Levi's Grace: A Legacy Foundation is the vision of two dear friends - Constance Certion and Terri Reynolds - who share the unique experience of carrying babies that received an early diagnosis of a life-threatening fetal anomaly. Through the highs and lows of their own journeys, they discovered the need for additional resources and support systems for mothers and families enduring the extended heartbreak of carrying a baby that has received a devastating diagnosis in utero. They came together to form Levi's Grace in September 2019 out of love for their angel babies, Emma Grace and Levi, with the goal of providing families with the resources and means to honor the sweet presence that will forever impact their lives.
ABOUT EMMA GRACE
Constance felt confident when she returned to her doctor's office after early testing indicated the presence of a soft-marker for a possible genetic disorder. Other genetic tests predicted that the chances of a chromosomal disorder in the pregnancy were low. That day, 18-weeks into her pregnancy, Constance received news that can only be described as a nightmare for any expectant mother. The daughter she was carrying was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, also known as Edward's Syndrome.
Trisomy 18 is a rare chromosomal abnormality that doctors deem incompatible with life. Constance's doctor explained that Emma might not survive the pregnancy, and if she were to make it full-term or to the point of delivery, she would likely only live for a few minutes, hours or days. Statistically speaking, half of all babies with Trisomy 18 who are carried to term are stillborn. Emma Grace defied all the odds when she was born on August 26, 2010 at 10:07 a.m. weighing 2 lbs. and 10.7 ozs. Despite the doctor's predictions, Emma lived 80 precious days. Constance and her family cherished each day they had with Emma, knowing that their time with her would be limited. In her short earthly life, Emma touched every person that came to know her story, including one baby boy that would be born some 9 years later.
An early ultrasound in Terri's pregnancy also indicated a soft-marker for a genetic disorder, but sophisticated testing for the most common genetic disorders came back clear. Terri tried to remain calm as she waited another 10-weeks for her mid-pregnancy appointment for a full review of the baby's health. At her mid-term visit, the ultrasound showed there was little to no amniotic fluid in the womb. Terri was immediately sent to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) for further review and told to pray for a miracle. Two days later, doctors determined that the baby's kidneys were filled with small cysts, most likely due to a genetic mutation.
Terri and her husband did not take the diagnosis laying down. Over the next six weeks, they traveled to Johns Hopkins University on two occasions with the hope of being accepted into an experimental program that might offer a pathway to save their son, or at least give them a little more time with him. Ultimately though, doctors reached the conclusion that nothing could be done to save him. Terri and her family were faced with no other option but to return home and prepare to say goodbye to their son. 36 weeks and 5 days into the pregnancy, Terri delivered Levi Austin on July 6, 2019 at 12:43 p.m. weighing 7 lbs. and 3 ozs. Though he was born still, he was still born - and his impact on the people who loved him is eternal.
For Terri and Constance, building Levi's Grace gives them a way to connect with their children in the absence of their physical presence. They both received an abundance of love and support from their families, doctors, nurses, work colleagues and even complete strangers. They hope to provide this same comfort to other families putting the pieces together after a devastating diagnosis or loss. Levi's Grace was created to be a resource for families searching for peace and purpose after pain, and a platform to create a lasting legacy for their angel babies.
"Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”
Levi's Grace, Inc. was formed to support expectant women and families that have received a prenatal diagnosis of a life-limiting fetal anomaly, including genetic and chromosomal disorders. We further aim to be a resource to all mothers, families and friends impacted by the heartbreaking loss of a pregnancy or newborn.
Levi's Grace, Inc. strives to provide mothers and families with the resources they need to find peace and healing after heartbreak. Our long-term vision includes providing free counseling services, post-natal care packages, resource guides for counselors and doctors' offices, and greater access and visibility for other organizations working in tandem with our mission.