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Marvella Jean Love Barton


Marvella Jean Love, baby with anencephaly

In the fall of 2013, I became pregnant. I had all the emotions anyone would have with an unexpected pregnancy. Joy, fear, excitement, nervousness, etc. However, I started to fall in love with the idea of a little baby created from me and my husband.

Monday I found out I was pregnant, later that week on Thursday, my husband had an appointment to sign the papers to go active duty with the military. I know it was a blessing that I found out when I did so that he could change his enlistment from active duty to reservist. Although I was glad that he wasn't going to be active, he still had to leave for training for 20 weeks! He left on December 31st, 2013, close to the end of my first trimester. At that point I decided to move back home with my parents while he was gone because we lived about an hour away and I wanted to be closer to family during this time.

On February 6th, 2014, I had my first ultrasound scheduled. At this time I was 16 weeks pregnant. This was the first time I was able to see my baby bigger than what seemed like a 'pea' before. I was so excited! During the ultrasound the technician was very quiet, but I didn't necessarily think anything of it because I thought maybe she was having a bad day or something.

She left the room for a moment and when she came back she said she was going to take me to a room so my doctor could come talk to me. My heart sank in my chest. I KNEW this was NOT good. I knew that there was no reason for my doctor to come talk to me unless something was wrong.

Marvella Jean Love, baby with anencephaly

I went in the room and waited for a few minutes, which those few minutes felt like an eternity. While the whole time I kept trying to keep myself calm. When my doctor came in, her eyes were filled with sorrow.

She started telling me that my baby had something wrong with the head and that she would not make it. She told me that my baby would be 'incompatible with life'. I tried to comprehend what she was saying but I was in complete shock and confusion.

She told me that she was sure of what it was, but wanted me to go to a specialist the next day just to be certain. My doctor told me that there is no cause or cure for this condition, and that I could 'take care of' it as soon as the following week.

I left the office feeling like I was dying. I remember just talking in my head the whole way out of the office telling myself to just wait until I get out of the hospital to cry, to just hold it together.

I so badly wanted to call my husband but couldn't because he was in training and I had to wait to be contacted by him for communication. I remember walking through the double doors to the outside and tears just flowing from my eyes. I couldn't hold them back any longer, I felt sick to my stomach. I balled my eyes out in the parking lot for a good while, and then drove myself back to my parent's house sobbing the entire way.

When I got there, I told my mom the news I received. She was more optimistic than I was, saying to just try to stay calm and pray about it and wait to see what the specialist would say the next day. She said she would come with me too.

I got to looking at my ultrasound pictures and noticed that the head seemed to be different looking. I could tell that the spine seemed to stop just at or above the neck. So, I began researching a probable cause on the internet and that's when I came across Anencephaly. I started crying my eyes out wondering if this was the news I was going to hear the following day.

Marvella Jean Love, baby with anencephaly

I wrote the word 'Anencephaly' down on a piece of paper that next day, Friday Feb. 7th, 2014. I told my mom that if the specialist says this word, then it is the worst case scenario and she needs to be prepared for my reaction. Looking back, I now know that God was preparing me for what I was going to face. At the specialist's office, he assured me that this nightmare was real, my baby has Anencephaly.

The next few days/weeks to follow were some of the hardest moments of my life. I had to call the Red Cross in order to get ahold of my husband during his training in order to tell him the news. I felt terrible for having to break the news to him this way, knowing that he would have no one to turn to and no way of expressing his emotions at the time.

On February 27th, my 24th birthday, I had another ultrasound and found out we were having a little girl. I had told my husband from day one that I knew it was a girl, so this was no surprise to me! Call it mother's intuition I suppose!

I started to believe that God could give me a miracle. I had a few strange and impactful experiences. Over the next several weeks, people seemed to reach out to me and tell me things, things that seemed they could only have come from God. For a reason I'm still trying to figure out, God wanted me to continue to believe in a miracle for our baby.

I knew from the moment I got the diagnosis that I would not abort my baby. The specialist told me how the most common 'treatment' for this condition was to 'terminate' the pregnancy. The thought not only disturbed me, but broke my heart for my unborn baby living and growing inside of me. I decided that if this is the life God has granted me, then I will cherish it. If this is the only life I will ever carry, then I will do so proudly. If this is the only child I will ever have, then I will love her with as much love as I am capable of.

