Anne Alix was 18 weeks pregnant with her second daughter when she and her husband Chris, a Marine Lance Corporal, went to the Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune for an ultrasound, expecting to see an image of a healthy baby girl on the screen, which they did. “She was moving around and responsive,” Anne recalled, “but suddenly the technician ran out of the room and came back with a doctor who told us our baby wasn’t going to survive. They told us we had to terminate the pregnancy. But we didn’t agree with that. She was my little girl and I was going to fight for her. My husband felt the same way.”
Baby Rose was diagnosed with anencephaly, a rare condition which currently has no treatment or cure, when a major part of a baby’s brain, skull, or scalp is missing. Anne and Chris wanted to give their baby whatever chance at life she might have had, but encountered few people who were supportive. “We were in fight mode from that day on. The doctors didn’t think Rose was worth their time. Only one ultrasound technician let us watch her on the screen. She was still moving around.”
“I made it to 32 weeks, and the day we went for the ultrasound appointment we found out she had passed away,” Anne said. “We thought we would at least have a few hours with her after she was born.”
The Marine Family Readiness Officer connected the family with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. “They told us if there was anything we needed to call them. We thought she would be born alive and receive a social security number so we could use our life insurance policies to pay for the funeral expenses. But since that didn’t happen, the Society said they would give us whatever we needed and we could pay it back only if we ever received reimbursement from the insurance company.” About a year later, the family did receive compensation from their insurance company, and promptly repaid the Society.
Ever since Rose’s death and birth, the Alix family has honored her memory by helping others, including families dealing with similar birth defects, and now the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. “We held softball tournaments for her first, second, and third birthdays, and raised money for a perinatal hospice.” When Rose would’ve turned four, they held a baby shower and donated baby items to moms in need. When Rose would’ve started first grade, the family held a school supply fundraiser for the local first grade class, donating more than $1000, school supplies, and a rug for the classroom.
Last year for Rose’s seventh birthday, they simply didn’t have the energy to plan an event. In addition to 10-year-old Isabelle, Anne and Chris have boys who are six, three, and one. “So this year my dad and my sister organized another softball tournament, and we decided to donate the money to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society because they had helped us when Rose died. The Society volunteers were compassionate and said, ‘Do what you need to do, and we’ll take care of it.’”
Anne also helps with a support group for parents at the local hospital in New Hampshire, where the family now lives. “We make care packages, like baby hats and blankets,” she said. “It’s hard when you don’t have anything to go home with. I work with moms who have had the same thing happen to see if there’s any way we can be of help.”
This year’s softball tournament, scheduled for July 15 in Newmarket, New Hampshire, will benefit the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. The day will also include a balloon release between games for families who have lost babies.
For more information or to sign up, visit https://vndipippo.wixsite.com/rja-softball.
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso