Mum's viral letter to doctor who told her she should abort baby with Down's syndrome
9 June 2016
"We didn't know anyone with Down's syndrome. We had no idea what to expect"
Any pregnant mother can tell you what she needs most of all from her doctor: support, compassion, genuine care.
That's even more important if there are any complications with the pregnancy – parents need to have the best support and guidance possible.
Unfortunately, for Courtney Baker her experience could hardly have been more different. When she first heard the news that her unborn baby had Down's syndrome, the first thing her doctor did was suggest abortion.
Viral letter to her doctor
15 months later, she's written about her experience in an open letter to her doctor that has gone viral.
"What I would love is for a mother who is in the process of making that decision whether to keep the baby ... to realize that life doesn't end with a diagnosis [of Down's syndrome] - it's just getting started," Courtney, 44, told the Daily News.
"I just wrote my letter from my heart and posted it, and then from there it just kind of snowballed," she added. "I'm as shocked as anybody."
The polite but pointed letter addresses the prenatal specialist who delivered the news that Courtney's daughter, Emersyn Faith, had Down's syndrome and would be a high-risk pregnancy.
"We didn't know anyone with Down's syndrome. We had no idea what to expect. We just knew that we were gonna continue on and love her — other than that, we had no support whatsoever," she said. “The doctor said, 'I'm sorry,' and then it was 'see ya.'"
15 months after her pre-natal diagnosis, Emmy is a happy and healthy toddler
Speaking to ABC News, Courtney said she knew how important it would be to write the letter before her daughter was even born.
"Every action, from opening and closing the mailbox to raising the red flag, was closure for me," Courtney said.
"I have no idea how the doctor might have reacted to my letter, but I do have faith that God can work any miracle and he can change any heart."
"I hope he sees Emmy. I hope he sees my words on paper. Emmy is proof that children with special needs are worthy and can change the world. She's doing it right now."
"Don't count your chromosomes before they hatch"
And Courtney's story has also resonated with many mothers of children with special needs – including Katrina Abianac, author of the Parker Myles website and the mother of a son with Down's syndrome. Katrina says she's made it her mission to tell doctors, “Don't count your chromosomes before they hatch."
"Would a doctor sit down a new mother and explain to her with sorrow in his eyes there's a small chance her newborn could die in a fire, have a congenital heart defect or get hit by a bus?" she said. “No one ever knows what journey life will take us on. But it's our journey, not anyone else's."
"That's what I wish I would have had."
Courtney says she was spurred to action last month when a friend said how different her experience carrying a baby with Down's syndrome was. Her doctor told her that her baby was perfect.
"It just made me sad," she said. “That's what I wish I would have had."
So Courtney and Emmy mailed their letter on 25 May. They have yet to hear back.
Courtney says "This has honestly been the very best year of my life"
"The very best year of my life"
"I don't expect him to respond," said Courtney. "I pray every time he's confronted with this, and he sees these precious little babies on the sonogram, that he hears my words, he sees Emmy's face.
"This has honestly been the very best year of my life. We've fallen head over heels for her," she added. "It's been a crazy ride, but it's been awesome."
Healthy and happy
15 months after her pre-natal diagnosis, Emmy is a happy and healthy toddler.
"She's smart — and nobody tells you that, nobody tells you that a baby with Down's syndrome can actually meet milestones," Courtney said. "She's delayed physically, but she can say words. She says 'dada', 'banana', 'bath', 'ball', 'dog'. She knows a lot of sign language. She will drop a treat for the dog to get a reaction."
Read the full letter here.