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Ambra Storm

April with her daughter and granddaughter with anencephaly

 

On April 24, 2010 my daughter and her boyfriend Kyle asked to speak with my husband and I. As they sat there on the couch they didnít have to say a word. I already knew what they were about to say. I had been in the same situation as my daughter who now sat across from me 17 years before. They told us that Micah was pregnant. It was definitely not news that we wanted to hear. She had just gone to her junior prom the weekend before. We hadnít even gotten the photos in yet. My husband and I asked what their plans were and that we would support any decision except abortion. Micah knew our beliefs on this already. Micah and Kyle were adamant they wanted to keep the baby.

Over the next few months we tried to prepare Micah for what it would mean to be a teen mother. She got a job and decided to skip her senior year of high school and get a GED so that she could get a head start on her college education. We asked her to pray about adoption and keep her heart open to that idea, but I knew her heart was already set on raising this baby. I know mine was when I became pregnant as a teenager.

As the weeks went by the idea that my baby was going to become a mother early in life began to set in and we warmed to the idea that a new baby was going to be in the house again. On July 12, 2010 I was excited as I went with Micah and Kyle to the ultrasound. I remember reminding Micah that although we would find out the sex of the baby, the real reason for an ultrasound is to make sure the baby is healthy.

The ultrasound tech was very quiet during the exam and it was taking a really, really long time. After having three children, I couldnít remember an ultrasound ever taking so long. The technician announced that the baby was a girl and shortly after said he needed to go speak to the doctor and would be back. As soon as he left, Micah and Kyle began texting everyone they knew that the baby was a girl. I sat there and prayed. I knew something was wrong. The technician came back and said that Micahís doctor would like to meet with us.

As we walked down the hall I tried to appear calm, but at the same time struggled with what to say to these young kids who were so giddy. There was still hope that this was just a routine check-up and this baby girl was ok so I didnít want to scare Micah and Kyle. We didnít have to wait long before the doctor came and in and the look on her face explained what the words she was saying meant. The baby would not live long. Micah broke down very quickly after that so I tried to ask all the questions I thought she would want me to. We live in a very rural community so I asked if we could move her care to a bigger hospital. The doctor informed me that this was not the issue. This baby girl simply did not have most of her brain and could not sustain life outside the womb. She assured me that Micahís health was not in danger and most likely she would go full term, but medically there was nothing to be done. She offered to terminate the pregnancy, which Micah quickly declined.

I broke this news to Kyleís parents, my husband and my sister that day but I donít remember much else. We cried and thatís about it. Family members and friends questioned Micahís decision not to terminate the pregnancy. How could she go through this? I wasnít sure either, but I knew God would see all of us through. My husband and I questioned ourselves. Should we encourage Micah to abort this baby? Others seem to think so. Then my husband called our pastor and got counsel from him, he told us that terminating the pregnancy was not what Godís plan for this baby was. We felt relieved that we were supporting Micahís decision.

Micah and Kyle decided on the name Ambra Storm almost immediately after her diagnosis. And the next day we sat on our couch with our laptops and began doing research together. This website had our attention for several days as we read story after story. Which only confirmed that allowing Ambra to be born no matter how long she was here was the absolute right thing to do. Not one single mother said she regretted giving birth to her anencephaly baby.

As parents, our outlook changed. We had been preparing Micah to be a mom, now we were preparing her to bury her baby girl. We went into protection mode. We all were hurting so terribly bad and didnít know how to deal with it, so we corralled our immediate family and did lots of praying.

Slowly, we continued on with our day-to-day life. Micah was barely showing at this point and it was hard to imagine that the baby growing inside her would not live. Especially because Ambra was so active. There wasnít a moment that Micahís belly wasnít moving around. We laughed a lot at Ambraís tantrums. I struggled with how to be there for Micah. I could teach her how to be a mother, I could even show her how to be a good teen mother. But I didnít know how to help her through this. We found that talking and laughing and crying all together was how we were going to handle this and that is what we did.

Micah developed gestational diabetes and began to retain lots of fluid so we asked the doctor in early November if we could start talking about induction dates. Micah was already so big it was getting very hard for her to breathe. The date for induction was set for November 10th. Micah and I spent the next few days planning her funeral. Somewhere along the way butterflies came to hold a significant importance in Ambraís journey. We listened to lots of songs, read lots of poems and finally had the service and program planned.

Micah was in very good spirits and was so excited about meeting Ambra. We all were. We had a huge support network and lots of people praying. Micah was such a trooper and did an amazing job. Ambra was still born at 7:19pm and I could tell how much Micah loved her immediately. My husband and I were with Micah the entire time of the birth but had talked about leaving very soon, so that Micah and Kyle could spend time with Ambra by themselves. My husband nodded to me that we needed to leave. So I followed him out of the hospital room where I immediately lost all emotional control and totally broke down. Somehow my husband got me through the hallway full of people to a secluded area where we both broke down some more. After a few minutes we regained our composure and addressed all the family and friends who wanted to know if Ambra was still alive.

We walked into the hallway and I remember shaking my head, but I donít think we ever said anything. Lots of crying and hugging followed and at some point I went back into the room and held my granddaughter. She was so peaceful. The entire birthing room was peaceful. Outside in the hallway there was sadness, but inside that room it was calm. The Holy Spirit was providing us with the peace that only He can provide. It was amazing.

My son Blayne wanted to hold her and actually helped measure and weigh her. We had talked about whether we were going to let our three year-old son Bryce come to the hospital and see her. He knew she would not come home and would go to Heaven after she was born. We figured that seeing her would only confuse him. This is one of the things I regret. I can tell he feels he missed out on an experience that the rest of the family had. He doesnít have a picture of himself holding Ambra like everyone else does. If any other family is trying to decide whether they should allow their other children to be a part of this, I would encourage them to do so no matter their age.

My husband and I discussed that it might be very hard for Micah to make the call of when to call the funeral home to come get Ambra. We decided that we might need to encourage her to do that at some point. We wanted Micah to have good memories of Ambra. After four hours, everyone had left the hospital except for us and Kyle and his parents. My husband mentioned to Micah that maybe she could go ahead and dress her in her funeral dress and prepare her to go to the funeral home. Micah lost it and just cried that she wanted to keep her and didnít want to give her away. I cried along with her but reminded her that Ambra was already gone and in Heaven. Micah so lovingly dressed Ambra and said her goodbyes and placed Ambra in a wicker basket and gave her to my husband who then met the funeral home director at the hospital entry. Micah and I both slept well that night in the hospital. Once again, we were at peace.

I canít even begin to explain what going through this journey with Micah has meant to me. I have a wonderful, loving, and beautiful daughter who gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, my first grandchild, Ambra Storm. This experience has brought us even closer as mother and daughter and I see how she has grown over the last several months. I am so proud of her.

Micah has struggled with the feeling that she didnít get to have Ambra long enough. As her mother, I am still not sure encouraging Micah to let Ambra go was the right or wrong thing to do. What I can say to other family members who are in the supporting role of a parent of an anencephaly child is this: Cry with them. Laugh with them. Treasure the short time these precious babies are with us. Remember with them. Use the journey to strengthen relationships and experience the blessing of family.



Proud mother of Micah and Grandmother of Ambra

 

Last updated January 7, 2012