A mother whose child died eight hours after his birth says God gave her the strength to choose life where most women choose abortion. Today, she helps other mothers who are facing the same decision.
"God abundantly blessed us. It's amazing how much strength and grace He has given us, because we couldn't have done it on our own," Heather Walker of Memphis, Tenn., told The Christian Post in an interview on Wednesday.
Walker's blog, "Our Sweet Boy Grayson James," chronicles her personal struggle with anencephaly, the terminal disease with which her son was diagnosed months before his birth.
Most women choose abortion when they learn their child will die shortly after birth, Walker told CP. Anencephaly has "a 95 percent abortion rate." But Walker's faith in God led her to choose life. "I am a Christian and I think that God has a plan for every life – if He creates it, He has a reason for it," she declared.
Helping other women
Today, Walker helps other mothers who are struggling with an anencephaly diagnosis, and mentioned recent conversations with families in Virginia and two mothers near her hometown of Millington. "We actually just got a call this morning," she told CP.
Many of the families she has spoken with are Christian, and Walker shared that, "they are making the same decision because they know that's what God would want them to do."
Walker said there is nothing she can do to help prevent the disease, but she can help women whose children have been diagnosed. Primarily, she gives them hope.
"You've already walked it, so you have not the exact same experience, but you can give them a little foreshadowing of the things that are to come," she said.
Anencephaly is a horrible disease involving brain and neural development. "On the 26th day of pregnancy, the neural tube doesn't close at the top of the neck where the skull's supposed to form," Walker explained. As a result, part of the brain and skull cap do not form, leaving the child partially headless. Since the brain stem does form, the child's heart can beat, they can breathe, and have other basic functions, but they cannot live very long. The disease is fatal and incurable.
"They can't go in and surgically create the rest of the brain," Walker said, contrasting anencephaly with a similar but curable pre-natal disease, spina bifita. It is also less common, with only one in 5,000 (some say one in 10,000) babies diagnosed.
After Grayson's birth and quick death on Feb. 15, 2012, Walker posted pictures of the family on Facebook. While she admitted that "to some people it may be graphic," Walker did not anticipate Facebook removing the photos. After she reposted them, the site banned her for 24 hours.
Shortly thereafter, the social media network relented.
"They sent me a letter of apology a couple weeks after that happened," Walker told CP. She reported that she has not had any troubles with them since.
Despite the horrible tragedy of losing Grayson, and the compounded insult of Facebook's denial, Walker insisted that God has turned her family's loss into a blessing.
She noted that the Facebook incident drew a great deal of attention to her story, with sites like The Huffington Post interviewing her. And a video of her son's brief life has garnered nearly 2 million views since 2012.
"It's amazing to see how God can use something like that – He's being glorified," she declared.
Before she learned about Grayson's disease, Walker had planned to give up having any more children. "We had already made up our minds that after him we were not going to have any kids," she said, because Grayson's birth was to be her third C-section. Now, however, she's pregnant with a baby girl.
"If it hadn't been for God taking him, then I wouldn't have had this one," Walker added, nearly tearing up. She insisted that her new daughter will not replace Grayson, but that she will give joy back to the family who has lost their little son.
"It's just awesome that God's given me another one and that she's healthy," she said. "Pray for a healthy delivery and a healthy baby."
While she was leaving the hospital after Grayson's death, Walker bought key chains for each of her three children, including Grayson. At that moment, she decided to grab an extra one, with the letter "P" for Preslie Mae, the name of her preborn daughter, who they're expecting to deliver in May.
"I know that his life wasn't in vain," Walker said, praising God for the experience and the new hope that He has given her.
Walker gave CP her contact information, in case any mother whose child is diagnosed with anencephaly wants help going through the difficult process. The link to her Facebookprofile is here, and her mailing address:
7410 Independence Road
Millington, TN 38053