On Thursday, Lila Rose, founder of anti-abortion group Live Action, shared a video from Carrying To Term, an organization dedicated to helping families whose unborn children have been diagnosed with “life-limiting” conditions.
The video tells the story of Stephanie and Andy Schoonover, who were told during a routine 12-week ultrasound that their unborn daughter had a condition known as anencephaly, and that she would not survive long after birth.
At first, Stephanie and Andy simply saw a beautiful child:
“The first trimester, I couldn't be more blessed to be feeling everything I was experiencing, which was just joy,” Stephanie said. “We were a little anxious as new parents, but we had no reason to be concerned.”
Andy added, “We saw this beautiful child, this beautiful baby. She was opening and closing her mouth and her lips and we had just this joyous occasion of seeing our baby for the first time.”
That’s when the ultrasound technician noticed something concerning, and called the doctor into the room. The couple were told that their daughter had anencephaly, and that she would not survive.
“It was almost an out of body experience because here I am laying on that table, and I'm looking at my daughter's silhouette, and she looked perfect to me. And everything he was describing went against what I felt that I was seeing,” Stephanie said. “There was no cure; there was no surgery; there was nothing other than carrying this pregnancy out or to terminate it.”
According to Andy, he and Stephanie knew they wanted to carry their daughter to term: “We wanted to give that baby life in whatever way that God intended for that life to look.”
They named her Grace Elizabeth.
Andy talked about his experience with his unborn daughter: “My hands were on Steph's belly constantly. You know, she would kick and I would push back and she would kick again, and I'd push back on her little feet. It's the only time we were going to be able to play with her.”
“I carried Grace for 39 weeks and 3 days. It was a very quick delivery. Within just minutes, my water broke and Grace was out. We were expecting that she would take a couple of breaths and then that would be it from her. And she came out just crying,” Stephanie said, noting that “it was an answered prayer just to hear her voice. I'll never forget her voice.”
Andy read two books to Grace. “I Love You Night and Day” was the second, “which is a book about regardless of what's going on in our lives, whether it's day or night, whether it's hot or cold, weather healthy or not, I will love you.”
During the brief time they had with their daughter, Stephanie said, “I grabbed her little hand, and she squeezed my thumb. ... I held her right there on my chest for the ten hours and 32 minutes that she lived. ... It was a joyful time to be able to experience her life. There was no shortage of love in the room. We know for certain that she felt loved.”
At the end of the video, Andy and Stephanie talk more about what Grace meant to them and how she changed their lives for the better. Watch the full video below, and check out CarryingToTerm, the organization started by Stephanie and Andy Schoonover: