 37, and her husband, Lewis, 40, were delighted to find out they were pregnant with their third child. But after their 12-week scan and a blood test, the Australian couple found out their baby had a one-in-two chance of having Down syndrome.
“That stage of not knowing was really, really tough on me and I was devastated. But my children, who were then eight and 11, were asking me why I was so upset, because they went to school with a little boy who had Down syndrome,” Mrs. Kelly told Daily Mail.
“It was really interesting because it stopped me really suddenly from being upset and I started immediately to think why I felt that way,” she said.
“I was angry at society in a way, because I thought, ‘Far out, I've been really influenced,’ and you don't even know.”
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Joelle decided to get a second opinion about her baby, but was hit with upsetting news.
“They discovered the baby had a condition called Hydrops which is an accumulation of fluid in more than one area. So there was fluid in the baby's chest cavity, under her skin wall and up over the back of her skull. Her heart was also noted as being in failure,” Mrs. Kelly said.
“We were told delicately that there was no hope, that our baby would pass away and we were advised to have a CVS [Chorionic villus sampling] anyway to know what was going on.
“I couldn't believe it as up until that point we were trying to cope with a possible diagnosis of Down syndrome, thinking that that was the worst thing, and then to be told your baby wouldn't make it... that just totally put it into perspective and all we wanted was for her to survive.”
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Two days later, Joelle and Lewis had a CVS to verify the Down syndrome diagnosis, and one week later, learned they were having a girl and she did in fact have Down syndrome. They also found out there was still fluid. The couple named the baby Josee Hope.
“We saw the baby was still kicking around. We basically said our goodbyes and we had to look at the screen and say that was the last time we would see the baby and went home and just waited for a miscarriage," Joelle said.
Joelle and Lewis were told abortion was an option but at 18 weeks, a miracle happened.
“She had grown so much and the sonographer said she could see no fluid present at all,” Joelle said.
Josee Hope was born on Jan. 10, 2013, 10 days late.
“Josee, now three, is just like our other children.” Adding, “Sometimes things take that little bit longer but it's so rewarding when she achieves a new milestone,” Joelle said.
Joelle created a Facebook page, Josee's Journey of Faith Hope & Love, to document her growth and to help other moms in similar situations. It now has more than 18,700 followers. She also runs a pregnancy support group called Down syndrome pregnancy Australia.
“People message us all the time to say that just by watching her that their perception about people with Down syndrome has changed and that's just so heartwarming.”