“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.’
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.”
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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.
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