Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Evan Rodriguez and his wife Olivia were looking forward to the birth of their first child, when doctors gave them the news early on in the pregnancy that their daughter has anencephaly, a rare and severe condition where parts of the brain and skull are missing. The couple’s baby will probaly only live for a few days, maybe just a few hours, after she is born.
ABC Action News reports that Rodriguez and his wife were also told they could “either terminate it or move forward with the process.”
The couple turned to their faith to help them decide how to proceed. They pray together each morning, but it was in making this decision that they say they learned to lean on their faith more than ever. Olivia says she prayed, “God, show me what it is that you want to do through all of this. What’s the good to come out of it?”
Evan and Olivia decided to move forward with the pregnancy. “We decided to continue with the process because we felt like who are we to determine a baby’s life? So, we are going to leave it in God’s hands,” Evan said.
The couple has also decided to raise awareness about anencephaly, a condition they had never heard of before. About 1 in every 4,859 babies is born with anencephaly in the U.S each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At each Bucs practice, before he was released from the team last week, Evan donned a towel with “Layla Sky” on it.
The hashtag “The Fight for Layla Sky” is spreading on social media, and is helping to inform women about reducing the risk of having a baby with birth defects, like taking folic acid.
Evan and Olivia are also working with Duke University to study anencephaly.
“It felt like it was our job to let other people know about this,” Evan said.
Evan and Olivia, plan to make the most of any time they have with their baby girl. Evan said “he knows he’ll shower her with unconditional love again someday.”
“She’ll be waiting up there saying daddy. So, there’s a time and place for everything,” Evan said.