Terminal. Fatal. Not compatible with life. Those are the words we heard at a routine 18-week ultrasound on October 8, 2007. Our baby had a chromosomal disorder, anencephaly, where her brain was forming outside of her head. We had two healthy boys, and didn’t suspect anything wrong with this pregnancy. We were told I could miscarry, or if the baby went full-term, would only live minutes to hours.
After getting up off the ground after that truck hitting us, and after a few days of praying I would miscarry, we came to a point of wanting to keep Victoria Grace as long as we could. For while she was still in the womb, she could kick and move around and live.
Victoria arrived via c-section on February 28, 2008. She was beautiful. Before we knew from the ultrasound that she was a girl, and her condition, we felt our child was to be a “beautiful servant.” We were blessed with a fantastic palliative care team at our hospital that accommodated us in every way possible to make the most out of the little time we would have.
Family surrounded Victoria and us the entire six days she lived. There wasn’t a time where she wasn’t held by someone, even through the night. She took her last breath in our arms at home on March 4, 2008. All she could do was breathe when she was here, but since then, her life has been helping so many others continue to breathe. A memorial fund was started in her name to potentially help a child or two with a medical need in Mexico or Peru, where our church had gone on mission trips.
My husband, Mark, went on a mission trip to Pucallpa, Peru, in August of 2008 and learned of a Shipibo Indian village that had moved from the interior Amazon jungle to several miles outside the city, and that in those first two years, five children had died of preventable diseases. The pastor of the Shipibo church, The Lamb of God Church, had a granddaughter, Cloe, who was born the exact day Victoria was, and she herself was ill. Thus was birthed Victoria’s Little Lambs Fund, which through the church, disburses simple medicines to the children in the village and other remote areas of the jungle. Cloe is now 5 and is a healthy, sweet, girl. On our trip as a family in Summer 2013, the Shipibo Indians told us that they had acquired a beautiful new land to bring in the people from the remote areas, where they are experiencing flooding, crop damage, and disease. To our amazement, they asked our permission to name this new village “Victoria Gracia” for the hope that her fund has given the children in the Nueva Era village, and the hope they have in this new land, which will include a church, school, and soccer field.
In April 2011, Mark’s sister traveled to Ethiopia to adopt two children and visited a daycare ministry for very poor children called Embracing Hope Ethiopia, led by a pastor originally from Pennsylvania, so that single moms can work to support their families. Again, simple medicines are lacking, so Victoria’s fund was established there.
In February 2013, the fund was expanded again to a remote Huichol village in northwest Mexico, where an indigenous pastor, Domingo, disburses medicines as an outreach to his poor community.
In July 2011, we met a bright young Peruvian woman, Tiffany, during a mission trip. She aspired to be a medical missionary to children, but lacked the funds to go to school. Thus, Victoria’s Fund is committed to paying her tuition (a mere $150/month) and she began medical school in Bolivia March 2013.
Through the pastor in Ethiopia, we learned of another ministry in Bolivia, run by a pastor from New Jersey, called Judah Quy, which is a home for severely medically needy babies who are cared for until they become well enough to live with their families, or be adopted if they have been abandoned. Victoria’s Fund has begun to support this ministry as well.
So Victoria continues to be a beautiful servant, and has done more than some people do in an entire lifetime. We are honored to be her parents.
Kristin & Mark Cote, Millersville, PA
(Note: Victoria’s little sister, Rachel, was born July 2009. Rachel means “lamb.” She also has two older brothers, Caleb and Jacob.)