Naomi Joy Bakker wasn’t supposed to live. At 23 weeks gestation, a routine ultrasound led to a diagnosis of intrauterine growth restriction. The placenta had not properly attached to the uterus and she wasn’t receiving enough nutrition. Doctors told her parents, Angela and Michael, that their baby girl was at a high risk of dying in the womb. A second opinion confirmed this and the Bakkers were given the option to abort Naomi. They refused, and now they have celebrated her first birthday.
“She turned one on July 1 and we had a big superhero party for her,” said Mrs. Bakker. “A ‘coming out’ party in many ways as so many of our friends had never met her. We isolated ourselves a lot until flu and RSV season was over.”
To get to her first birthday Naomi had to overcome obstacle after obstacle. Her parents refused abortion once, but then her mother developed preeclampsia, and despite the risk to her own health, refused abortion a second time.
“There were four hours left until the abortion cut off,” explained Mrs. Bakker. “But they told us that in cases like ours they make exceptions. They said, ‘The law doesn’t even apply to you. That’s how bad your case is.’ She started kicking, and I thought, that’s her little voice. That’s all she can say.”
Doctors told the Bakkers that to not abort at this point and with all they were facing, parents had to “really, really want your kid.”
Mrs. Bakker assured the doctors that she did. She told them that despite any risk to her own health and the risk of her daughter, she really loved and wanted her daughter. She wasn’t sure it would all work out, but she had faith.
After a week of bedrest, Mrs. Bakker had an emergency C-section. Weighing just 364 grams, Naomi was not expected to survive. She was at risk for brain bleeds, cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, and asthma. She had surgery done twice to repair a hole in her bowels, as well as hernia surgery. She also suffered from chronic lung disease and collapsed lungs. But miraculously, after 142 days in the NICU, she was discharged, with oxygen and monitors to watch her breathing. Naomi continued to surprise doctors.
“Her hearing, eyesight, voice and heart continue to be perfect,” said Mrs. Bakker this week. “She started crawling four days ago and is zipping around exploring our house excitedly. She is completely on track for her gestational age and many of her adjusted age milestones.”
Doctors continue to be astounded by Naomi’s progress. She no longer needs oxygen and the only major challenge she faces is with her thyroid, which she takes medication for.
“She is so happy and playful and waves and claps at everything,” said Mrs. Bakker. “Neurologically she is perfect. She is still small but we always knew she would be petite.”
Mrs. Bakker urges parents to get a third and even fourth opinion when given a diagnosis for their child, especially those still in the womb and targeted for abortion.