Mother who had one-in-a-million twins BOTH born with Down Syndrome reveals she’s had a SIXTH child who’s helped her girls thrive – but urges others to see them for who they are, not their diagnosis
- Nardy Mejias, 40, from Basingstoke, Hampshire, is a happy mother-of-six
- In 2017, gave birth to twins Hannah and Rschel, both born with Down Syndrome
- The chances of both twins having the condition were one-in-a-million
- 18 months later, Nardy had daughter Grace, who doesn’t have Down Syndrome
A mother-of-six, whose twin daughters were born with Down Syndrome, in spite of the odds being one-in-a-million, has revealed she decided to have a sixth child who has helped them thrive – but admitted it hasn’t been easy.
Nardy Mejias, 40, from Basingstoke, Hampshire, had twins, Rachel and Hannah, aged four, in 2017, and cried for weeks after being told of their diagnosis three weeks after their birth, following a straightforward pregnancy.
But the mother and her partner Enzo, 50, rallied, and 18 months later, they welcomed baby daughter Grace, now two.
Now the twins, who wear hearing aids and have learning difficulties but are otherwise healthy, will go to a mainstream school in September and even have a worked with modelling agency Zebedee.
Nardy is speaking out and sharing her story to encourage people to embrace children with Down Syndrome for who they are, not their weaknesses and flaws.
‘I want to urge parents whose children have received a Down’s syndrome diagnosis to be brave,’ she explained. ‘There are others out there, like us, who you can talk to. And your child will open your heart and mind. All you need is time.’
Nardy Mejias, 40, was shocked when she heard that her newborn twins Hannah and Rachel had Down Syndrome in 2016. The chances of both kids being born with the condition was one-in-a-million. But 18 months later, she was giving birth to her daughter Grace, and said it’s helped her family thrive
The twins, pictured, have distinct personalities, with Rachel being more talkative and Hannah more shy
Pictured, Hannah and Rachel with their sister Grace after her birth. The twins and Grace are a happy trio
Nardy was five weeks pregnant and already had three children with husband Enzo when a hospital scan revealed she was expecting twins.
‘I was five weeks pregnant and thinking it would be a quick scan,’ recalled Nardy. ‘I had left Enzo along with Matthew, then five, Rebecca, three, and Sarah, one, in the car park waiting.
‘Little had I known I would end up gazing at two blobs on a screen – identical twins sharing a sac.’
Nardy says years previous, Enzo had revealed he wanted six children. At the time, the couple agreed four would be plenty, but as her bump grew, the couple came around to the idea of having five kids.
‘Because I had twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome I was scanned every fortnight and at 20 weeks, we discovered we were adding two more girls to our clan,’ she explained.
Nardy’s children love to dance and play together and Hannah and Rachel, pictured at the front, always take part
Nardy’s brood, pictured from the left: Sarah, Grace, Matthew, Rebecca, with the twins in the garden
Thriving family! Hannah and Rachel, pictured with their parents and siblings, learned about the world differently
One of the twins in the Neonatal Care Unit after their birth was induced following a troubling scan in 2016
One of the twins being monitored in the NICU after their birth. Three weeks after the babies were born, Nardy learned of their diagnosis
‘Then during a scan at 32 weeks, the sonographer studied the screen more intently than usual and said: “One baby’s stomach seems quite big.”‘
Nardy and Enzo were sent to another hospital and after an hour of analysis and discussion, a decision was made.
‘A doctor told us they wanted to deliver our babies today,’ she explained. ‘I was in shock. He told us one of the twins was at risk and that they were going to perform an emergency C-section.’
‘I was whisked into theatre along with Enzo, dressed in scrubs, holding my hand as we anxiously waited.’
Moments later, Rachel was born weighing 4lb 8oz, closely followed by Hannah, 4lb 10oz.
‘I longed to hold our beautiful baby girls, but Enzo and I could only watch as they were placed in incubators,’ recalled Nardy. ‘We counted 25 medics bustling around the twins, hooking them up to monitors, ventilators and feeding tubes.’
