Posted by: Faith | September 9, 2010

Skylar Tianna… a joy to all of us (Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep) area coordinator for Charlotte

I met an amazing family this past spring. They came to me with very sad news, that their sweet little girl was diagnosed with anencephaly. A birth defect that would inevitably take her life. I watched this beautiful family go through something that most of us cannot even begin to imagine with such grace and peace. God truly does work in miraculous ways. I was able to capture some fun memories in a maternity session with their sweet son Jadon.

Skylar Tianna was due on my dad’s birthday, August 4th. I had plans to go to California for his 60th this year, and was sure that little Skylar would come early. When she did not arrive before I left I just prayed that she would wait for me to get back. She waited, and I was blessed to share the short but wonderful life she had here on earth. The hospital was full of family and many others just there to support this sweet family.

Skylar was born on August 7th and weighed 5lbs 14oz. She was with us for about an hour and 45 minutes. She was loved completely by her lovely mother Shannon and sweet daddy Mike, and greeted with love a kisses by her big brother Jadon. He brought me to tears with his precious smiles and his sweet comments “she’s so pretty mommy”. She was just beautiful and I can’t imagine God being more pleased with the way this family handled an overwhelming situation.

So many people I talk to as a Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photographer and coordinator tell me how when faced with a diagnosis like this that often doctors do not give families an option to carry to term. They are often told the only thing to do is terminate the pregnancy. While some feel that would be the easy way out, I think even though it is hard to go through, these families that wait on God and carry their babies until it is His time for them to go, they will never have to question themselves. They have the great opportunity to spend whatever time God gives them with their child, even if it ends before birth.

Mike and Shannon lived in the moment and took it all in as they held, and loved their sweet daughter Skylar for the time they had. When asked, they said if given the chance they would not have done it differently. They have been given a great gift and they honored that gift by bringing her into the world to meet their whole family and to show her how much they truly loved her.

Instead of tears, there were smiles on this day. Skylar brought joy. What a little fighter 🙂 She brought love and peace into a sorrowful situation. I will remember her always and love her family for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of her life. Her memorial is Sunday, this is a slideshow I put together to share. Tears are inevitable so be prepared.

I was given this bit of information from a wonderful organization called Be Not Afraid, here in Charlotte, on a study that was done about parents who carry to term in a situation like this.

Isn’t continuing the pregnancy harmful to the mother’s mental health?

In an era of evidence-based medicine, it’s important to note that there is no research to support the presumption that terminating the pregnancy is easier on the mother psychologically. In fact, research to date suggests the opposite. Research suggests that women who terminate for fetal anomalies experience grief as intense as that of parents experiencing a spontaneous death of a baby (Zeanah 1993) and that aborting a baby with birth defects can be a “traumatic event … which entails the risk of severe and complicated grieving.” (Kersting 2004) One long-term study found that “a substantial number … showed pathological scores for post-traumatic stress.” (Korenromp et al, 2005) And a recent followup study found that 14 months after the termination, nearly 17 percent of women were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety or depression. (Kersting 2009) Termination is not a shortcut through grief. In contrast, parental responses to perinatal hospice are “overwhelmingly positive” (Calhoun & Hoeldtke 2000), and parents report being emotionally and spiritually prepared for their infant’s death and feeling “a sense of gratitude and peace surrounding the brief life of their child” (Sumner 2001).

What about the mother’s physical health?

Many life-limiting conditions in the baby do not pose any greater physical risk to you than the normal risks of pregnancy. It’s important to note that abortion also carries physical risks, which increase as a pregnancy progresses. The mortality risks of abortion after 21 weeks are slightly greater than the normal risks of pregnancy and childbirth. (Bartlett et al 2004, CDC) If there are possible maternal health effects related to the baby’s condition, physicians are trained to watch for complications and treat them if they do arise. It is rare for a pregnancy to pose a direct threat to a woman’s life. In those cases, maternal-fetal medicine specialists are trained to try to save both patients. If a threat to the mother is so severe that the baby must be delivered too prematurely to survive, the mother can receive urgent medical care while the baby can still be provided with comfort and treated with respect. In small studies of mothers who continued their pregnancies with babies who had lethal conditions, there were no maternal physical complications. (Calhoun et al 2003, D’Almeida et al 2006)

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