I haven't stopped dancingBy Jane Holmes
November 30, 2011
The thing that people always want to know is what happened to my daughter to make her so disabled.
People assume it was a difficult birth and, rightly, that there was some oxygen loss. Actually there was no birth trauma.
In fact, the first we knew that there was something wrong was about twenty minutes afterwards, while they were stitching me back together, when my husband noticed her that breathing was laboured and she was going grey.
At first they thought it was a chest infection. This explained why her breathing sounded so awful and why she couldn't feed. She would, they said, be absolutely fine within five days.
I remember watching as within an hour of my baby's birth they tried to find a vein through which to pump three antibiotics.
As, finally, they shaved a patch of her beautiful black hair in order to put a needle straight into her head, she stared at me with wise eyes that already seemed to have seen so much and I think I knew then that this was the start of something quite different to anything we had been expecting.
Later that week we discovered that she couldn't swallow, blink or move her eyes. Her baby reflexes were either in overdrive or completely absent. She was alternately stiff, then floppy. She needed suctioning every few minutes to prevent her from blocking off her airway with her own saliva and never learnt to feed.
Two weeks later, through it all, she smiled for the first time.
When she was two, thanks to numerous brain scans, tests, genetic intervention and a lot of neurological expertise we found out that my daughter's brain damage had actually occurred two weeks before her birth.
The umbilical cord had twisted, cutting off the oxygen for long enough to cause brain damage, but somehow it had managed to get through again before she died.
We were told by an almost apologetic doctor that she had very nearly been stillborn.
Apologetic because he clearly felt it would have been the better option. I danced out of his clinic holding my beautiful two-year-old in my arms feeling like the luckiest woman alive.