Danielle VanSingel share's her story.
Our faces filled with joy seeing our baby on the ultrasound screen, moving around. Little did we know our day was about to take a turn for the worse. Casually, a doctor knocked on the door and came in just like everything was fine. He looked at the ultrasound screen and then proceeded to walk over and take my hand. He asked what I did for a living and I said I worked at the hospital down the road as a Tech. He then asked me, “Do you know what anencephaly is?” I said no. He proceeded to tell me that the top of my baby’s head did not form, and I immediately asked what that meant. He said, “I am sorry. There is no chance for survival; it will be rare if your baby makes it full term.”
Our world was turned upside down in those 30 seconds that seemed like forever. Besides my heart breaking, I looked at the ultrasound tech and asked “Is it a boy or a girl?” She very kindly took some more images and let us knows we were having a beautiful baby boy. We left that day and went home; we made the difficult phone calls to our parents to let them know. Everyones’ hearts were broken, and we were set up to get a second opinion with maternal fetal medicine to confirm the diagnosis. While everyone hoped for a miracle, I just wanted to see my baby. I remember sitting in the specialist’s office and before they did the ultrasound again, I looked at Matt and asked the hardest question, “Do you want to keep him?” I already knew in my heart I would keep him as long as God would allow.
I never really understood the phrase that ‘everything happens for a reason,’ until Jackson came into my life. While he is the most painful part of my story, he is also the most beautiful. He brought our family together, made us stronger as a couple, and tested my faith in God.
The day I went into labor was September 14, 2016. This was the scariest time, not knowing if I would ever get to meet my baby alive. After 12 hours of labor, they laid my son on my chest and I just looked at him, and then I heard the words, “He’s Alive!” We couldn’t believe it; my room was full of nurses who celebrated and cried with us. An hour passed by, and finally my mother couldn’t take it any longer and asked to come in. Jackson got to meet most of our immediate family while he was still here on earth.
He survived! He defined the odds; he did everything I was told he wouldn’t. He lived for 14 hours, and I got to spend every second with him. We got to change his soiled diaper, hear him cry, and I got to spoon feed him, bathe him, change him, and have some amazing family pictures taken.
They say an anencephalic baby cannot hear or see, but when he wasn’t in my arms he was always looking for me - turning his head to the sound of my voice. The hospital staff created molds of his hands and feet and even his face for us after he passed. He is the boy that made me a mom, and while I wish every day he was here, he is a survivor, he is my Guardian Angel and I know he is always near me. Someday, I will get to meet him again. We keep our heartbeat bear with us always, on every trip, and even our rainbow son has his own heartbeat bunny that he loves to snuggle.