(LifeSiteNews) — A pro-life couple who journeyed across mountains with their unborn baby girl after she was given a fatal diagnosis shared how they have been deeply touched by the hour they spent with her after birth.
“I am no longer the same. My family has forever been changed. The world will not forget our blazing Ember — so tiny, so bright, so powerful,” wrote Joe Baker, who co-founded the pro-life ministry Save the Storks with his wife, Ann.
Joe and Ann, already parents of three boys, discovered early in their pregnancy that the baby girl they so longed for had the brain disorder anencephaly, meaning she wouldn’t survive long outside the womb.
This is why, as Ann shared in a short film she made with Joe about their family, they decided to name their baby Ember “after the ember of a fire, because they are beautiful and bright but only here for a moment.”
After an initial period of depression, Joe said, “Ann came to me with a map of the U.S. and said, ‘I’d like to take Ember to all these places while we have her.’ It seemed like a crazy idea, but I wanted to rescue Ann as much as I wanted to rescue Ember, and so it was an easy answer: ‘Let’s do it, honey.’”
The couple proceeded to tour Ann’s “bucket list” of mountains and parks around the country together with unborn baby Ember. “ When you love someone, you long to take them to your favorite places. You can’t wait to share experiences with them, so we packed up the car and headed into the mountains,” Joe said.
“It was on that journey that we as a family fell in love with Ember,” he continued. “That brought us out of our well of depression. We found tremendous joy carrying her. But our adventures only increased our longing. Our love for her had grown.”
“It didn’t take long on our ‘Ember Tour’ until Ann and I didn’t even want November to come. It’s as if part of us would have been happy to carry her inside Ann’s womb forever, because once we had her to hold we would begin to lose her,” Joe shared in a Facebook post.
As Ember’s birth approached, Joe and Ann spent the night listening to her heart monitor. “It’s by far the most beautiful sound in the world,” Joe wrote.
Finally, on November 4 at 11:05 a.m., in a hospital room brightened with artwork by her brothers and their schoolmates to welcome her into the world, Ember was born “after 26 hours of very intense labor.”
“She was a dainty little thing weighing only 4 lbs., 14 oz. and was 15.75 inches of pure joy,” Joe wrote. “She lived for a precious one hour and six minutes out of the womb.”
“I’ve never cried so hard. I’ve never fought so intensely. I’ve never prayed so deeply,” he went on.
Joe and Ann’s three boys have been impacted by meeting Ember, each in their own way.
“They got to see her alive,” Joe toldLive Action News. “They will not be the same. Little Joey, our two-year-old, who I thought was going to come into the room like a tornado, was so focused. He was so fixated, and just amazed at this little girl. He didn’t know what was going on, but Sylvan kind of understood.”
“Sam really understood. Sam was sad; he wishes he could have a sister. He wants a sister really bad. Sylvan would pray at dinner each night, and he has this prayer where he says, ‘Dear God, I pray that we all get to hold Ember, and that I have the time to marry her.’ It’s like the greatest endearing love he can imagine.”
During Ember’s celebration of life on November 7, Ann shared a letter she wrote to Ember the morning after she was born. In it, she spoke of her grief, writing, “Just two days ago I thought I was ready. But I wasn’t. I don’t think you ever really can be.”
“You were the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen. You were so small, so perfect, so precious. My journey with you up until that point came rushing back to my mind, and I remember saying to you as I held you alive in my arms: You are so worth it. Because you were,” Ann went on.
“I would do it all over again for you, Ember. Just to have you alive in my arms again for that hour. I would do it again to feel your kicks and somersaults, to hear your heartbeat, to take you to all of our favorite places. To hike with you in the mountains. You were and still are so wanted, so loved, so valuable, and so worth it.”
“You, little Ember, have taught me so much about life, about love, gratefulness, sadness, grief, loss, joy and beauty. I have learned more from you in such a short nine months than almost anyone else I know. You taught me to be brave, and how to do hard things.”
“I so look forward to the day when we will once again be together in a new world … I am so grateful God gave me an hour with you, before you left us to be with Jesus. It was the most sacred, special hour of my life. I love you, Ember. I can’t wait to see you again. You were so worth it.”
Joe spoke during Ember’s celebration of life about the source of his hope: a new world where he anticipates being reunited with Ember one day.
“It’s going to be beautiful. A world without the sting of death and suffering. It’s a world that our hearts were made for … It is available for everyone who turns their life to Jesus. It’s because of Him that our sins are washed away.”
The day after Ember was born and passed away, Joe reflected,“I’m realizing now that on this side of Heaven that longing will always be there … she is a part of us. I will long for her as long as I’m here on the broken world. I find hope when I remind myself how long eternity is. I will forever have a daughter. We will forever have four children, and will forever be a family of at least six. The best is yet to come.”