this is it "nightline," born against the odds, he's a medical mystery. their remarkable story and the backlash from their difficult decisions. plus her characters have all kinds of secret. but for shonda rhimes, the biggest secret was her own. she takes us inside her world. and a special reading of 'twas the night before christmas
world anyway. it's been a tough road and it's still not easy, but now these parents have a medical marvel on their hands. here's abc's david wright. >> for brandon and brit nigh bul, the first serious curveball of parenthood came the day after their 17 week ultrasound. >> these are his legs. his hands and feet are in the air like this. >> reporter: the scan where the couple first found out they were having a baby boy. >> the ultrasound tech was acting strange. she got really strange. when she got to his head and was measuring it, she didn't say a word. >> then the very next day, the phone rang. >> they told me he had spina bifida. >> how did you process it? >> i don't know. i couldn't really believe it. >> turns out the initial diagnosis was wrong. but the scan showed a severe
the brain almost non-existent. miraculously, jackson survived, he's now just over a year old. the doctors didn't expect him to. in fact, it was the sort of pregnancy where doctors as gently as possible mentioned the word termination. abortion has much charge. >> it wasn't until 23 weeks that it was brought up. >> about the option. >> that we had the option to terminate in the state of florida until 24 weeks. >> to put it bluntly, many families faced with that scan would not have brought this baby into the world. >> how many fingers do i see? >> jackson's parents, gave him a chance. >> where do they come from? i can't say. but i bet they've come a long, long way. >> but in a way, this is the essence of that debate. >> it can be. >> some people take it that way. but we don't try to take it that way. >> they did think about termination. >> i would feel terrible doing something like that.
was going to suffer, or he would be in pain, or my life was in jeopardy, then my thought process might have been different. >> we're christian and we believe in what we believe in, but we still are going to do the best thing for our family, for brittany, and ultimately for jackson. >> and this is jackson today. sorrily disabled, but thriving. >> for us, this is normal. we don't have another child. this is the first one. >> even just bathing him is a task that requires both parents. >> want to play with your toys? this one or that one? >> where do you put his happiness? >> he's happy almost all the time. he's just like any other baby. cranky often. >> there you go. good job! i know we're by fine. other babies. here's what his brain should look like. instead, this is jackson's
only a year later did neurologists come up with a proper diagnosis. >> microhydro ensefaly. >> this doctor saw him in august. >> how much of the brain is there? >> very little. >> will he ever be able to talk? >> i would be shocked if he could. >> will he ever be able to walk? >> independently, very unlikely. >> there's no prognosis. it this far. >> do you have any sense as to how long he can survive with >> i don't know. i don't have a crystal ball. it really depends on the medical complications. >> such a good boy. >> he's only made it this far with the help of his parents. jackson gets nutrition through a feeding tube. burping him involves removing the excess fluid from his stomach. seizures. >> even when he's really calm. sometimes he'll just go into a slight seizure.
>> i don't think so. he was irritable when i saw him, and there's nothing about this that causes pain, per se. >> reporter: pain and suffering are not necessarily the same things. in the end, the doctors themselves say that science alone can't answer that question. >> and what is his quality of life? >> again, i imagine but i don't have a full appreciation of that, but i would ask his parents. >> how he's able to see the lights on his toy is baffling because the ser eastbound rum is so small as to be non-existent. >> mommy can't do it for you. i'll remind you, you put your hand and you press it, like that. >> reporter: and yet his parents, who spend so much time with them are convinced their son is in there. >> it's so cute when he gets so he grins. >> yeah, it's a cute grin. >> it is cute.
