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Printed from the Charlotte Observer - www.CharlotteObserver.com
Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 01, 2011

Ultrasound test gives Skylar's parents joyful news

By Karen Garloch
Published in: 99 Minutes
  • Be Not Afraid, support for parents carrying to term: benotafraid.net; 704-948-4587.

    LifeShare of the Carolinas, the regional organ procurement agency: www.lifesharecarolinas.org; 704-512-3303.


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    More than a year ago, Shannon and Kip Brooks welcomed their daughter, Skylar, who lived for only 99 minutes.

    She was born with anencephaly, a rare birth defect that results in the absence of a major part of the brain.

    Despite some pressure to have an abortion, Shannon and Kip chose to continue the pregnancy, "meet" their daughter and introduce her to their son, Jadon, now 3, and other relatives and friends gathered at the hospital.

    They called it the "best day of our lives."

    Many of you will remember the Observer's four-part series last fall about Skylar's life and legacy.

    Her parents persuaded the Charlotte-area organ donor procurement agency to change its policy and allow organ and tissue donation from Skylar and other babies like her. The couple spent New Year's Day representing donor families in the Rose Bowl parade.

    Shannon and Kip remember Skylar daily, but they have also moved forward.

    This summer, they learned they were expecting again.

    Of course, the pregnancy raised concerns. Would this baby be healthy?

    So, in early September, Shannon and Kip visited Roxanne Cortes, the Huntersville ultrasound technician who discovered Skylar's abnormality in March 2010, when Shannon was four months pregnant.

    The couple wanted Roxanne to do this baby's first ultrasound. They wanted her to give them the news - good or bad.

    As they walked into Lake Norman 3D Imaging, Shannon and Kip were understandably nervous.

    Parents who have had one child with anencephaly are more likely to have another. But since Skylar's birth, Shannon's obstetrician had been prescribing larger-than-usual doses of folic acid, a dietary supplement that reduces the chances of neural tube defects, like the one Skylar had, by 70 percent.

    At 12 weeks pregnant, Shannon climbed onto the exam table and held hands with her husband as they awaited the first pictures on a wide-screen TV.

    Midwife Marcia Ensminger, who delivered Skylar, joined them.

    Roxanne spread warm, clear jelly on Shannon's abdomen and touched a hand-held transducer to the area.

    In seconds she could see, this fetus did not have Skylar's birth defect.

    "I can already tell 100 percent that that's not an issue," Roxanne said. "Look at that beautiful brain there."

    The couple watched in silence as ultrasound pictures revealed a perfect head, squirming arms and legs and - look at that! - a tiny appendage that seemed to confirm Kip's hope for a boy.

    In deference to Jadon, who loves dinosaurs, Kip has suggested the name Trevor Rex, T. Rex for short.

    Shannon laughed, indicating the discussion wasn't over.

    "Feel better now?" Roxanne asked, turning off the ultrasound machine.

    "Yeah," Shannon said.

    "I do, too," Roxanne said. "I was nervous because I knew y'all would be nervous."

    After hugs all around, Shannon and Kip walked to their car. This time, they left with ultrasound pictures that brought smiles instead of tears.

    They have shared the news with relatives and friends.

    And now they wait for their due date, March 18.

    Garloch: 704-358-5078; kgarloch@charlotteobserver.com.

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