When Andrea Ott-Dahl offered to serve as a surrogate and egg donor to her friends, a lesbian couple who had been having trouble getting pregnant for six years, she had no idea the dramatic journey that was in store for her.
It started two months into the pregnancy, when doctors told Andrea, her wife, Keston, and the would-be parents that an ultrasound showed the child--whom they had already named Delaney--had fluid build-up on the back of her neck, meaning she would be born with Down syndrome, might be severely deformed, and had only a 5 percent chance of even surviving until her birth. All four women were devastated; the two intended moms-to-be even wanted Andrea to end the pregnancy.
"They said, 'The decision to terminate is our decision alone,'" Keston recalls, adding that the women were frightened by the doctors' diagnosis.
But Andrea and Keston saw the situation differently. "We decided we loved her and that she was ours," Keston said. They began educating themselves on what it meant for a child to have Down syndrome, and knew that baby Delaney had a chance to have a happy, accomplished life.
A few weeks later, Andrea and Keston approached the intended mothers to inform them that they wanted to keep the child as their own. The mothers briefly threatened a lawsuit, but never pursued.
And on July 2, 2013, little Delaney Skye was born, defying her doctors' predictions and changing Andrea and Keston's lives forever. She had a heart defect that required a surgical operation, but otherwise was born with no other major health problems.
Now 2 years old, Delaney is making strides as a happy, typical toddler.
Happy Holidays from @savingdelaney - we value your friendship! pic.twitter.com/Jmw7RACood— Toefood is Toe-Rific (@ToeRificCandy) December 9, 2015
"She likes getting into mischief and making messes. She loves to dance, all things Elmo, she loves playing with her siblings," Andrea said. "She hits every milestone."
Despite the turmoil, Andrea and Keston also said they hold no ill-will toward the intended mothers.
"From their perspective, I have to be kind of sensitive to them," Andrea said. "When you're trying to get pregnant for so long, it's hard to be optimistic and see things with a fresh set of eyes."
Andrea and Keston are sharing Delaney's publicly story in their new memoir with the purpose of giving other parents hope and inspiration about the possibilities for a child with Down syndrome.
"We just want to show parents out there -- you don't have to lose hope," said Andrea.
PLUS: See 12 miracle babies who beat the odds and inspired the world.