On Christmas Eve 2003, as most families were wrapping presents and decorating the tree, Ashleigh Moon and her husband found themselves at a doctor’s office in Indianapolis. The couple was anxiously awaiting the results of a blood test that would tell them more about the health of their unborn son, Caleb.
Ashleigh started experiencing issues eight weeks into her pregnancy after doctors discovered that her amniotic fluid was low. As a mother already to two young children, Ashleigh knew that her third pregnancy felt different, but she didn’t know why. She hoped the blood test would provide the answers that she and her husband desperately longed for.
Instead, the Moons received devasting news. They were told by a genetic specialist that Caleb had less than a five percent chance of being born alive and that if he were to live, he could face health diagnoses ranging from Down syndrome to spina bifida.
The doctor concluded that Caleb was “incompatible with life.”
Ashleigh’s medical team urged her to get an abortion. The doctor told her that if she didn’t end her pregnancy, then it would end itself. Either way, the doctor said, the Moons would not have a living baby.
Reflecting on that moment, Ashleigh said, “The doctors made it seem like abortion was the humane thing to do. They told me that Caleb was just a mass of cells. The pressure was very real.”
The Moons decided to do a 3-D ultrasound, and instead of seeing a mass of cells as the doctors had described, they saw a baby who was very much alive. As they looked at the ultrasound images, they saw Caleb’s feet and arms. Ashleigh could feel him moving inside her.
Ashleigh Moon made a courageous decision that day to leave the doctor’s office and continue with her pregnancy, despite the odds of Caleb’s survival.
“We decided that whether we had him for five minutes or 50 years, we were going to give him whatever chance we could,” Ashleigh said.
The doctor was shocked by Ashleigh’s decision and told her that she would likely have a miscarriage within two weeks. Six weeks later, when Ashleigh reached her 26th week of pregnancy, Caleb was born.
At first, doctors classified Caleb as an “incomplete miscarriage” because of his prenatal health issues. His APGAR score, which looks at a newborn’s health after delivery, was extremely low, and he was immediately rushed to the NICU. Despite Caleb’s prognosis and the complications after delivery, his health improved, and he went home with the Moon family 96 days after delivery. Ashleigh said that while Caleb did face minor developmental delays during the first few years of his life, he was a typically developing child and that no one ever knew he had pre-birth health issues.
Today, Caleb is a thriving and healthy 20-year-old. He is musically gifted and has played instruments since he was four years old.
Ashleigh’s message to expecting parents is that every life has value. She urges other moms not to decide to have an abortion simply based on one medical test that can be flawed or incorrect.
“Caleb is a joy and reminder every day that miracles can happen and that while doctors work with the knowledge they have, they are still, in many cases, making educated guesses. Our family would have a giant hole in it if Caleb wasn’t here,” she said.