Hearing from a doctor that your baby will be born with Down syndrome is a surely going to be loaded with emotions. For Courtney and Matt Baker of Sanford, Fla., the news was further complicated through their interactions with a prenatal specialist. First, Courtney was told that the 12-week screening for Down syndrome was negative. Then the doctor called her and told her that, in fact, the screening was wrong and her baby would be born with Down syndrome. The Bakers told TODAY Parents that they “were destroyed and completely blindsided” by the diagnosis.
At that point, the prenatal specialist suggested that they terminate their pregnancy, but that choice was not one Courtney was willing to make. Now, as mom to 15-month-old Emersyn, she penned a strongly-worded, moving response on Facebook to the doctor who suggested the couple’s quality of life would be low if they continued with the pregnancy and gave birth to a baby with Down syndrome. That letter has now gone viral.
In it, Courtney Baker writes:
“I came to you at the most difficult time in my life. I was terrified, anxious, and in complete despair. I didn’t know the truth yet about my baby, and that’s what I desperately needed from you. But instead of support and encouragement, you suggested we abort our child. I told you her name and you asked us again if we understood how low our quality of life would be with a child with Down syndrome. You suggested we reconsider our decision to continue the pregnancy. From that first visit, we dreaded our appointments. The most difficult time in my life was made nearly unbearable because you never told me the truth.
My child was perfect.”
Courtney said she felt that the doctor “needed to know how wrong he was” and said that she will continue to speak out for all children, including those who are disabled or have Down syndrome. “I want doctors to know how valuable and worthy the unborn are, typical and disabled,” she said. “I want mothers to know that their babies are precious and priceless and will change their worlds for the better. I want everyone else to soften their hearts and learn that we’re all different, but we all deserve life and we all deserve love.”
The Bakers’ story comes at the the apex of a growing movement in Down syndrome organizations to reframe conversation about the condition. In March, Olivia Wilde starred in a video for CoorDown promoting the face that people with Down syndrome lead very normal lives, full of love, laughter, and positivity.