A British mother whose doctors suggested she should abort her baby chose life instead after watching her pre-born son smile during an ultrasound. Katyia Rowe and her boyfriend Shane Johnson, both 26, were planning on marrying after the birth of their baby, whom they had named Lucian. But several weeks into the pregnancy, doctors told them an ultrasound revealed that Lucian's brain was not developing properly and that if he even survived to birth he would be severely handicapped, would not walk or talk, and would require 24-hour care. The common-sense option, the doctors advised, was abortion.
“We were devastated to be told our son’s brain abnormalities were so severe they were life limiting and we should consider a termination,” Katyia told the U.K.'s Daily Mail. A further ultrasound, performed at 20 weeks of pregnancy, confirmed the extent of the physical limitations Lucian would face. But it also revealed something that convinced Katyia that, regardless of the hardships, she would give birth to her baby and would love and protect him as long as he lived. What the young mother saw was a tiny, lively baby, smiling, blowing bubbles, and kicking inside her womb.
“When I saw him smiling and playing inside me I knew I couldn’t end his life,” she recalled. “Despite all the awful things I was being told, while he was inside me his quality of life looked to be wonderful and no different to any other baby’s. He was a joy to watch.” She added that as she watched the tiny miracle inside her, “I knew that while I was carrying him he still had a quality of life, and it was my duty as a mother to protect that no matter how long he had left. He deserved to live.”
Katyia explained that seeing her baby forming inside her awakened a mother's instinct she didn't know she had, causing her to disregard the bad news of the doctors. “It was ironic because I had never considered myself particularly maternal,” she said, “but now I wanted nothing more than to care for my son and give him the best quality of life possible. I was more than happy to dedicate my life fully to his care. I researched all his disabilities to prepare myself fully for his needs. I never had a moment of doubt. I only had to look at the scan pictures of him enjoying life in the womb to know I was doing the right thing by giving him a chance.”
On October 23 of last year, boyfriend Shane accompanied Katyia to the hospital for the birth of their son, who was immediately rushed to a neo-natal intensive care ward for assessment. Shortly afterward, a nurse returned to inform the new parents that rather than the few short years doctors had estimated Lucian would live, he was near death and had only a few hours left.
The young parents were understandably shocked by the news, “but we had already decided that after his birth we would let Lucian lead the way,” Katyia told the Daily Mail. “I didn’t want him given any unnecessary treatment if ultimately it wouldn’t help him. He had already given me the greatest honor of being his mummy for the last nine months. It was up to him now if he was ready to go.”
Katyia said that as a nurse placed Lucian in her arms, “it was without doubt the happiest moment of my life. Lucian could have died at anytime in my womb but he held on long enough for us to meet properly.” She added, “I thought I didn’t want to be a mother, but Lucian taught me it is the most wonderful job in the world and I will always be grateful for that.”
Katyia and Shane had the joy of welcoming Lucian, and the three spent a few precious hours together as a family before God called Lucian home.
“The peace, contentment, and amount of pure love that engulfed the three of us in that room will keep us moving forward for the rest of our lives,” recalled Shane on a memorial website for his son. “We're so thankful to have had that time with Lucian for those few hours, and words can’t describe just how proud we are to be the parents of such a beautiful, strong-willed little boy who through our tears, stories, and memories will live on in our hearts forever!”
Photo of baby in womb: by Wolfgang Moroder