“This couple adored their twin girls, but then the doctors said, ‘I’m sorry.’ Matt and Jody Perry were an ordinary couple raising their son Finley. When their lives changed forever one morning, the couple was over the moon to find out they were expecting a child once again. For months, the couple and their son were eagerly anticipating the moment their family would expand.
When the big day finally arrived, the doctor had some major news for the parents. The diagnosis definitely took the whole family by surprise and changed their lives forever. Read on to find out what the news was and how the Perrys bravely dealt with it.
In 2007, Jody, a police force employee, and Matt, a civil servant, tied the knot after several years of dating. Shortly after their union, the happy couple decided that they wanted to start a family together. By 2009, they had a son, Finley. The couple was over the moon when Finley was born, and they had finally expanded their family from two to three. Raising him was a joy and fulfilled their dreams. Finley was adorable and playful, the perfect son.
While raising Finley, the couple decided it was time to expand their family once again. Unfortunately, the road to expanding their family further was not an easy one. In 2010, Jody became pregnant with a second child, and the couple was overjoyed and ready to take on the world. However, joy soon turned to sadness as the pregnancy suddenly ended when Jody suffered a miscarriage. The distraught couple decided to take a break from trying for a baby again and instead chose to focus on raising their beautiful son Finley, who was a year old at the time.
Slowly, Jody and Matt recovered from the tragedy and embarked on a new path. In 2011, the couple decided it was time to try again after grieving and mourning their miscarriage while raising a beautiful young boy.
Jody and Matt felt that it was finally the right time to start trying again for a second child. Hopeful and optimistic, the Perrys felt this time everything would be different and better. Keeping a positive outlook was always going to be the most important thing. Their brave decision was rewarded quickly as Jody became pregnant soon after they began trying naturally.
Like any expecting parent, Jody had her anxieties and fears. The first months of pregnancy are always filled with many questions and doubts. The memories of her previous pregnancy began creeping into her mind; however, with a strong support system surrounding her, particularly Matt, she knew everything would be great and perfect. All Jody could think about was how lovely it would be for Finley to finally have a sibling to grow up with and play with. This thought motivated her and kept Jody optimistic about the future.
It was that optimism that would bring them through the hard times ahead. When the important sonogram checkup came around, Matt and Jody knew that this pregnancy was different from the last one.
Praying and hoping they were right, they awaited the examination and the results. The doctor had the most wonderful news – there was a heartbeat. This meant the baby was doing okay, and the pregnancy was perfect. The couple was overjoyed, knowing they could finally start planning for a second child without fear or worry. Their hearts were almost beating out of their bodies from the excitement and happiness.
As if this wasn’t enough good news, the doctor had one more thing to tell them. After the couple calmed down from the excitement that there was a heartbeat, the doctor revealed that it actually wasn’t just one single heartbeat. Jody actually had two little hearts beating inside her. Jody and Matt were going to have twins. The news was almost too much to comprehend; it exceeded all their expectations, and their happiness knew no bounds.
On June 29th, 2011, Jody went into early labor. The couple rushed to the nearest hospital to deliver the twins. Isabel and Abigail were born six weeks premature and taken immediately to the neonatal ward. There they would receive the proper care they needed since they were born underweight and premature. Nevertheless, the couple was just happy that their babies were okay and receiving the best care possible. Finally, their older son, Finley, had siblings – perfect twin sisters.
When the girls were first born, they were quite premature, and they were in neonatal for four weeks. Although it was extremely difficult for Jody to give her girls to the doctors after carrying them for almost eight months, she knew this was the best for them. Only two weeks after the doctors took Isabel and Abigail to the neonatal ward, they called the happy couple. When Jody and Matt arrived, the doctor’s face was gloomy and not optimistic, as Jody and Matt were hoping for. The doctor asked the couple to have a private word with them, needing to discuss something with them about their daughters.
Judging by the doctor’s expression, Jody and Matt expected the worst but didn’t know what awful news the doctors would share. When Isabel and Abigail were taken to the neonatal ward, they were healthy. What could have gone wrong in just a few weeks? The first words uttered by the doctor were, ‘I’m sorry.’ Instantly, the couple knew the girls had something wrong with them. What could possibly be wrong with these two angelic girls?
When the doctor took us to one side to give us the results, the one thing he said to us was that he was sorry that Abigail and Isabel both had Down syndrome, and to this, Jody and Matt were shaken and distraught. Matt remembers, and to this day, I’ll never know what he was sorry for, and I think if I could ever meet him again, I’d like to show him Abigail and Isabel and say, ‘Why did you say sorry? Because we wouldn’t change Abigail and Isabel for the world.’
Now, a natural reaction to such news, especially when it was so unexpected, the parents had no idea what to do. Like so many other parents in the same situation, Jody and Matt were obviously terrified.