May 22nd, 2014 my husband, Jesse, could come home! Oh, how I had longed for this day to come! So many months without him. So much sorrow and pain that I wish I had been able to share with him instead of us each walking through it alone.

Marvella Jean Love, baby with anencephaly

Being reunited was a wonderful thing. I had found us a place the month prior, so when he came home we had a home of our own to prepare for our baby girl.

Jesse agreed with me that if we are going to ask God for a miracle and believe in that miracle, then we must live as if we believe it. So, that is exactly what we did.

Some people, even some of our family, did not understand our decision. They believed we were in denial for acting like nothing was wrong and celebrating her life. Telling us that we were just going to cause more pain for ourselves by continuing the pregnancy. But we knew that life matters from the moment of conception and that she is precious in the eye of the beholder.

We decided to name our daughter "Marvella", meaning miracle. We made a beautiful nursery for her, gray and pink themed I had a baby shower, where we received everything you could possibly need or want for a new baby girl!

We prayed together every night over our precious baby. I talked to her all of the time and prayed for her all day long, every day.

Marvella Jean Love, baby with anencephaly

I had my good days, but also had really hard days too. Nevertheless, I chose to persevere and look forward to the day I would get to hold Marvella in my arms.

July 31st, 2014, almost 2 weeks past my due date (41-42 weeks pregnant), Marvella Jean Love Barton was born. (Jean-meaning gift from God, or God's greatest gift-depending on translation & Love after the bible verse 1 Corinthians 13:13 "Faith hope & love, but the greatest of these is love").

She was born an unplanned cesarean birth. I knew as soon as she came out that she still had Anencephaly and we weren't receiving the miracle we had so badly hoped for, because she did not cry when she entered this world. I remember turning my head crying, and looking at my husband saying she's not crying.

She weighed 6lbs. 7oz. and was 17 inches long. She was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my entire life. She had long fingers and toes just like her daddy. And pretty lips like daddy too.

We had 44 hours with her, and they were the absolute best hours of my life.

Marvella Jean Love, baby with anencephaly

Our nursing staff was the best I could have ever even hoped for. Looking back, I know this was God too because my husband and I had been praying over the staff that would be there with us, long before we delivered. The nurses had birthday parties for Marvella every 6 hours. They made little pink circles; each decorated with the hour on it, and took pictures of us with her. At hour 24, some nurses and our paediatrician came in with a balloon and a couple gifts and sang happy birthday to her.

The nurses were with us every step of the way. The pediatrician we had was also great and talked us through all of our questions and concerns in the most loving manner. One nurse even rocked Marvella to sleep so that we could get a couple hours of sleep because I didn't want to put her down; but after no sleep for 48 hours, I had to shut my eyes for a little.

The nurses also made molds of Marvella's hands and feet for us, as well as copies of her footprints and handprints. Another nurse crocheted a hat for Marvella in between doing things for us, while another made her a bracelet.

I am in awe of the love that the staff showed to us, but most importantly to Marvella.

The last couple hours of her life were the hardest moments of our life, moments that no parent should ever have to go through. She started to have seizures and would stop breathing at times.

It was very hard for me the first couple weeks after her death, having to remember her struggle in the end. But what comforts me now is knowing that through her whole life here in those 44 hours, she was shown nothing but love.

And in her final moments, she was in her mommy's arms where she knew she was safe and loved.

Marvella Jean Love, baby with anencephaly

A photographer came from "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep", which is an organization where photographers take photos of terminal babies at no cost. We received amazing photos both in the delivery room and after that we will treasure forever.

As of today, it is almost 8 weeks since Marvella has passed. The wound is still open and the pain is still strong, but each day is a new day and each day is different. I will continue to move along. I do question God's plan and wonder why we didn't get the miracle we had so fervently prayed for. I constantly ask God, "Why did this have to happen to ME?"

But, Marvella was still a miracle and I am SO thankful for the amount of time that we did get to share with her. I cannot wait until the day I can spend eternity with her. Until then, I want to live my life for her. I want to spread awareness and love for her. After all, Marvella showed me what true, unconditional, never ending love really is.

For anyone else going through this, know that you will be okay one day. I believe that I will be too.

"A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." - Ecclesiastes 3:4

This is your time to mourn, it is okay.

Please feel free to email me if you ever just need to talk to someone who understands your pain.

Love & Blessings



Last updated April 30, 2019