Baby missing part of his skull was supposed to die right away, but instead he’s thriving

A young Idaho couple were given a terminal diagnosis for their unborn son, but now they're celebrating his life.
Thu Jun 2, 2016 - 11:50 am EST
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Will Reidhead GoFundMe

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A young Idaho couple given a terminal diagnosis for their unborn son is now celebrating his life.

Ben and Alyssa Reidhead were in to their doctor for a routine ultrasound at 23 weeks into their pregnancy, thinking they would learn the sex of their baby, when instead they received terrifying news: their child would probably die in the womb, if not soon after delivery.

“We were going in for one of the happiest times of our lives and come out walking like we just heard the worst news we could’ve ever heard,” Ben Reidhead told Fox-13.

His wife Alyssa Reidhead added, “They just kept saying, ‘Oh, he’ll be born but he’ll only live for a couple minutes,’ or, ‘If you go through labor, he’ll probably pass away during labor.’”

After many trips from their home in Rexburg, Idaho, to Salt Lake City, Utah, to see numerous specialists, the Reidheads, both college students, were given the diagnosis for their child of encephalocele, a very rare neural tube defect that occurs when part of the skull doesn’t close properly, causing the brain to grow outside of the skull.

The regular anticipation of pregnancy was supplanted by fear, as Ben Reidhead recalled the couple was, “Almost scared of having the baby come, not because we didn’t want him to come but just because we were afraid of losing him.”

And instead of making the normal plans with childbirth, the expectant couple planned a funeral.

“We picked out a casket and we picked out what we were going to do,” Alyssa Reidhead said.

That was several months ago.

Their son, William Reidhead, was delivered by Cesarean section May 17, weighing 6 lbs., 12 oz., with a very different outcome than doctors predicted.

Not only did Will survive, he appeared to thrive.

“We heard a cry and that made me cry and him cry because we were like, ‘Oh he’s crying”,’ Alyssa Reidhead recounted.

“He’s not hooked up to anything,” she said, describing her son. “He's breathing fine. He's lifting his head. He's moving around. He's pretty much acting like a completely normal baby.”

Instead of a birth plan where the Reidheads thought they’d be fortunate to have a mere few moments to hold their baby before he passed away, their son Will is very much alive, exhibiting strength, grabbing at blankets, lifting his head and reacting to voices, according to the GoFundMe page established for them by their brother-in-law.

But the couple was met with a new diagnosis for their newborn, another rare condition called cutis aplasia, resulting instead in Will missing the back of his skull, and his brain covered only by a thin membrane.

Doctors are still determining how to treat Will, and a long road lies ahead for the family.

"They’ve been consulting with a lot of other doctors and trying to figure out exactly what is the best option," Ben Reidhead said.

In the meantime, Will is being kept on his stomach, and despite his condition, his parents are grateful for his life.

Since the Reidheads did not have any baby showers, proceeds from Will’s GoFundMe account will assist both with purchasing basic baby items and with his medical expenses.

Alyssa Reidhead began a blog after they received Will’s initial diagnosis early this year, where she has been very open about their story. There, she writes of her birth, “Since then Will has done extremely well despite the odds he has been given. Because of this I was humbled to understand that Heavenly Father is William’s Father before Ben and I are his parents.”

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