In December, the wife of former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Evan Rodriguez is planning to welcome the couple’s first child together, Layla Sky. Unfortunately, Olivia Rodriguez and Evan were told their daughter would be born with a condition called Anencephaly, which is almost always fatal.
The birth defect is described as a severe form of spina bifida where a failure of fusion of the neural tube in early pregnancy results in the baby developing without cerebral hemispheres, including the neocortex. However, what’s worse than the condition itself is the startling fact that 95% of unborn babies who are diagnosed with anencephaly before birth die from abortion.
Evan explained, “From that moment on, I’m like what can we do? He was like, either terminate it or move forward with the process.” Olivia said she prayed, “God, show me what it is that you want to do through all of this. What’s the good to come out of it?”
Thankfully, the couple decided against abortion because they believe God would want them to give their daughter a chance. They said, “We decided to continue with the process because we felt like who are we to determine a baby’s life. So, we are going to leave it in God’s hands.”
Evan added that they are completely in love with their unborn daughter. He said, “I prayed to God that I want to make the right decisions.” Now Evan and Olivia are trying to raise awareness about anencephaly.
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Evan donned a Layla Sky towel at each practice while he played for the Bucs. He was released from the team this week. The hashtag “The Fight for Layla Sky” is spreading on social media and telling women how to reduce the risk of having a baby with birth defects, like taking a daily multivitamin containing folic acid. They’re also working with Duke University to study anencephaly.
“It felt like it was our job to let other people know about this,” Evan said.
Evan and Olivia vow to make the most of every minute they have with Layla Sky. Evan said he knows he’ll shower her with unconditional love again someday. “She’ll be waiting up there saying daddy. So, there’s a time and place for everything,” Evan said.
Olivia told ABC Action News that her husband is looking to be picked up by another team and already has good interest. She said if he plays for another team, she’ll move with him right away and find new doctors to ensure Layla Sky has the very best care.