In December 2013, Jami Brooks was five months pregnant and abortion was the furthest thing from her mind. However, following a prenatal diagnosis, that would be exactly what doctors would advise her to do.
During her 20-week ultrasound, Brooks and her husband Brian felt something wasn’t quite right when the technician would not allow them to see the monitor. During the meeting with the doctor, he stated that a test had come back positive for Spina Bifida proteins. The medical professionals believed their daughter had what’s called Gastroschisis, essentially a hole in the abdominal wall where her intestines were protruding through.
The couple anxiously waited ten days to meet with a local perinatologist. He informed them that their daughter had a non-genetic birth defect or a cluster of defects that are categorized together called Limb Body Wall Complex. Not only was their daughter’s abdominal wall completely undeveloped, which left her internal organs exposed, she also had a short umbilical cord that caused her little legs to kick back behind her.
“Think of like a Barbie doll with her legs bent backwards,” explained Brooks.
The perinatologist told them their daughter’s life had no value and that terminating would save her from suffering. He advised them that she would most likely be stillborn and that it was pointless to continue the pregnancy. However, the couple refused abortion, explaining that they were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and that they didn’t believe in abortion.
They walked out disappointed with their visit and their doctor’s lack of understanding in their beliefs. They knew they wanted to carry their daughter for as long as they possibly could.
At 35 weeks gestation, Brooks delivered baby Charlotte Rose by Caesarean section. She was four pounds, 13 ounces.
“We had 20 beautiful minutes with her. She peacefully passed away in my husband’s arms,” said Brooks. “I do not regret a single moment of that pregnancy and I am so grateful for the time that we had with her.”
Little Charlotte’s time in this world was short; but to her parents, that time will forever be cherished. Choosing life for her daughter gave Brooks and her family that twenty minutes with a perfect daughter they otherwise would have never known.
Heather Hobbs is editor and blogger at Life Defenders.