A miracle is blossoming in the Perrotta family home in Virginia.
Her name is Lily Rose.
The tiny baby girl, the youngest of eight children, was diagnosed with a severe form of skeletal dysplasia in the womb and not expected to survive. Doctors even suggested a late-term abortion, but her Catholic parents refused to give up hope. They prayed for a miracle, and God answered.
Nurtured by prayers and a lot of love, Lily Rose is 6 months old now and expected to live a full life, her mother Aleesha Perrotta told LifeNews.com.
“She is currently very fragile, but in time she is expected to get stronger and shed the g-tube, oxygen, etc. She will need a walker to learn how to walk, but yes, she will walk, run, learn and share her testimony of hope,” her mother said.
This month, Lily was featured by the Precious Baby Project, an outreach by Indiana photographer Angela Forker to highlight the beauty of children with special needs. Forker’s photos show Lily dressed as a fairy next to a large pink rose. Watch a video of the photo session here.
“She is 6 months old and just a bit bigger than a newborn, so I made her a sweet little fairy!” Forker said. “The Precious Baby Project is all about showing people the value of life, even when it looks differently than we had expected. Every life is beautiful! Every life has a purpose!”
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Forker said she was so touched by the family’s story that she made an exception. She does not usually travel to other states for the Precious Baby Project, but she said she believes Lily’s miraculous survival and her parents’ hope and prayers are a story that needs to be told.
Speaking with LifeNews earlier this month, Perrotta, a Catholic school teacher, said she and her husband were excited when they learned that they were expecting their eighth child last year. Perrotta said all of her previous pregnancies had been normal, and initial chromosomal testing, offered because she is 41, came back normal, too.
During her 20-week ultrasound appointment, however, Perrotta learned that something was wrong with their baby girl.
“I was chatting away to my husband and the ultrasound tech about a story I had heard about earlier that morning,” she remembered. “It was about a boy born with only 2 percent of his brain, and he survived and was doing amazing. I had absolutely no idea that my life was about to change.”
When the ultrasound technician left the room abruptly and came back with the OB-GYN, the Perrottas knew something was wrong. The doctor told them that Lily’s arms and legs were much smaller than they should be and her feet appeared to be clubbed, Perrotta said.
Later, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the Eastern Virginia Medical School diagnosed Lily with skeletal dysplasia, or dwarfism, and, as the pregnancy progressed, told the Perrottas that their daughter’s condition likely was fatal.
“Around 26 weeks, I was asked if abortion was an option. Clearly, the answer was a profound no. We love our daughter and thanked God for every minute of her life,” she continued.
Perrotta herself began suffering from a rare pregnancy condition around the same point: polyhydramnios, or excess amniotic fluid.
“I underwent an uncomfortable amnio reduction where the doctors inserted a needle in my belly and removed two liters of excess amniotic fluid,” she told LifeNews. “I watched my dear baby on the ultrasound curious about the needle. She was touching the side of the needle as if she was wondering what that was.”
Those moments were precious reminders of Lily’s value, and her parents were determined to cherish her life no matter how long she lived.
During those months of uncertainty, Perrotta said she and her husband began preparing their older children for the possibility that Lily may die. They also surrounded their daughter with prayer. Friends and acquaintances shared Lily’s story, and people as far away as Rome and Portugal held Masses and prayed for Lily and their family, she continued.
“My husband and I continued to pray for complete trust in the Lord. We understand that our children ultimately belong to Him,” she said. “We never lost hope that in Jesus all things are possible and we prayed for strength.”
On May 25, Lily was born by cesarean section – a decision her mother made to give her the best chance at life. A local priest arrived shortly afterward to baptize the tiny baby girl right in the operating room.
“The entire room was in prayer while he baptized our dear baby girl,” her mother said. “God was present in that moment I assure you!”
The family had no idea how much time they would have with Lily, but the days slowly turned into weeks and then months. After 83 days in the neo-natal intensive care unit, Lily grew well enough to go home, her mother said.
Today, Lily is on oxygen and a g-tube, but she is blossoming at home with her siblings and parents.
“She is such a blessing to our family,” her mother said. “Lily is a miracle and, yes, she is expected to have a very full life! She will eventually wean from oxygen and her g-tube. She will be a little person, but is certain to do BIG things! We want her to know and love God.”
Perrotta said she hopes Lily’s story will give others hope that God can work miracles, and every baby’s life is precious.