The crazy thing about a curveball…..

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….is that it makes a homerun that much greater.

So I share with you about Monday, February 13th, the day our lives changed forever…the day that my wife and I were told about our little “gift in disguise”.

We were in the doctor’s office for a typical 4-month ultrasound of Maria Isabella’s anatomy, something Cristina and I had been looking forward to each month – a change to see our little girl in action. Coincidentally, it was the first time we actually got to see a close-up of her face and also the first time we could see her big smile on the screen

It was the final moment of the appointment that hit us like a-ton-of-bricks. The doctor arrived to relieve the ultrasound technician of her duty and to inform us that they had found a “little problem”. It seemed that during the 5th or 6th week of development, Bella’s little back wasn’t able to fully develop and instead of closing up over the spinal cord, a little hole was left in place.

BOOM. Even with the tears pouring down the sides of our cheeks, we felt numb and unable to move.

Then began the slow de-evolution of our child’s worth as the doctor (with good intentions, I don’t doubt) described the diagnosis.

From “your baby” to “the baby” and now to “the fetus…..”

“the fetus….has developed Spina Bifida and we need to go to my office to discuss your options” he told us as he awaited us in his even smaller office.

At this point, my adrenaline was pumping and therefore numbing my ears from allowing any of his medical terminology to enter and process in my brain. The words flew by my ears as he described the worst case scenario with this diagnosis and I entered into defense mode. My only concern at this point was the safety of my now sobbing wife and our little daughter safe within her womb, even with her now discovered “little problem”.

“The first option that most people choose when the fetus (again with this word that helps us sleep at night) has developed Spina Bifida, is to quickly end the pregnancy”.

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I think to myself… “Did you not just see the joy on our faces in witnessing the smile of our little daughter less than…..5 minutes ago?!”

Isn’t she beautiful! (little girl born with Spina Bifida)

The stare from eyes answered gave away the answer of my heart, and the doctor quickly laid out the next options in case we take (sadly the now rare, he tells us) path of continuing with the pregnancy. Again, these words fell upon deaf ears as both of us were had only two things in mind – meeting with our primary doctor and contacting our family and friends.

After jumping into a cab, we immediately contact our parents (tears ducts now working on full blast) when we realize that our little Bella’s mission had already begun. As Cristina and I hold each other in prayer, I witness something that no NYC cab driver would dare to do. Moved by compassion, our driver passes us tissues and then turns his meter off….during RUSH HOUR traffic in Manhattan. He explains to us that he is a father and that he can’t even imagine what it would be like to experience all that we were going through….and after attempting to offer him some sort of cash out of appreciation, he begs me to not “deny his charity”.

It hits us. This. This is Maria Isabella’s mission now, people giving-of themselves is now her mission.

For the remainder of that evening, Cristina and I passed through various waves of emotions – from the tears of mourning our “ideals” for our little daughter to the excitement and joy as we reflecting on the gift that she is and will continue to be.

Now that the initial shock of things has  left us, we are doing very well! God has already begun working miracles in our lives and in the lives of those around us, all through our little gift, Maria Isabella. We are so excited to be a part of His greater plan and we will continue to update everyone as we go in to the next steps of this journey and we ask for your continued prayers.

One of the many generous doctors that we have encountered in the past week shared something powerful with me. He said, “I have been working with children with Spina Bifida for years and even though it is hard to understand it at first, I always tell their parents, ‘You don’t realize how much of a gift this child will be to you and your family’. Even if it takes some more time than others, almost all of them come back to me to tell me that I was more right than they could have imagined.”

Cristina and I pray for the grace to understand this. We cannot wait to meet our little angel, Bella!

Check out our latest updates at:

In Christ,

Andrew, Cristina and Maria Isabella Pocta

Andrew and Cristina

Andrew and Cristina

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13 Responses

  1. What a beautiful child and story! I look forward to follow-ups on Bella. Indeed she will be a living witness to your faith in God and trust in His divine providence. God’s blessings to all of you.

  2. I’m glad miss Maria Isabella (love both names, may be stealing them in the future) has such amazing parents that love her so much. I know all 3 of you will be just fine. May God pour his blessings on your beautiful family.

