Friday, April 3, 2015

Lily's Story, by Her Mama

by Kellie Soper

Fear, excitement, anxiety, joy...all these mixed up emotions and so many more when I learned I was pregnant with my second child. 

The fear and anxiety came from worrying it was too soon and would be too much to handle. My son was only 10 months old when I found out I was pregnant. An 18 month old and a newborn?! The excitement and joy came from always wanting a big family and always wanting kids close in age. 

I was so happy to be giving my son a sibling! I had dreams and visions of them being the best of friends growing up. Sharing a room, sharing toys, sharing memories. My heart was so full when ever I thought of their future together.

 My husband and I drove to our 18 week ultrasound. He had taken the afternoon off and we were excited to see our baby and have a lunch date after the appointment. 

They did all the routine measurements, at least it seemed routine. I saw a perfect beating heart, ten fingers and ten toes. It didn't phase me at all that we still hadn't seen our sweet baby's profile when the tech stepped out of the room.

The doctor came in and I was still oblivious...all I remember was that perfectly beating four chamber heart. It was the first time I learned a strong heartbeat wouldn't be enough. The doctor said the very words that left me gasping for breath:
"Your baby has a condition known as Anencephaly."

I couldn't breathe. Unfortunately, I already knew what this meant for my child. It meant that even though she had a perfect beating heart, the baby would not live long after birth (if she was born alive at all). You see, even though my baby's heart was perfect, the brain and skull had not formed properly. My child was missing much of her brain and skull.

My husband put his face in his hands and started weeping. Without looking at him, I asked the doctor to tell us what we were having (we had not planned on finding out).

"You are having a girl."

And then I wept. I was having a daughter, the little girl my heart had always longed for, only I wouldn't get to keep her.

After she let me take it all in for a few minutes, she lovingly put her hand on my arm and said, "We can discuss your..."

I stopped her immediately knowing the word that was going to come next..."options". She was going to refer to my daughter as an option. She wasn't an option, she was mine. For better or worse, she was mine.

My reply, "No, we don't have options. We will keep her." She understood and didn't say anything else. I was grateful for that. In that moment of brokenness and despair I didn't have the energy to defend our "option".

I'd like to say from that moment on I was brave and strong and never questioned anything. But the truth is this, I went home, cried to my God, and begged him to not make me go through this. I begged him to just take her then and not make me go through the next several months. There is nothing brave or strong about that.

The truth is I was terrified. I had no idea how I would endure the next five months, let alone endure painful labor, contractions and pushing a baby out? How on earth could anyone knowingly survive that?

I know the answer now...graceIt's all grace. And it comes from a place deep down inside of you that you never knew existed. 

And that grace carries you through pregnancy. It guides you through labor. It helps you see your beautiful and perfectly made daughter, even though she has a fatal defect. It comforts you when you hold her lifeless body for the last time and it wraps itself around you as you get your last glimpses of her in this life. 

Most importantly, that grace warms your heart with memories that you will cherish forever. And those memories will carry you through the moments of your greatest despair when you miss your child the most.

I can still feel her squishy cheeks on my lips. I can look at my finger and still see her precious hand wrapped perfect around mine. And those chunky thighs that had two extra weeks to fatten up. I close my eyes and I can still see the smile through tears my husband had when holding his little girl.

It hurts. It hurts in ways I never imagined, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I can't imagine the grief if I never had these precious moments to cling to.

Being her mom is the greatest gift God has ever given me. She has taught me to love more deeply. She has taught me what real, unconditional, and selfless love is. She has made me a better wife, mom, sister, and friend. 

I miss her. I miss her every single minute of every single day. I would have done anything to save, but at the same time, I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world. 

And she is worth it, every second, every minute, every hour of every day. She is worth it. She is not an option, she is my daughter. 

She is mine.

My perfect Lily Frances was born sleeping on November 12, 2014. I carried her 42 weeks and 2 wonderful days. You can read more about our journey at

~ ~ ~

Kellie Soper lives in Arizona and is wife to her amazing husband, Jason. Together they have two beautiful children, one on earth and one sweet, perfect soul in Heaven. Ted is a wild, silly, and rambunctious toddler. Their sweet Lily Frances was born sleeping on November 12, 2014. They learned at their 18 week ultrasound that Lily had a fatal neural tubal defect the doctors said was "incompatible with life." Kellie and Jason both knew Lily was not a "decision", but their precious daughter and they believe her life was of value, no matter what. She carried Lily with love for 42 weeks and 2 days. They miss her every single day, but are grateful for the honor and privilege of being her parents. You can read more about their family on Kellie's blog, Life and Love.


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