'Bachelorette' Emily Maynard Johnson Opens Up About Welcoming Her Sixth Child, Born With Down Syndrome
“He's just been our biggest blessing," the Season 8 star said.
Emily Maynard Johnson, who starred on the eighth season of The Bachelorette, revealed that she welcomed her sixth child, a son named Jones West, with her husband Tyler Johnson in August.
Jones joins siblings Ricki, 17 — Emily’s daughter with her late fiancé, stock race car driver Ricky Hendrick — Jennings, 7, Gibson, 6, Gatlin, 5, and Nola Belle, 2.
The former reality star told People that Jones was born with Down syndrome and a rare congenital colon abnormality that required surgery and a monthlong stay in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Down syndrome occurs when a person has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. Typically, a baby is born with 46 chromosomes.
"I am so grateful," Emily, 36, told the magazine. "But I'm still on my journey of processing everything. And I have to trust that it will all turn out alright."
Emily said she was “in shock” when she learned of Jones’ diagnosis following his delivery — she chose not to have genetic testing done during her pregnancy — and that she’s "still learning about Down syndrome.
“But I'm trying to also just experience Jones as Jones and not as different than any of the other kids,” she added.
“[Down syndrome] was not on my radar at all. And I refused to believe it. I just wanted to hold him and for everything to be OK,” she continued, saying that she was heartbroken that Jones needed to remain in the NICU for weeks.
"I was just grieving all of it and that the experience was so different from what I had expected. Waking up the next morning hearing all the babies crying down the hallway while I was in the room alone, it hurt so much."
Now at home with his family, Jones — who has another surgery coming up in a few weeks — is a “sweet and smiley” newborn and “the easiest baby.”
“He's just been our biggest blessing," Emily said.
Her oldest daughter Ricki has been a huge support, and sent 47 roses to the hospital to represent Jones’ 47 chromosomes. Emily has also been leaning on her husband Tyler and taking each day as it comes.
“Looking back on my life, a lot of things happened that I wouldn't have planned," she told People. "But I wouldn't change my life for anything. And I wouldn't trade Jones for any baby in the world."