(All names except Emily, Cameron, and Caroline Grace have been changed for privacy reasons)
Wednesday, October 5, 2011: I was at work when Emily called me. It was around 5 pm and I was working on a project with a very short suspense. I told her that I could not talk right then and would have to call her back (this is the difficult part about work, especially in the military). At or around 5:30 pm, I called her back. Immediately, I could tell she had been crying and that something wasn't quite right.
Emily explained that the nurse, Jasmine, called to say Dr. Williams was concerned about Caroline's brain development. Jasmine said we should make an appointment to see a specialist on Thursday. Holding my own gut feelings inside, I comforted Emily as best as I could over the phone and told her I was leaving work to come home right then. When I got to my truck, I called Emily on her cell phone and reassured her that everything was in God's control. I spoke with her for a few minutes, then ensured that she would be okay long enough for me to hang up and call Dr. Williams.
Dr. Williams was unavailable but the after-hours receptionist guaranteed that Dr. Williams would return my phone call within 30 minutes. Anxiously awaiting her call, I struggled with my emotions while driving home. My cell phone rang just before I pulled into our neighborhood. I nervously answered the call. Dr. Williams explained to me that she and the Radiologist took another look at the sonograms and needed to inform us of her concerns. She said she thinks that our little Caroline Grace has anencephaly. She went on to explain that, if this is what Caroline has, this is a fatal neural tube defect that occurs in 1 out of every 1,000 births.
I just knew that the brain would form later on, like a late bloomer or something. Dr. Williams explained that this would not be the case. She was very sincere and sweet, but the tragic news still stung worse than anything I could have imagined. She told me she was setting up an appointment with a specialist for us on Thursday and that we would receive a phone call in the morning before 9 am with the appointment time.
When I got home, I parked my truck and sat in the drive way for several minutes. I had no idea how I would muster the strength and the words to break this horrific news to Emily. I prayed for wisdom and for God give me the words, because I had none.
When I walked in the house, Emily saw the look on my face and knew it was bad. I sat down with her on the couch and just held her. After a few minutes of silence, all I could tell her was, "God is still in control. He is the giver of life." After a few more moments of not knowing what to say, God helped me explain to Emily the words no mother should ever have to hear.
Then, we prayed and asked God for a miracle. We thought, maybe the doctor and the radiologist just think they see something. They could still be wrong. The odds are 1 in a 1,000...surely, we are not the 1! Not our Caroline. Not our first baby.
But, just in case, we googled "anencephaly." If you are faint of heart or weak in the stomach, do not search for images of this disorder. It is very graphic. We soon found out that there is no scientific cure. The cause of this disorder is unknown. And there is nothing we did wrong. It is a misfortune that occurs in 1 out of approximately 1,000 pregnancies. Between the 23rd and 26th day of the pregnancy, before you even know you're pregnant, the neural tube fails to close and prevents the brain from forming. Almost half of these pregnancies end prior to full term. For those anencephalic babies that are carried to full term, a large majority are stillborn. For the few that survive the delivery, the majority of these miracle babies live only a few minutes to a few hours.
So, we continued praying for a miracle and struggled to sleep all through the night.