NRL News

Parents bathe terminally ill newborn in love and kisses

by | Sep 4, 2015

By Dave Andrusko

parents1If you did not know otherwise, you would look at the photos of Erika and Stephen Jones and their newborn daughter Abigail and be tempted to coo. Add Audrey, their two-year-daughter, and your first thought at that photo would be something like, “The perfect family. They are so happy.”

But the Joneses, a Florida family who are deeply devout, are faced with an almost unimaginably sad truth: Abigail has an aggressive brain cancer, first diagnosed in utero, and her time on this earth is limited. They are relying on their faith in God at this most difficult of all moments for a parent.

The Daily Mail’s story is heartbreaking but also amazingly inspirational. I’m reposted some of the photos. They are wonderful.

(The story has one unfortunate flaw. An initial “tragedy” came earlier in Erika’s pregnancy: we’re told Abigail had Down syndrome. But once the writer moved past that outdated stereotype, he [or she, there is no byline] focused on the genuine “crushing blow.”)

At 30 weeks the Jones learned that an inoperable, cancerous tumor had developed in Abigail’s brain.

‘Our hearts were broken and our minds weighted with questions and fear of the unknown to come,’ Erika and Stephen wrote in a lengthy entry on their friend Mary Huszcza’s photography site.

As weeks ticked by, the little girl’s brain swelled, making a vaginal birth impossible and requiring a C-section.

On the evening of August 5, about a week before her expected due date, Erika Jones went into labor.

At 12.37am the following morning, the Joneses welcomed into the world Abigail Noelle Jones – a beautiful cherubic baby with pink cheeks and a full head of dark hair.

parents2They had been told and surgery was pointless because the cancer is too advanced and aggressive and that chemotherapy is out of the question because Abigail is so young.

Writing online, the Joneses explained, “The neurosurgeon recommended that we take Abigail home and cover her with love.”

The couple clearly took the neurosurgeon’s advice. They wrote

“We have smothered this little one with love and kisses and will continue to do so every moment we get.”

They’d expected their baby to die soon, but Abigail is surprising everyone.

“She is moving, nursing, squawking, sticking out her tongue, opening her eyes, holding our fingers, and doing all things a baby does,’ they wrote. ‘She has blown us away and surpassed every expectation.’

The story is written so tenderly it would be unjust to paraphrase the conclusion which relies heavily on what the Jones wrote online. Here it is in its entirety:

parents3The couple’s photographer friend Ms. Huszcza, who runs the site 8.08 Photography, took a series of achingly beautiful and tenderly shot pictures of the family of four enjoying precious quality time together.

In one of the images, baby Abigail rests on the bed with her parents, looking intently into the camera.

In others, mom Erika and dad Stephen cradle the tiny swaddled bundle, looking at her with admiration and wonder.

In most of the warmly lit portraits, Abigail peacefully sleeps, balling her tiny hands into fists, or resting her plump cheeks on her arms.

‘We don’t want to lose our daughter,’ the parents lamented in the online entry. ‘We want to see her laugh, dance, fight with her sister, ride a bike, go to school…we want to see her life.

‘But most likely, her whole life will be weeks or months, not years. Our hearts are broken and ache for the time that we don’t have.’

The Joneses, who are both deeply devout, say they are relying on their faith in God to help them through this crisis.

‘He will heal Abigail, in our arms on this earth or the moment she breaths her last breath and is embraced by her Heavenly Father,’ they concluded.

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