Updating “Incompatible with Life” Babies

It’s been my most popular post since I began to blog.

How Incompatible Is Incompatible with Life, Really” first appeared on April 1, 2019, and it was no April Fools joke.

The post presented the real-life situations of three families–parents whose doctors encouraged abortion, one whose “caregiver” even demanded it.

Yet, life happened instead.

Mike and Rachael Andrews became Daddy and Mommy to Olenna and Vesper Andrews despite the pleadings of medical personnel to abort Vesper. The pleas of the medical personnel were persistent and presented only bleak possibilities.

The couple decided to exercise faith, not fear, and welcomed two healthy girls who are now 21 months old. The family welcomed a younger sister almost four weeks ago.

Rachael reports that the girls “are doing great!”

Craig and Hannah Sudlow’s pregnancy story is similar–but involved only one child. A doctor demanded the Sudlows abort Evelyn, diagnosed with Trisomy 18–a genetic disorder.

The doctor went so far as to schedule Evelyn’s abortion.

The Sudlows did not comply.

The doctor dropped Hannah from the practice. She spent five weeks seeking medical care.

Evelyn was born with fewer medical disorders than the doctors had predicted–yet still with Trisomy 18.

Nancy Flanders writes for Live Action: “Thanks to doctors who valued Evelyn’s life, she thrived. She became a big sister twice over, she met milestones her parents were told she never would, and she laughed and loved. Though no one could predict how long Evelyn would live or what her future would look like, it was clear that she was happy and that she was well-loved.

Happy and well-loved for three and a half years, Evelyn passed away in April of 2020.

Evelyn’s mother remembers her life, “not for the struggles and challenges, but for the joy and beauty.”

Evelyn Sudlow’s life brought joy and beauty to those who loved her.

A short-sighted person saw himself as an authority to decide life or death. He would have thought the world a better place without Evelyn.

Bella Santorum–like Evelyn Sudlow–has Trisomy 18. Her parents Rick and Karen also received pressure to abort. They know what it’s like to have a doctor tell you that you HAVE TO have an abortion. Like the Sudlow’s, they refused.

On May 13, 2021, Bella Santorum celebrated her 13th birthday.

Her father tweeted: “Our Bella is a miracle, a blessing, a joy, but like all children at times a trial. She is the heart of our family because in her simplicity, fragility and disability she reveals the gift God plants in all his children, His pure love.”

Doctors predicted the deaths of three of these children. They did not expect Vesper Andrews to live to be born.

They did not expect Evelyn or Bella to live beyond a few days after birth.

They did not know what they presumed to know.

Saddest of all is that they could not know the love and joy that comes from loving a child, no matter her state.

Photo: (Olenna and Vesper Andrews), Lakeside Portraits

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Best of 2019: How Incompatible Is Incompatible with Life, Really?

This post is the most viewed of mine in 2019. Happy New Year and God bless you in 2020!

You’re excited to be pregnant. Then the news hits you like a rock. Your child is “incompatible with life. You should terminate.” Or “You have to terminate.” It happens more often than you might think.

But not every unborn child so labeled actually dies.

What follows is a post by Rachael, a friend who knows all too well what hearing those words means since she and her husband Mike found out a year ago that they were expecting identical twin girls–and that the babies were at risk.

“‘SIUGR stands for selective intrauterine growth restriction and occurs only in monochorionic (identical) twin pregnancies.

“About 10% of monochorionic pregnancies will develop SIUGR. Many doctors do not know enough about this condition, and as a result, many are still recommending that parents terminate the smaller identical twin.

“We were given the option to terminate [the smaller baby] Vesper. We faced the options of terminating or relying on faith. We were told, if Vesper passes away, you are going to cause her sister (Olenna) to either pass or have severe brain damage. And you need to prepare for a life with a severely disabled child if that happens. As I watched them dancing on the ultrasound screen, we determined then and there that termination was not an option for us. Vesper was growing and fighting to survive. She was just smaller than Olenna.

“So we went to the doctor every two weeks. The anxiety that filled each appointment until we heard both of their heartbeats is something I hope I never have to relive. But every week our girls fought and grew. After 24 weeks the medical staff stopped asking us every appointment if we were going to terminate.

“Finally, at 34 weeks, the longest they would allow our pregnancy to go, we delivered two beautiful baby girls.

“I am raising awareness for every fighter-survivor and angel out there. Olenna and Vesper want you to know that SIUGR does not automatically mean a death sentence. There is always hope. My girls are six months old and the Joy for our days. I thank God for them.

“‘This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.’ John 9:3

That’s Rachael’s testimony of life for both her babies.

Hannah Sudlow’s story is different, yet the same. Her single baby Evelyn has the genetic disorder Trisomy 18. Her doctor told her Evelyn would surely die. He said:

“She is incompatible with life. She won’t survive. I don’t think you understand how serious this is.”

But Hannah and her husband Craig insisted on giving life to Evelyn–and committed to enjoying her as long as God allowed her to live. The medical practice treating Hannah did not take the news well.

“I was immediately dropped from the practice after calling through screams and sobs to ask where in the world that information came from and that I would continue my pregnancy. I went five weeks without a provider. Tragically, it was a thousand times easier to schedule an abortion for my child than it was to find proper care for myself and my pregnancy.”

Five weeks with no overseeing physician during a high-risk pregnancy. Easy to abort. Hard to find care. Yet, in this case, Hannah averted tragedy.

Because Evelyn is now 2-1/2 years old.

“The only tragedy here would be never meeting Evelyn. All of our days are limited. Not just a child with a chronic illness. None of us are promised tomorrow. I remind myself daily that on my best day or worst day caring for Evelyn, I never have the power to add or subtract a day from her life. “

Doctors advising Hannah and her husband were operating under the notion that all babies with Trisomy 18 die. But that’s not the case.

Former US Senator Rick Santorum and his wife Karen also have a daughter with Trisomy 18. They too received the terrible new that they HAD TO abort their child who was incompatible with life. They refused.

She is now ten years old.

Doctors are not the authors of life and death. God gives us people to love for as long as they and we are here to give love and receive love.

If only we will be as brave as Rachael and Mike, Hannah and Craig, and Rick and Karen.

If only we too will be so brave.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Mike and Rachael Andrews Family Collection by Lakeside Portraits

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

When Trisomy (and otherwise challenged) Babies Don't Die

“Statistically, there is no hope here.”
That’s what one doctor told former Senator Rick Santorum and his wife Karen when their daughter Bella was born.
More than nine years ago.
The doctor referred to Bella as “baby”–because somehow we are more human when we have a name. And he could not bring himself to attribute humanity to her. Continue reading “When Trisomy (and otherwise challenged) Babies Don't Die”