Grandmother of conjoined twins helps mothers with poor prenatal diagnosis choose life
CINCINNATI, Ohio, September 19, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Theresa Gray always hoped to do her part to save the world, but could never seem to fit it in between work and family. Then she got “downsized” by her employer.
Finally freed up, the former finance professional and mother of nine jumped at the chance to form 1heart2souls, a new pro-life apostolate dedicated to supporting parents who have been given a poor prenatal prognosis.
Helping parents find the joy in embracing life
The vice president of Gray’s employer was emotional about having to lay her off, but was shocked when Gray responded to the news by consoling her. “It’s okay, I’ve been praying, and this is no more than God’s response to me to move forward with my heart’s desire to serve Him in a different way,” Gray told her.
Within ten minutes of Gray explaining her hopes, the pro-abortion VP had upgraded Gray’s retirement package to help her start up the pro-life organization.
1heart2souls is an organization formed to support expectant parents who will experience infant loss or the birth of an infant with disabilities. Gray says that over 98% of babies with a poor prenatal prognosis are aborted.
1heart2souls seeks to get information to genetic counselors, ob/gyns, and clinics where parents will likely get the negative prognosis. This is important, says Gray, because these expectant parents are normally given abortion option literature.
“This is disturbing and has to be challenged,” she told LifeSiteNews.
Gray’s nonprofit is comprised primarily of women who have lost their infants or have a child with disabilities. It is currently 100% volunteer.
The organization’s vision and hope is that in supporting and bringing awareness to the suffering and challenges of expectant parents it will lead to further research on causes and prevention of infant loss and birth disabilities. More importantly, they hope that through compassionate support parents will realize the joy in embracing their child or children.
“We believe that all children are created in the image of love, and are fits to the world with a given and profound purpose,” Gray said.
Hope and Grace: 1heart2souls’ inspiration
1heart2souls was inspired by Gray’s twin granddaughters, Hope and Grace, who were conjoined by one heart and lived for 46 minutes. Gray says that for Luci, her sixth daughter, there was “never a choice” about whether or not to carry the girls to term.
On February 3, 2009, there was excitement and joy throughout the Gray family at the news that Luci and her husband Chris were expecting the twins.
“When I heard their heart beat for the first time, I was in love,” said Luci.
But the joy was short lived. The next day, the doctor told the new parents that their children were conjoined through a single heart. The young married couple were devastated and scared.
After days crying under the fear of the unknown that lay before them, Luci and her husband recognized the gifts they had been given by these babies.
“We did not completely understand, we simply wanted to trust that what was given to us was the will of God, therefore perfect,” Luci said.
Her husband named their daughters Hope Gerard, after St. Gerard Majella, the patron saint of expectant mothers, and Grace Cecelia, after St. Cecelia, the patron saint of church music who died singing to God.
At one point the doctors gave the new parents “a slight hope of potentially saving” one daughter’s life, but this did not bring them a sense of joy. Luci and her husband did not want to choose life for Hope but sacrifice Grace.
Torn, they decided to wait and see what would develop in the coming months. The doctors felt Luci would not be able to carry her children to term.
As described by Luci’s sister, Sr. Maria Fidelis, O.P. on the day of the twins’ birth, the couple “watched every breath and savored each second.” “Then their little girls peacefully, so very peacefully, left for their trip to paradise. They lived only 46 minutes,” she said.
Two weeks later, Luci shared the emotion of those moments on her family’s blog.
Hope and Grace “showed me that all this time (their) Pappa and I were right about (them), in that (they) are fighters for Life and for Faith!” she said. “We were right in that, even though God has asked so much of our little family, that much was also given to us.”
Luci’s extended family and many friends walked her and her husband’s sorrowful path with them. Gray and her son decided to approach Luci about starting an organization that would support parents who have been given a poor prenatal prognosis.
It took over a year for Luci and her husband to allow for the organization to start, with stipulations that the story and photos of Hope and Grace would be treated with great respect and prudence. Gray said that 1heart2souls treats the stories and pictures of other parents with equal respect.
Healing broken hearts: Inside 1heart2souls
Today, Gray’s organization, inspired by her granddaughters, sends blessed blankets to mothers whose infants do not survive in Illinois, California, North Carolina, and Ohio.
“I spoke to one of the mothers earlier, she was having a very tough day attempting to go back to work,” she said. “We spoke for some time until she felt better and could get on with her day. This is part of what we do.”
Gray explained that 1heart2souls’ work is difficult because the suffering of a mother who has lost her child or that of a mother whose child has disabilities are special.
Luci assists her mother with 1heart2souls’ mission through her testimony. She explains that while God’s plan for starting her family was different than she and her husband had anticipated, the beauty of daily bonding with the twins in utero and the love she and her husband developed for their daughters everyday was awe-inspiring.
1heart2souls does not address political issues, but focuses instead on anxieties and brokenness of the heart. Gray has not spoken to anyone who has not approved of her organization or not agreed that it is important. Like her former VP, they “understand it reaches beyond just these expectant parents, it is like a drop of water that causes a beautiful ripple reaction.”
Gray says she is grateful for all of the gifts that God has given her, “especially the beautiful gift of time which never should be taken for granted.”
She thanks her husband and her children, two of whom are in high school, for their love and understanding of her work with 1heart2souls.
It “is a very sacrificial gift on their part,” she said.
Find more information about 1heart2souls on their website.
They are a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization. Your donation will help them keep their mission alive:
▪ Bereavement gravesite assistance
▪ Practical assistance to families who have hospitalized newborns (meal cards, gas cards, breastfeeding education and materials)
▪ Hospital Photography
▪ Newborn baptismal gowns for high risk for survival babies