We got the news on April fool’s day, but it wasn’t a joke.  Trishna took the call and we both knew immediately.  The test results had come back, and were serious enough to require immediate contact.  We were invited in to meet the consultant at the hospital the next day to discover what they meant.  That night was the toughest I can remember – the mind crushed by all the terrible possibilities.  But tomorrow would bring certainty at least.

It hadn’t been a straightforward pregnancy up to this point.  All our trips to hospital, consultant appointments, scans and even a visit to Great Ormond Street had left us buffeted by uncertainty.  For every ‘soft marker’ or indication something was out of the ordinary, we’d had an equal number of reassurances or counter indications that everything was right on track. 

And so there we were, at 29 weeks and one day, sat in a side room with a top consultant and senior midwife, learning about how our lives and that of our new family was about to fundamentally change.  As first-time parents we’d of course expected imminent change, as the reality of having a baby dawned and weighed upon us as it must do for everyone.  But this was going to be different and in ways we just couldn’t predict. 

On a personal level it took me some days to adjust.  You don’t imagine the course of raising a young family might take such a distinct turn right from the beginning.  In some senses you grieve for the child you’d spent so much time imaginging a future for.  Yet, after time for tears and hugs and lots of family talk, I boxed all of that up, decided to cross potentially difficult bridges when we got to them, and determined – as far as I could – to look toward the light that very much still surrounded us in brilliant, positive possibility. 

And so it was that a few weeks later we announced our news to the world:

All being well in about 50 days Trishna and I will welcome our baby Anaaya into the world. We can’t wait to shower her with love and discover in what ways she is unique and special as she grows into our own little Gautama-Hammond human. If her parents are anything to go by she has a fair chance of being at once stubborn, energetic, adventurous, emotional, noisy, loving and hard-working (or stubbornly none of those things), and we’re really looking forward to joining her for the ride. One thing we do know about her (that we found out pretty late on at 29 weeks after various hospital mess-ups and a false negative test at 12 weeks), is that she will be born with Down Syndrome. The news was quite a shock and we are, as first-time parents, pretty daunted by the the task at hand. Down’s will be part of her life, her journey and who she is – but only part and we will fight to ensure she is defined by so much more. Life will come with ups and downs and tears and frowns like all kids; in some ways she’ll be different and need more and in what ways we don’t know yet – but she’ll never be a problem or a deficit or missing a single thing (scientifically she’s actually 5% up in the chromosome department already). Like all children she is a gift, she is unique and for us she is one-in-a-thousand (if not far more). We are so privileged to be able to welcome her to the world, so privileged to be in a position where we can support her, and so privileged and happy to have so many loving family and friends to be part of it all along the way. Finally I get to do what my mum was always on at me to do when I was a child… to grow up. Grow up so together Trishna and I can take the plunge and find the courage to see her and our family take flight. Here’s to that and here’s to Anaaya 😊

Anaaya Gautama-Hammond was welcomed into the world at 4.23am on Thursday 17th June 2021.  Seven months on, despite some trials, tribulations and seriously tough times along the way, we’re all doing well.  Seeing Anaaya grow, develop and learn is truly a joy to behold.