Dear Doctor, "You Told me Why Our Daughter was Better Off Dead."

down syndrome #deardoctor diagnosis prenatal abortion

I confess, I’ve had to ponder.

Who to address this letter to.

A letter to her diagnosing Doctor.

Dear Doctor - was that you?

Was it you, my old GP?

I'll not forget that day.

When I walked into your rooms alone,

‘Death' was all you had to say.

Perhaps it was that obstetrician.

His arrogance unsurpassed.

Or the genetic counsellor who pushed us

To do an amnio, and fast.

Was it the specialist at the hospital?

The one they ‘give all these cases to’.

I guess it doesn’t really matter,

Dear Doctors - this is for you:

Did you think before you spoke?

Did you pause for just a bit?

Though you knew my daughter’s sex

You referred to her as ‘it’.

‘It’ was ‘likely abnormal’.

‘Just can try again’ you said

Then you listed off the reasons why

Our girl was better off dead.

When we made it clear (again)

That abortion was off the table

You asked if we’d prefer her kept comfortable

As best as you were able.

You implied it would be merciful

That it was the kindest thing to do

Though it meant our daughter starving to death

Somehow that seemed better to you.

Better than a life with Down syndrome

“Completely incapable, she’ll never belong"

A fate worse than death you’d have had me believe

You could not possibly have been more wrong.

I think I’d like you to meet her

I think I’d like you to see

The little girl that you wrote off

Is doing just brilliantly.

She’s bright and she’s capable

She’s resilient and she's strong

She’s our shimmer and our sparkle

She’s our joy and she's our song.

Her big sister just adores her

Though she loves to steal her toys

And she snares hearts at every outing

Giving hugs and spreading joy

Her doctors think she’s amazing

She waves them ‘Hi’ and blows a kiss

She’s bright as a button and always alert

There’s nothing that she'll miss.

I think back to what you told me

I mull over what was said.

And I’ve come up with an alternative,

That you should have said instead:

“Dear Parents of a child with Down syndrome,

This child will change your life

She’ll challenge everything you think you know

Bring you joy and cause you strife

There is heartbreak in this diagnosis

But that will ebb with time

Very soon you feel so proud and humbled,

To be able to call her ‘mine’.

She’ll never fail to surprise you

With her resilience and her might

And when she succeeds, and know that she will,

She'll keep battling on to fight.

It might seem as though this will be scary

That it is a difficult road to tread

Just love her, cherish her, snuggle her and breathe

Treat her as a child, not a diagnosis instead.

Dear Parents, your baby is precious

An exquisite butterfly flying out in the wild

You are specially blessed to have such a gem

Congratulations on your beautiful child."

A 2013 study found that almost 1-in-4 families with a prenatal #downsyndrome diagnosis had a medical professional who was insistent on terminating the pregnancy.

Do you have a child with Down syndrome? Let your doctor know how they did delivering the diagnosis, anonymously, by participating in DSDN’s Physician Feedback program.

Connect with the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network if you have a young child or are expecting a new little one with Down syndrome for information, connections and support.

I'm a stay at home mum of two living in Melbourne, Australia. My girls and I fill our days with games, craft, baking and Disney movies. We love the weekends because then Daddy is home and we get to do fun things like have showers and sleep-ins! Still, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I blog at Kathleen Simpkins

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