Ava Lobato Speaks

And through faith, Ava still speaks…

On New Year’s Eve 2018, we found out that we were pregnant with our first baby. We were overjoyed! We were just three months into our marriage, and were so excited to be starting a family. We felt on top of the world, like we had it all. The first half of the pregnancy, all of our appointments were routine, and everything looked great. At 20 weeks, we went in for our anatomy ultrasound, excited to learn the gender of our sweet baby. 

We lived in a small town, and were told that there were abnormalities on the scan, and that we would have to come back a few days later to meet with a doctor. We lived that next few days with fear and anxiety, but we believed that our sweet baby, that we had prayed so hard for, would be alright. Our appointment came, and we had a scan and were pulled into a room to meet with a doctor. Still, we held on to hope, and we prayed. 

We were told that our baby had a condition called bilateral multicystic dysplastic kidneys. Neither kidney was able to function. There was no amniotic fluid. Lungs would not develop. Our baby would not survive. Oh, and they thought we were having a girl. We could terminate the pregnancy, deliver early, or continue carrying the baby, but there was nothing we could do to help her. 

We were heartbroken, devastated, had no idea how to move on, but we did know that we were going to give our sweet girl every chance at life.  We wanted to spend every second with her that we possibly could.  We would carry this baby for as long as possible. We went to another city for a second opinion, but the diagnosis didn’t change. We did find support amongst a great team of doctors. While they prepared us medically, our hearts were not ready for what lied ahead.

A close friend of ours had heard of Abel Speaks, and reached out to them so that we could connect. While there were some people that questioned our decision to carry our daughter to full term, the team at Abel Speaks was encouraging and supportive. They gave us the confidence in our decision to carry our sweet girl and to fight for life.

As we continued our walk, Abel Speaks helped us make major decisions. Our daughter was breach, and with no amniotic fluid was unlikely to turn.  She would most likely not survive the stress of a natural birth, but no doctor would recommend a C-section.  We wanted our daughter to be born alive, to hold her in our arms, and have moments with her that we knew we would cherish. We wanted to be able to talk to her, read to her, sing to her, and her daddy wanted to dance with her.  We wanted our family to meet her. Abel Speaks gave us the confidence to advocate for ourselves, and we found a doctor that agreed to do a C-section.

We were scheduled for C-section on August 7, 2019.  We were prepared to only have a few minutes with our daughter, and to never hear her voice. Ava was born, and Ava cried. The most beautiful sound that we have ever heard. Ava Brienne lived for two hours before she went home to be with Jesus. Ava means “life,” and Brienne means “strong.”  Ava was the embodiment of both of these words.  She also gave us both life and strength. She gave us a new purpose, and taught us how to love unconditionally.

Although we did not get the big miracle that we prayed so hard for, we did get so many small miracles. It was a miracle that Ava was born alive. It was a miracle that Ava cried. It was a miracle that we got to spend two hours with her. We got to hold her, love on her, read to her, sing to her, our family got to meet her, and yes, her daddy got to dance with her.

When you lose a baby, people are afraid to talk about the baby or mention their name. But saying their names, talking about our babies, are reminders of the beautiful lives that they lived. Through Abel Speaks, we have been able to connect with other families who understand this.  They speak Ava’s name, they ask the hard questions, and in all of this, they continue to celebrate our sweet girl.

Being Ava’s parents is the greatest honor of our lives. Ava was here. Ava lived a beautiful life. And by faith, Ava still speaks.

-Marybeth and Jacob Lobato, parents of Ava Brienne