Nardy with Grace, in pink, on a walk with the twins. Nardy said she ’embraced’ the chaos in her home and has embraced her daughters’ condition
Nardy’s husband Enzo, 50, had always wanted a family with six children, and has had a vasectomy to make sure Grace was the last child to be born
The beaming mum holding her twins with their four siblings. Nardy admitted she ‘cried for weeks’ following her daughters’ diagnosis
Nardy and Enzo with the six children. The proud mother-of-six said her youngest daughter Grace (left) thinks she’s one of the twins
The mother hopes other people will embrace children with Down Syndrome for who they are. Pictured, Nardy’s children now
The twins, pictured with Nardy, will go to a mainstream school in September. Nardy said they have amazing potential and were intelligent
Nardy with the twins in the Neonatal Care Unit in 2016, before she was giving the Down Syndrome diagnosis
The mother-of-six with one of her daughters in the NICU. While it took her time to adapt after hearing Hannah and Rachel both had Down Syndrome, Nardy embraced the condition
A beaming Nardy holding both her daughters after their birth in 2016. The twins spent 11 weeks in hospital
WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF HAVING TWINS WITH DOWN’S SYNDROME?
Having identical twins with Down’s Syndrome is incredibly rare, with previous research suggesting that it only occurs in one in a million births.
When it comes to twin births, two in every 1,000 are born where one or both of the babies have Down’s Syndrome.
The study, conducted in 2016, found that six per cent of these are identical twins, while the remaining 94 per cent are non-identical.
Two per cent of babies with Down’s Syndrome in the UK are twins.
The condition occurs when there are three copies of chromosome 21, instead of the usual two.
Hannah – who had been at risk – received a blood transfusion and was given medication for a small hole in her heart and to help stimulate her lungs.
‘I expressed breast milk that we fed the twins using syringes,’ explained Nardy. ‘Then a week later a midwife said I could hold them.’
‘The girls took turns to be placed on my chest, skin-to-skin, and it felt wonderful to finally have them so close.’
She continued: ‘When Matthew, Rebecca and Sarah came to the hospital, they were buzzing with excitement to meet their new sisters.’
‘They couldn’t stop smiling as they held their tiny hands through the incubator windows.’
After three weeks at Southampton hospital, the twins were sent to Basingstoke and North Hampshire hospital, nearer Nardy and Enzo’s home.
There, a doctor informed the couple they wanted to do more tests.
Two days later, Nardy and Enzo were called in to see the doctor.
‘The doctor told us that she was sorry but that the twins have Down’s syndrome,’ said Enzo. ‘I asked whether it was both of them and she replied: “Yes, but they are healthy.”’
Nardy continued: ‘The doctor explained that the odds of both identical twins having Down’s syndrome were extremely rare, with it only occurring in one in a million births. She didn’t know why it hadn’t been picked up during the scans.
All smiles! The twins, pictured, love their life at home and play with their siblings all the time, with Nardy saying they are ‘happy’ and ‘bubbly’
Nardy in the NICU after the twins were born. They spent five weeks in hospital, before being transferred to another hospital closer to Mardy and Enzo’s home
Matthew, pictured centre, the only boy of the brood, who is now nine, loves to protect all his little sisters
The twins enjoying the sun in Nardy’s garden when they were babies. She was fascinated by the way her daughters were learning about the world
After handing the couple a leaflet, the doctor left.
‘Enzo hugged me and I burst into tears,’ said Nardy. ‘I was stunned by the news. For the last three weeks I’d fed the twins, changed their nappies, cuddled them, kissed them and yet I hadn’t been aware of their diagnosis.
I expected more advice, or for someone to come and talk to us about Down’s syndrome. But no one did.’
When the twins were 11 weeks old, they were discharged.
‘Though it was a relief to be home, I was scared,’ Nardy continued. ‘I knew nothing about Down’s syndrome and doing research online didn’t help. I only read about the problems they might face.’
Hugging sisters! The twins’ personalities have now flourished and Nardy has said that with proper support, they can flourish in school and life
‘It sent my mind racing. I worried they’d never walk, get married or have kids. Despite having five children who needed me, I went to pieces.’
Nardy says the days passed in a blur while she sobbed and went through the motions, feeding and changing the twins.
‘I was emotionally paralysed, unable to care for the older three,’ she explained.
Enzo took the reins and as the twins grew, the couple’s other children became more hands-on with their baby sisters.
‘Matthew was so proud to be the only boy to support his gang of girls, and Rebecca and Sarah became mini mummies,’ explained Nardy. ‘Enzo and I watched them hold the twins’ hands, give them little cuddles and pull funny faces to make the girls smile.’
‘These precious moments made the hard parts so much easier, and I realised my children were helping build a strength in me that I never know existed.’
