Meet My Hero

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.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

56 thoughts on “Meet My Hero

  1. I always love reading real stories about hope. We are definitely not the labels forced on us by others, even if they’re medical professionals who are supposed to be in the know.
    So funny for me reading this – my cousin was also told to abort her baby for a different medical reason, but refused. Her not-aborted baby, Rachel, is thriving and living and succeeding. Rachel has an older sister, named Hannah. 😉 And my daughter is named Rebecca. See all the small connections that made me smile 😉
    Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me of the strength we possess, the hope that we have, and the labels we do not need to live by 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My niece also has spina bifida (and hydrocephalus). Like you my brother and sister in law we’re encouraged to abort and told that she would be a ‘vegetable’. What a horrible term to use about a human being. Anyway like your Hannah my niece is a delight. She chats away and loves to draw. She’s obsessed with Little Mix. She can do so many things that the medical professionals said she would never do. Thanks for sharing your/Hannah’s story of hope.


  3. Fionnuala did the best decision that Hannah is now the hope of life for many.

    Life is never perfect but looking through the lens of love makes it perfect imperfection.

    Such a lovely family:)


  4. Absolutely beautiful Stephen! You are so blessed to have such a wonderful daughter (and family!). Thank you for the reminder that no one can label or predict the precious children of God we all are.


  5. Very touching. A true moving story that strikes the hearts of many is a blending of the real and the ideal, and this story has it all; your personal story touches the heart of reader in search of meaning of life. Thank you. P.S. Your daughter has a beautiful smile.


  6. What a loving and heroic family you are! I’m glad to think Hannah has you as a father and that you have the blessing of her as your daughter. You know and now we know that you made the right decision that day. Bless you all.


  7. Love this post Stephen! And quite thought provoking after recently reading Jodi Picoult’s A Spark of Light (about abortion). I found your post so inspiring and glad you and Fionnuala made the decision you did on that dark day. Go Hannah!


  8. Your Hannah is absolutely precious! Thank you for sharing and trusting us with a piece of your story with us. Now, it becomes part of our story—and I hope to carry a torch for those with Spina Bifida and learn more about it—for I have allowed myself to remain ignorant—until now.



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