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Asher O’Neal Gaither
May 28, 2018
We always wanted a third child and after waiting until we were ready, we decided that we wanted to add one more to our family of four. Not long after trying in September, we were pregnant. We surprised our family with the news. The first couple of months of the pregnancy was great, no problems but maybe some nausea. In November, we found out we were having a BOY! We were excited, another sweet boy. In December while on vacation, I got a phone call from the doctor’s office stating that some routine blood came back and the levels of Spina Bifida was high for the baby. The nurse practitioner reassured me that there are a lot of false positives, but we needed to go see the fetal medicine doctor to make sure. So in January, we traveled to Albany to see the specialist. The tech did an advanced ultrasound on the baby and then the doctor came in with heartbreaking news. He confirmed the blood work diagnosis of Spina Bifida and also told us that he had fluid on his brain which is called Hydrocephalus. Mark and I were speechless and really didn’t know what to say. The doctor explained what Spina Bifida was. From my understanding, early in pregnancy as the baby is developing, the spine forms and Asher’s did not form correctly which then caused a sack to form where the defect was. The sack fills with spinal fluid and can pull on the back of the brain causing fluid to build. Mark asked the doctor what is the worst and best case senorios for the baby. The doctor said the best case scenario is that Asher would have normal intelligence and would possibly have to walk with braces. The worst case would be that he is “mentally retarded” and would never walk. Mark and I sat there shocked and didn’t know what to think. He gave us some options: we could deliver in Atlanta or Augusta because they have the specialist there or go to Philadelphia to see if we would qualify for fetal surgery. Mark and I left the doctor’s office and were devastated. We have never had to deal with news like this before. We had a lot of decisions to make over the weekend. I researched fetal surgery and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. After much consideration, Mark and I decided to travel to Philly to see if we would qualify for fetal surgery. Family and friends came together and supported us with prayers, donations, and help with the kids. In February, we traveled to Philadelphia. I went through a series of tests which included a fetal MRI, fetal echogram, and an advanced ultrasound. We had various meetings, and in the end, we were told that Asher did not qualify for the surgery because he had either had a stroke or he has a generic disorder and the ventricles in his brain are too big, and if they did the surgery it would be more of a risk to me than help him. Again, Mark and I were devastated. We had a really hard time and felt like we were kicked in the gut. I had never felt that upset and heartbroken. Mark and I had a long drive home with that news. So from there, we had more decisions to make. Ultimately, we made the decision to deliver in Atlanta. After coming to several different appointments, the plan became for us to relocate to Atlanta at 36 weeks and deliver at 38 weeks. So, at 36 weeks we came to Atlanta and stayed at the Ronald McDonald until 38 weeks. On May 22nd 2018, Mark and I had a precious little boy named Asher O’Neal Gaither, which means “happy blessed champion”.