As one of the tiniest babies ever delivered by her doctors, micro-preemie Naomi Bakker faced an uphill battle for survival from the first. Many medical professionals feared she had no hope.
When abortion was tabled as an alternative, Naomi’s parents said no.
When it seemed prayer was their only hope, they prayed.
Now, at almost 6 years old, not only has Naomi survived, but she is thriving like any other kid her age—and no less feisty.
A 22-week pregnancy scan revealed to parents Angela and Michael Bakker, of Reno, Nevada, that their unborn child was suffering from intrauterine growth restriction. So, friends advised them to travel to San Francisco for a second opinion.
“They told us pretty much the same thing we heard in Reno,” Michael told The Epoch Times in a video interview.
“They estimated her at about 350 grams, and they said you needed to be about 500 grams in order to survive birth.”
It was determined that Angela had the beginnings of preeclampsia (a high blood pressure-related pregnancy complication); and although she didn’t recall her doctors using the word “abortion,” it was implied.
“They kind of around-about ways said, ‘Well, we can always end this early,’” she said.
“We were right at 24 weeks where it’s illegal to do it after that point,” added Michael. “But they said, ‘We can always make exceptions in your case.’”
At the very moment this was uttered, Angela felt the baby announce her presence by kicking. The couple decided termination was not to be an option.
Yet, mom and baby could not hold out until the safety of the 28-week mark was reached.
By July of 2015, Angela’s preeclampsia had worsened and the baby’s heartbeat grew erratic. They rushed her to Renown Regional Medical Center; and Naomi Joy Bakker was delivered via caesarean at 25 weeks’ gestation.
With 16 medics on hand, the preemie baby was born in quietude, as she was too tiny to even have a voice. Yet as doctors succeeded intubating her, the room was abuzz with excitement.
Naomi’s eyes were still fused shut, and she weighed under 13 ounces (364 grams)—but she was alive. She was rushed to the NICU, leaving her parents overwhelmed by all that had transpired.
Doctors said the chances of Naomi being a “normal kid” were under 1 percent, predicting deafness, blindness, and brain bleeds. The first 24 hours were her biggest challenge, they said.
Amidst these dire predictions, Angela turned to social media in seek of support.
“I was in a hospital room, I didn’t have my baby with me, and I went on Facebook to see if there’s any groups for people in this situation,” she shared.
(Years later, she would come to offer support right back to those in need—stating that a handful of parents have even had the courage to refuse abortion after hearing her story. “Let people help you,” she insists. “They want to help you, and it’s a heavy burden to carry when you’ve got such a sick child and you’re facing life and death every few days.”)
The mom held her daughter for the first time two days after giving birth. She credits her nurses for helping her have interaction with the frail infant.
Later, Michael also started a blog which followed Naomi’s progress. Originally just for loved ones, it soon blew up, and her story of survival began touching people all over the globe.
“One of the doctors who’s an atheist, he said, ‘I don’t believe in God. But keep praying … Keep praying because it’s working,’” Angela recalled.
During her 142 days in the NICU, Naomi endured two bowel repairs, hernia surgery, a collapsed lung, and chronic lung disease. Earning the nickname “Little Karate” for her feistiness, she traversed these obstacles and was discharged just in time for Thanksgiving.
Angela remembers it being the best day of her life.
In footage showing Naomi’s homecoming, nurse Carrie Archie said that for a “12-ounce-and-change baby [to] do so well is amazing.”
With a chorus of teary-eyed farewells, Naomi headed home to a new life—and a big brother, Nathaniel, who couldn’t wait to meet her.
Little Karate then smashed through one milestone after another, gaining weight and coming off oxygen at around 7 months.
And eventually, life got easier.
The family celebrated Naomi’s first experiences: her wide-eyed fascination with life—plants and animals; and her first little steps fortuitously falling on Washington’s March for Life.
“I made a big fuss about that,” Angela told The Epoch Times. “Like, she’s ‘not viable with life,’ but she’s walking.”
Now fast approaching her 6th birthday, Naomi is a normal kid, who can read, write, and even snowboard like her big brother. She loves chicken nuggets, joking around, and she never lost her feisty spirit.
She’s growing up fearless, walking into class on her first day of preschool without so much as a backward glance.
“The best doctors in the United States of America were wrong about her,” said Angela. “And so take their advice, but you can still have hope they’re wrong.”
Michael believes their daughter’s story of hope is one that God wants to tell.
For both her parents, Naomi achieving “normal” makes her nothing short of a miracle.