Courtesy Dan Haley(NEW YORK) — When you find out you’re pregnant, it’s not unusual for parents to start dreaming of all the places and experiences you want to share with your bundle of joy once they’re born.
Jenna and Dan Haley, of Philadelphia, had to get started on those plans much earlier than expected. At only 13 weeks, their unborn son, Shane, was diagnosed with anencephaly, a birth defect in which babies are born without parts of their brain and skull.
“We learned of his condition on April 10,” Dan, 25, told ABC News. “We were shocked and devastated. It’s definitely not something anyone ever expects to hear. As we learned more about his diagnosis we experienced pretty much every emotion you could imagine.”
Over time, however, the disheartened couple “accepted his condition for what it was, and decided to give Shane all the love we could while we have him with us,” the father said.
The Haleys learned the life expectancy for infants born with anencephaly is extremely short — generally ranging from mere hours to a few days — so their time with Shane would not only be precious, but limited.
“When we found out that Jenna was expecting, we would often talk about all of the places that we wanted to go as a family after Shane was born,” Dan recalled. “After his diagnosis and understanding that almost 100 percent of babies with anencephaly die shortly after birth, we decided to start visiting the places we had wanted to go with him while he was living in his mother’s womb.”
The couple made a bucket list of significant activities and locations they still wanted to share with Shane, from going to a Phillies game, visiting the Statue of Liberty and Times Square in New York City, to even taking their unborn son to enjoy a famous cheesesteak from Geno’s in Philadelphia, all while Jenna was pregnant.
“He’s still our little boy and even though he’s been given such a short life expectancy because of anencephaly, we wanted to make sure that we gave him a lifetime worth of adventures and love while he’s with us,” said Dan.
The proud parents-to-be have been chronicling their bucket list adventures on their Facebook page, Prayers for Shane, for the nearly 175,000 followers who’ve joined in to witness their journey and provide support, something for which the Haleys are so incredibly thankful.
“One thing we would want people to take away is that each human life is so valuable and that it’s so important to live each day to its fullest potential,” Dan explained. “Whether we live one hour or 100 years, our time here is limited. Make sure to enjoy the little things in life and hug those who mean the most to you. Choose to make the most of the hand you’re dealt and always look on the bright side of every situation and the world will be a better place because of it.”
And as for their growing boy who is due on Oct. 12, he can rest assured his parents are over the moon to meet him.
“We honestly just can’t wait to hold Shane in our arms and show him how much we love him,” said Dan. “It’s all in God’s hands and we will accept His will, but we just can’t wait to finally hold and hug our little man!”
As of early September, the Haleys had completed their entire bucket list for Shane.
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