Parents knew their baby would die right after birth, but had him anyway
Whereas most expectant moms are buying strollers and high chairs in their last trimester, Deidrea Laux frequented funeral stores, tasked with shopping for a casket for her unborn son. It was the last thing she imagined doing in December 2007, when doctors performed the first ultrasound and, with her husband T.K. by her side, she saw the peanut-sized embryo in her womb and heard her baby's heartbeat. Soon thereafter, however, the couple's good news took a tragic turn. Twenty weeks into the pregnancy, Deidra and T.K. were informed that their son had trisomy 13, a rare DNA abnormality. Even if the child survived the delivery, he'd likely live for a few hours — at best, a couple of days. Yet, when presented with the choice to terminate the pregnancy, Deidrea and T.K. declined to do so, hoping they'd get to meet their son and spend some time with him — even if it was only a few minutes. The parents' journey was documented in a video designed to help other parents cope with loss.
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Throughout the pregnancy, the couple experienced alternating feelings of anticipation and dread. Like all parents, they were eager to see, smell, hold, and kiss their baby. But they were also fully cognizant that their newborn child's life would come to an end swiftly and that it would be emotionally devastating. So why go through the pain at all? As Deidrea puts it, "We didn't not terminate because we were hanging on to some sort of medical mistake or that there was going to be some sort of medical miracle. We didn't terminate because he's our son."
In the video, Deidrea discusses how difficult it was to have acquaintances congratulate her on her pregnancy, rub her baby bump, and share stories about their infants and toddler, knowing that she'd never get to see her child take his first step or utter his first word. And yet she was also comforted to know that her son would only know love, that he'd never experience cruelty from others or be faced with crushing disappointment.
Deidrea and T.K. Laux welcomed their son Thomas into the world on June 30th, 2008. In addition to bilateral clefting, Thomas had brain abnormalities, a heart defect, and severe kidney problems. To his parents, he was the ultimate miracle baby, and so they documented every second with him, gushing over how beautiful the child was, swaddling him tenderly, and holding his tiny fingers. Fifty-three hours after his birth, Thomas was sent home on hospice. He died five days later, on July 4, 2008.
The Laux family then had the heart-breaking task of saying their final goodbyes to Thomas and laying him to rest. In the video, we see Deidrea sobbing quietly while dressing her newborn son for the very last time or dressed in all black at her son's burial, a baby bump still visible through her black top. It's literally close to impossible to watch the entire video without shedding a tear.
And yet the most remarkable part of the story is that Deidrea and T.K. chose the path that they knew would, in many ways, be the most emotionally excruciating and they did so with as positive an outlook as possible. In the end, they felt blessed to have met Thomas at all, looking at every second with him a miracle
Image via Corbis