The Beginning

Life is always crazy, and it is proving to be so now more than ever. I needed a way to organize my thoughts and a way to remember every moment possible in this season of my life, because it will be gone in the blink of an eye, so I’ve decided to blog. Hopefully this will prove to be an accurate and meaningful account of the journey my family is on. Here is the beginning of the story of how our lives changed forever…

On January 31, 2013, Robert and I went in for an ultrasound of our 3rd baby. We already have two beautiful daughters, Dylan (4) and Harper Lou (2), so we know the prenatal routine pretty well. Ultrasounds are pretty anticlimactic for us because we have never found out the gender of our babies before their birthdays, and to be honest, all black and white shady baby profiles look the same. But while the technician was trying to get that profile picture for us, she had quite a bit of difficulty. She stopped making small talk with us and became more focused on her assessment of our little one. When she finally was finished, she turned off the machine and told us she needed to show the images to a doctor and they would be back in to talk to us in a few moments. This didn’t strike me as odd at the time, because we were told ahead of time we were having a Level II ultrasound because Harper was born at 33 weeks due to preeclampsia complications. I just assumed a Level II ultrasound came with a consult from a doctor. After a while the doctor came in and performed his own scan. When he was finished he turned to us and said, “What I have to tell you isn’t easy, so it’s best if I just come out and say it.”

I’m crying and shaking as I type these words, because what this man said to us has been permanently imprinted on my heart has completely changed our world. He told us our baby had anencephaly. He explained that during early development the neural tube didn’t completely close, so our baby was missing a major portion of their scalp and brain. He continued to tell us that this condition was “incompatible with life.” If our baby was able to make it to delivery, it would die soon after.

Without even looking at Robert because I knew he would agree, I told the doctor to turn the machine back on and tell us if we were having a boy or a girl. I wanted every second I had with this baby, in or out of the womb, to count. He told us we were having a girl, our third daughter. I think this news compounded my grief because of my experience with my own two sisters. My sisters are everything to me, and I think they would agree that we wouldn’t be the women we are today without each other’s love and support.  We are going to have three little girls, and then one of them is going to leave us even more quickly then she came.

The doctor said he would give us a few minutes to process the information, and then he left the room. No sooner did the door shut then all of the tears and pain both of us were holding in came pouring out. Between sobs we decided to name our little girl Annie Rachel. Annie because it’s adorable, and Rachel after my best friend. When the doctor returned he offered us the opportunity to have an amniocentesis in order to confirm the diagnosis. He said that anencephaly is a fairly simple diagnosis to make purely by ultrasound because you can see the absence of the top of the baby’s head, but if it were him and his wife they would do the test. We went ahead with the procedure holding on to the smallest shred of hope that he was a blind idiot (which he is not). Then we were ushered out the back door so we wouldn’t have to walk sobbing through the waiting room full of happy moms pregnant with healthy babies.

That afternoon was full of phone calls, tears, questions, and each time we had to relay the story it became more real and more painful. Robert and I each come from a family of 4 children (that’s 3 calls each to siblings and 2 each to parents) and by the time we had relayed the news 8 times we collapsed in our bed. I can’t express to you enough how much the support of our families got us through the first few days of our new lives. That afternoon we picked up our girls from school and met up with my father in law so he could take them for the night. This gracious offer gave us the time we needed for us to process the initial shock and weep openly without scaring the girls. We still weren’t sure what we were going to say to them. My sister called Robert and told him she wanted to bring us dinner. When we got home, both of my sisters and my brother got out of a waiting car with dinner, cheesecake, hugs and tears (I told you they were awesome). My brother even passed up free Thunder tickets to be there for us, and that means the world to me. It’s amazing to me how clear the day of the diagnosis sticks in my mind, but the subsequent days are blurry. Somehow we made it through and have begun to live out the next phase of our lives.

I am proud to say that my husband has led us bravely through this tough time, all the while leaning on the Lord. It is amazing how God has revealed Himself to us in these past few months. The very first thing He showed us was that we were not meant to go through this alone. He did this through our family, close friends, and strangers alike. Our families have done anything and everything we have needed, from praying with us and for us, watching our kids, checking in on us, and crying with us. Our friends have helped us laugh, continue to live our lives and prayed for us. Friends and family both have helped us spread the word so we don’t have to tell everyone the sad and painful story. This in turn has led complete strangers to pray for us. It’s amazing to hear the ways that people have been speaking to Him on our behalf. Our friend Kyle’s grandpa’s buddies who get together for breakfast have been praying for us. Robert’s sister Molly has all of her bible study friends praying. My Mimi and her husband have their entire church praying for us. Our entire Air Guard family have been praying for us… The list goes on and on. It is astonishing to me that so many in this world that haven’t even met us are loving on us and this tiny baby girl. His love knows no bounds, and we have been shown that many times over.

