On Mother’s Day 2001 Henny Beaumont gave birth to her third child. For the first four hours, her baby seemed no different from her two other little girls.
When the registrar told Henny and her husband that their daughter might have Down’s syndrome, she thought that her life was over. How would she be able to look after this baby, who might die, and manage her other two children at the same time? How could this weak little baby, who needed so much more from Henny than her other two children, provoke such feelings of hatred and resentment? And how would she learn to love her? If she can’t trust her own reactions to Beth, how could she expect other people to overcome their prejudices and ignorance about her condition?
Hole in the Heart is a moving, funny, ironic and refreshingly honest look at living with a child who has special needs. Henny’s remarkable journey speaks not only to parents who have had a similar experience and the medical and care professionals who try to help them, but to every one of us who feels anxiety about our children – wondering whether they are achieving enough, whether we do enough for them, and whether we love them enough.
This beautifully drawn memoir transforms a deeply personal experience into a story that will resonate with every parent, and anyone who has wondered how to behave towards families with disabled children.
“Wonderful, astonishing drawings… a masterclass in the sorrow and joy of being human, and a powerful reminder that nothing is more earth-shattering than love.”
“Hole in the Heart packs a powerful emotional punch by pitting ordinary scenes of life with a newborn alongside the devastating reality of Beth’s condition.”
Joanna Moorhead, Guardian
“It has made me embarrassed for how we break this kind of news to you. It has made me cry for all the anguish you have felt. It has made me hopeful for what Beth has achieved. This is essential reading for every paediatrician in training.”
Robert Yates, Consultant Cardiologist, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children
Henny Beaumont is a London-based artist and portrait painter. She has an MA in Fine Art and Printmaking at Camberwell College of Art, where she has also been a visiting lecturer. She worked on an audio visual App for the New River and has been published in the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice 2013. She has four children. Hole in the Heart: Bringing Up Beth is published by Myriad Editions. Read more.
Author portrait © Steven Epstein