ANN ARBOR, MICH. - Nick DeKlyen shouted out a question to God on Thursday, one day after losing the premature baby daughter his wife died trying to save.
"HOW CAN YOU TAKE BOTH OF THEM?"
Life Lynn DeKlyen was born Sept. 6 at just over 24 weeks old of pregnancy. Her mother, Carrie DeKlyen, 37, of Wyoming, Mich., succumbed to brain cancer Sept. 9. DeKlyen had chosen not to have chemotherapy or experimental treatments in an effort to save her unborn sixth child.
Moments of hope and a series of health scares filled the baby's short life before her heart stopped at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor.
She will be buried at her mother's feet.
"I know Life is in heaven with her mommy," Nick DeKlyen, 39, said.
DeKlyen said he's overwhelmed with grief, but doesn't regret not treating his wife's cancer. He said he plans to keep sharing his wife's and daughter's story in the hope of inspiring others.
Carrie DeKlyen's decision — and Life's birth — generated worldwide attention, an outpouring of support and even a possible movie deal.
DeKlyen was diagnosed this spring with a glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor that caused her to suffer crippling headaches. Soon after, she learned she was pregnant.
She qualified for a clinical trial that doctors said could prolong her life 10 years or more. However, she couldn't participate if she was pregnant. Chemotherapy would have been too risky to the fetus.
"We’re pro-life," Nick DeKlyen previously said. "Under no circumstance do we believe you should take a child’s life. She sacrificed her life for the child."
Carrie DeKlyen was unconscious the last weeks of her life, kept on life support devices as Life grew inside her.
The baby was delivered by cesarean section weighing 1 pound, 4 ounces. Doctors removed DeKlyen's feeding and breathing tubes the next day. She died two days later.
Life's health took a series of turns. At times, doctors were surprised at how well she was doing. On the day of DeKlyen's funeral, the baby's blood oxygen saturation levels fell terrifyingly low before bouncing back.
The hospital called Life's father at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
"She woke up, and she was sick," Nick DeKlyen said. "Her blood gas was down, and her O2 levels were down.
"Throughout the day, the O2 started coming back ... But her blood gas, which gets ride of the carbon dioxide in your body, got worse and worse and worse."
Carrie DeKlyen's grave at Georgetown Cemetery will be opened and Life's body placed at her feet.
Life's five siblings range in age from 2 to 18. Nick DeKlyen's sister, Sonya Nelson of Wyoming, explained her death to one of the youngest:
"I told Lelia — who is 4 — Life was really sick, and she had to go live with Jesus and with Mommy. And she said, 'She had to go, too? Why?'"
Producers David and Lorenzo Henrie have expressed interest in turning the family's story into a movie. They are meeting with them next week.
Nick DeKlyen said he questions why God took both his wife and daughter, but his faith is still strong.
"A God that loves you so much, that allows your wife and daughter to die ...," he said, his voice trailing off. "I don’t know what he's doing, I don’t know why this happened. Sometimes, I feel like I'm being tested like Job in the Bible. ...
"I picture God saying to Satan, 'You can do whatever you want to Nick, but he will still serve me.' And I will."
After Carrie DeKlyen was diagnosed, but she had a dream. In it, she was rocking her newborn baby girl.
"She thought the Lord gave her that dream as a sign that she was going to be alive to rock her daughter," Nick DeKlyen said. "Now that Life's passed away, I picture my wife in heaven with her.
"Now, the dream makes sense. It wasn't Carrie rocking her daughter on earth. She was rocking her daughter in heaven. It gives me peace."
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