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Gianna Caeli’s Story

Celebrate the life of our daughter and sister, Gianna Caeli, who was diagnosed 10/15/2010 with Trisomy 18.
She was born at home 12/22 and lived 14 wonderful days, departing this life for Eternity on 1/5/11.  

We honor the gift she is to us and to the world.
Gianna (jee-AHN-uh) "God's grace"   
Caeli (CHAY-lee or KAY-lee) "(from) Heaven"

Trisomy 18 is not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis, and certainly not a prognosis. It shouldn’t automatically be considered a condition which is incompatible with life!!

Gianna was conceived in March 2010, and is our 12th child.  She is sister to four siblings who've gone Home early to God: Kelly (m/c 1996), Loren Joseph (stillborn 35 weeks, anencephaly, 1999), Tess Elena (m/c 2002), Fiona Maeve (m/c 2010) and has seven living siblings here on earth: Ean, Erin, Kate, Claire, Aidan, Jack, and Joseph.

We announced Gianna's conception to our children out at the Hendry Farm on Easter Sunday - how appropriate to announce new life on THE DAY of NEW LIFE - by placing a poem in an Easter egg, which, when opened, shared the good news.  The children were ecstatic!

AM had a sense from very early on that something was amiss with the baby, but kept quiet about her intuition for months. 

On 10/1, at her regular midwife appointment, some measurements were off, so she requested a fetal survey ultrasound, done locally 10/5.  The scan showed three areas of concern (two vessel umbilical cord, enlarged area of the brain, and excess amniotic fluid) any one of which occurring in isolation wouldn't be a concern, but together pointed at something more serious. 

AM googled incessantly and discovered Trisomy 18.  She hoped against hope that baby didn't have it, but wasn't surprised on 10/14, when visiting Swedish Perinatal Medicine, that the scan and amniocentesis confirmed the suspicion. 

That was the day Gianna Caeli received her name. 

Leaving Swedish, we made plans for a death instead of a birth, but were subsequently exceedingly surprised to learn that children with Trisomy 18 can and do live, some for years.  It is our prayerful hope that Gianna will live outside AM for as long as God wills it...and for the Grace needed to accept whatEVER may be His will.

We are grateful for the chance to parent Gianna (and all her siblings) and feel so thankful God has sent her to us.

Latest Journal Update


Today marks the third anniversary of Gianna's death.  She died in my arms three years ago this morning, surrounded by her family.

In honor of this day, we had the Rite of Miscarriage for our Sara Noelle and the blessing of the Henninger Children headstone.  Both were lovely ceremonies and we feel blessed to have been able to have them performed.

We also feel so thankful for our pastor, Father Nathe, performing the Rite and the Blessing, and for all who attended today's event.

I don't have a long journal entry today.  
My heart is full.  I miss my children, yet I have hope for our reunion in Eternity.  

I am deeply grateful to have been BLESSED with maternity 13 times and to have seven wonderful children here on earth to mother.  
Thank You, Lord.

Ray likes this one:

My Lord, the baby is dead!

Why, my Lord—dare I ask why? It will not hear the whisper of the wind or see the beauty of its parents’ face—it will not see the beauty of Your creation or the flame of a sunrise. Why, my Lord?

“Why, My child—do you ask ‘why’? Well, I will tell you why.

You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind she hears the sound of angels singing before My throne. Instead of the beauty that passes she sees everlasting Beauty—she sees My face. She was created and lived a short time so the image of her parents imprinted on her face may stand before Me as their personal intercessor. She knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. She laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for My Kingdom and each creature fills a place in that Kingdom that could not be filled by another. She was created for My joy and his parents’ merits. She has never seen pain or sin. She has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow and called it forth.”

I am humbled before you, my Lord, for questioning Your wisdom, goodness, and love. I speak as a fool—forgive me. I acknowledge Your sovereign rights over life and death. I thank You for the life that began for so short a time to enjoy so long an Eternity.                                                                                     --  Mother M. Angelica

And one of my favorites:

Prayer After A Miscarriage

Dear Mother Mary,
I come before you today with a heavy heart. I have lost the beautiful child from within my womb; the child god gave me.  I do not want to accept this, yet it bring my sorrow to you, O Mother of Sorrows, because you understand. I am filled with a deep sadness, O Mary, and I cry sometimes silently for this my beloved little one, now with you. O Mary, I feel so alone, although my family and friends do their best to comfort me. Still, I trust God, even when I don't understand.
O Heavenly Father, You know what is best for us always. Perhaps my child would have suffered greatly in life, or wasn't ready yet to come into the world.  I ask you, dear God, to please send Your mercy on all parents who are experiencing the loss and pain of a miscarriage, and console them with the sure certainty that they will see their little treasure again.
I admit I feel some fear for the future, an apprehension that this could happen again. Nevertheless, O Lord, I put my trust in You. You are the God who heals me; You are the good Shepherd who will neither leave me nor forsake me, so I am at peace. Please kiss my little saint, and tell my child I yearn for the day we will be together again, with You, in the Kingdom of heaven.
O Lord, grant my husband and me the grace according to Your Will to conceive again. Help us to continue to make our home a welcoming place for all life.
Jesus, Comforter of all who mourn, we put our trust in You. Amen.