Two years ago, Kari Williams lost her newborn daughter to a rare brain disorder.
Some said the Virginia mom should have aborted her unborn daughter because she had no quality of life, but Williams refused to believe it. Today, Williams tells her story to raise awareness about her daughter’s condition, anencephaly, and to reach out to other families in similar situations. She offers them comfort and hope, and reassures them that their child is a valuable human being.
It was during Williams’ 20 week ultrasound appointment on June 13, 2014 when she learned that there was something wrong with her daughter. First came the exciting news that Williams’ unborn baby was a girl, but the news that followed was devastating.
“My worst nightmare was about to happen,” Williams wrote in a column for Live Action News. “She said, ‘There is something wrong with your baby.’ She told me from her measurements and from what she noticed, my baby looked like she was missing her skull, and she wasn’t sure if all the baby’s brain was present.”
Doctors later diagnosed her unborn daughter with anencephaly, an often fatal condition where the baby is missing part of the brain and/or skull.
“To be told that her life was not compatible, I was devastated. Then [the doctor] suggested I induce the next day. And I looked at her. I gave her a funny look, and I said, ‘Do I have to?’ and she said no, but she thought it would be best since the baby wouldn’t survive and I had high blood pressure,” she continued.
Williams decided that her unborn daughter, Marley Jane, would remain alive and in her womb until her natural birth and death. Still, the young mother struggled deeply with her daughter’s diagnosis and the meaning of her short life. Williams said she looked into donating her daughter’s organs after she died, but Marley was born too small.
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On Sept. 23, Williams’ water broke and she gave birth to Marley who weighed 3 pounds, 10 ounces and measured 15 inches long. Williams said she had a wonderful midwife named Wendy who stayed past her shift to help her give birth. When Marley was born, Wendy sang “Happy Birthday” to her and then laid the tiny baby girl on her mother’s chest.
“When I looked at my baby girl, I didn’t see anencephaly. I saw my beautiful perfect baby girl,” Williams told Live Action.
Family and friends came to the hospital to meet Marley before she died. Williams said her daughter lived for five hours outside the womb, and she was loved and cuddled the whole time.
When Marley died, her mother said she struggled to let go. One of the hardest things Williams’ said she had to do was leave the hospital without her daughter.
“I was going home on that rainy day and my baby girl was alone in the hospital morgue,” she wrote on her Facebook page in December. “I felt like a terrible mom!”
She slowly has been healing from the loss of her infant daughter. Williams said she has found comfort and support from other moms who have faced similar situations.
She concluded her column at Live Action this way:
My life is forever changed because of my little girl.
I since have created a Facebook Page to spread Marley’s story and awareness on Anencephaly. My hopes are to help other mothers dealing with similar situations. I want people to see that you don’t have to be scared into termination or inducing early because society deems your child imperfect and incompatible with life.
Marley was perfect, and she was compatible with life and love. She lived for 5 beautiful hours and I am blessed for that and blessed that I was chosen to be her mommy.
Marley’s life is a beautiful reminder to others that every life is precious and meaningful, no matter how short it is.