  3. Peace be with you. As a Catholic who works with parents experiencing crisis in a secular setting, I generally dont have the latitude to discuss Gods will with people freely. I also admit that I am a frail human trying to make sense of the huge universe with the intellect allowed by a few pounds of goo in my skull, so I make observations carefully and with great respect.

    I am so encouraged that you are already seeing your daughters mission and vocation…so many folks get trapped in the idea that they are being “punished” and that idea is so oppressive that they often cant crawl out from under it. My primitive intellect has seen that devout Christians ore sometimes called to this challenge in that they are to be trusted with the most precious and fragile in a society that would allow the disposal of the dear one if the ones who were entrusted to their care did not value them.

    Every person who works in those medical offices is every day bombarded with demands from momzillas to conform to their expectation for “planned perfection” (7 years of perinatal loss nursing has lead me to hate the words planned & perfect). Just the fact that you refused to lose your daughters identity of a treasured child in the immediate aftermath of her diagnosis was a witness to them all…and that is just a start.
    You have probably heard this from 10 people already but I suggest you go to and visit

    Godspeed to you !!

  4. “he begs me to not “deny his charity”.” This part gives me the chills – I think God was speaking through your wonderful cab driver that day.

    Agape, the greatest form of love according to 1 Corinthians, is often translated as “charity”. St. Thomas Aquinas says that charity is the root of all virtues and St. Augustine says that charity is the virtue which unities us with God.

    I’m so glad to see that you, even though I’m sure your worried and anxious as all new parents are, are so ready to accept this gift of “charity” that has been given to you. I pray that the remainder of your journey is smooth and worry free and that you are always able to find the strength when you need it.

  5. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family! Do not lose hope that Maria Isabella will grow up to lead a wonderful and mostly normal life: My grandmother (now 74) was born with spina bifida, and she has led a wonderful, long, and mostly unhandicapped life. With so much more technology and knowledge available, I’m sure Maria Isabella will be able to do the same!

  6. Dear Pocta Family

    I am a Bed student(Early Childhood Development Foundation Phase).Currently busy preparing for an exam. .subject:Inclusive Education.Coming across ‘spina bifida’ in my workbook I decided to google images to get a better understanding-when my eyes fell upon the blonde little girl.I clicked the image. .feeling sadden. .I went to the website for the image and read your story.I can honestly say that from feelings of hurt that such angels should ‘suffer’ my whole perspective has changed completley.Your story is uplifting and I feel hope and happiness in place of what I felt before. .reading through the comments-that particurly of ‘Nurse’-Spina Bifida isnt to be seen as a suffering-because what is perfect anyway?Perfect is a mere abstract thought with no real specfic image or object to put to it-perfect is different for us all and we all have our own mental image of what in life perfect is. .and seeing how you,Andrew and Cristina,have gone by handling the doctors news has given me a new image of perfect-a perfect love and a perfect heart to accept and give life to a little girl-a life;I feel with such parents; one to be none less than perfect.May God Bless you all on your journey as I truly believe will be a blessing to our society-an eye opener-This subject is supposed to make me see something different and change my outlook on learners with learning impairments-it is my second time taking it-I have no regrets because today I have learnt-today I have begun my journey to a changed outlook on the many little lives I will one day have the opportunity to touch!I Thank you-Live.Life.


    @Molly-gave me chills aswel.

  7. Im hoping that Andrew and Christina decide to give us an update on Maria Isabella’s life. Know you and she are not forgotten. Peace be with you.

  8. Was doing a bit of extra research about SB and came across your story. My family has been in a similar situation as yours. I swear every time I see a newborn with sb I start to water up.

    My 20 year old brother was born with spina bifida. although it was a tough decision for my parents, there was no question as to what they wanted to happen. my brother Josh is a very intelligent, loving, likeable, funny human being. he graduated high school with honors, and is currently in college. he is such an inspiration because he does not allow his sb to hinder what he wants to do in life.

    he has had 6 surgeries throughout his life the most recent being 3 days ago. he has the ability to walk and run, but he lost sensation in his legs and the latest operation has helped out with that.

    it can be very tough as parents, but as you and others can contest, it will be a blessing to your family.
    much love and god bless.
    alex f
    seattle wa

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