Louise’s twins really are one in a million – while one was born with Down’s syndrome – the other was born without.
When she looks at her twin boys, proud mum Louise is overwhelmed by their similarities.
They have the same sense of fun and adventure, matching cheeky smiles and huge hearts.
So it’s frustrating for mum Louise that many people only see a difference – that Jacob was born with Down’s Syndrome and Thomas was not.
Louise Johnson from Telford said: ‘ When I look at them al I see is two beautiful little boys who adore each other and their family.
‘People are confused when I tell them that the boys are twins because one has Down’s Syndrome and then when the penny drops they pull a sad face and tell me they are ‘ sorry’ to hear that.
‘It frustrates me that people think it is a shame that Jacob is different to his twin because we don’t see it that way at all.
‘We don’t wish Jacob was like Thomas, we love and celebrate both boys for their similarities and their differences. Seeing Jacob with his twin doesn’t make us feel we have lost anything, we just feel so blessed to have them both and for them both to have each other.’
Louise is telling her story as part of National Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week.
Her biggest fear is that less children like Jacob will be born because increased screening for Down’s Syndrome might lead to higher termination rates.
She said: ‘ I look at Jacob and it baffles me to think anybody wouldn’t want a son like him, he’s just amazing, as is Thomas. ’
Louise was already a mum to Anthony, 11, Leah, 10 and Bradley, eight when she found out she was pregnant again in May 2011.
She learned she was carrying twins after being sent for an early scan following a bleed.
She says: ‘ When the sonographer said it was too early to see a heartbeat but that there were two eggs I was shocked but delighted. I prayed they would birth survive.
Sadly her relationship broke up soon after but the pregnancy progressed well.
Louise found out she was expecting boys at a private gender scan in August 2011 but soon after scans showed Twin 1 was not growing as well as Twin 2.
She said: ‘ I was worried sick and attended fortnightly scans. Thankfully Twin 2 was still growing but smaller than his brother.’
There was no indication of any other issues with the babies. At 34 weeks she wet into early labour and with one baby being breech they were delivered by emergency section at Shrewsbury Hospital.
Twin 1- Thomas was born first weighing 4lb 10 oz and Jacob followed weighing 5lb 6oz.
Both were rushed straight to special baby care so it wasn’t until later that afternoon that Louise got to meet them for the first time.
She said: ‘I stroked their fingers and fell in love with them immediately. They were both gorgeous.’
But by the next day she could see that Jacob’s eyes had a more obvious almond shape.
She said: ‘ As they were twins I did expect they would like more alike when in fact to me they looked different, especially their eyes, but they were both beautiful.’
Louise has a cousin with Down’s Syndrome and it crossed her mind that Jacob had a similar appearance but as the boys were twins she didn’t think it possible.
She said: ‘ I didn’t say it because I didn’t want to look daft, I didn’t think one twin could have it and not the other.’
But when doctors said they wanted to run tests on Jacob, Louise did blurt it out and to her astonishment doctors said it was possible.
She explains: ‘ They said they wouldn’t know until they did more tests and asked for permission to take bloods.
‘But as soon as I knew it was possible in my heart I already knew what the results would be and it didn’t matter a bit. I loved both my babies whatever.’
Three days later she was called into an office to be given the results. It was confirmed that Jacob had Downs Syndrome while his twin Thomas did not.
She says: ‘ I was told the odds were a million to one, I knew they were special but that just confirmed it.’
Medics explained that it was possible because they were fraternal twins which meant they came from two eggs , rather than one which had split to make identical twins.
But to her shock medics delivering the news then asked Louise if she still wanted to keep Jacob.
She said: ‘ When they first asked if I still wanted to take him home it took a minute to register what I was being asked.
‘I was stunned and couldn’t believe it. It had not crossed my mind for one second that both my twins would not come home.’
But medics explained that around 20 per cent of children born with Down’s Syndrome are left at hospital for social services.
She said: ‘ I told him that wouldn’t be happening and he said he was sorry for having to ask, but I understood why, I just felt so sad for those babies.’
When he was eight days old Thomas was strong enough to go home – but it was hard leaving Jacob who had feeding issues.
Three days later he was also discharged and despite their big difference – they quickly showed a unique bond and lots of similarities.
Louise said: ‘ They would cry at the same time and only settle when they were together. The bond they had was unmistakable.’
Thomas had been expected to develop quicker – but in the early days it was Jacob that first slept through the night and started solids.
Louise said: ‘ I had to laugh because that was typical of my twins, breaking he rules again.’
Louise had wondered if watching Thomas develop faster than his brother would be hard.
She said: ‘People seemed to think that Thomas would be a painful reminder of the life that Jacob would have if he did not have Down’s but again my boys had to prove them wrong.’
Because in fact Louise says that it was having his twin that helped Jacob meet milestones quicker than expected.
She said: ‘ Because of their bond Jacob wanted to be doing what Thomas was doing so he would push himself and because Tomas wanted his brother with him he would encourage him, it was a marvel to watch them.’
When Thomas started walking he encouraged Jacob to use his walker daily until finally he was on his feet too.
Louise says: ‘It was like Thomas was his wingman showing him what he could do, but it worked both ways.’
If Thomas was sick Jacob would cuddle up with him on the sofa and both boys thrived on their special relationship.
Shortly after her twins first birthday Louise’s eldest son was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD
It made her think about how she has been asked if she wanted to give up Jacob. She said: ‘ I would never have given up Anthony if I had known he would have these condition, yet to think people give up children because they have Down’s Syndrome broke my heart.’
Soon after she met husband Craig and when she fell pregnant with their first child together she refused all screening for Down’s Syndrome.
She said: ‘ There was no point because it made no difference to us at all. I just felt blessed to be having another baby. It made no difference if that baby had Down’s or not.’
Riley, now two, was born without Down’s Syndrome.
Jacob and Thomas are now five. Jacob attended a school for children with Downs Syndrome while Thomas attends a local primary school.
Louise says: ‘ They can’t wait to see each other after school. Thomas asks why he can’t be with JJ every day
‘To him Jacob is just his brother but one day I will have to explain that they are different.
‘But I know Thomas will just accept it because to him he will always be his twin..’
She fears that more babies with Downs Syndrome will be terminated with additional screening.
She says: ‘ It’s heartbreaking because it’s just fear, but I hope my story shows there is nothing to be afraid of.
‘All my kids need different support in different ways and that’s all there is too it.
‘But my twins bring so much love and joy to our lives that we would not be without either of them.’