COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) First-time parents Tim and Michelle Nagle remember going to the doctor's office for an ultrasound. This was thrilling a new life was about to be revealed.
Then the ultrasound technician started to cry.
Their baby had anencephaly.
"She had never seen it," Michelle said. "We didn't know what to think. We were in shock. When we got home we got on the computer and started (searching for information)."
Their unborn daughter, Lyla Grace, has a terminal condition. The disorder results in an undeveloped brain. The congenital birth defect occurs in about one out of every 1,000 pregnancies. The life expectancy of a newborn with this condition can range from a few minutes to a couple of days.
"It's a developmental aberration," said Dr. Richard McLandress. "There's no early detection or cure. It's a condition usually determined in the fetus at eight to 10 weeks during the screening process. It's rare, but we've all seen it."
The Post Falls couple met with a genetic counselor to discuss their pregnancy options, including abortion. McLandress said this type of birth defect poses a huge ethical dilemma for parents.
"Most couples choose to terminate," McLandress said.
The Nagles decided to keep the baby.
"People kept asking us, 'Are you going to terminate it?"' Michelle said. "It wasn't even a consideration. Would you terminate a baby if you knew it was going to die in a car crash eight months after it was born? No. Even if I get two minutes with her, it's worth it."
Lyla will be born this month. Michelle calls her baby a karate master who kicks constantly.
"I am freaking out a little as it gets closer," Michelle said. "Some days are a little bad."
The Nagles are coping with the unimaginable the best they can. Tim, an aspiring musician, writes songs to make Michelle feel better.
"A friend of hers just had a baby and sent her pictures," Tim said. "She got a little teary. Some days are tough. We're taking it day by day. That's all we can really do."
Added Michelle, "He wrote a little song and started singing it. That's all I needed."
They're praying for a miracle.
"I have no idea what it will be like," Tim said. "We know what's going to happen. But honestly, I can't say I am ready for it."
The Nagles have a deep faith in God. They've printed prayer cards and distributed them at their church, Real Life Ministries.
"I have a lot of respect for these people," Pastor Jim Putman said. "They have their beliefs and their convictions. They're willing to go through the pain and suffering of this to obey God. I know there's a blessing in their life for being obedient."
That blessing might be a hit record.
Tim recorded the single "Pins and Needles" with Stonecutter Records, a Chicago-based recording company.
Stonecutter Records President Chris Steinmetz said the single will be released this summer and he hopes it will be a hit.
"I think he's got an amazing future," Steinmetz said. "The guy has tons and tons of personality and heart. He's got the God-given talent and an amazing voice."
For now, Tim's musical career is basically on hold. He and his wife are both working at a call center. Occasionally, he'll play small concerts at area bars and restaurants.
Steinmetz said Nagle could become a star, provided he finds the right band and a musical niche.
"The rest is up to the people," Steinmetz said. "We're hoping this single takes off. It will bring some good news for what has been a tough road."
Tim grew up in Post Falls and later attended the Moody Bible Institute. He met his wife in Chicago while he was with a rock band named The Bish.
He asked her out by writing a love song about her.
"I was listening to it, and I am thinking, 'OK, it's about a girl,"' Michelle said. "Then he said my name."
They fell in love, got married. Things weren't going well in the band. It wasn't working out. Then Tim, 29, and Michelle, 25, decided to move to northern Idaho to help his parents recover from two devastating events in 2005.
"All things were pointing to Idaho," Tim said.
His parents' home was gutted by a fire, and then his mother cut her leg while sifting through burnt debris. Her leg became badly infected and doctors were forced to amputate it.
Then came the pregnancy and the terrible news.
Tim believes once Lyla Grace passes away, she'll be with his father, who died when Tim was only 6 months old.
"I never knew my dad. Everybody tells me what an amazing man he was. I'd like to think my daughter will get to meet him in heaven," Tim said.
Despite this trial, the Nagles want to have another child. The risks of another fetus developing anencephaly are slightly elevated, McLandress said.
"We both like the concept of what the outcome could have been," Michelle said. "We'd both like to have the results be better. It's a little scary, but I love babies."