I have never fainted in my life but the nearest I ever came was at the 20 week scan for our second child when we were informed the baby had Spina Bifida. I’m not sure of the sequence of events but I ended up lying flat on the bed being tended to by medical staff when it should have been Fionnuala. What was meant to have been one of the happiest days of our lives became one of the worst with one short, devastating sentence.
The rest of the day will forever be vividly etched on my memory, which is saying something as mine is not the best. A cold, clinical doctor informed us our daughter would never be able to walk, speak or communicate with us in any way. He urged us to consider an abortion and we were given 24 hours to go away and think about it. We shuffled out of the hospital that day like zombies, broken and baffled.
We didn’t need 24 hours. Both of us had decided independently of one another that we were giving our unborn child a chance at life. Who were we to deprive another human being of that? No matter what the severity of the disability, abortion could never be an option. It was the easiest decision of our lives, the most important, the best. It was the only decision. We chose life and hope and love.
Hannah was born on 10 December 2003, our middle child of three. The running joke in our family is that she hasn’t stopped talking since. Yes, she can’t walk (yet) and needs a wheelchair to get about but, other than that, she is a normal, happy teenage girl; whatever normal is. She laughs, she sings, she obsesses over Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello and binge watches Pretty Little Liars with her mother.
She cries over soap operas, she fights tooth and nail with her brother and sister, she teaches herself via You Tube to apply make up (perfectly I might add), she cringes at her father’s awful rapping and dancing, she spreads happiness and light wherever she goes. She never complains about her disability, just gets on with living life to the full and proving the doubters all wrong. She is our hero.
Whenever I am having a crappy day I look at Hannah and tell myself to wise up. She inspires me to be reasonably good at the things I tackle in life. If I had an ounce of her fight and spirit I’d be a champion runner and best selling author. I’m not but they are targets I can still aspire to. I’m sure I speak for Fionnuala as well when I say Hannah, indeed all three of our kids, are the shining lights in our lives.
Out of the darkest day came the brightest of lights, out of hopelessness came hope, from heartbreak came joy and bottomless love. This blog is all about hope and Hannah’s story lies at the heart of that. This week is Spina Bifida Awareness Week. Fionnuala has previously shared her story so I thought it was the perfect time for me to tell mine. I hope it encourages some of you today who may be in similar bleak places.
Drug addiction. Alcoholism. Depression. Anxiety. Stress. OCD. BPD. Bereavement, Divorce. Homelessness. PTSD. Anorexia. Bulimia. Bullying. Unemployment. Physical Disabilty. Disease. Chronic Illness. Cancer. The list is endless, but hope trumps them all. Never give up, never stop fighting. Believe in yourself and the power within you to overcome, just like our Hannah. You are a warrior, you are strong. You are not a label.