Joelle Kelly with her daughter Josee (9 weeks) who was born with Down syndrome.
Joelle Kelly with her daughter Josee (9 weeks) who was born with Down syndrome. Alistair Brightman

Little Josee Hope's a story for the heart

THEIR daughter Josee Hope was born with 10 tiny fingers and toes, a hairstyle they jokingly refer to as a mohawk, two piercing dark blue eyes and 47 chromosomes.

When Toogoom's attended the 12 week scan after finding out they were expecting their third child, both were looking forward to catching a glimpse of their new baby.

Neither was expecting a diagnosis that would change their lives.

As Joelle admired the sight of her baby on the screen, tests were being carried out that led to the staff informing her that her baby had a one in two chance of having Down syndrome.

"I was pretty devastated," Joelle said.

"It's sad to look back and think that was my reaction at now."

While the diagnosis hit Joelle hard, she said her husband was her rock through those first difficult moments.

He told his wife that life would still go on; the only difference was they would have a child with Down syndrome.

The family decided they needed a second opinion and travelled to Tasmania, where they had lived before moving to Toogoom, to have another consultation done.

Joelle was attended by the head of obstetric imaging at the hospital and when the baby was examined, the doctor had some shocking news.

Fluid had increased around the baby's heart and other organs.

"She was a ball of fluid," Joelle said.

The doctor told Joelle that she should expect her baby to die in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Another test, which sampled the placental tissue, had confirmed the diagnosis of Down syndrome but that had faded into near irrelevance when she heard her baby's life was at risk, Joelle said.

"It put the diagnosis in perspective," she said.

Joelle and Lewis have two older children, Tallara, 11, and Max, 9.

When they informed the children of the diagnosis , they didn't skip a beat, Joelle said.

They told their mum about a little boy at their school who had Down syndrome, telling her how much everyone loved him and how they would love this baby too.

Joelle Kelly with her daughter Josee.
Joelle Kelly with her daughter Josee. Alistair Brightman

Facing the fact that they might lose their much-wanted third child was a tougher challenge.

"We were praying a lot," Joelle said.

"We were really scared. We had to pull together as a family."

At 18 weeks, Joelle had another scan and miraculously, the fluid was gone.

After what Joelle described as a "scary pregnancy", her daughter Josee Hope was born on January 10.

"She was born beautiful," Joelle said, and her daughter was free of many of the health issues that Down syndrome babies often experience, including heart problems.

Just 47 beautiful chromosomes and those piercing dark blue, almond-shaped eyes.

One of the major challenges for Joelle in the beginning was the lack of information.

She didn't have any knowledge of Down syndrome or what it meant.

Now she knows her daughter has an extra chromosome in every cell of her body - normally a person has 46.

People with Down syndrome can have heart defects, gastro intestinal issues, vision problems and other health issues.

But despite the challenges that may lie ahead, Joelle says she wouldn't change anything now.

Her 10-week-old daughter couldn't be more adored by her siblings.

And Josee's middle name, Hope, also signifies much and will always hold an extra special meaning for her parents.

Lewis and Joelle Kelly with their daughter Josee.
Lewis and Joelle Kelly with their daughter Josee. Alistair Brightman

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