Kansas couple with prenatal diagnosis chooses life despite pressure to abort

Emily and Roy Schmeidler with daughter Juliette/Emily Schmeidler

Like many young married couples, Kansas residents Roy and Emily Schmeidler were excited to learn about Emily’s pregnancy, their first child. However, at the 20-week ultrasound, their excitement turned to fear and uncertainty. They courageously chose life for their child despite doctors’ recommendations for abortion.

“My husband and I were blessed to get pregnant, and at our 20-week ultrasound we got some pretty devastating news,” Emily recently told Pregnancy Help News.

Emily Schmeidler

The baby had a cyst on her brain and one arm appeared to be shorter than the other with the possibility of missing bones. Additionally, the medical team said they couldn’t tell if the baby had all her fingers. The cyst could be an indication of various difficulties, including intellectual disabilities.

“She was incredibly small,” Emily recalled. “She was in the fourth percentile of growth.”

The doctor was concerned about the possibility of the baby dying in utero or within the first year of her life. He asked Emily and her husband to consider abortion. They declined and the doctor referred them to a large children’s hospital in the area for further testing.

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“The news was shocking,” Emily said, “but my composure was like, ‘I have to keep it together,’ but it was really hard. I wanted to just burst out crying.”

She and her husband returned to their car, absorbing the news together.

“My husband and I left that doctor's office and just wept together in the car,” Emily said. “You never think it's going to happen to you and then it just does, out of the blue with your first child. All we knew what to do in that moment was to pray. It started a really hard road and journey for us.”

Referral and more testing

Upon transferring care to a different medical team, Emily underwent additional ultrasounds and a heart echocardiogram.

“Oftentimes if there's something wrong with both arms, there’s a 99 percent chance the baby is going to have some pretty severe heart problems,” she explained.

However, no heart issues were discovered.

“That was shocking,” Emily stated. “So, we're praying every day. We know we have to lean into God – we really didn't know what else we can do.”

Others came alongside the couple, including family members, church friends, work colleagues, and one of Emily’s best friends, a nun with the Sisters of Life.

“She and her fellow sisters prayed for us … and [she] also prayed with me and spoke with me over the phone several times too. That was such a gift!” Emily said.

Emily Schmeidler
Emily Schmeidler

Emily went to the hospital every week for an ultrasound. Soon, improvements began to be seen, including the disappearance of the brain cyst.

“I only connect that to God – it miraculously disappeared,” Emily told Pregnancy Help News. “It can disappear in some babies but the fact that everything else was going on and it just disappeared – that was pretty crazy.”

Abortion was again presented due to the uncertainty of the baby’s physical and mental setbacks and her survival chances, even outside the womb. Again, Emily and Roy declined.

“Abortion wasn’t an option for us,” she said.

She often fought discouragement, however.

Emily Schmeidler

“The culture of death was very imminent around me, and it was honestly really hard as a pro-life person to continue to remain positive and trust in God and keep going,” Emily said.

Eventually, growth was detected via ultrasound.

“She got to the 11th percentile and then to the 14th percentile, which is no longer growth-restricted,” Emily said.

Another medical transfer and more miracles

Emily grew weary of listening to the medical providers constantly talking about risks, ‘want-ifs,’ and termination of the pregnancy. So, she asked friends and family for other hospital and doctor recommendations.

“I was tired of having people tell me ‘There’s something wrong with your baby, you have to be afraid of all of these things that could happen,’” Emily said. “I just wanted to have a somewhat normal birth, where people were going to give me choices and be with a doctor that was going to be just a little bit more understanding of what I was going through … and be pro-life as well.”

She transferred to a regional hospital when she was 31 weeks along. Her original due date was given as February 11, 2023, another sign she and her husband embraced.

“It’s the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, who is known for miraculous healings,” Emily said.

Emily Schmeidler

Emily’s labor was induced, and after 36 hours of labor, she needed a C-section because the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. Emily called her daughter “perfect.” She and her husband named their baby Juliette Lourdes Schmeidler.

“The only thing different is that her right arm only has one bone in her forearm instead of two, and it's a little bit shorter and she only has two fingers on that arm – it kind of looks like a peace sign,” Emily said. “Her left arm is normal length, and she has a thumb and her pointer finger and her middle finger.”

“So, she does have some differences … but she is so determined!” said Emily. “When she was first born, her shorter arm just kind of hung there, and as she continued to grow, we praise the Lord for free occupational therapy from the state, and now she likes to use her shorter arm as her dominant arm. She can do everything with that arm! She can't really grasp things so that's one downside to it, but she is just thriving as a baby.”

Emily Schmeidler

Juliette is now a toddler at just over a year-old, and her presence impacts people, Emily said.

“She has been the most social little baby! She smiled so early. She does not know a stranger,” Emily shared.

Emily Schmeidler

Prior to the pregnancy, she was hired by Choose Life Marketing, a pro-life marketing company that works with pregnancy resource centers and other pro-life organizations. After Juliette’s birth, Emily traveled to conferences with her daughter and shared the amazing story of her child with others.

“This is God’s story,” she said. “Juliette is a light to so many people and is always smiling. She is such an inspiration to me as a mom to see so clearly that she is going have a purpose on this earth. She has a story, and she's going to share that story because she's so spunky and determined.”

Tweet This: “Juliette is a light to so many people and is always smiling. She is such an inspiration to me as a mom." -Emily, after a prenatal diagnosis

Editor’s note: Choose Life Marketing has been an advertiser with Pregnancy Help News. Resources and support for parents who have received a prenatal diagnosis are available at PrenatalDiagnosis.org .

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