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James Henry, baby with anencephaly

In November 2015 we found out we were pregnant with our third child. We were so excited to complete our family with another precious blessing. Our two boys were 2 and 5 at the time and so excited to learn they would both be big brothers.

In the 12th week of pregnancy we opted to do the genetic testing that tells you the gender of the baby and if any chromosomal abnormalities were present. We found out we were expecting a daughter and that she looked healthy. Our boys were so thrilled to welcome a baby sister and my husband was just beginning to wrap his mind around a daughter.

On February 26th, 2016 we went in for our anatomy ultrasound at 19 weeks. A few days earlier I started to question if our daughter was healthy. I didn't feel her move as much as the boys and was just worried something wasn't right. My husband assured me everything was fine, but I couldn't shake that mom instinct. We had our boys with us at the appointment and I immediately knew something was wrong when they went over her head during the scan. He asked me if we had genetic testing done and when I said, "yes. Why? You're scaring me." The sonographer said "well her head is small".

As someone who worked in an OB office, and had two living children I knew something wasn't right.

We were quickly put in a different room and encouraged to terminate our pregnancy because she would not survive. I reminded our midwife that termination was not an option for us and that we believed the Lord had created this child just as He did our boys.

We were sent to a specialist where we were once again told to terminate (but this time were told her official diagnosis: anencephaly). This doctor was cold, cruel and flat out mean.

We chose to carry our daughter as long as the Lord would allow. Thankfully we were surrounded by an amazing community of believers who loved us and supported us through all of our hard days. We switched doctors and had an amazing team of providers. My pregnancy was relatively easy until my third trimester when my fluid levels began to rise.

June 6th, 2016 Jaycee Grace Chestnut was born. At 33 weeks I was diagnosed with severe polyhydraminos and sent to the hospital to be induced. After a long labor Jaycees heart rate began to drop and we prayfully decided an emergency c-section was the best way to meet her alive.

Because of previous spine surgeries I was put to sleep and our prayers were answered that I would wake up in time to meet her. She had some precious moments with her daddy and held on for 51 minutes. Her brothers got to meet and love on her while she was still alive which was the biggest blessing to them. We prayed that I would be able to wake up and remember every moment with her and that was answered as well.

Jaycees life was short but her impact is lifelong. She continues to make me a better mom, her story has changed us for the better and touched so many others. She has given us so many opportunities to help those in need and really shown us that no matter how short life is, it matters.

Carrying a child that we never got to bring home was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do, but also the most rewarding. We soaked up every single moment of pregnancy, we talked to her, we took pictures of her, and we prayed for her. Bittersweet joy is the only way to describe our journey but I am so glad the Lord chose us to be Jaycee's family.


Visit Jaycee's blog



Last updated April 6, 2019