Anna Faith Cole

Diagnosis: Anencephaly

By Anna's Mom

My husband, Chad, and I married on May 1, 2004. We found out we were pregnant in early February 2008. We were so excited and ready to be a mommy and daddy. In early May 2008 I was offered the chance to do a quad screening. My initial thought was that we didn't need to do it; however, I felt it was only fair to ask my husband since this was our child. He wanted me to do it and hopefully it would be one less thing to worry about. On May 5th we found out that our results were abnormal. I was so worried, it didn't feel right. I felt like there was a reason we found out, and it was because it was abnormal.

On May 12th, 2008 we met with genetic counselors. They reviewed the quad screen results and told us that they are concerned of a neural tube defect due to the high level of Alfa-Feta Protein. We then met the doctor who did a high resolution ultra sound. He confirmed that our baby had a neural tube defect and it was Anencephaly. He had to explain what that was because we didn't know. We were absolutely devastated. I quickly had a vision of when we were due to have our child in October 2008 and thought how hard it would be to watch our baby die. He then asked us if we wanted to end the pregnancy. I couldn't believe that was even an option. My husband and I couldn't even answer him. They allowed us to go to a room to grieve and think of any questions we may have for the doctor. We couldn't even think of what to ask him so we just prayed and then left.

The very next day we had a follow-up appointment with my OBGYN doctor. Prior to that we had requested counsel from one of the pastors at our church. He guided us to handle this situation by praying to God and seeking His will. He said we would feel peace with our decision if that is what God was telling us to do. He said that if we were led to carry to full term that we would have the strength to do so and if we were led to end the pregnancy that we would have peace with that decision. Both our pastor and the OBGYN told us that if we ended the pregnancy it would considered a medical termination because our baby is not viable. We had three more ultrasounds by different doctors to confirm the diagnosis. We prayed for a miracle but were feeling led to end the pregnancy. We had researched and studied anencephaly, that no baby has ever survived with this condition and the risks of carrying to term may impose on the mother*.

Our last ultrasound was on June 3rd, 2008. The doctor's diagnosis was that our baby had no skull and no brain matter. At that time we knew that God had different plans for us and we trusted that if it were His will to perform a miracle He would have showed us at that last ultrasound. We were induced on June 4th and we had a beautiful baby girl, Anna Faith, on June 5th 2008 at 12:59 P.M. She was 11 inches and weighed 9.1 ounces. We were 22 weeks along in the pregnancy. We got to hold her for about an hour and a half. We prayed with her before we gave her back to the nurses.

It is God who has carried us through this unbelievable trial in our lives. We are not strong enough to handle this on our own. We are so grateful that our Lord and Savior is. This was the hardest decision we have ever had to make. We wish we were the last couple to have to experience this. It gives us great comfort knowing that we will reunite with our precious Anna Faith in Heaven one day. We love her so much.

We also decided to participate in a research study that Duke University is conducting to find out more information about babies diagnosed with neural tube defects. I hope reading this helps if you are faced with a similar decision. Please do as you feel led. Had we felt led to carry to full term, we would have. Please allow God to carry you through this hard time.

*Editors note: Polyhydramnios (an excessive volume of amniotic fluid) occurs in about 2 out of 100 of pregnancies. Women with more severe cases may have discomfort in the belly and breathing problems. That's because the buildup of fluids causes the uterus to crowd the lungs and the organs in the belly. (March of Dimes - Polyhydramnios: Too Much Amniotic Fluid)


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