My name is Rachel Walls. I am twenty-one years of age and I have been blessed with two amazing little girls. As much love and joy they have brought me, I must say it was a long and difficult road leading us to this point.
In June of 2008, despite all of the stress of finishing school and working, I became pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby girl. Life was glorious. Two years later my fiancé and I got married!
Three months after our wedding we found out that I was pregnant again. Being older and married I had a lot more support, however, I was still petrified. All I could think about was how hard we were working to barely get by and with a new baby how could we make it? After seeing my new baby on the ultrasound, and hearing the heartbeat, I began to relax and was overcome with new love and anticipation.
At eighteen weeks, we went to our third ultrasound appointment to check the baby’s growth and hopefully find out the sex. Never could I have imagined how my joy could crumble to fear. Our lives were changed forever with this one ultrasound. Our new baby girl was diagnosed with Severe Hydrocephalus. We referred to a Maternal and Fetal Medicine Specialist.
Devastated I went home to research this diagnosis and reach out to my friends and family for information and support. The same day we learned of this diagnosis, we were introduced to Mari through a mutual friend. I met with her a few days later at the Shirley Grace Pregnancy Center. I learned of how she had come to open the center, and her passion to help mothers. I met with two specialists shortly after the diagnosis. One specialist strongly tried to persuade me to terminate our pregnancy, due to the possibility of the Hydrocephalus causing severe disabilities. I then went back to the pregnancy center for some advice. They talked to me for a few hours about our situation. They made me feel that at peace about my decision to keep my baby even though everyone else put me down for it. I couldn’t imagine giving up a baby!
Throughout the rest of the pregnancy I continued to go to the center. They were great listeners and advisors. With their support, I never felt like I was alone! I knew that when ever I called or came in they were there for me.
In February 2011, we welcomed our new baby girl into the world. She was five weeks premature Other than her hydrocephalus she looked totally normal. After many tests we found out not only did she have the severe Hydrocephalus, but she also had Malrotation of the intestines. She stayed in the NICU at John Hopkins for 10 days and had one surgery. After being released, we returned to the hospital every month for a different problem. Altogether she has undergone four surgeries.
Mari constantly checked up on us, and again gave the most encouraging words to keep us going. I honestly don’t know what I would have ever done with out her and her pregnancy center. My daughter is now seven months old and still amazes me at her progress. It gives me joy every day to see her smile and know that I gave her the decision to fight for herself!
In a sense, I can honestly say that the caring women at the pregnancy center saved me and my daughter, I have never been happier with my life. I have since recommended friends of mine who have struggled with stress in a pregnancy or confusion to go to the pregnancy center. I know there are so many more out there like me who just need someone to talk to. I strongly believe that pregnancy centers have a huge purpose and impact in our world today!