>> every day we spend time with him. every day we play with him. every day we say i love you. >> a hundred million times. >> maybe a little exaggeration. but probably over a hundred times a day. no exaggeration. >> can you sit up like a big boy? >> we say mommy's here, daddy's here. you're so strong, you're so smart. he hears those things every day from us. maybe i'm biased, but i believe positive reinforcement, talking to him, loving him -- >> that was a big yawn, buddy. >> i think he's responding to that very well. >> reporter: not only that, they feel he loves you back. they hear him saying so in videos such as this. >> i love you. >> and even if others may not hear it, these parents feel it. but brittany and brandon also hear from the neigh sayers. when they post his photos and videos online, people write the
>> and we can't fathom would think something like that about an innocent child, especially one with special needs and two, actually hit the send button. >> he's a lucky boy, you guys seem like great parents. >> we try. >> we try hard. >> jackson is lucky, because many parents would not have given him that chance. it hasn't been easy. a lot of his treatments, including that trip to boston are not covered by insurance. they've had to resort to a go fund me campaign which is covering most of their bills for now. >> every decision we've ever made for him has been about his happiness, his comfort, no matter what that meant, and no matter what the cost. >> i feel like jackson is doing so well and can teach the medical world so much. >> and we realize that jackson's life has a purpose, whether you are faith-based, or scientific and want to see more about medicine, learn more about the human brain. and at the same time, we realize the reality of jackson. that we're probably going to outlive him.
we're just trying to give him the best life possible. >> knowing that it might be a short one. >> we realize that. so every day is precious. >> jackson, almost 16 months old now, is still showing improvements. here he is taking his first picture with santa. ordinary people struggling with an extraordinary burden, and doing it with love. i'm david wright for "nightline" in tavares, florida. up next, she's not afraid of the dark side on shoz like "scandal" and how to get away with murder. questions later! >> but shonda rhimes said she crippling secret. and later, whoopi goldberg, message. and that was amazing. along with support, chantix (varenicline) is proven it absolutely reduced some people had changes in behavior,
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test text1 plain so she's the undisputed queen of primetime tv. shonda rhimes, the strong leading lady behind the strong leading ladies on "scandal" and "how to get away with murder." but behind the scenes, she's wrestled with serious and at times debilitating vulnerabilities. >> so when you walk onto the set like this, you must be giddy. >> it's exciting. this is pretty magical to me. >> we're getting an intimate tour of the oval office. a hollywood mock-up anyway. you may not recognize our guide, but chances are, you've been inside her racy day dreams. >> this can't happen, not anymore. >> there's been hanky panky in here too. >> there's been a lot of interesting hanky panky on that desk. >> stop. >> no.
imagination can build. >> shonda's imagination reaches roughly 30 million people a week with "grey's anatomy," with murder." her world, shondaland. over the last 12 years, she's created bold female characters that dominate in typically male-driven industries. much like shonda herself. but one big difference, shonda was painfulfully uncomfortable in the spotlight. >> i'm a writer, i'm supposed to be behind the scenes. and everybody else in front. >> despite being invited to every glamourous party in hollywood, she'd make excuses saying she was too busy. until her sister provoked her. >> i was going on and on about the invitations i'd received and my sister cut in and said, are you going to say "yes" to anything? you never say "yes" to anything? and those words stuck with me.
