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A Gift Devoted to God with Spina Bifida

WRITTEN BY Shari Butler

I never had a desire for a big career. My goal as a child was to grow up to be a mom, have a bunch of kids, homeschool, and be amazing at all of it. My journey didn't go anything like I envisioned it would though.

Early in 2007 my husband and I got married and couldn't decide if we wanted to wait before having a family or jump straight into trying. He thought waiting would be wise because we had spent the last year of our engagement long distance, whereas I had no job, no career path, and was living in a new state. So my mind was on babies. By the time we decided our best plan would be to wait 6 months or a year ... it was too late. A baby was on the way. 

After the initial shock that it happened so quickly, we turned to excitement and anticipation for this new little life. Everything went along smoothly, I planned on an all natural birth with a midwife, and we visited the doctor at 18 weeks for the typical anatomy scan. The nurse allowed my husband to take videos and pictures during the ultrasound and then at one point she asked him to turn the camera off. There were a few pictures of the head she was unable to obtain due to positioning and asked me to come back the following day. The hubs and I had a quick conversation deciding whether he needed to drive back for that appointment or not (at the time I was working on the hospital grounds at an on-site daycare center). We decided since we had already found out it was a girl 🎉 and had seen the majority of the anatomy, I would go alone. The nurse never said a word.

On Friday I walked over during my lunch break for another scan. After getting the pictures she needed they called in a doctor who did some more poking around. They led me into a small, windowless room and the doctor proceeded to tell my my baby had spina bifida, had irreparable nerve damage, may never walk, and he was referring us out to the children's hospital in Philadelphia for further consultation. 

Bella with Spina Bifida

I was broken. I was alone. I was in tears. My cell phone had been forgotten at home that day so I used a small office down the hall to start making phone calls trying to track down my husband. He wasn't answering his cell. I called my dad, my brother-in-law. Nobody knew how to contact him. Finally, I got through, and told him the news. I honestly do not remember how I got from work to home that day. We spent the evening in shock, processing, and googling "spina bifida". 

Here's a quick bit of wisdom ... Google is not your friend in instances like this. We did end up having many, many doctor consultations, tests, scans, and conversations. We signed up to be involved in a clinical trial for unborn babies with spina bifida. We declined the offer of an abortion, by hospital staff and a close family member, 4 times. We grieved for our little girl and the unknown difficulties she had ahead. But we also knew that she was already so loved, such a blessing from God, and our lives would never be the same without her. On December 20, 2007 Isabella Anjali was born via a planned c-section. The name Isabella Anjali means a "gift devoted to God" and felt fitting for this sweet little blessing. 

A Gift Devoted to God with Spina BifidaLife has been a challenge for her. Nothing has come easy. But it has also been filled with joy, triumph, and grace. Isabella is now 14 years old, she has 3 younger siblings, and will be starting high school in the fall. She loves babies and furry animals, has nearly every Taylor Swift song memorized, and just finished reading The Hunger Games for the first time. 

The journey I thought I would take as a parent didn't include heartache, surgeries, medical supplies, and a miscarriage (my second pregnancy). But our unique path to parenthood has led us to meet amazing people in the medical community, amazing families with similar journeys, and has led us into a deeper relationship and trust in God and His purpose for our lives. 

A Gift Devoted to God with Spina Bifida
Do I wish Isabella didn't have to work so hard to do the things that come so easily to her siblings?
100% yes. 

Do I wish she didn't have to go through 9 surgeries to date? Absolutely. 

Do I think her life is valuable and irreplaceable and a gift? With all my heart. 

Your journey will not look like mine and it may include more or less heartbreak. But we aren't here to compare who had it harder. We are here to celebrate the unique journeys that we are on as women growing the family of our dreams. We rejoice with you and we cry with you. You are seen. 

Rachelle Oliver
"Helping You Take a Well Deserved Break"

We want to say thank you to Rachelle Oliver of December Larks for sharing her beautiful story, and how she overcame her daughter's diagnosis with stating that it's a Gift From God. A blessing that helped their family grow closer together. If you want to share your story please email us at We would love to feature your story to help others who may be facing the same journey.

In the meantime, take a look at Rachelle's website. She sells loose leaf teas to help you take that well deserved break! Rachelle also shares her love for books, and shares her latest reads. She is one to follow on instagram and Facebook.



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