I discovered a couple weeks ago that the doctor who recommended I terminate Emersyn was continuing to traumatize expectant mothers with the same negative untruths about Down syndrome. His practice was still discriminating against Ds by repeatedly suggesting abortion after the mother made her wishes clear to keep her child.
After I saw it was the same doctor, I was completely overcome. My mind was in chaos. I was walking in circles, knowing I had to do something but having no idea what that might be. Wise friends said another letter wouldn’t change his mind, and I have to agree. But the devastation was fierce and words kept screaming to come out.
So, I wrote a letter I won’t send- knowing that one day Emersyn will write her own letter by her own hand. Emmy will be her own advocate to show the world what she can do, who she can be, and the quality of life she will live.
I think she has a pretty good start.
I recently spoke with a mommy whose son was diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome. She talked of how difficult the experience had been for her and how her doctor gave her the news as if it were a death sentence. When the visit became too traumatic for her, she chose another doctor within the practice who pressured her to abort two times after she’d already declared her position to keep her baby. The situation was too familiar, and then I learned why.
You were that doctor. Yours was that practice.
When I saw your name in her message, I was paralyzed with grief. Since that moment, my heart’s been consumed with the desire to write you again, to force you to react, to force you to change. But I’ve already been there. And I’ve failed.
As hard as it is to step away, I realize now that while our paths are delicately interwoven, this mama’s story is her own. She’s been handed the baton and I believe once she’s held her son and looked on his face, she will proudly, boldly, take it and run.
Yet the injustice of it all is too much for me. My heart is breaking and I beat myself up over the questions - What can I do to stop babies from dying from a diagnosis? What can I do to stop the decimation of an entire population? What can I do to show the world that my child, and everyone like her, is worthy to live. I’ve cried, I’ve prayed, I’ve used my voice.
And then I finally understood.
Emmy’s doing all that without saying a word. Every time she smiles, laughs, waves at every stranger, hugs her baby doll, meets her milestones, takes her steps, breaks a barrier, or does what you’ve said she won’t, she is being that change. As loudly as I’ve wanted to shout it, she is showing everyone, simply by being herself, that a world without Down syndrome would be a tragedy.
So, Doctor, this letter won’t reach your office. But Emmy’s two year pictures will, along with a list of her accomplishments. And every year after, you’ll receive the same. In the days and years ahead, you’ll find pictures of her graduating from pre-school, her first dance recital, her first competitive race, her graduation from high school, her first car, her first job, her graduation from college, her wedding picture.
And her life will show you, in every photograph of celebration and every goal she’s overcome, just how wrong you’ve always been.
Want to provide your doctor with valuable feedback, let DSDN help with our Physician Feedback Program: http://www.dsdiagnosisnetwork.org/prenatal
Are you a parent of a 0-3 year old with Down syndrome looking for support? DSDN can get you connected: http://www.dsdiagnosisnetwork.org/support