Warned that her unborn daughter would not survive, Sandra Notman began planning her baby’s baptism and funeral while she was still pregnant.
The Daily Mail reports Sandra and her husband, Andrew, asked a priest to be at the hospital when their daughter was born so that she could be baptized. The grieving couple also picked out a coffin and dress for their daughter’s burial.
Doctors left little doubt in the Notmans’ minds that their daughter would be stillborn or die shortly after birth.
But she didn’t.
The Notmans’ daughter Rachel now is 25 years old and doing well. Rachel has a college degree in fashion textiles and is engaged to be married, according to the report. Though her health continues to be a struggle, she is glad to be alive.
“I hope by telling my story we give others hope. I’m living proof that where there is life, there is hope. Always,” Rachel told the Mail.
Her parents said doctors detected problems with Rachel during a pregnancy scan back in 1991.
Here’s more from the report:
Although PKD is not always fatal in babies, Sandra’s consultant believed in her case it would be.
‘I’ll never forget the moment I was told my baby would die at birth,’ Sandra says. ‘I burst into tears. Andrew was devastated.
‘I’m Catholic, and I wanted to have my baby naturally and to have her baptised, even if she lived for just a few minutes.’
Sandra said doctors encouraged her to have an abortion, but she refused. She said if Rachel was born alive, she wanted the chance to hold her.
Rachel was born on Oct. 25, 1991, according to the report. When a midwife broke the news that Rachel was alive, Sandra said she could hardly believe it.
“I was so thankful I’d not agreed to have the injection [abortion] that would have ended my baby’s life,” she said. “… It was very stressful, but it felt like a miracle.”
Rachel was rushed to another hospital that specialized in kidney diseases. At one point, doctors thought she had brain damage and recommended that she be taken off life support, the report states.
“I was sobbing uncontrollably,” Sandra remembered. “But on arrival, a female doctor was crying, saying the ‘black cloud’ on Rachel’s brain had gone. She’d shown signs of life — making tiny movements.”
Rachel’s future prospects began to brighten. A few weeks later, her parents were able to take her home from the hospital. Treatments continued, and doctors cautioned her parents not to be too optimistic, according to the report.
“One doctor said, ‘You’ll be lucky to get another year,’” Sandra remembered. “He said that every year for the first five years of Rachel’s life.”
More than 20 years later, the Notmans said they wanted to share their story to bring hope to other families facing similar news.
Cases like Rachel’s often are held up as a prime examples of why abortions should be legal. However, her story shows that doctors are not always correct, and diagnoses can be difficult. If her parents had followed the doctors’ suggestions to abort her, she would not be alive today.
Life is unpredictable, and Rachel’s story is a perfect example of why every unborn baby deserves a chance at life.