abby-beautiful butterfly

img_6897abby’s story
Written by: Tammy (her lucky Mama)

The doctor performing the routine ultra sound during my fifth pregnancy 7 years ago, was quietly studying the screen while I lay there watching his face and my husband sat eagerly waiting.

Finally he said, “Do you want to know the sex?” to which we said, “Yes.”

He replied,”It’s a girl.”

We smiled and made comments about how our other children would react to the news.

Then, quietly, he stood up and said, “I’ll be right back.”

As we sat there for what seemed like forever, my husband said, “He was sure studying her intently.  I wonder why he left?”  I dismissed his remark with a flippant reply.  There was no reason to be concerned since we had 4 other healthy children.

But soon, in he came with my OB and they stood ominously over me while the doctor doing the ultra sound said, “I’m sorry but I believe your baby has spina bifida, otherwise known as myelomeningocele.”

I lay there, just staring at them as my husband came over and took my hand.  I watched his face as he asked the doctors what this meant and they gave a brief explanation and mentioned something about an experimental surgery that is sometimes performed on babies in utero…wanted me in his office tomorrow for a better ultra sound…I was feeling faint.

The perinatologist left and we numbly moved to another room where the OB proceeded to show us the “scariest” pictures he could find of spinal cord defects and told us that our daughter could very well be in a wheelchair her whole life…he offered a hug and sleeping pills for me.

“Uh, no thanks,” I said.

“I could use some,” my husband said.  He then gave me a scolding for not getting an AFP test, which I opted out of for all my children since I would have my babies no matter what the finding.

So, I found out a couple weeks later with the ultra sound.

Then, it came…”It’s perfectly legal for you to have an abortion if you want one.  I wouldn’t perform one, but I could refer you…”

With a strength welling up in me that wasn’t my own, I said, “NO, absolutely not!  We feel very strongly about that.” I felt like someone had punched me.  My Christian upbringing and inner convictions wouldn’t even allow me to consider this as an option.

The next day, at the perinatologist’s office, I was again asked if I wanted an abortion.  I was filled with fear of the unknown, but when I saw the incredible, amazing images of my baby girl on that ultra sound, I had found peace in the one thing that I knew, that I loved her.

The next step was to go to UCSF in San Francisco to learn about the en utero surgery where, yet again, I was asked if I was considering an abortion (another punch in the stomach).

I was overwhelmed as we listened to doctors describe the potential benefits and risks of the surgery.  My husband said, “It sounds like there are a lot of risks for my wife and my baby and only a small chance it would benefit our child; why would I want to put them through this?” He spoke the words I was too weary to say.  We decided against the surgery.

After waiting apprehensively for months, we drove up to OHSU, Portland, where she was to be born on May 27, 2003.  To us, she was the most beautiful, miraculous baby we’d ever laid eyes on.  Shortly after birth, she had to have two surgeries: a back closure surgery and a surgery to place a shunt in her head to treat her hydrocephalus.  She was still the most beautiful, miraculous baby we’d ever seen.

Now, 6 years and two more surgeries later and yes, in a wheelchair, we don’t “see” the “birth defect;” we see a vibrant, talkative, funny little girl with a halo of curls and a passion for life and all things furry and cuddly.

Her life has changed us all – her parents and siblings (all five of them since we went on to have another baby after Abby) are more compassionate people.

Her “birth defect” has opened a whole new world to us where we have developed deep and meaningful relationships with other families affected by disability.  We have been able to get to know and appreciate people with disabilities for who they are: the most beautiful and miraculous people we’ve ever known.



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  1. Abby is a beautiful miracle! We love her and her wonderful family.

  2. Kathleen says:

    Abbykins is not only a beautiful child but a blessing and inspiration (even at the mature age of six) to ALL of us, her family.

  3. Beautiful baby girl! I cried when reading this just like I cried when I held her for the first time. She is a miracle that has the ability to affect all who meet her for the better. Her bright cheeriness soars over her disabilities making you forget there is anything “wrong” with her. I couldn’t be more proud.

    ~her Auntie “Nin”

  4. Having had the privilege to talk and play with Abby for a week at Joni and Friends Family Retreat last year, I will second that she is a “vibrant, talkative, funny little girl with a halo of curls and a passion for life.” She is a darling girl with a soft, sweet voice; and I know God used her to teach me about slowing down and enjoying the beauty around me.

    Samantha . . . the skirt behind the girl in the picture :-)

  5. Doctors can only really understand that Abby would be different. But doesn’t God call us to be different? And He calls us to love.
    Through Abby, God has shown all who have met her an amazing loving grace!

  6. this story describes us almost in every detail. My son is almost a year old now, he has hydroceplus and the same spinanbifida defect, L4. 3 surgeries and a few infections later, he is rolling over and pushing himself all over the floor. he is the happiest boy ever, Im thankful for him everyday.

  7. Thank you for sharing your experience. Abby looks like she is a vivacious and pretty little girl. I can relate to your feelings when you were “encouraged” to have an abortion. I was offered an abortion when I was pregnant with out daughter. We were told she had not developed lungs or kidneys and she would not live more than an hour, if she was a live birth. Immediately the words “This[abortion} is not an option for us”, came out of my mouth, with a firm resolve. The decision to continue the pregnancy was easy….and absolute. Like you, we just knew that terminating the pregnancy would be contrary to everything we believed. We trusted God to help us through the next four months, and although it seemed like a long, long time, we were blessed by very supportive family and friends. Our daughter died 55 minutes after birth.

  8. I’m so touched by the love shown to our Abby by so many…and by Danielle and Carla’s stories. God bless you both for giving your children life and love. Carla, a friend gave me a book, Sometimes Miracles Hide (that goes along with the song, that had letters/stories from parents who had special needs children or who were told their babies would die after being born and I cried so much at the stories like yours…where the parents chose to have the baby, enjoy what moments they had with their child and say their good-byes. They didn’t ever say they regretted their decision…I’m sure that God honors it and supplies all of you with the strength you need to get through…

  9. We just can’t imagine a world without Miss Abby in it!! She gives the gift of joy wherever she goes, we all feel blessed and honored just to KNOW Abby and her sweet family.

  10. Timothy says:

    What a beautiful child Abby is! So heart breaking that so many medical professionals think the abortion is a solution!

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