NFL fullback Evan Rodriguez and his wife Olivia are expecting a little girl in December, who has a rare birth defect,anencephaly. The couple has been speaking out about the diagnosis and their decision to keep their baby girl despite the fact that she will not survive long after birth due to the condition.
Doctors informed the couple early in the pregnancy that the baby will be born missing parts of her brain and skull and would live only for a few days, maybe only a few hours.
Evan Rodriguez told ABCAction News that the doctor told him and his wife that they could “either terminate it or move forward with the process.”
The couple said they relied on their faith to help decide how they were going to proceed.
“I prayed to God like I wanted to make the right decision,” Evan said.
Olivia Rodriguez said she asked God, “Show me what it is that you want to do through all of this. What’s the good to come out of it?”
“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.
Olivia added that they would do “anything we can do to be able to make the best out of her life.”
They’ve named their little girl Layla Sky because, Evan says, “I always zone out and look at the sky and wonder what else is out there.”
Evan told ABC Action News that he knows he will see Layla Sky again someday too.
“She’ll be waiting up there saying ‘daddy,’” he said. “So, there’s a time and place for everything.”
The couple has been working to raise awareness of anencephaly. Evan donned a Layla Sky towel at every practice while he was still playing with the Buccaneers.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers waived
Evan Rodriguez last week. Rodriguez is looking to be picked up by another team and already has good interest, Olivia told ABC Action News. Olivia says she is prepared to move with him and "find new doctors to ensure Layla Sky has the very best care."
“It felt like it was our job to let other people know about this,” Evan said.
The hashtag Fight for Layla Sky is spreading on Facebook and Twitter. They are celebrating Layla’s life and raising awareness of things pregnant women can do to prevent anencephaly such as taking a daily multivitamin with folic acid.
“Most [of] the time we plan on teaching our child about the world, never expecting you have to teach the world about your child,” Olivia recently posted on Facebook.
According to the CDC, about 1 in every 4,859 babies in the United States will be born with anencephaly.
h/t ABC Action News