by Mary J. McClusky
May 16, 2008
Nicole and Dave Adams of Lakeland, New York were thrilled with the news of their second pregnancy. Shortly after learning the good news, however, Nicole experienced weeks of vomiting and intense headaches. On Mothers' Day weekend in 2007, she was taken to the emergency room when her eyes began to cross. She was diagnosed with a tumor on her brain stem the size of a thumb. Doctors wanted to operate immediately, but the chance of the baby surviving was incredibly slim.
Nicole and Dave made the courageous and sacrificial decision to put their unborn child first and delay the operation until after delivery – another five months. But six weeks later, the tumor on Nicole Adams' brain stem had doubled in size. Surgery was the only chance of saving both mother and daughter.
Given the added weeks to grow and develop, the little baby girl growing inside Nicole survived the surgery, and even threw kicks and punches during daily sonograms. Partly due to the increased size of the tumor, however, Nicole suffered complications and fell into a coma. She came out of it shortly after baby girl Piper was delivered safely by C-section, but her face is now paralyzed, and she can see only fuzzy shapes and colors. She cannot swallow, eat, or walk unaided, and spends four hours a day in physical therapy.
What motivated Nicole's tremendous courage to sacrifice her health for her unborn child, and what can we learn from it? "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you ..." Jeremiah 1:5 points to God's eternal plan for each soul before conception. On a human level that mirrors God's love for His human children, Nicole's intimate bond of love for her unborn child motivated her to act on faith and exemplify Christian sacrifice. It motivates her vow to continue to progress in therapy so she can hold Piper and see her first steps.
The great events of this world are not battles and elections and earthquakes and thunderbolts. The great events are babies, for each child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged with humanity, but is still expecting goodwill to become incarnate in each human life.
There is no doubt that Piper Adams will benefit from growing up in the knowledge of her mother's Christ-like sacrificial love, but Nicole's faithfulness to her child is a moving and inspiring example for all of us. Through her story, may we be awed and inspired to sacrifice for the needs of the unborn and their families. May we see each person we encounter as a part of God's mysterious plan. May our treatment of others give witness to their dignity. Through this, may we help to create a culture where every life – born and unborn - is cherished.
Mary (Jaminet) McClusky is Special Project Coordinator at the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. To learn more about the bishops' pro-life activities go to www.usccb.org/prolife.