>> so this became a campaign to say "yes" to things that scared you. >> to say "yes" to things that freaked me out. >> for a full year she'd take on all the things she'd worked so hard to avoid. it began with an invitation to appear on jimmy kimmel, who she'd turned down so many times before. >> i tip my white hat to you. >> what you started saying "yes," what happened? >> it's the doing of the thing that undoes the fear. >> but it was more than public appearances that she would say "yes" to. >> let's talk about the f word. you call yourself fat. >> i did. i got on the airplane to go to new york, and i couldn't get the seat belt buckled. you can call the stewardess and ask for an extender, and i decided i was going to die because i wasn't going to say it
>> that moment was life-changing. >> i hit this point where i said, i work hard in every other area of my life, why wouldn't i throw myself into being healthy in the same way? >> at one point, losing 137 pounds. shonda said she was finally feeling comfortable in her own skin. but with every "yes," she struggled more to find time to spend with her kids. she's also frank about motherhood and the dirty little secret working mothers are often too afraid to talk about. that you really can't have it all. >> i was literally at my daughter's first debut in her school musical, and i missed sandra o. last filming ever at "grey's anatomy." it was not a question for me where i was going to be. but that was a really important moment at work and it was a big deal that i missed it. >> a big deal in part because christina yang was shonda's
>> get out of my er! >> our feelings and our sense of relationships are very similar. >> don't let what you want eclipse what you need. he's very dreamy, but he's not the sun. you are. >> so when christina left gray sloan memorial hospital and her lover to pursue her keer career, it was a major statement. >> one of the other things you talk about in the book, she doesn't want to get married. >> no, she doesn't. >> and you wrote that into her story line using your own life as a reference point? >> i did. i discovered i don't want to get married. at least for now. >> do you feel like it's important for women to throw out that fairy tale ending in a way? >> i don't know that women have to throw out the fairy tale ending. i just think they have to decide what their fairy tale ending is and not go with the standard one that everyone's told them they're supposed to have.
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so when you think of the holidays, you think santa claus or frosty the snowman, but at its core, it's about festivities with family and friends. so tonight our friend whoopi goldberg is ringing in the holidays for "nightline" from her living room. reading us a classic christmas tale. >> ho ho ho. hello. i'm going to give you my
christmas, because i really like it, and it's my favorite thing to do just before i go to bed. so lay back, or sit back, or just sit, if you're a puppy, or cat. 'twas the night before christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. the stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that st. nicholas soon would be there. now the children were also nestled snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads. and mama in her ker chief and i in my hat had settled our brains down for a long winter's nap. when out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, i leapt up from my bed to see what was the matter. away to the window i flew like a flash, tore up the shutters,
and the moon on the new fallen snow, gave a luster of midday to objects below. when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. with an old driver so lively and quick, i knew in a minute, it must be saint nick. he whistled and sought shouted and called them by name, now dash e dancer, prancer vixen, cupid, donner and blitzen. now dash away, dash away, dash away all, which i assume meant, hey, go to the top of the porch and then go to the top of the wall and then get out of here. that's what i think that meant. as dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly, when they met with an obstacle mountain in the sky. so up to the house, to the top quarters they flew, with a sleigh full of toys and saint nicholas too.
up on the roof, the prancing and pawing of each little tiny hoof. as i drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney st. nicholas came with a bound. he came down the chimney, which i personally think would have been a little hot, but he's saint nick and so, magic happens, but don't try that at home. i think trying that at home is a bad day. anyway, he was dressed all in fur -- fake fur. just saying. from his head to his foot and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. the bundle of toys he flung up on his back, he looked like an old peddler just opening his pack. his eyes, ooh, they were twinkling, his dimples, how merry, his cheeks like roses, his nose like a cherry. and his beard of his chin was as
and the stump of his pipe, well, he didn't actually have a pipe. the stump of his starbucks, he held in his teeth, and the coffee encircled has head like a wreath. he had a broad face and a round little belly and it shook when jelly. he was plus sized, plump, a right old elf, and i laughed when i saw him in spite of myself. now i wasn't laughing at him. i was laughing with him. he was going, ho ho ho, so we were laughing together. so a wink of his eye and a twist of his head soon gave me to know i had nothing to dread. well, i do have some things to dread, but i wasn't dreading seeing him. that's what that means. and he didn't say a word, he went straight to his work, filled all of the stockings and turned with a jerk.
nose and giving a nod, whoop, whoop, up the chimney he rose. he sprang to his sleigh. to his team he gave a whistle and away they all flew, like a down on a thistle. but i heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, merry christmas to all, and to all a good night. the night before christmas,by clement moore. >> and goodnight to you, whoopi. and for all of you out there, thanks for watching abc news. tune into "good morning america" tomorrow first thing. and as always, we're online at our facebook page for phil: a gunshop in the woods are ut side of this prison triggered the trouble.