My child was perfect
A mother reflects, two years after a life-changing diagnosis
In 2014, already a mother to two girls, Courtney Baker was told that her as-yet-unborn third child had Down syndrome—a chromosomal disorder that occurs in approximately 1 in 1,000 babies delivered each year—and that her best option was to terminate the pregnancy. Despite an abortion being suggested on more than one occasion by her obstetrician, Baker ultimately ignored his advice and gave birth to Emersyn in 2015. Fifteen months later, having been reminded of his recommendation, Baker was inspired to write the following letter to that same doctor.
A friend recently told me of when her prenatal specialist would see her child during her sonograms, he would comment, “He’s perfect.” Once her son was born with Down syndrome, she visited that same doctor. He looked at her little boy and said:
“I told you. He’s perfect.”
Her story tore me apart. While I was so grateful for my friend’s experience, it filled me with such sorrow because of what I should have had. I wish you would have been that doctor.
I came to you during 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 terminate 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.
I’m not angry. I’m not bitter. I’m really just sad. I’m sad the tiny beating hearts you see every day don’t fill you with a perpetual awe. I’m sad the intricate details and the miracle of those sweet little fingers and toes, lungs and eyes and ears don’t always give you pause. I’m sad you were so very wrong to say a baby with Down syndrome would decrease our quality of life. And I’m heartbroken you might have said that to a mommy even today. But I’m mostly sad you’ll never have the privilege of knowing my daughter, Emersyn.
Because, you see, Emersyn has not only added to our quality of life, she’s touched the hearts of thousands. She’s given us a purpose and a joy that is impossible to express. She’s given us bigger smiles, more laughter and sweeter kisses than we’ve ever known. She’s opened our eyes to true beauty and pure love.
So my prayer is that no other mommy will have to go through what I did. My prayer is that you, too, will now see true beauty and pure love with every sonogram. And my prayer is when you see that next baby with Down syndrome lovingly tucked in her mother’s womb, you will look at that mommy and see me then tell her the truth:
“Your child is perfect.”
Heartfelt thanks to Courtney Baker for allowing me to share this letter and photo. Courtney recently told me that Emmy is now eight years old and “absolutely thriving,” adding: “Her biggest accomplishment in life is hugging strangers and making everyone feel seen and loved. I wouldn’t change a thing about her.”