‘The doctor handed me a bunch of pamphlets and spoke the words, ‘We feel this fetus is not compatible with life.’: Mom chooses to birth baby who now ‘very much LIVES LIFE’

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“What constitutes ‘compatible with life?’

I was 21-years-old, pregnant with my second child. I was at my gender scan. I recall being given several 4D ultrasound images, which I cherish today. I found it a bit odd when the ultrasound technician would not speak to me, and then I was taken into a side room to wait for the doctor. The doctor came in and handed me a bunch of pamphlets, and then she spoke the words. The words no mother should hear. ‘We believe your fetus has a chromosome abnormality and some serious heart defects. We feel this fetus is likely not compatible with life.’ I stopped her right there. ‘I don’t care what this baby has or doesn’t have, I will be delivering this baby.’

Ultrasound of baby doctor says wasn't "compatible with life"
Katie Brakhage

For the next few months, I went in for weekly appointments, saw specialist after specialist, cardiologists and NICU teams. At 32 weeks along, I was admitted to the hospital for high blood pressure and a ‘placental dysfunction’ including a single vessel umbilical cord. At every single visit, the doctor came in and told me I should really consider an abortion, that it would be ‘the most gentle option’ and ‘better for the baby, that was not compatible with life anyway.’ Over and over I watched her little legs move on the ultrasound screen. I heard her little heartbeat. Every single appointment, the doctor again insisted I should consider abortion as her life would not be ‘normal.’

At 35 weeks, it was determined she had to come out. Her placenta had quit working altogether. The MFM doctor came in again during induction and stated again how she was ‘not compatible with life’ and it was ‘best to have a natural delivery and not to have a c-section.’

My daughter’s heart rate started falling and I demanded a c-section. The doctor advised against it saying she would not survive and then I would be left with a scar. I insisted they move forward with a c-section.

She was born squealing and kicking. The NICU team assessed her and determined they were wrong all along. As the lead NICU doctor was checking her over, I heard him say, ‘Mom was right.  Down Syndrome. I believe the baby has Down Syndrome.’  This was the key phrase to continue life saving measures if needed.

Intubated newborn with down syndrome lays in NICU asleep
Katie Brakhage

6 hours later, tests confirmed she in fact had Down Syndrome and was deemed ‘compatible with life.’ She did also have a heart defect. Auriana Faith was born at 35 weeks, 3 lbs. 10 oz. She required minimal room airflow, nasal cannulas for 8 hours, but then was breathing on her own. She spent 2 weeks in the NICU and then came home. The doctors warned me she may never walk or talk as she had suffered oxygen loss during induction.

Auri is now 10-years-old. She has proven everyone wrong. She has had 3 open heart surgeries and works hard at her therapy every week, and yet she thrives. This spunky little girl is worth every minute. Auriana enjoys life to the fullest! She walks, talks, runs, and jumps!

Little girl with down syndrome stands on beach with purple wet suit on
Katie Brakhage

I have gone on to have 3 more children, and Auriana is a wonderful big sister! I can not imagine life without any of them. They are all unique in their own way. Being a Christian, I believe that ALL life is precious. ALL babies have a RIGHT to be born. It is not up to any of us to determine who has a right to be born. And as far as ‘not compatible with life’ I guarantee you, she very much LIVES LIFE.

Little girl with down syndrome smiles as she put on purple rhinestone outfit
Katie Brakhage

What does the phrase ‘compatible with life’ mean to you? Whether the baby is destined to live 1 minute or several years, is not for us to determine. If I had listened to the doctor’s advice and aborted my pregnancy, I would have lost out on the past 10 years with my precious daughter. She is living proof doctors do not know what the future holds.

Mother smiles in selfie beside her daughter with down syndrome
Katie Brakhage

I have heard time and again how doctors offer and sometimes push mothers to abort their baby simply because they think the baby may have a chromosome abnormality or birth defect. These babies’ lives should not be any less valued or important than any other baby. Embrace life. Give them a chance.”

Little girl with down syndrome stands outside with hearing aid in with fake butterfly on it
Katie Brakhage
Mother stands outside holding daughter with down syndrome beside her four other kids
Katie Brakhage

This is an exclusive story to Love What Matters. For permission to use, email Exclusive@LoveWhatMatters.com.

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Brakhage. Submit your story here. For our best love stories, subscribe to our free email newsletter. 

Read more stories like this:

‘You could have an abortion. At least save yourself.’ I was pregnant with my first baby, and planning his funeral.’: Woman encouraged to terminate baby with down syndrome, ‘We can’t control what our lives will bring us’

‘Linda, I have news—please sit down.’ The delivery room was hush-hush. ‘She will be a burden to your family.’ Everyone was disgusted I wouldn’t abort her.’: Mom details emotional journey advocating for daughter with Down syndrome

‘There are concerns in the ultrasound.’ My doctor used scare tactics to push me into terminating my baby. I tried not to break down.’ Mom fights back after being pressured to abort baby with brain defects

‘The baby is going to suffer. We can take care of this right now.’ They told me to abort him.’: Mom says she came to ‘peace’ with her son’s Down Syndrome diagnosis, he became a ‘warrior’

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