This post was written by my friend, Kate Chetta. Kate was given some devastating news during her second pregnancy. Please read her story . . . and share . . .
“Poor prenatal diagnosis”– These words are sudden, jarring and unbearable. My world came crashing down when I learned that LILY, my second daughter, bore this horrendous fate. It must be a mistake, I thought; but test after test by the best Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists in the country made it clear that Lily was extremely sick from something called congenital CMV. The damage to her little body was severe. If she did survive birth, she would likely be severally disabled, with what doctors deemed a “very poor quality of life”.
As I sat in the examination room and the initial shock subsided, I asked the doctors what they would do if they were in my situation. Without hesitation, the doctor said “I would “interrupt” the pregnancy”. My head began to spin as I tried to grasp the meaning of those words. He was telling me to end my pregnancy – to abort my child. In that moment, I fully understood the fear, desperation, and hopelessness experienced by families who are forced to make a choice between what the experts tell them and what their hearts long for.
My husband and I thanked the doctors and went home. We decided we would savor and celebrate whatever time we had with Lily. My husband read to her and kissed my belly, her older sister gave her hugs and told her she loved her. We made a conscious decision to make each day special to celebrate her life, no matter how brief.
Quite by accident, we learned of a network of parents and professionals who had experienced or worked closely with issues surrounding poor prenatal diagnosis. Volunteers from Lily’s Gift (http://www.lilysgift.org) as it came to be known, offered practical guidance and compassionate and merciful care, focusing on meeting the needs of expectant parents as they sought to honor the life of their baby no matter how frail or how brief. This was the help we so desperately wanted and needed. We are so very grateful to Sister Kathleen Schipani of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the ministry for giving us a place to turn.
We didn’t need encouragement on how or why to end Lily’s life. We needed to know how we could best honor and remember her. We needed help to sort through any medical decisions we might have to make. And eventually, how to grieve Lily’s death when she was stillborn at 26 weeks.
There are some that asked why I didn’t abort Lily. I was called selfish for not “letting her go”. I, too, struggled with those unrelenting thoughts. What if she’s suffering? What if she’s scared? My mother’s words eased my fears. “Your baby only knows security, love and protection in your womb. She feels your love and you are all she has ever known.”
We live in a world of instant gratification where patience is no longer a virtue. If things are not working out, we move on and call it a day. For me and my husband, it came down to honoring Lily with her own natural death, in her and God’s time, not ours. Suffering is part of the human condition. But it is our response to suffering that gives meaning to our lives. It is the choices we make, in the midst of our pain, that truly matter.
Our story doesn’t end with the death of Lily. Through this entire ordeal, we experienced immeasurable love from family, friends, even strangers. It was through this experience that God gave us an incredible insight. Lily, in her brief life, showed us fully the loving heart of God and the goodness of His people. I am blessed to know that she touched the hearts of many and that she is in Heaven, at peace and perfect, praying for her family here on earth.
As my mother said in our sweet baby’s eulogy,
“For in our time of pain and vulnerability, a time when it would have been so easy to blame and curse God, Lily took us by the hand and led us straight to the feet of our heavenly Father. She revealed to us that love is more powerful than death and that peace and wholeness are waiting for us the moment we decide to let go of the burdens that this life brings and enter into God’s loving embrace. Her purpose has been completed – her gift has been given.”
Lily, we understand, your Mommy and Daddy and all of us know – what is beyond all knowing: “When everything passes away – – what remains is Love”.
The above was written by Kate Chetta – Mom of 4 to Sophia,5, Julia, 2, and Dominic, 6 months, and Liliana in Heaven. Married to Gaetano, the bestest man ever for 8 years this May. Have the privilege to be a SAHM to my kids in addition to directing the Jeffersonville A Baby’s Breath. Love hiking, birding and crocheting
The following is a message from Amy 🙂
If you are facing a similar situation, please trust in God’s path. Give Him your child in faith and trust . . .and believe that His love for your child is even greater than your own.
Although Lily’s life ended so soon, there are other stories like this one: Little boy born without a brain can now speak, count, and attend school
Please contact BeNotAfraid if you live in the United States and want more information.
If you are in the Philadelphia area, contact Lily’s Gift.
For those who had a similar situation in the past . . . I am so sorry. Our hope is to let others know that there is a support network for those who want to choose life or at least want to discuss that choice more. We pray and hope doctors will also read this and let their patients know that these organizations exist.
May the Lord Bless you – abundantly.
Sincerely in Christ,
Rachel’s Vineyard offers weekend retreats for women who have terminated pregnancies.
Sara @ To Jesus Sincerely says
This is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. Thank you for sharing such an amazing story, and for your witness of holding onto the faith through such a tragic loss. I’m so glad you decided to share your story to encourage others to choose life for their child in similar situations. It’s amazing the way you cherished every moment of life your baby had left until God took her home. God bless you, I’ll pray for you and your family, I know the hurt never truly goes away. <3
Kate Chetta, I hope you got to read this!
Oh this is beautiful. What courage! And I believe, no “accident” that Kate stumbled on this group. Such a beautiful reminder that every life is precious and every one valued in God’s eyes. I know that Lily is waiting for her parents in heaven. Blessings to Kate for having the courage to share this.
What a beautiful story. Those words from Liky’s eulogy are especially touching.
This is so beautiful Amy! Thank you for sharing the story.
Anni H. says
Such a beautiful, inspirational story. In the midst of family tragedy and grief, this family was able to shine a bright light on the dignity and worth of even the littlest of us. How remarkable and awe-inspiring that Lily’s family turned their grief into a network aimed at providing love, care, support to those suffering similar outcomes – and, it’s bittersweet they have a saint in heaven, interceding for them on a personal level, and I’m sure praying for continued success for this ministry.
Thanks for sharing!
What a beautifully told story of pain and love and loss.
So appreciate your sharing of Kate’s story, Amy; thank you Kate for so eloquently telling us about Lily and your story.
Your mother’s words, Kate, brought tears to my eyes and so touch my heart, that I’m going to save them and cherish them.
‘My mother’s words eased my fears. “Your baby only knows security, love and protection in your womb. She feels your love and you are all she has ever known.” ‘
Fifty years ago I lost my son at about 25 mo; 2 1/2 yr ago my daughter and son-in-law son passed on after 12 days following a catastrophic birth. Such sorrow, such grief; and our Lord is with us in it all. Their is, I think, a profound beauty in walking through this with Him. My love and thanks to each of you, Kate, Kate’s mom, and Amy. And Lily, too!
Should have edited before sending post: *son-in-law’s son* and *There is*
Mary, I am so sorry for the losses you have endured. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here. I am going to make sure Kate sees them. God bless you and your family.
I really needed to read this. I am 15 weeks pregnant with my second child. I have a genetic disorder that causes severe joint damage and as a result I have been a wheelchair user for several years. This was a unplanned pregnancy and my Dr wanted me to terminate for my health. I wouldn’t shame someone who decided to abort, but I just can’t. It ‘s not went over well with some of our friends because they think it is dangerous and selfish. I suppose they can’t really understand how it feels because they are not in this situation. It’s comforting to know that there are other moms out there who do know how I feel. Thank you for your kindness and sharing your story.