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Dec 29, 2023 238 Dr. Hima Pius, USA
Evangelize

Our One and Only Hope

Ecstatic over the good news of a much-awaited pregnancy, their world turned upside down during the 12th-week routine ultrasound.

Our first-born Mary Grace was growing up to be a beautiful child. Our family and friends had been actively praying for us to have another baby, so we were overjoyed to learn about the pregnancy! The genetic testing returned normal results, and we decided to keep the gender a lovely surprise.

When I went for the routine 12th-week ultrasound, the technician showed me the side profile of the baby and then quickly turned the screen away from me. They took my daughter out, and I immediately knew something was wrong. I thought: “Maybe the baby has some sort of heart problem or defect, but it is alright. God can fix anything, and we can have surgery.” But being a doctor, I prayed: “Please God, don’t let it be anencephaly.” Since I had had a glimpse of the ultrasound, I felt confident it would be something else.

As the doctor came into the room, I asked: “Please tell me the baby is alive.” With a solemn face, she said: “Yes, the baby does have a heartbeat, but it doesn’t look good.” I started crying and called my husband on Facetime. It was what I feared the most—our baby has anencephaly, one of the severe defects a baby can have in utero where the skull does not develop appropriately—and the doctor told me the fetus wouldn’t live long.

It was heartbreaking. This precious child that we had been waiting for so many years was not going to live! I thought about how excited my older daughter was. In our daily family prayer, she used to say: “Jesus, please let me have a baby brother or sister.” I kept saying in my mind: “Lord, you can heal, you can heal the baby.”

My husband immediately came down. Trying hard to keep a straight face, I told my daughter that I was crying tears of joy. What else could I say?

The doctor said we could terminate the pregnancy. I said, “Absolutely no way. I am going to carry the baby until he/she lives. If it’s going to be 40 weeks, it’s 40 weeks.” She did warn me that I would likely not make it that long, and in case the baby dies in the womb, there was the possibility of me getting a severe blood infection. I also needed frequent checkups as fluid build-up in my uterus could be very dangerous. I told her that I was ready to face anything. Thankfully, I wasn’t pressured further, even on the following visits. They knew that I had made my decision!

Destined for Hope

We came home and spent time praying and crying together. I called my sister, who was an OBGYN resident. She called a lot of friends, especially in Jesus Youth, and started a Zoom Novena that very night. We just said to our daughter that the baby has “a little bit of a booboo, but it’s okay.” We didn’t tell our parents or in-laws; my sister was to get married in a month, and we didn’t want the wedding to be affected. We also had this thought that they wouldn’t handle it with the same strength we felt.

The first few days, many people talked to me, helping me trust in God’s providence and believe that He doesn’t do anything that’s not good for us. I felt immense peace. I thought about Mother Mary—the joy of receiving the good news at Annunciation and the later sorrow at knowing that He was going to die. We decided, that day, to open the card from the blood tests that revealed the gender because by then, we wanted to pray for the baby with a name.

We named her Evangeline Hope, meaning ‘the bearer of good news’ because, for us, she still radiated the hope of Christ’s love and mercy. Not once did we consider aborting her because she was such good news, not only for us but for all our well-wishers—a child who would evangelize the world in many ways.

I joined an Anencephaly Support group, which helped me immensely in my journey. I met many people, even atheists, who deeply regretted their decision to abort their babies. I was brought in contact with ladies who sewed angel gowns from donated wedding gowns and professional photographers who volunteered to document the birth through beautiful photos.

We did a gender reveal at our sister’s wedding but still didn’t tell anyone that the baby was sick. We just wanted to honor and celebrate her little life. My sister and friends also organized a beautiful baby shower (more like a celebration of life), and instead of presents, everyone wrote letters to her for us to read after the delivery.

Perpetual Adorer

I carried her until the 37th week.

Even after a complicated delivery, including a uterine wall rupture, Evangeline was not born alive. But somehow, I remember feeling a deep sense of Heavenly peace. She was welcomed with so much love, dignity, and honor. A priest and her Godparents were waiting to meet Evangeline. There in the hospital room, we had a beautiful time of prayer, praise, and worship.

We had beautiful dresses for her. We read the letters that everybody wrote to her. We wanted to treat her with more dignity and honor than a ‘normal’ child. We cried because we missed her presence, and also because of joy as she was with Jesus now. In that hospital room, we were thinking, “Wow, I can’t wait to get to Heaven. Let’s do our best to be there with all the Saints.”

Two days later, we had a ‘celebration of life’ for her with everybody wearing white. The Mass was celebrated by four priests, and we had three seminarians and a beautiful choir honoring our precious baby. Evangeline was buried in the Angels section for babies in the cemetery, which we still visit often. Although she isn’t here on earth, she is very much a part of our lives. I feel closer to Jesus because I see just how much God loves me and how He chose me to bear her.

I feel honored. She is a perpetual adorer for our family to bring us to sainthood in a way no other situation could ever bring us to. It was sheer grace from God and full acceptance of His will that gave us the strength to go through this. When we accept God’s will, He showers the graces that we need to go through any given situation. All we have to do is abandon ourselves to His providence.

Raising Saints

Every unborn child is precious; healthy or sick, they are still gifts from God. We should open our hearts to love these children made in the image of Christ, who are in my view more precious than a “normal” child. Taking care of them is like taking care of the wounded Christ. It’s an honor to have a child with disabilities or special needs because caring for them will help us reach a deeper state of sanctity than accomplishing anything else in life. If we can see these sick unborn children as gifts—pure souls—it wouldn’t even feel like a burden. You will be raising within you, a Saint who will be seated beside all the angels and Saints.

Our youngest baby boy Gabriel was born last October. As we awaited him, we used to pray that even if he is diagnosed with something, we would still have the grace to receive him with open hearts and arms. Thanks be to God, it was His will that Gabriel be born a beautiful healthy baby; and an added thanks to his sister’s intercession from heaven too.

All life is a precious gift, and we are not the authors of life.  We must always remember that God gives, and God takes. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

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Dr. Hima Pius

Dr. Hima Pius lives in Florida with her husband Felix and their 8-year-old daughter. She works as a pediatrician, and is actively involved in the Jesus Youth movement.

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