Baby Charlie Lived Just Two Hours After Birth, But He Showed Us Every Life is Precious

Opinion   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 26, 2015   |   1:10PM   |   Washington, DC

In the pro-life movement, we often say unborn babies aren’t potential human beings, but human beings with potential.

Sadly, every so often, parents are told the grim news that their unborn baby doesn’t have much potential to live long after birth. We’ve often profiled and spotlighted parents here at who have faced the suggestion that they abort their baby because he or she will have a very short life after birth. Thankfully, so many parents reject that suggestion and are blessed by the time they have with their little one, whoever long that may be.

At LiveAction, May James talks about her baby Charlie, whom doctors said would not live long:

The ultrasound tech mentioned she was having trouble seeing the baby’s lower limbs, which she blamed on his position. They sent me across the hall to a specialist. This technician also couldn’t see much of the legs. I asked her if that was terribly unusual, and she tactfully indicated it was, and said the specialist would be in shortly.

I asked Sean if he was okay with a baby with tiny legs. He replied without hesitation that he was, saying he wasn’t too tall, so our kid would fit in. I felt the same. This child was ours and I’d love it, legs or no legs. It was a bump in the road, but I wasn’t phased. We sat in the room for what felt like forever. I couldn’t imagine what was taking so long. Why couldn’t they just tell us our baby had tiny legs? I hadn’t considered that it could get worse.

The doctor finally came and said there was something seriously wrong with our baby, and that its survival was unlikely. Some organs were outside of the body and the legs were underdeveloped. Sean took my hand. The doctor told us that chromosomal abnormalities were likely, and recommended a blood test. We agreed. He also told us termination was recommended. I was shocked.

Mary said she and her husband decided an abortion was out of the question.

While awaiting results, I researched the conditions the doctor had mentioned. By the end of the week, I was confident that there was no chance I would terminate. I was going to give it as much life as possible. This was my child. My unconditionally loved, wanted, perfect child.

I kept talking to my baby every day, singing to him in the car and touching my growing belly almost constantly. We decided to name him Charlie.

When the day came for Charlie to be born, it was the same whirlwind of adventure, but with a sad expectation that little Charlie would not live long.

On September 17th, we checked into the hospital and they put a monitor on me so I could hear his heartbeat. He was awake, kicking the monitor throughout the morning. At 10:45 they took me to the operating room. I remember sitting on the operating table wanting to run away. I didn’t want them to take Charlie out of me, I just wanted him to stay safe in me forever. Finally Sean was allowed in the room, and he came and held my hand.



At 11:16, we heard Charlie’s cries. We hadn’t expected him to cry at all! His cry was loud and I couldn’t help getting my hopes up. Sean brought him to me and I was amazed. He was a real little person – my little person. He had thick brown hair like his dad, and he was perfect. They placed him on my chest and I stroked his head and held his hand. His eyes opened a bit, and he took big breaths. He moved and made faces when Sean and I touched him. I held him close, and he drooled on my chest a little bit. They checked his heartbeat every few minutes, and each time it slowed down slightly. He seemed to just fall asleep.

Do Mary and Sean have any regrets about giving little Charlie a chance at life? Absolutely not.

It’s hard, and it’s miserable, and it hurts more than you can imagine if you haven’t been through it. But if I had it to do over again, I’d make the same choices. I got to know him and love him, and I did everything I could for him, and that gives me peace.

But every minute of every day, Charlie, we wish you were here.