A mother has shared how she decided to choose life when her doctor advised her to abort her unborn child, and how her daughter has given hope to couples around the world.
Crystal Ortiz and her husband Bryan were told at a 20 week scan that their daughter would be born with spina bifida, and were advised to have an abortion.
Spina bifida occurs during pregnancy when the spine does not develop properly, leaving the spinal cord exposed. This can damage the nervous system and affect the nerves and motor control.
Crystal said that at the scan, the doctor told her their little girl would be “fully paralysed or paralysed from hips down. You guys are young and can try again. I advise you abort.”
He then listed the possible negative outcomes of spina bifida and referred to their daughter as ‘it’.
Despite their fears, Crystal and Bryan knew they wanted to fight for their baby.
‘I fell in love’
Riley was born in July 2017 and Crystal “fell in love”, saying “she instantly gave me a sense of courage that I was going to be great at this thing called parenting.”
Riley has low muscle tone from the hips down, and has paralysed feet, and so requires a walker to get around, but her parents believe she sees herself as normal.
“She sees no difference; she interacts and explores like any other child.”
Early on, the couple were unsure how they would cope with the diagnosis once their daughter was born, and so began to share her story from pregnancy to birth online.
“We didn’t know that within that time we would encounter people from all over the world, families going through similar situations and just wanted prayer.”
She added: “In sharing Riley’s story mothers found me, and that’s when I knew I needed to continue to share Riley’s story to give other families the same hope and faith I was once looking for.”
Crystal also said: “If I would have let ignorance take control of our decisions, Riley wouldn’t have impacted so many lives. This little girl has reached families in South Africa, Philippines, Iran.
“She’s instilled a beautiful sense of hope in families who didn’t think they could ever feel hopeful.”
She added: “Don’t give up, I promise it gets easier. The love that these little warriors show us is worth every tear and doubt.
“Also don’t listen to anyone else’s opinion. We had many who doubted Riley before she made an appearance on this world, but we didn’t let that stop us”.