When Sally Phillips gave birth to her son Olly, she had a sense something was different.
It was 10 days later that a doctor sat down with Sally and her husband Andrew and said, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry”.
“The nurse on duty cried,” Sally told The Telegraph, “I don’t think anyone said anything at all positive.”
Her son Olly was diagnosed with Down syndrome, a genetic condition caused by an extra chromosome. People with Down syndrome might have a short neck, a smaller head, ears and mouth, wide, short hands, poor muscle tone and displacement of the tongue. Other characteristics include delayed development, learning disability, speech impairment, and in some cases, congenital heart disease.
It was all framed as 'bad news', Sally said. "You go home to deal with the 'bad news'... and it's all like something dreadful has happened."
Sally had never heard "any optimistic stories". She thought she wouldn't be able to work, and that having a Down syndrome baby would ruin her marriage. "I thought I'd just have to stay home with a dribbling baby," she told 60 Minutes last night.
But that's was not at all how her life unfolded.
Allana and Lovro, a Sydney couple, had a similar experience - except Allana received a positive result when she was tested during pregnancy, to see if her baby would be born with Down syndrome.
"I think I've got some bad news for you..." the doctor told them - evoking words nearly identical to what Sally received. "It looks like you have a risk of having a child with Down syndrome, and you really need to think about your options and what your next steps will be."
The couple were told to "think carefully about the implications of Down syndrome on [their] marriage and on [their] daughter."