They had prayed for this miracle pregnancy and were blessed with twins, only to have the doctor reveal they suffer from an incurable genetic syndrome. Jody and Matt just didn’t quite know what to do; their world had changed in a split second. The couple had to make a quick heartfelt decision; having premature babies came with its own hardships, let alone two daughters afflicted with Down syndrome. What were they going to do, and how would they look ahead at their life?
After the consultation, Jody and Matt went to visit their daughters at the neonatal ward. Once they saw them, they both knew what to do – love trumps every and any other feeling. The parents viewed this challenge as an opportunity, a miracle of sorts. This one-in-a-million chance of both twins having Down syndrome was now their life.
Jody and Matt opened their hearts and realized that their love for Isabel and Abigail was endless and unconditional, regardless of any hardship they might encounter. These were their daughters, and they knew everything would work out. However, they knew the road ahead would require more information than they currently had, so they turned to the internet for answers.
At first, Jody and Matt were sure they would find what they needed online. Down syndrome, while uncommon, was not unheard of; they thought there must be dozens, if not hundreds, of resources online to help them through their journey. Unfortunately, the couple was mistaken. The internet was full of medical jargon that neither parent could make sense of. Worse still, articles and sites often had conflicting information, leaving Matt and Jody even more confused than before. How could they raise a child when they weren’t even sure what Down syndrome was?
Down syndrome itself is caused when a person carries extra genetic material in chromosome 21. The chances of a baby having it are one in one thousand; for twins to both have the disease, the chances drop to literally one in a million. One thing Jody and Matt knew for sure was that their love for the twins was never-ending and would withstand any challenge.
Well, the couple was not ashamed or sorry that they had their beautiful daughters. The Perrys knew they had quite a road ahead of them. Jody and Matt discovered from their doctors that there are many health issues which can be associated with Down syndrome. The problem was that they couldn’t know in advance which would affect their beloved twins.
Down syndrome can cause increased risks of a myriad of physical problems. Visual and hearing problems, heart abnormalities, and glands and hormone issues are common. In many cases, blood disorders and problems with the spine can also be associated with the condition. Therefore, the couple decided to have the girls undergo a series of tests.
After processing the magnitude of the news, the couple had the girls undertake several tests to try and fully grasp their condition, including what symptoms they would suffer from. They discovered that the girls not only had Down syndrome but several other health problems. The tests revealed that Isabel suffered from a small hole in her heart, while Abigail was deaf. The twins also had an underdeveloped thyroid gland, which can cause problems with sleep, body temperature, and weight. But the couple would find that raising their new twins would be even more complicated than they expected.
Now that all was clear regarding the issues confronting the twins, the Perry family was facing quite a challenge in life. However, knowing they loved each other, their son Finley, and their beautiful daughters, Jody and Matt believed everything would work out.
Now they had to think ahead and figure out how to both raise their beloved son alongside the twins, Isabel and Abigail, successfully. This ended up being the most challenging issue – making sure their children were treated the same. The couple happily took on this challenge, believing it was their calling and destiny in life.
One thing Matt and Jody knew for sure was that in order to get through all these difficulties, they had to stay positive. The two parents wanted Isabel and Abigail to live a full and happy life, filled with the many joys of childhood and adulthood as well. This is not an obvious mentality for parents whose children suffer from such conditions; however, this is what makes the Perrys so unique and inspirational. Even with all the issues and heartache they faced, they loved their daughters and believed in their right to live a normal life.
Jody truly is an inspiring woman: ‘I wouldn’t say I have made any sacrifices because of the girls being born. It sounds sort of sugar-coated, but the only things that they have brought into our lives are positive. There’s nothing negative; there’s nothing in the world that would convince me to change them,’ she said. While we would hope that everyone is as accepting as the Perrys, that is not always the case. But their ability to see the beauty Isabel and Abigail have brought into their lives is what makes the Perrys a unique and wonderful family.
But Jody and Matt would also receive some help from a special little helper. Clearly, Matt and Jody would have faced a more significant challenge had Finley chosen a different attitude in life. He, like his amazing parents, only sees the good in his younger twin sisters and loves them with all his heart.
Finley understands that his sisters need a bit more attention and help than other children and helps his parents as much as he can. Matt says, ‘The girls have brought us together massively as a unit, but also made us appreciate the hearing now, and we don’t wait for what the future brings because living today is far more important.’
Being the amazing people that they are, Jody and Matt decided that they needed to spread the positivity and support other parents with Down syndrome-afflicted children. To accomplish this, they set up the Twincess Trust.
The foundation not only raises money but also encourages other families with similar journeys to share their stories. This way, the Perrys have set up a wonderful and positive community that can help provide answers to other families that are going through the same thing. The trust helps other families cope with the challenges of Down syndrome, no longer forcing them to endlessly search the internet for answers.
