When Zalya Schier was born in July 2019, she arrived with a tumor even bigger than she was.
The Australian baby girl developed a rare tumor called a sacrococcygeal teratoma on her tailbone while she was growing in her mother’s womb, The Mirror reports.
Her parents, Lenai and Matt Schier, were told to consider aborting her, but they chose life for their little girl. As a result, Zalya is at home and thriving today, according to the report.
The Schiers said they want to encourage other families whose babies have been diagnosed with a sacrococcygeal teratoma. Zalya’s life demonstrates that there is hope for babies with the rare condition, and abortion is not a solution.
The family said doctors discovered the tumor during their 20-week ultrasound appointment. At first, the doctors thought Zalya might have spina bifida, but further testing determined that she was suffering from a large tumor on her tailbone, according to the report.
Doctors told the family that their daughter could be stillborn and they suggested an abortion, but the Schiers refused.
“Matt and I felt overwhelmed when we got the diagnosis. Even the doctor who called us didn’t know that much information. When we were in the room asking all the doctors by Skype how bad her SCT [tumor] was, they did seem worried about how large it was,” Lenai told the news outlet.
She said unfounded fears began running through her head, questioning if it was something she did to cause her unborn daughter’s tumor.
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“… all I could think was did this happen because I didn’t take my pregnancy vitamins every single day or not eat healthy enough? I was so scared our baby wouldn’t be able to walk or she would be in a lot of pain,” Lenai said.
The doctors monitored her closely over the next few weeks, and, at 28 weeks of pregnancy, Lenai’s water broke. Zalya was born by cesarean section a short time later, weighing 2 pounds 3 ounces, with her tumor weighing an additional 3 pounds, 4 ounces, according to the report.
Several days later, Zalya had surgery to remove the tumor. Despite complications that led to her being revived several times, she survived, the report states.
After five months in the hospital, she grew well enough to go home, her parents said.
“I feel like even though Zalya was already five months old when we came home, that it wasn’t until then that she started her life. At that moment, we were finally bringing our newborn baby home,” her mother remembered.
Zalya recently turned 1 year old, and her parents said she is doing well. They said her story is bringing hope to others.
“I’ve actually had several women get hold of me asking about my daughter’s story saying they are pregnant and their baby has been diagnosed with an SCT,” Lenai said. “I know the feelings they are going through so I’m always willing to share her story. It’s helped me heal by sharing it, and I’ve made and connected with others who were and have gone through the same thing.”
Parents frequently say they feel pressured to have an abortion after a poor prenatal diagnosis. But stories like Zalya’s and many others demonstrate that there always is a reason to choose life for unborn babies.