Before she became a mother of two and with a third child on the way, slain Colorado mom Shanann Watts had been told by doctors that she wouldn’t be able to have children.
A diagnosis of the chronic autoimmune disease lupus had sent her reeling and put her in a “really, really, really bad place,” Shanann said in a Facebook Live video about four months ago, before she and daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, were found murdered earlier this month, allegedly at the hands of her husband and the girls’ father, Chris Watts.
So when Bella was born on Dec. 17, 2013, “Shanann was so excited to have her first baby girl,” her family wrote in an obituary notice. “She spent every minute thanking God and taking care of her precious gift that the Lord had blessed her with. How she loved and cherished her.”
Her joy continued with the arrival of Celeste, born on July 17, 2015.
“Oh how Shanann was so excited to be able to have another child because of her battle” with lupus, wrote her family. “She was determined to stay healthy and with her love for her Celeste, every moment with her was a blessing.”
Prosecutors say they have evidence that Chris, 33, was having an affair with a co-worker at the time he allegedly killed the 15-weeks-pregnant wife Shanann, 34, and their two daughters earlier this month.
He has not yet entered a plea to multiple charges against him, including first-degree murder and tampering with a body in all three deaths. His attorney has not responded to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
The charges against Chris include one count of first-degree unlawful termination of pregnancy for the death of the couple’s unborn child.
“Shanann wanted one more child, praying for a baby boy,” according to the obituary. “She named him Nico Lee. With the anticipation of her son to join them she knew he would be loved by his sisters and family.”
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Shanann’s younger brother, Frankie Rzucek, also remembered his family’s “excitement” when, with Shanann’s health condition, “she beat all the odds and [became] pregnant.”
“And she was SO into her family,” Kris Landon, a friend of the couple, told PEOPLE. “Like, that’s all she talked about. She talked about her girls as miracles, because she had some health problems and didn’t know if she’d have kids. But she really embraced motherhood, and I thought she embraced her marriage, too. They seemed like partners. Amazing partners.”
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In her Facebook Live video from four months prior, Shanann marveled at how her relationship with Chris and the arrival of their girls had emerged from her deep despair over her diagnosis, which had led her to lose friends and quit her job at the time.
“My health challenges happened for a reason,” she said. “I was told I couldn’t have kids, you know, and here I have two amazing, crazy, wild children I love dearly. Everything happens for a reason.”