Athena-Miss Fairytale Princess 2018

Ruth and Kate Portraits Presents

Following is Athena’s Story-you can understand why Ruth and Kate Portraits chose Athena for our very first Fairytale Princess.

I would like to nominate my granddaughter Athena.  She is my special angel and she and my daughter, Amber, are two of the bravest people I know. It would honor Athena’s journey for Ruth and Kate Portraits to photograph her as Miss Fairytale Princess 2018

When Amber was 20 weeks pregnant with Athena, she went in for her 20 week scan to find out her gender. The Ultrasound Tech confirmed that she would be having a beautiful little girl. The technician was very quiet when she was doing the ultrasound of Athena, and kept measuring and re-measuring her head. Amber asked if everything looked ok with the baby. She looked at me, with eyes of sympathy, and said that the doctor would need to come and talk with me further.

Instantly my stomach sank. We had no idea what that meant, but knew It couldn’t be good.

The doctor came in and told her that the spot where Athena’s Brain was supposed to be, had black where there should be grey. He said he didn’t know what this meant, but he would be referring Amber to a specialist. He told Amber not to worry too much until we found out exactly what it meant.

A week later Amber had a doctor’s appointment with the specialist. It was an hour-long ultrasound before she met with the doctor. The ultrasound tech, like the previous, focused on her head the whole time. When the scan was completed, the doctor came in.

Bluntly, the doctor told Amber that her child did not have a brain, and that she needed to terminate the pregnancy. The doctor told her she could stay in the ultrasound room until I was ready to meet her in her office to discuss options.

I cannot describe to you in words, the amount of loss and fear we all experienced in that moment. We cried for over 30 minutes. The doctor final came in and told us we needed to move to her office. She didn’t understand how this could be happening to her and her baby.

In the doctor’s office, we were told that Athena had Hydranencephaly- “No brain, only brain stem”. The outcome for children with this disorder is still birth, or if by a miracle they survive birth, they would be a vegetable on a breathing tube and feeding tube for their short existence.

It was like being hit by lighting, only 1- 500,000 babies are diagnosed with this. The doctor told us that Amber could legally opt to induce herself early, knowing the baby wouldn’t survive. The doctor then had her meet with a grievance counselor. She had Amber hold a silicone baby, the size of an orange, and said, “This is the size of your baby currently. When you give birth to her this is how big she will be.”

Amber and I went the ocean that weekend so that she could make a decision to keep Athena, or abort her.  It was the biggest decision of her life to make.

On our way home from the ocean, Amber told me that she felt like God was telling her that Athena was not ready to come out. She needed to trust him, and trust that the baby would be okay. Ultimately, Amber decided to keep Athena, going against doctor’s recommendation.

Athena was born 3 weeks early Via C- Section at the University of Washington. The doctors warned her that she may be still born, or not breath once born. When the doctors pulled her out of Amber’s tummy, she cried instantly and peed on the doctors. She did not need any breathing assistance, which was a miracle on its own. When she was 1 day old, she was transferred to Children’s hospital, and had brain surgery at 3 days old to place her VP shunt.

Since Athena Birth, she has had spinal surgery, corrective eye surgery, and 2 seizures. She is delayed in her gross and fine motor skills, and uses a walker to walk. Regardless of her challenges, Athena is the happiest, loving and most sassy 5 year old you will meet. She has a photographic memory, remembering everyone’s name after meeting them once. She can recite her books, after having them read to her once. She knows her Alphabet, can count to 20, and can spell and read her name.

I could not be happier with her progress and I am so incredibly proud of the little girl she has become. I am thankful that Amber went against the doctor’s recommendation. This journey has made us all realize that doctors are not always right. The brain and the spirit is a magical thing. Prayer works, and having perseverance and faith, will always get you through a difficult time, allowing you to make decisions even when you don’t know the right answer. From this we always put it in God’s hands.

Thank You for letting me nominate Athena for this special princess program.

Kathie Gillis-her Grandmother


Click here nominate your princess for our Miss Fairytale Princess 2019


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