Photo Credit: Micah McKinnon
In November 2016, my husband and I were excited to find out we were pregnant. We were both in our 30s and didn’t want to wait for long after we got married to start a family. But, we were even more thrilled about finding out the gender of our baby at my 20-week appointment.
We walked in for my appointment on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter. The nurse took us back into a room, and as usual she used the Doppler to try and locate the heart beat. She was having some trouble finding it, which wasn’t totally unusual, but called in my doctor to help assist.
My doctor immediately called for a sonogram, and my heart started pounding as we were hurried back into that little room. Everything that happened in there was a blur except hearing the echoing words “no heartbeat.”
A series of genetic testing revealed that our baby boy had severe trisomy 21, Down’s Syndrome. My doctor hugged me and I was told to return to the hospital the next morning to deliver my sweet baby.
Trying to sleep that night was impossible. All I could think was “He doesn’t have a name!”
I cried a desperate cry out to God to give me a name because I just couldn’t possibly think of how we’d agree on one. As I was tossing and turning in turmoil that night, the name Abel popped in my head. As someone who loves the meaning of names I went to look it up immediately. Breathing Spirit, it said. That was it. Perfect. After 18 hours of labor, Abel was born. I spent eight short hours holding my little soldier until the coroner took him away.
Four months later I saw a rainbow in the sky before finding out I was pregnant again. A girl. She was born on May 22, 2017, via c-section and she’s perfect.
In January of 2018, I found out I was pregnant again. Another girl, due in September. We were absolutely ecstatic and I had a perfect pregnancy. I went in for my 37 week appointment for a dilation check and an all too familiar feeling consumed my little room. My nurse was once again having problems finding a heartbeat.
I was alone this time—my husband was at work, and my wonderful, amazing, beautiful doctor’s voice cracked when she said, again, “no heartbeat.”
My doctor embraced me—there are no words to explain my shock. An emergency c-section that evening would reveal the cause of her death. I laid on the table in the operating room, my husband holding my hand, both of us crying.
“Do you want to hold her?” the nurse asked. A resounding “YES” blurted from my mouth. I had to see my perfect baby. Her room was ready, her clothes were hung—I just couldn’t believe I was having my second stillbirth. They laid the most beautiful angel face on me—a simple cord accident took her too soon.
Photo Credit: Micah McKinnon
“What’s her name?” they asked. “Joy,” I sobbed. Again, after a few beautiful hours of holding her, not taking my eyes off of her, she was gone. This loss broke me. I’ve always been able to lean on my faith as a source of comfort, but my devastation prevented me from feeling any comfort from my faith. So, I clutched tight to my little living toddler, too young to understand my grief, and buried myself in a pit.
A few weeks after her death, I forced myself to escape to the gym to swim laps. Near the end of my workout a thought crossed my mind: how wonderful it would be to have my next child on the same day as my precious late grandmother’s birthday, August 25. She had meant so much to me and her passing still grieved me daily. I had been so desperate for hope and comfort and answers, lost in thought with each stroke, when His voice hit me.
“Ask me,” He said.
I can’t often say that I hear the Lord speak to me in this way, but it was so random and abrupt and distinct from my own thoughts—it was Him and I knew it immediately. Stunned, I ceased my current lap, gave Him my full attention, and asked Him to answer my request. “Okay Lord, I hear you. And I’m asking you, allow my next child to be born on August 25th.”
This encounter, combined with forcing myself into vulnerable worship and speaking scripture and truth out loud (daily, and despite my despair) is what triggered the slow climb out of the dark pit where I was buried. I had chosen to leave the best teaching and coaching job I’d ever had to raise two little girls—another layer of deadweight I was carrying. But then, on Christmas Day, about eight weeks after that memorable day at the gym, we were overwhelmed with joy to discover we were expecting our fourth beautiful baby. Estimated due date: August 25.
And on August 25, 2019 my third little girl was born—my amazing grace, my mercy, my manna, my perfect rainbow, my joy in the morning, my promise fulfilled. Healing to my soul, this one.
The following June (2020) we had another loss—an early miscarriage about 7 weeks in. After losing Abel I saw the movie “Heaven is for Real” (a movie every parent who has experienced loss must see!) After seeing it, I became very passionate about encouraging women to give these babies names—regardless of knowing the gender or not. Somehow, someday, when we get to meet our precious angel babies again, I don’t think it will matter if the name we gave them matched their gender. So, this third loss of ours is Shepherd.
And in March 2021, we had our fourth most precious daughter, third rainbow baby, and fourth C-section on the fifth birthday of her big brother, Abel.
Photo Credit: Micah McKinnon
To all those going through the traumatic loss of a child: I am living and breathing proof of HOPE. Do not be afraid to HOPE! Hope is what sustains us and gives us life when we feel dead. Find a way to catch a glimmer of it and hold on tight with every ounce of your being. IT IS WORTH IT.
And whether you are religious or not, I pray you stand on this truth: “May the God of Hope give you all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Thank you Micah McKinnon / @micahrhodes for sharing your story. Shared with permission.
We know that losing a child is the most heartbreaking thing a parent can experience.
Loved Baby is a beautiful resource to help grieving parents of faith through their darkest days.
Recommendations in this post contain affiliate links. We may receive a small commission if you choose to purchase.