Savannah's Story

     On January 26 we found out that we were expecting and that on October 7th we'd be bringing a new life into this world. The first few months were an incredibly exciting time filled with belly pictures, announcement planning, and multiple appointments with our doctor. There was even a blood test that told us the gender and on April 5, over a plate of chicken pot pie and Fish & Chips at Meg O'Malley's, we found out that we were having a little girl!! From that moment on she was no longer just our baby, she was our daughter, Savannah.

     From there it was a whirlwind of activity as we were able to narrow down our search for babythings and actually start planning her nursery. We were so happy and care free that when our OB had me give blood for a test that detected the possibility of neural tube defects (NTD's) we didn't give it a second thought, until the results came back positive.

     Our OB told us that Savannah had an abnormally high number of AFP cells in her system which was cause for concern and that she was scheduling the next available appointment with a high-risk doctor. That appointment was a tale in itself, but to summarize the visit; Savannah was diagnosed with an NTD called anencephaly; a condition where the brain and skull never fully develop, affecting only 1 in every 1000 births and giving babies with this diagnosis only a few hours to live under best case scenarios.

     Devastation doesn't even begin to describe our initial feelings. We had no idea what to do or who to talk to, all we knew was that we wanted a second opinion and we wanted the doctor to be wrong. We couldn't understand; this sort of thing only happens to people in the news, how could we be part of the .1%? Regardless of the outcome of the second opinion, one thing rang in our minds like a bell: We want to meet our sweet Savannah so termination is out of the question.

     We were very blessed in the fact that we were able to get the second opinion right away and while the diagnosis stayed the same, the whole appointment was a wonderful, therapeutic experience that we will never forget. We were still devastated  but we started to focus on what Savannah had rather than what she didn't have. God has given her life, and it is our job as parents to help her live it.

     God has truly blessed us with the most beautiful gift in our daughter, Savannah Joy. She was born on October 9, 2013; alive, kicking, and looking right at her Daddy. She had Mommy's big blue eyes, Daddy's lips, and the most adorable little smirk! We will always cherish our special moments with Savannah; bathing her, singing happy birthday, and kissing her precious little cheeks.

     We will forever thank God for the forty weeks we celebrated Savannah and the moments we had with her here in our arms. Savannah is, and will always be, our little girl!

   Thank you all for your words of encouragement, prayers, and support as we continue to celebrate and honor our sweet Savannah Joy.

All our love,
Josh & Rebecca Hurtley


  1. Oh Josh and Rebecca, I do not know you but I found your blog through a facebook post, and I am crying tears of grief for you!! You are already such incredible parents, and the courage with which you face this heartbreaking tragedy is absolutely stunning. I have dear friends who gave birth to a precious (stillborn) baby named Brave over a year ago. We still grieve his loss of life, think of him, and look forward to when the whole family will be reunited once again! Your story is unique and precious, and you definitely are not alone in this. I will hold you in prayer and cheer you on as you celebrate Savannah's life. <3

  2. I, too, found your blog through a Facebook post and I am so heartbroken for you. I wept as I read your story, which, amidst the grief and heartache is still so beautiful. I know that God will carry you and sustain you through this journey, and I am confident that He will use your story to bless others. Your courage is amazing, and I hope that you take some comfort in knowing that there are people out there who, like me, have never met you but are praying for you!

  3. I just came across your blog while I was googling my daughter's name. I have a Savanna Joy who is 9 months old today. I cannot imagine what you're going through, but we serve a mighty God who has a plan for you, and for your Savannah Joy. Praying for you in the days ahead. There aren't words to make it better, but it is comforting to know God will carry you through each day. My heart aches for you! Thank you for sharing your story, and for enjoying each day you have with your sweet Savannah! ♥

  4. OMG I found your blog through facebook but when I started reading it didn't know what was wrong with Savannah and then it hit me. I started crying knowing that Dec 9th 1987 I lost my sweet Sarah to anencephaly back then there were not a whole lot of options for us.I think what you have done and the memories you have made with your sweet darling daughter are so beautiful. What a way to cherish and remember her for years to come. She is one lucky baby to have you and your husband for parents.Thank you for sharing your daughter with the world and letting people know about NTD. My heart goes out to you and your loving family.