The Perry family is truly inspirational as they have chosen to help others while they could have easily just chosen to focus on themselves. This also caught the attention of some celebrities. The Perrys are not alone in their fight against the stigmas of Down syndrome. Through the years, the Twincess campaign has garnered more significant celebrity attention.
In particular, their previously mentioned marathons and fun days have featured famous folks like the New Zealand cricket player Latifah Paliacena and British actor Chris Chatel. Additionally, Isabel, Abigail, and the Twincess campaign were selected for British radio station Rock FM’s charity celebrity football match in 2014. The game featured famous soccer stars and celebrities, including X-Factor finalist John Joe Kier.
Not all of the Twincess campaign’s events are soccer tournaments or sports days, however. The campaign also enjoys putting on more formal fundraisers as well. In 2016, the Perrys put together a black-tie gala event to raise money for the Twincess campaign. The celebration took place at the historic Pines Hotel in Chorley and featured music, dinner, an auction, and more. At the end of the night, the couple managed to raise £3,000 for the foundation. Not only that, but they raised awareness as well, all while having a great time.
One of the most fun causes the Twincess campaign is involved with year after year is Down Syndrome International’s yearly sock campaign. What is a sock campaign, you ask? Well, every year, for World Down Syndrome Day (March 21st), the organizations encourage people to wear colorful mismatched socks, making sure to showcase them. The socks get people asking questions and also start conversations, leading to more awareness all throughout the world. It is a simple, low-cost way to get people involved, and we think it’s great.
By building the Twincess community, the Perrys have helped parents in many ways. One of them is showing other parents the types of activities their children can participate in, even with Down syndrome, so they can feel as though they aren’t missing out on a normal life. The Perrys explain that there is nothing these children can’t do. Carol Boys, CEO of the Down Syndrome Association, echoes this sentiment: ‘In the past, it was believed there were many things that children with Down syndrome could not do when, in fact, they had never even been given the opportunity to try.’
One of the most amazing things about the charity is its tagline: ‘See the ups and not the downs.’ It automatically makes you think of good things. This is exactly what Jody and Matt want you to do – don’t look at the downside of things; always look up and find what makes you happy and what the positives are. In the case of the twins, Isabel and Abigail, it is their amazing personalities and all that they can and will accomplish throughout their lives. Isabel and Abigail have so much potential, just like any other child, and the tagline of the foundation helps Jody and Matt always remember that.
One of the main things the family advocates for is the shattering of stereotypes and breaking down of misconceptions. Jody has said, ‘The “I’m sorry” is the thing that kind of sits with us more than anything because that was the first word that came out of his mouth. Why is he sorry? Why is he sorry? You know, they were all beautiful, just like, you know, all children. So, it was the “I’m sorry” that we just couldn’t get round.
‘ For Jody, Matt, and Finley, Isabel and Abigail are not a burden or problem; they are simply two amazing twins who bring their family so much joy. This is what they want others to understand – Down syndrome doesn’t have to be terrible, depressing, or sad. They especially don’t want anyone to feel sorry for them, as the doctor did. But you need to listen, I think at times, to people who’ve been there because there’s nothing to be sorry about. Like Jody said, it’s just a different journey.
To make sure no one ever felt bad for them again, the Perrys and their daughters next challenged a long-standing norm. The incredible actions and choices the Perrys make for their twin girls are never-ending. One of the most amazing and bravest was their choice regarding Isabel and Abigail’s schooling.
While most parents would send kids affected with Down syndrome to a special needs school, Jody and Matt decided otherwise. The couple believes their daughters will live their best lives when integrated with regular kids. This is entirely true, as every day in the regular education system, the twins are improving their speech and learning things they would never have learned in a special needs school.
At this point, it should be clear that Isabel and Abigail are two incredible twins. Between the Twincess campaign and the family’s media coverage, these two inspiring girls have changed the world for Down syndrome children everywhere, which is why the Sun, a British newspaper, nicknamed the twins the ‘Twincredibles.’ With all they’ve done for children all around the world, not to mention their bravery in everything they’ve faced, we wholeheartedly agree with this nickname.
Isabel and Abigail, before anything else, are best friends, which is the most wonderful thing possible. The fact that they each have each other for their entire lives is truly amazing. They will forever have someone there to understand their feelings; a bond between twins is something that cannot be replicated and cannot be compared to any other kind of friendship. For this reason, it is truly a blessing that they have each other. They share an unconditional bond that will help them navigate their many adventures in life.
Above all, the Perrys are a loving family. They do not view themselves as different from any other British family; Isabel and Abigail are just like any other six-year-old girls. They go to school, play with their brother, and are eager to learn.
They are two of the most adorable children in the world, and there is no one better to lead the Twincess campaign. We look forward to seeing where the ‘Twincredibles’ go next, together and with their amazing parents and older brother. They are bound to have a wonderful and fulfilling life. ‘Now, there’s just nothing in the world that could convince me to change them. To just wouldn’t change them for the world,’ Jody said.