When Lindsey and Steve Justice found out they were expecting septuplets, they considered it "a miracle," Lindsey says. The North Carolina couple, parents to 2- and 4-year-old girls, found out Lindsey has polycystic ovary syndrome while trying to conceive a third time, USA Today reports. She took fertility drugs, and as soon as doctors realized she was carrying at least six babies—they later discovered it was actually seven—the Justices were asked about selective reduction, which would mean terminating some of the pregnancies so the others might have a better shot of surviving. "Steve and I didn't even have to look at each other," Lindsey tells WCNC. "That was just not going to be an option." The babies, given names by their parents that spelled out "Messiah" (Mercy, Evie, Shiloh, Sage, Issac, Aspen, and Honor), needed to make it to the critical 23-week mark—but didn't.
They found out Issac had died at 12 weeks; at 16 weeks, they found out the other six babies were all girls. But at 21 weeks, Lindsey started having contractions, and on Sept. 23, she gave birth to Mercy. "We said goodbye to Mercy, and I was laying on that table for two hours trying to do everything I could in my power, which was nothing, to relax and stop having contractions," she says. The other five babies were born and survived about two hours as their parents held them. Despite the sadness, "I would do the past ... 21 weeks again and again and again if I had the choice," Lindsey says. They're telling their story to spread the idea of hope amid sorrow—on their blog, they write, "It was in that operating room that we experienced the greatest pain and sorrow we have ever experienced. But it was in that operating room that we beheld and embraced the glory of God like never before." (Another story grabbing headlines this week: The baby who completed a bucket list before his ever-so-brief life began.)