A One in a Million Chance

Crissy and ER Rollan always dreamed of starting a family. Coming from a painful miscarriage in 2013, both parents were happy when they finally passed the 12-week mark. They were congratulated by family and friends for a happy and healthy pregnancy this time around. That’s why the next sequence of events came as a huge shock. At 3 months pregnant, Crissy and ER learned that their baby had a rare condition called partial acrania. It is a bone malformation issue which happens in the first four weeks of pregnancy. This means that his skull was not fully developed causing part of his brain to protrude. Babies with partial acrania most likely live through delivery but only a few hours at best.

Doctors didn’t sugarcoat their words in saying that the baby was not compatible to life, but Crissy refused to take no for an answer. She persisted until she found a doctor who was willing to work with her and Chance. She opted for a Caesarian section to increase Chance’s life expectancy from 0% to .04%.

Meet Rey Christian Rollan, you can call him Chance for short. After birth, he had a severe midline cleft lip and palette, so he did not have a nose and upper lip. He was also diagnosed with a heart condition that hopefully will resolve as he grows older.

Last January 26, 2018, Chance celebrated his first birthday. Watch the video celebrating Chance’s journey in defying the odds each day.

We sat down with Crissy to learn more about her inspiring motherhood journey. She shared how her family, support groups, and most especially her faith, have helped her pull through.

MM: When did you know that things were not right?

Crissy: It was August 18, 2016 that I was excited to know the gender of my baby. I passed the 12-week mark, and because I came from a miscarriage in 2013, I was very happy. My OB even congratulated me for having a healthy baby. But the ultrasound took too long, something was wrong. I couldn’t see my son’s head properly, hindi sya formed. The OB told me that she was not in the right position to say anything because she was not a specialist. But I asked her what she thought was wrong and she said there was a protrusion in my son’s head.

I was really devastated because they should have seen that in the ultrasound. I saw a sonologist and it was confirmed that our baby had partial acrania and that the choice was between encephalocele or anencephaly. The better scenario was partial acrania encephalocele where nakalabas lang yung brain, may skin. With anencephaly, fully natunaw yung brain and brain stem lang natira.

I made a decision to keep the baby. I realized that I’m standing up, not for myself, but for my child who’s fighting for his life. When I was knocking on each and every doctor, I kept saying that all he needs is a chance, that’s why I named him Chance. I found an OB who believed in my baby. She was also instrumental in why I named my son Christian because she was a Christian.

When he was born, I didn’t know that Chance had further complications. When I heard him cry, I was so happy. But noong pinanganak sya, ayaw sya ibigay sa akin. They were scared I might throw him away. I kept asking my husband if he’s alive. They showed him to me for 2 seconds. I kept crying because I thought that it was negligible that he didn’t have a nose, a month, nor eyes. All I saw was a beautiful person fighting for his life, and that made me also want to fight for his life.

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MM: How did you feel about committing to taking care of a special child?

Crissy: I flew to Australia to see my best friend who understood my situation. She took me to places where I could see the lives of special children, just for me to see the life was about to embrace.

I used to be one of those people who would see a special child and say kawawa naman sila. But the pity turned into empathy. You feel for them because you have admiration for these people who are so unselfish.

I embraced my pregnancy but managed my expectations, careful not to be too attached. It wasn’t an easy pregnancy but I kept working. I used to be based in Singapore, but at 7 months pregnant I flew back to Manila for good.  It took me until my 8th month to step into a baby store without crying. I couldn’t fathom the idea of buying something. I only went to buy a swaddle, one pajama, and that’s it. The sales lady was suggesting more things to buy, but desensitized, I answered na hindi ko kailangan nyan dahil mamatay ang baby ko. I came back after giving birth. I saw the same saleslady and I told her nabuhay baby ko. We both cried.

MM: How was your mom a part of this journey?

Crissy:  My mom is a very practical person. She loves me and my son so much. But she did say to me that the most sensible thing to do is to consider termination. But when she found out about my decision, she respected it. It was also very magical how my son transformed someone like my mom, who’s practical and strict, into a very loving lola.

When I gave birth, she would always video conference with Chance since she’s based in Singapore. She became very religious, activating anyone she could to pray for the child. Nung nanganak ako, I was under a lot of stress. Lahat sila they were all really praying.

During my pregnancy, my family stepped up. It was a very challenging time because my sister had an emergency C-Section at 7 months. Her baby was in the hospital for 3 months. Sadly, the baby passed away.

While I was fighting for my son’s life, and my sister was fighting for her daughter’s life, my mom was fighting for all our lives. It was a time when our family became very, very strong. My mom was there for me when I needed her. Naging gateway si Chance for our family to be closer to one another

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MM: What are your happiest moments?

Crissy: Oh, there are so many. It’s so fresh to me when I first saw him move inside my tummy. And I was so happy when he made it through his first day, more than anything else. During his first 24 hours, I did not sleep. The only thing that stopped me from going to the NICU was that I wasn’t able to walk. They  allowed me to see him after 20 hours. That was the happiest moment. Seeing him alive, I forgot all the pain and was just reminded of the joy of having my son alive.

But what I would say is the happiest, happies moment was the recent celebration of his 1st birthday. We celebrated for 2 weeks. I’m still on a high! We celebrated his birthday in Singapore. It was such a huge milestone to travel. Pangarap lang dati na sumakay ng eroplano, pangarap lang na mabuhay sya. And now he goes to school. Words cannot express how all these things we used to dream about are happening in front of you.

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MM: What has Chance taught you?

Crissy: I used to be a person who always wanted more. I would never find contentment in anything. But with my son, no matter what is lacking in him, I feel so contented. He’s taught me so much. Not just with motherhood but in being a person with compassion and unconditional understanding. And he is continuing to teach me the value of humility and obedience, making sure I value God in everything we do.

We always say mothers teach kids, but my son is teaching my husband and I lessons every day. My husband used to dream big, but now we can die and say we are proud parents of this boy, Rey Christian Chance. It’s not the outside that matters but the heart. My son has ¼ left of his brain, but his heart is full of love. He has given me so much meaning and purpose in life.

Before I was very hesitant to share his story. But it would be unfair for my son if I did not share his journey. It wouldn’t be fair to keep all the beautiful lessons he’s taught us to ourselves. And there are more things he can share to this world. It’s true what the doctor said in the video. Chance is really ONE IN A MILLION!

MM: What can you advise to young moms who may be going through challenging times?

Crissy: You might think it’s baduy, but what got me through everyday was never losing my faith. I used to have a board in my room. I would wake up and write “God is good, he will make Chance live.” You have to believe so that whatever you believe will happen. There’s the power of the mind, and there’s the power of God. Doctors are instruments of God but they’re not the ones to decide. Don’t surrender.

MM: How can we and other moms show our support for Chance?

Crissy: Chance still needs breast milk. If you can spare extra, we are willing to pick-up and replace the bags. It would help very much. You can also support the foundation we’ve set-up called “A Gift of Chance”. The foundation aims to educate moms who have kids with similar cases of brain malformations, and for the less fortunate to get assistance on where to go to get financial aid.

To reach Crissy for breast milk donations, messages of support, or inquiries about her foundation, you may contact 09177007413.