By Dave Andrusko
Back in September we reprinted a lovely story by Jessica A. Botelho, a staff reporter for the Rhode Island Catholic, “Baby Angela defies odds, turns 6 months old.” The “odds” that Angela defined were and are imposing: almost all babies born with anencephaly die within a few hours or weeks.
Doctors had advised an abortion but that was never an “option” for Sonia Morales and her husband, Rony.
“You don’t have to choose abortion for these cases,” she told NBC 10 News reporter Tony Gugliotta who provided an update on Angela last week. “No. For any reason, you don’t have to terminate the pregnancy. There is a life there. So we never, not even for a second, thought about abortion – no!”
As Ms. Botelho explained in her story, in May
Angela underwent a three-hour surgery to close an opening at the top of her head, as she has anencephaly, a neural tube defect in which portions of the brain, skull and scalp do not form in whole or in part during embryonic development.
At that point in time, Angela was “doing great,” according to her mother. “She’s almost 14 pounds, and she’s growing well.”
In explaining how Angela was able to celebrate her 8-month-birthday, Gugliotta wrote that doctors had now changed their diagnosis from anencephaly to encephalocele. Both are fatal neural defects, but with encephalocele there is more brain matter that protrudes out of the skull which fails to knit closed during pregnancy.
“God is so good and he’s using Angela just to prove that these babies can live,” Sonia said. “Let them live.”
Back in September, Morales told the Rhode Island Catholic, “Everything she’s doing they said she wouldn’t be able to do,” adding, “She smiles when we talk to her, and she’s responding to our voices and our love. She’s starting to crawl, and she can scoot three feet. She cries when she’s hungry, and lets us know what she doesn’t like. She loves to be touched, and she loves kisses. We were prepared for the worst, but God had other plans.”
The back story is fascinating. Morales started a Facebook account while she was carrying Angela to raise awareness about anencephaly and to defend human life. Botelho wrote
Morales often receives messages of support, noting that many women who have poor-prenatal diagnoses tell her that baby Angela gives them hope. One woman, said Morales, refused to tell anyone that her fetus was diagnosed with anencephaly, as she was ashamed and afraid.
“But by seeing Angela, she told her family that her baby has this condition and she started raising awareness,” Morales said. “She was hiding, but now she’s talking about her baby.”
Gugliotta ended his update with an optimistic look at Angela and her family:
Sonia looks through a memory box she was given at the hospital when Angela was born. Inside is a dress the baby wore that day. Now it’s much too small, it’s a symbol of Angela’s growth and health.
And because of that, he wrote, “it’s an extra happy Thanksgiving for this family.”