Nardy wanted to stress that life with the twins, pictured on a trip to the supermarket, hasn’t been easy, and that they have had lifelong challenges from the moment they were born
Nardy said the twins, pictured, couldn’t ‘demonstrate their skills because they are not at the expected level from someone of a similar age’
Nardy says as the weeks passed, it filled her with wonder to watch the twins discovering the world in their own way.
‘They learned differently to how the others had, mostly through their senses, by touching, seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting,’ she said. ‘Then one day I realised I wasn’t scared anymore – and Enzo agreed. I knew he wanted six children, so asked him when we should have another.’
Before the twins had turned one, Nardy had fallen pregnant. As her bump grew, she taught Rachel and Hannah Makaton, a sign language using images and symbols.
‘When they started signing for food, sleep and play, it felt like a huge leap,’ explains Nardy. ‘Finally, I was beginning to see the positive aspects of Down’s syndrome.’
Months later, Nardy gave birth to another girl, Grace.
‘With an 18-month age gap, it wasn’t long before she was playing happily alongside Rachel and Hannah,’ said Nardy. ‘They became a real trio, always wanting three of the same thing.’
‘By now the twins’ personalities were flourishing. They were both such happy, bubbly girls, with Rachel the more outgoing twin who spoke for them both, and Hannah being shy and more reserved.’
The twins sharing a swing at the playground. The mother-of-six admitted it took her daughters longer to do everything a typical child is already doing
The twins in matching outfits when they were toddlers. Nardy remembered feeling ‘paralysed’ after she got the diagnosis
She continued: ‘Despite being so different, they adored each other. They loved to hug, hold hands, and picked each other up when they fell down – quite literally.
‘They looked for each other around the house and if they didn’t like a certain food, their clothes, or a toy, they simply swapped with a smile.’
Soon Rachel, Hannah and Grace reached a point where they were at the same stage developmentally.
‘I told them it was time to try for a wee,’ recalled Nardy. ‘All three girls scurried over to their potties and sat down in a row, showing each other pages from the books they had chosen.
‘Enzo pointed out that Grace thought she was one of the twins, so I joked that we had our very own triplets.’
Now Rachel and Hannah are four. They have learning difficulties and wear hearing aids but are otherwise healthy.
Enzo and Nardy have decided to send them to mainstream school in September, in different classes to allow them to thrive individually.
‘The twins are achieving so much every single day,’ said Nardy. ‘They are even signed up as models with Zebedee, a talent agency working with those who are often excluded in the media.
The twins as babies in matching dresses. When they were a few months old, Nardy felt ready to take on another child
A helping hand! The twins share an unbreakable bond and will always help each other out, Nardy said
‘But it’s so important to stress that life with the twins has not been easy. They have had lifelong challenges from the moment they were born.’
Nardy says that everything a typical child is already doing takes them far longer.
‘It makes me wonder – will they ever reach their potential when there is a lack of knowledge about Down Syndrome?’ she explained. ‘However, with the appropriate support and intervention, they can achieve success in school, work and relationships.’
She continued: ‘Down Syndrome is often seen as something bad, which can put the twins at a disadvantage, but their potential is huge.
‘They are bright and intelligent – they are simply unable to demonstrate their skills because they are not at the expected level from someone of a similar age.
Sharing jokes: Nardy said the twins will swap toys and clothes if one of them doesn’t look it and look for each other around the house
Nardy explains the nation needs to focus on their achievements and instead, perhaps explore how to minimise the offers of terminating Down Syndrome babies during pregnancy scans.
‘As parents of six, we definitely feel our family is complete and Enzo has had the snip to make sure it stays that way,’ explained Nardy.
‘It is chaos at our home and we are just like any other family – except perhaps with more washing.’
She continued: ‘The house is often messy, and the kids are a handful when they’re tired, but I’ve realised I don’t have to be a superhero.
Instead, I embrace the chaos, just like I now embrace the twins having Down’s syndrome.’
‘I don’t want them to be seen based on their diagnosis, but how Matthew, nine, Rebecca, seven, Sarah, five, and Grace, two, see them. They appreciate the twins’ beautiful details instead of noticing their weaknesses.’
Rachel and Hannah are twice the sunshine and twice the happiness.’
Nardy shares her family story on Instagram.
Nardy explained she taught the twins to use the potty as the same time as their sister Grace, who is 18 months younger, pictured
Charming from birth! The twins are ‘twice the sunshine and twice the happiness’ their doting mother has said
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