As we all know by now, when you hear the words “I’m sorry”, they’re generally followed by bad news. In serious cases, “I’m sorry” can act as something of a buzz term, since there’s every the chance the following sentence could change your life forever. So, when Jodi and her partner Matt heard those words in a hospital, their hearts leapt into their mouths. It was the second time they were to have children, and so they were both nervous and happily expectant. They already had a healthy son and were planning to welcome two new angels into the family – they were expecting twins. However, their happiness would quickly turn to anxiety when the births rolled around.

A doctor called the couple into a small waiting room and uttered two words that tipped their world upside down … “I’m sorry.” Parents Matt and Jodie were stunned when the doctor explained that their prematurely-born twin girls, AbigaiI and IsabeI, had been diagnosed with Down’s syndrome. The couple already had a little boy named Finlay, but they had long been trying for another baby. Mother Jodi had suffered a miscarriage shortly after Finlay’s birth, so she believed she was well prepared for anything. But the words of the doctor stunned her. Not necessarily the words themselves, but more the manner in which they were delivered. According to Jodi, the doctor made the diagnoses sound like a “lifetime punishment”. 

The twin girls were born early and had to stay in a neonatal intensive care unit for four weeks. Things looked bleak. “That day, I didn’t feel like a mother. I just felt lost and confused. I had bleak visions of the future. I thought we’d be carers until we dropped dead,” Jodie explained. Statistically speaking, Abigail and Isobel are extremely rare children. The odds of giving birth to twins who both have Down syndrome is one in a million. That said, the little girls were born with a number of health issues. Abigail is deaf in one ear, while Isobel was born with a hole in her heart. Of course, none of it is what someone wants to hear from their doctor. Soon enough, Matt and Jodi were forced to face the stark reality. Sadly, there was little support for the parents with regards to information about Down’s syndrome.

No one explained to them that their family of five could lead happy, normal lives just like everyone else. As a result, both Matt and Jodi were extremely afraid. They didn’t know if their girls would be able to go to school like normal children. They didn’t even know if they’d be able to talk. The family had to do most of it alone; they had to find out for themselves. There were those who sympathised with the children and felt sorry for them, but Abigail and Isobel got by on the copious amounts of love given by those closest to their family. “When the doctor took us to one side to give us the results, he said he was sorry that Abigail and Isobel had Down’s syndrome. To this day I’ll never know what he was sorry for,” Abigail said. “And I think if I could ever meet him again, I would like to show him Abigail and Isobel and say, ‘Why did you say sorry because we wouldn’t change Abigail and Isobel for the world now.” Several years after their birth, the girls have proven the dangers of prejudice through ignorance.