Carrie Mason faced what many parents dread when her unborn daughter Hannah was diagnosed with anencephaly. Hannah was only expected to live a short time after birth, if she made it that far at all.
Anencephaly is a neural tube defect where the neural tube fails to close early in pregnancy, which results in the child missing a substantial portion of the brain and the top of the head. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the infants that manage to survive birth usually live for only a few hours or days.
Carrie, of Dearborn Heights, and her fiancée went to have an ultrasound on December 3, 2007. The technician was the first to spot Hannah’s defect. Carrie said after hearing the diagnosis, her nurse suggested she could have an abortion. Later, when the diagnosis was confirmed there came more suggestions to abort, but little information was given to her. Carrie said she was being told what to do before she even knew what was wrong.
“Nobody really explained what it was,” she said.
She ultimately decided that even though she would have only a short time with her daughter, that time was precious and important.
“I wanted to see her face and to take it with me,” she said. “I at least wanted a couple of minutes, rather than nothing at all.”
She searched for help from more medical professionals, but only found more suggestions to abort her daughter. Fortunately, Carrie found out that there are doctors who still believe their first job is to do no harm, and found that much support exists for mothers like her in difficult positions.
Carrie’s sister put her on a prayer list. One member on that list knew of a local prolife doctor and managed to connect him to Carrie. He became her obstetrician for the rest of the pregnancy.
Carrie said “I asked the doctor ‘will you help me?’ He said ‘yes’. He helped me through everything. He never said anything negative to me. He was just there for me.”
The community wasn’t finished after finding her a prolife doctor. Many people continued to work on finding her help in any way they could.
“A priest that didn’t even know me offered to come to the hospital day or night,” she said.
Someone told Carrie of Angela Hospice in Livonia, and she contacted them for help. Their prenatal unit provided her with counseling, funeral arrangements, and a birth photographer, all free of charge. They even gave a gift to Carrie’s three-year-old daughter Emily.
“I was in labor all day, so they stayed with me at the hospital all day,” Carrie said. “They stay with you 18 months after birth.”
Hannah Elizabeth Ann Mason-Regnier was born on April 11, 2008. Hannah lived for 65 minutes.
Carrie said her advice to anyone who finds themselves in her situation is to ignore the doctors and nurses pressuring you to make a choice, because there are others who will support your decision of life for your child, no matter how small she is or how short her stay on Earth will be.
“Make sure in your heart you are doing the right thing, don’t let anyone else do it for you,” she said. “Don’t let doctors push you in the wrong direction.”
For more information about Angela Hospice, visit their website at www.angelahospice.org. For a list of other pregnancy support services, click here.