When one pregnant Oklahoma mom got devastating news about her unborn baby, she was determined to make the best of the tragic situation instead of letting it consume her with grief.
During a routine checkup, doctors discovered Abbey and Robert Ahern’s unborn baby girl had anencephaly, which is a condition that prevented parts of her skull and brain from developing and told them she was ‘incompatible with life.’ “It just sucked the air right out of my lungs, I knew what he was saying, but I couldn’t really apply it to us or to our baby,” Ahern said.
Once the news processed, the first question Ahern had for her doctors was about organ donations. The doctor was shocked by her question since he assumed they would choose to terminate the pregnancy and infant organ donations are extremely rare. After consulting other doctors, Ahern’s doctor approved their plan. “I wanted Annie’s life to ultimately give life to other children,” Ahern said.
“We knew she had a purpose — even though she was not made for this world,” Ahern said about her daughter, who they named Annie, which means grace. Despite her determination, the rest of the pregnancy was incredibly difficult. “We didn’t know how long Annie would survive, but our time would certainly be short. I tried to plan for every possible scenario. Every time a stranger asked when I was due and if I knew if I was having a boy or girl, I died a little more inside… It felt like I lied every time I smiled and didn’t tell them Annie’s story…I am fortunate enough to have an incredibly selfless and supportive husband, a faith that kept me going when I wanted to fall apart, and two healthy and vibrant daughters to hug when I couldn’t stop sobbing.”
Annie was born in June 2013 and lived for 15 hours. “They showed her to me, and she was so beautiful. I remember holding her hands and pressing my face on hers and smelling her. I couldn’t kiss her enough. We were just so happy she was born alive and we were going to get time with our baby girl. It was wonderful.” And when it was time for Annie to go, Ahern told her it was ok and that she loved her. “Annie got to be with us all day, and she was ready… She spent her entire life surrounded by love, joy, and peace. There was no sorrow, even when she passed away.”
Because Ahern decided not to terminate the pregnancy, Annie’s heart valves were donated to other infants and other organs not viable for transplant were donated for research. Since then, Ahern shares Annie’s story to help educate parents about infant organ donation. “Annie’s story is one of hope,” Ahern said. “I think it shows people that in the midst of tragedy, there can be beauty. Annie was not ours to keep — her story was meant to be shared, and I intend to do so until the day I die.”
Can you believe how unbelievably strong and selfless this mom was to continue such a difficult pregnancy? Let us know what you would do if you were in this situation in the comments below and please SHARE this with friends on Facebook.
[Featured image: Ahern Family]