Royce and Keri were excited when they went into their 19-week ultrasound. They wanted to know if they were carrying a baby boy or girl.
“I mean, she just literally opened the door and said, 'I'm really sorry to have to tell you this, but your baby doesn't have a brain.'”
Their baby girl had a medical condition known as anencephaly. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), anencephaly is a birth defect “in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull.”
It's a relatively uncommon birth defect that impacts as few as 1,206 pregnancies in the U.S. every year.
The doctor presented the Royce couple with a difficult decision. They could induce the baby early and terminate the pregnancy or keep her until full term. Royce said of the difficult decision:
“You can be the most pro-life person in the world, but until you sit there and you, you hear those words and you look at your future going forward, that's when you have got to face the reality and make your own decision.”
Keri could feel the baby moving in her stomach. She thought about her son and what the decision could mean for her family.
The couple decided to keep the baby and donate her organs to save other young lives.
After the decision was made, they parents said it was like a weight had been lifted off their chests. They are trying to enjoy every minute of the pregnancy together. They named the baby Eva Grace.
But Keri does worry about losing baby Eva after the delivery. She told ABC News:
“I don't want her to come out, you know. She's healthy right now, and I love feeling her kick, and that, that was surprising. It was. It was very surprising. She's as perfect as she's going to be right now. So I don't want to give that up.”
Once Eva is born, she will likely only live for a few minutes, but could survive for up to 36 hours. The parents plan to “do their job” as parents and be there every minute for her.
They want to tell her about their family, her brother, and how important she is to them. They explain that they'll always remember these months they had together as a family.
In a Facebook post, which garnered huge attention, Royce wrote that Keri is really the courageous parent in the relationship:
“This whole process has been rough, but I say that as someone watching from the bleachers like the rest of you.Keri has been in the trenches the entire time, feeling every little kick, every hiccup and every roll. She's reminded every moment of every day that she's carrying a baby that will die. Her back hurts. Her feet are sore. She's got all the super fun pregnant stuff going on. But the light at the end of her nine-month tunnel will turn into a darkness she's never felt before a couple hours or days after Eva is born. She's the one that is going to deal with all that comes with having a baby— her milk coming in, the recovery process, etc, but with no snuggly, soft, beautiful newborn to look at to remind you that it was all worth it. We made our choice to carry Eva to full term for a lot of reasons, but the first and foremost was to donate her organs. We don't say that to try and sound like great people or anything. It was just a practical endgame that in our minds, before we came to the realization Eva is alive and our daughter deserves to meet her mama and daddy, gave us a purpose to continue on.”
The parents said they are trying not to dwell on the fact that they will be losing their baby girl. They are focusing instead on the life she has to live. Keri told ABC:
“She's alive and she's kicked and ... for this pregnancy, that's the most joyful part.”