Parents: Stacy and Andy
Hometown: Seminole, Florida
November 12, 2003 – November 15, 2003
“Please do not be sad for us. We are so blessed to have had such a wonderful baby as Bryce. He has touched our lives and the lives of others so greatly. Even though I have my times of grief I know I will see him again one day. He is so safe now. Away from the trials of this life. I really wanted to share this story with you so here we go.”
Andy and Stacy already had 3 children: Rachel 18, Gary 9 and Caleb 5, when they decided to have one more child. The family was elated in March of 2003 when they discovered Stacy was pregnant. Rachel said Stacy was too old (she and Andy were both 40) but the boys were really excited.
At the first doctor appointment on April 10th they had a hard time hearing a heart beat so the doctor sent them into the ultrasound room to hear it. That turned out to be the first of so many ultrasounds…they found a heartbeat and everything at that time looked great.
At the next visit the doctor asked about what prenatal tests they wanted. They decided against AFP and amnio, since they would not consider termination regardless of the test results. However, the doctor did suggest a level II ultrasound just to check things out because of Stacy’s age, and they agreed. At the first level II in June, the doctors told them they were having another boy. Then they told them they could not get a good picture of his heart and wanted to repeat the ultrasound in one month.
When they went back in July they found out their son had a very serious heart defect. Stacy was 22 weeks at the time. The doctor also said he saw a blockage in his stomach. He said these were markers for chromosomal disorders like downs syndrome. Stacy recalls, “We opted for an amino after talking briefly. We just could not go on with maybes. We went home and prepared for a diagnosis of Downs syndrome. We were older and knew the risks were high; we also knew we would love a child with a handicap just as much as we loved our other children. In the next 2 days my husband started researching chromosomal disorders. That is when he discovered trisomy 21, 18 and 13. He showed me the findings but I could not face the other two. It was not something I thought I could bear.”
“After 2 excruciating days we got the call. The call that almost sent me into a break down. The FSH test had come back positive for trisomy 18. We waited for the report to come in hoping it might be mosaic but no, our son was to be a full trisomy 18. We were then faced with the ‘obvious’ decision of termination. We could not do that, as we believed that God had a purpose for allowing this. We decided to carry our son as long as God wanted us to. We knew that he might not make it to term. We knew with his very bad heart that he might not withstand labor but we had no choice, we had to believe God.”
“We told our children and family that day. We also told our church family so everyone could start praying for our son.”
Many doctors’ appointments and seemingly endless ultrasounds were to follow. They were blessed with many things along the way. They were given the opportunity to have a 3D ultrasound at no charge which they accepted. “We saw our little boy for the first time. He had no cleft lip, no rocker bottom feet, no gross deformities. His hand looked slightly clenched but it is hard to determine that for sure because they hold their fists closed a lot in utero anyway. We were so relieved. The stomach blockage that the doctor saw was gone. We had been praying so hard for this little guy. God had healed him and so we held on hoping he would restore our son for his fullest. His growth seemed very good. I measured correctly every week but we did know there was allot of excess fluid.”
Stacy had to transfer to a high-risk doctor upon learning of their son’s trisomy 18 diagnosis. When she never saw the same doctor twice, she got very frustrated. “ After much prayer we went to the head nurse and asked if she could help. She said to ask for an ob resident the next visit. That is when we met Dr. “P”. She was so kind and compassionate and was understanding that this child was not a waste to us but a blessing. She allowed us to have hope and love our child. She was a blessing from God to us. God gave us such favor with the office staff. They all started calling me by name and looked forward to my visits. God really made me feel very special. The reason for my induction was so that my doctor could be there to deliver Bryce. She was ending her rotation. She was so good to do that for us.”
Stacy made many memories while carrying Bryce. “During my pregnancy I treasured many things other women see as troublesome. I loved each kick, turn, and trip to the bathroom. I sang to him. I prayed for him. I washed my stomach with baby shampoo not knowing if I would ever get to wash his hair. As I was singing praise to God I told Bryce to sing praise with me. I treasured all these moments more than any other pregnancy I had.”
Andy and Stacy also had some difficult decisions to make as well. They decided upon comfort care for Bryce. “We had to decide if we wanted any resuscitation or only comfort care. We decided not to take ‘heroic’ measures to sustain his life.”
When the day arrived for the induction, they were filled with hope and fear. Stacy says that God calmed their fears quickly: “My nurse walked in and her name was Sheila. She was a Christian and had a very strong alive faith. As we labored she ministered to me in ways only another child of God could. After her shift God placed more of His children around us to comfort us. There were perfect strangers that came to me in the hospital and told me they were praying for Bryce and us. I do not know how they know us; I guess God placed them there to comfort us the whole way through.”
Jonathan Bryce was born at 10:57 PM on the 12th of November 2003. He weighed 6 lbs 1 oz and was 18 1/2 inches long. “He had a head full of black hair and blue eyes. My other 3 children had blonde hair at birth or none at all. His hands were slightly closed with the pointer finger extending a bit. He cried very softly after he was born.”
Shortly after his birth he was aided with a ventilator and that allowed time for the family to visit him. Stacy recalls, “We took our boys to the hospital on the 15th, my due date, to see their brother. It was a very hard day for me. I knew he was probably not coming home but we had hoped he would. He was on a ventilator but only on minimum settings. They saw Bryce, held him, talked to him and wanted to take him home. I was crying so much I could not see.”
“The boys were taken home and we decided it was time to see our son off the ventilator. They took him off and he looked so good. No tubes or wires. I held him with such love knowing my time was short. His heart was too bad to sustain his breathing. We talked to him and cried some more. It was about 2 hours later that we decided to take him home. He had not died yet and we wanted to take him so the nurses got the doctors and we talked. They agreed and went to get the papers. When they left I told my husband to get the cell phone so we could call people to come to the house because we did not know how long we would have him. It was at that time that Bryce reached up his hands to heaven and gave up his spirit.”
“We sat there numb and rejoicing that our son was home with Jesus. It was so special. Beth, the nurse, listened to his heartbeat and when it stopped she said, ‘Bryce is home with Jesus now’. We had forged a bond with her that was so dear. She held our son and cried right before he died. Bryce really affected her life.”
“We were able to baptize him (my husband is a pastor) and I was able to bathe him right before his heart stopped beating. What a precious day it was. I am so thankful to God for making such sweet memories of our final time with our son. We took so many pictures and video of our son. It was hard to focus at times through the tears.”
They had a memorial service the flowing Friday. This is from the letter they sent out to people:
“As many of you might know by now Stacy’s and my son Bryce died Saturday afternoon. While we knew that our time with him might be short he still managed to make an indelible mark on our lives. I think our only regret is that many of the people that interceded to God on his behalf never got to meet him this side of eternity. It was truly our desire to share in his dedication with all of you, who like us, could not wait to get our hands on him. But as it happened, when Stacy and I gave him to the Lord, He decided to take him soon after. It was with our tears that we baptized him.”
Stacy writes, “Now, I said all this to let you know that no matter what we face in this life, we are not alone. If there is anyone who was not sure about God or His reasoning when it came to this path we went down I want you to know, I would not trade it for anything. It was just one more way my heavenly Father has once again shown His love for me. He is so Good and faithful. I thank Him for the life of our son Bryce. He has enriched our lives so much!”