When an Idaho couple learned their twins would be born with Down syndrome, they considered giving their babies up for adoption. Years later, the mother confessed having her rare set of twins was like a “lottery win.”
When Julie McConnel fell pregnant in 2014, she hoped it was a baby girl because her three-year-old son yearned to have a younger sister. The prenatal scan revealed she had not one but two babies in her womb.
Julie and her husband, Dan, agreed to have a prenatal test to determine whether their twins had Down syndrome. When the results came back, the couple was shocked. The reports suggested their babies had an extra chromosome.
“We were afraid and terrified and concerned and didn’t know if we could handle the responsibility,” Julie confessed. The doctors ran another test to confirm if both the babies had Down syndrome and by week 17, Julie and Dan were sure their twins would need special care.
The news didn’t sit well with them because they had thought of a different future. Raising babies with Down syndrome would be an entirely new experience for them.
The couple already had four children and believed they weren’t well-equipped to raise their twins. Instead of opting for an abortion, Julie and Dan considered giving their twins up for adoption.
The Turning Point
Julie and her husband got in touch with the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network and even found a loving family who wanted to adopt their babies.
The mother said her “heart came out of her chest” when she saw them.
Before Julie and Dan could complete the paperwork, they found a Down syndrome association in Idaho, which helped them learn more about children with special needs. That experience changed their perspective altogether.
Through the local association, Julie and Dan met families of children with Down syndrome and learned how happy they felt raising their children with special needs. That meeting made Julie drop her plans of giving her babies up for adoption. She said:
“When we finally decided that we weren’t going to let our fear stand in our way, it was easy to make our decision.”
‘Perfect Little Babies’
Before the twins were born, Julie created a Facebook page to share her journey with her friends and family. She knew raising her twins would be a completely new experience for her and thought of keeping her loved ones updated through Facebook.
Julie and Dan welcomed their baby boys, Charlie and Milo McConnel, in August 2015. The mother said her “heart came out of her chest” when she saw them, adding:
“I was so smitten. They reached out and grabbed my heart, and they just looked like perfect little babies.”
A New Experience
Julie and her husband instantly fell in love with Charlie and Milo. As time passed, the parents learned how to raise their twins. Although the babies needed special care and attention, Julie never hesitated to provide them with the best of everything.
She shared that her older children were utterly obsessed with Charlie and Milo and loved playing with them and caring for their needs. She also revealed Charlie was a bit heavier than Milo at birth and that Milo had to stay in the NICU for some days. Milo took some time before he could eat, sit up, and walk, but now, the seven-year-old brothers can do most tasks perfectly.
“We always say that Charlie’s our athlete and Milo’s our scholar,” Julie said while explaining that her twins had different personalities. She also said having twins with Down syndrome was like winning the lottery.
The parents enjoy every moment with their boys and decided to dedicate an Instagram page for their babies, “chucklesandmeatloaf,” where they share adorable photos of their boys.
More than 87,000 people follow the boys on Instagram, and Julie hopes the stories she shares through social media will help parents like her see the struggles behind raising children with special needs.
“We all wish we could go back and tell ourselves when we were pregnant that it’s going to be okay and not to worry and waste time being so sad and afraid,” Julie said.
She is grateful for having her babies in her life and all the good and stressful times she spent with them. The mother said she couldn’t imagine living without her twins, unlike the time when she decided to give her babies up for adoption. She added:
“I have so much hope for my boys’ future!”
We hope Julie keeps inspiring other parents through her parenthood journey and that her children always get what they want in their lives. All the best, beautiful twins!