Parents: Suja and Tom
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Carried to term, born asleep
Priya Elizabeth’s Story
In November 2003, Tom and Suja discovered that they were pregnant with their first child. WOW, were they ready for the responsibility? You see, they had seen all their friends go through this change of having kids. They were now driving mini-vans, weren’t allowed to stay out past 7 pm due to bedtimes, couldn’t do anymore late night runs to Applebees for half-price appetizers- were they really ready for this change? They were on the brink of turning 30 and knew that they couldn’t postpone the notion of having children forever. However, they quickly became very excited at the thought of being parents and began to emotionally prepare themselves for this big change in their lives. They had an incredible pregnancy- not one ounce of morning sickness, just fatigue. This pregnancy thing was way too easy.
Then on 4/1/04, 32 weeks into their pregnancy, what started off as a “routine” ultra-sound lead to further tests and visits with various specialists. The conclusion: their little baby girl, Priya Elizabeth … pronounced (Pree-ya), had been diagnosed with Edwards Syndrome/Trisomy 18. Except in a few cases, Trisomy 18 is not compatible with life. Wow, was that a mouthful to swallow.
From the moment of Priya’s diagnosis with Trisomy 18 to the time of her birth (7 weeks), Tom and Suja became more proactive in creating memories with Priya, and she became a part of their family in a real way. They talked to her, read stories to her, read the Bible to her, talked about her, went on family dates, and gave her all the love they possibly could. They wanted more than anything to celebrate her life! God was knitting her together within the womb, and she was fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. They desired to treat her life with the highest level of dignity and respect. God provided the best doctors, the right support, and new friends who had been down this road before to help them along the way. Most of all, God was preparing them spiritually to face the weeks, months, and years ahead.
On May 19th, 39 weeks into their pregnancy, was perhaps the best and worst day of their lives. Priya Elizabeth was stillborn into this world. How they had longed and waited for the moment when they would see Priya with their very own eyes. Oh, she was the most beautiful, most precious little girl to them . . . and she was their daughter!! They were so proud.
How evident the Creator of Life is when you look at a newborn! They were just amazed when they looked at her little hands and feet, her little mouth, and her ears and knew that God took two cells and made her in His image! They know with certainty that their LORD is the Creator and Giver of life and the Giver of Good Gifts (James 1:17). They know how precious and valuable each life is to Him. Tom and Suja are so thankful for the gift that they have been given in Priya Elizabeth, and they feel honored and privileged to be able to call her their daughter.
They spent that day with Priya, along with other family members and friends. They did their best to make a lifetime of memories with Priya in the 12 hours that they kept her with them. They loved her and loved her and loved her so much.
Today, Tom and Suja miss Priya deeply. There are many moments when their hearts ache as they long to be with her. Yet, they are so comforted in knowing that one day as a result of their faith in Christ, they will be reunited with her (I Thessalonians 4:13-18). Daily, they are overwhelmed by the depth and realness of God’s Grace and Peace that enables them to deal with each emotion that this journey has brought into their lives (II Corinthians 12: 9, John 14:27, Philippians 4:7). Life lessons- boy are they learning a few of them ranging from truly submitting to the Lordship of Christ in their lives to ridding their lives of this attitude of entitlement that is so easy to foster in their culture. God is abundantly Faithful and Good, and for this they are immensely thankful.
Priya left countless memories with Tom and Suja that they will always cherish, and though she never took a breath in this world, she taught them so much. To them, Priya is just an absolutely amazing little girl. They wish that somehow they could appropriately communicate that to you. Priya had so many medical problems to combat as a result of her Trisomy 18. Most babies with Trisomy 18 don’t make it to full term. But somehow despite all the obstacles she faced, she hung in there with them and gave them the honor and joy of being her parents, to be able to care for her within the womb for 37 weeks, to be able to love her, and to make tons of memories with her. She was very strong and courageous and such an inspiration to them. Here their little girl had all these medical obstacles to overcome, and she was hanging in there. How could they as her parents throw in the towel and throw a pity party for themselves because they “had” to be the parents of a baby with Trisomy 18. Priya challenged Tom and Suja to have an attitude where they celebrated her life. As her parents, there was so little that they could offer her in this world, but their attitude regarding her was a gift that they could give. Priya didn’t want them feeling sorry for her or themselves. This, along with an abundance of God’s Grace, helped and continues to help them keep an attitude of celebration regarding Priya’s life.
On July 9, 2004, Tom and Suja held [b]A Celebration in Remembrance of Priya Elizabeth. It was a dessert reception held in an open house style. This was an opportunity for them to show their little girl off to their friends, and for them as a family to celebrate the daughter that they had been given in Priya. All over the room, they had displayed pictures of Priya that ranged from a 16 by 20 inch print of her feet to a scrapbook that captured much of the love and affection that Tom and Suja have for their daughter. It was such a therapeutic time for them as they felt they were able to honor their daughter.
Oh, how deeply they love and miss their little Princess!!!!
Their hope and prayer is that Priya’s life will be a testimony of God’s Grace and Goodness. She certainly has been to them, and they hope that they can share that with you and others.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature -have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” (Romans 1:20)