I’m currently 32 weeks and 3 days pregnant with my little Pistol Annie, and she is due June 30. I will continue to update with details of appointments and anything that is weighing on my heart. I passed nursing school on Monday, so I’ve got a lot of free time on my hands that I haven’t had in years, and I’m hoping that this blog will be a way to help me keep my sanity. Our story is not a secret, so if you feel led to share it with someone who may benefit from hearing it, please do. I have already seen Annie change lives, and I know she isn’t finished yet. Now I’m going to take a nap.

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15 thoughts on “The Beginning

  1. You are a pretty amazing woman Abba, not to mention you have a pretty awesome man by your side. I am so proud of you both. Love you!

    • Thanks Em. It didn’t occur to me until today that Annie is the Emily of my girls. I didn’t think my heart could break any more, but it did. I love you.

  2. Abbey, I love you and your family so much. I had no idea what you were going through. John and I will be praying for you, Annie and your family. Please let us know if there is anything we can do. Love you!!!

  3. Abbey and Robert, there are no words that can be expressed except love for the five of you. Your baby Annie will know how much she is loved regardless of the number of days she is with you. Blessings to all of your family.

  4. I’m amazed by how you and Robert are handling things with such grace. You are an inspiration to me…I’ve been wanting to tell you that. We continue to pray and think of you often. You can add our church, Mt. Zion, to the list of people praying for you.
    There’s a song I love…”Long Way Home” by Steven Curtis Chapman. He wrote it after the loss of his daughter. It’s surprisingly upbeat about how God had made a promise and he will see her again someday. Amazing. I think of you all when I hear it. Give it a listen if you’ve never heard it!
    Thinking if you often. Let us know if there’s anything you need!
    Much love,
    The Slaters’

  5. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. You are an amazing woman and an amazing mother. Please let me know if you ever need anything. I love you all.

  6. Abbey, you and your sweet family constantly amaze me. We feel so blessed to have you in our lives. Casey and I are so proud of who you are as people and who you are as parents (which is why we have chosen you as our baby’s Godparents). There is no one better out there to raise our son if something should happen to us. Casey and I often joke that maybe we should just give Hunter to you guys anyway, because you are the greatest ever. Your love and commitment to each other and your family is truly worthy of awe. The fact that you’re not only able to grow stronger through this horrible situation, but to actually find something positive out of it by strengthening your relationship with the Lord is truly incredible. I admire you, your strength, your courage, and your faith. Thank you for always being such a great friend and role model. All 3 of your girls are incredibly blessed to have you as a mother and as an inspiration (and Robert’s not so bad either). 🙂 We love you and are here for you always. P.S.- We need another preggo date soon. Annie and Hunter are in need of some more Mexican, or sushi, or all food. 🙂

  7. Abs, I absolutely adore you. You are an amazing woman. There is no one else in this whole world that I would pick to live this life with my brother. You have become my sister and I mean that with all my heart. There are no words to express how much the way you and Rob are walking this path has touched me. I am so very proud of both of you. I admire you more than I can say.

  8. Abby,
    I pray for you, Robert and Annie every day. I know The Lord will carry you through, but my heart breaks for you now. Annie is blessed. She is deeply loved. I believe she knows this and will know this after her birth as she is held and kissed. Your testimony and witness will touch the lives of many. Thank you for including me to follow your journey. With love, Linda

  9. Wow, Abby…what a beautiful way to share your journey from your heart to ours! I loved everything about this and every way you’ve articulated your feelings! I will def. continue to send up all sorts of prayers and spreading the word for you and your family! I am always so encouraged and strengthened in faith by you and Rob, for God has blessed you with such wisdom and strength in so many ways! I love you guys!

  10. Wow Abbey…In tears for you friend. Thank you for sharing you story. Corby and I are continuing to pray for your family daily. You are so strong and brave. Annie is lucky to have you for her Momma.

  11. Abby, when I met you I knew you were a great person! I love how you handle things with such class and have trusted in God! He gives us peace that surpasses all understanding! I can’t imagine the emotions that you are feeling, but I am sending love to you and your family!! I will continue to pray for you and your family! with much love and prayers!! Annie is a blessing to many, she has touched me!!!

  12. First, I love you all so much. I am even more convicted as I read your blog that God chose you and Robert for this journey to bring glory to His purpose for Annie, a purpose that now we see will change and touch and even save the lives of others. When your girls are older and someday can read this blog, it will be a wonderful gift to them to read your thoughts and feelings, and know the intimate details of this journey and the girls can read about their great love for Annie at their young ages and the amazing journey their parents chose as you and Robert followed your faith and love in God. Thank you so much for your sharing and your pictures!

  13. Dear Ahern Family,
    I read about Annie on the Donate Life Float website. I also had a child who died of anencephaly and donated his organs. I am going to Pasadena with my husband and we would love to meet you there.

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