Mother to Brennan Esther
Stillborn January 19, 2011
Burke, Virginia

My husband and I found out we were expecting our first child in September of 2010. I started a blog as letters to my baby so that one day she could read her birth story from day one. I never thought the letters would end up chronicling the life and death of my first born. Some girls dream of their wedding day but all I ever dreamed of was becoming a mother. I was a nanny for a longtime and now I am a teacher so I have always been surrounded by kids. I was thrilled when my husband and I found out we were expecting. Everything was great until they weren’t. At the end of the first trimester sonogram the doctor noticed that the baby’s bottom jaw was severely undersized. He sent us to the hospital for more tests, they told us that it could be one of more than 60 different syndromes or genetic disorders and urged us to end the pregnancy. We chose genetic testing and so the needles and the bad news began. After weeks of tests and waiting for results our little girl was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder, the bottom halves of her 16th and 17th chromosomes were translocated and after many, many tests we were told a large part of her 17th chromosome was missing. 17q24.3 deletion, a deletion larger than any 17q24.3 deletion ever recorded, she wouldn’t make it.
The doctors were amazed that she lived in the womb as long as she did. They told me with that big of a deletion I should have miscarried before I knew I was pregnant. At her 19 week level II ultrasound she had stopped moving, her chest was too small to support life outside of the womb, her bones were curved and her little shoulder blades were half the size they should have been. She was struggling to hold on, they knew she would not last to full term and if she had she would never walk or breath she would only live on life support. We chose to end the pregnancy and give our baby girl the rest she so deserved. It was a decision I struggled with, but knew it was cruel to let her suffer just so I could spend more time with her.  So, on January 18th, we went to the hospital to start the process of medical termination, that is when God mercifully intervened. We found out that I was already dialated, on January 19th 2011, I went into labor while waiting at the hospital for the surgery, she was already gone. She was born sleeping at 21 weeks. Brennan Esther O’Neill was and is loved. We may not have had to go through medical termination in the end but it was the decision we chose for her. At first I thought it was selfish of me but it ended up being the most selfless decision I have ever and hope will ever have to make. We loved her enough to let her go, enough to forgo ever holding our first born just so she would never have to feel pain. We recently found out that we are expecting again. I am beyond scared but trying to be hopeful. Both of us have been tested for chromosome abnormalities, neither of us have any. What happened to Brennan was just a freak occurance, a .05% chance. The doctors tell us that the chances of it happening again are less than being struck by lightning twice. I pray this baby ends being healthy.
She can be contacted at leiagrace@hotmail.com
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  1. Laura Rosendale says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my daughter at 9 weeks. It was a triploidy. She had three sets of chromosomes. I wish you the best and pray for you.

  2. Dear Leanne, I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my beatiful daughter due to chromosomal abnormality too. It was thanathophoric dysplasia type 1. I wish you all the best in your new pregnancy.

  3. Vanessa says:


    I am so sorry for your loss, What a heartbreaking story, and what a blessing that you are expecting again. I wish you all the best with your growing little one. Thanks for sharing your story. Sending positive vibes your way!

    • Thank you so much. I am thankful to say that my rainbow baby arrived on December 21st, 2011. She is a happy healthy little one who just turned 7 months old! I know her big sister is looking after her :-). Thank you for the positive thoughts.

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