2017 Birmingham Ambassadors The Schneider Family
The Schneider family raises funds and walk to remember their prematurely born sons, Zachary Aaron and William Evan.
Julie and Toby Schneider always knew they wanted to have children, but they were happy to spend the first few years of marriage as a couple. After about four years, they decided the time was right to start a family. For more than a year they were unsuccessful. Eventually, they were referred to a fertility specialist. They recommended Julie have rounds of injections every few days to stimulate egg development. Several cycles of the process were unsuccessful,making the couple frustrated. They decided to try one more round of medication and found out Julie was pregnant just before Thanksgiving 2005. As often happens with pregnancies facilitated by fertility medications, they soon learned they were having twins. While this was exciting news, they also knew there would be higher risk associated with this pregnancy.
All seemed to be going well the first few months. Then, one day in late February 2006, their world quickly changed. Julie was driving when she felt something was just not right. Toby met her at the hospital. After an ultrasound, the doctor revealed that the amniotic sac around one of the babies had ruptured. This was a terrible shock at 16 weeks into pregnancy. Options were limited at this point, other than hoping and praying for a miracle. Julie was restricted to full bed rest; but unfortunately, a few weeks later at 19 weeks gestation, she went into preterm labor. There was no chance for the Schneider’s son, Zachary Aaron, who was stillborn on March 13, 2006 and weighed less than one pound. Their only hope was that Julie did not go into full labor and that the second baby was still developing in the womb. This was an unlikely circumstance, so they vowed to make the best of it and persevere for this second baby. Julie remained on bed rest. After four weeks, Julie began having some pains and knew something wasn’t right. Their second son was born at 23 weeks on April 11. William Evan was alive and weighed 1 lbs. 10 oz., but his chance of survival and a “normal” life were slim. He was quickly whisked away to the NICU where the doctors and nurses worked to keep him alive and assess his health. His medical issues were many and severe, with the biggest obstacle being his underdeveloped lungs. A few days later, Evan developed a brain bleed, which further lessened his chances at survival or a healthy life. Despite his medical condition, Evan was a fighter. Tragically, after ten days of fighting, Evan passed away. The Schneiders said, “We think about our boys every day but they have a different presence in our lives than we had hoped.” Despite the pain and loss they felt, they knew they still wanted to try again to have a baby. Their specialists told them to start trying again, and Julie began another cycle of shots in October. The doctors cancelled the cycle due to the immaturity of the eggs; but Toby and Julie said, “Sometimes things happen when you least expect them.” Just before Christmas 2006, they found out Julie was pregnant again! The cycle had produced a viable egg. Because of their history, this was still considered a very high-risk pregnancy, and Julie was put on full bed rest at 5 weeks. Their new doctor was more aggressive in treating her in an effort to help her pregnancy go full-term. She had to get shots and a check up weekly. “The injections Julie received are a great example of the research and breakthroughs the March of Dimes helps to fund. We were blessed with a beautiful baby girl on August 25, 2007,” they said. Emerson Grace weighed in at a healthy 9 lbs. 9 oz. Today, she is 9 years-old and just an amazing young girl. She is a tremendous student, takes piano and voice lessons, and she enjoys swimming, cheerleading and volleyball. Most of all, she loves her family and friends and has a beautiful heart. Even after all of these tough experiences, we know we are blessed to have two angels looking over us and an incredible daughter here with us. Our hope is by sharing our story we will help raise awareness and support for the March of Dimes in their mission to provide a fighting chance for every baby.