Tag Archives: infant death

Face-to-Face with the Hardest Question

This morning, I caught a glimpse of a newborn in the obituaries. In his photo, tiny George’s eyes were closed and he held his head in his hands. He was naked and peaceful.

I could not look away.

Years ago, I miscarried twins, one at a time. Their lifeless bodies remained inside mine for a short but surreal period of time as we waited to see if they would “leave” on their own or require surgical removal. To say that I sleepwalked through those days does not begin to capture the feeling of that time.

Our hope for a family of our own, for a future that extended beyond my husband and me, was concentrated in those babies. We loved the idea of them. And once they were conceived, we loved the knowledge of their presence. Our joy was beyond words. Our exuberance, boundless! We were having twins!!

And then… we were having just one baby. A surviving twin. Welcome and loved, but forever a reminder of loss.

And then… none. As it turned out, we were having only loss. And deep despair.

That was a dark and hopeless time. We told very few people, and none of them knew what to say. There were no words to answer our question: “Why?!” Why breathe life into them only to let them die? Why give us hope and then snatch it away? Why force us to circle back and share bad news so soon after we’ve shared joy?

“Why, God?!”

He was silent. And we were left to struggle through dark days of heartbreak, anger, resentment, and grief. God knew what had happened. He had allowed it. Or maybe, He’d willed it. He’d foreseen our celebration of good news… knowing death would follow. He’d given life to our dream… and then, watched as it died.

How were we supposed to make sense of that? of Him? And how could we ever trust such a capricious God?

That was the beginning of our journey. It was the crossroads moment that forced my husband and me to face the hardest question, “What kind of God are you?!” It would be many years before each of us found the peace that transcends circumstances and came to trust God in all things. There would be many, many more tears. More days of confusion, fear and loss.

Now, I can see in hindsight that the Lord truly has been “Emmanuel,” God with us. He has kept His promise never to leave or forsake us. He has given us joy in place of grief, and hope in lieu of fear. He has taught us the truth of who He is and of His great faithfulness.

Yes, that first loss took our breath away. It revealed our powerlessness to us. It also focused our attention and shook us out of a spiritual complacency. It compelled us to seek the God who wants to be known, and who promises…

I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me.”  [Proverbs 8:17]

Would we have wished for that experience at the time? Not a chance. But now, are we grateful for what it brought about in our lives? Absolutely.

Are you face-to-face with the question, “Why God?! What kind of God are you?!” My heart goes out to you — but I also have great hope for what’s in store. Seek Him diligently and you will find all that you need.

Welcome to the journey.


Need wisdom and insight as you make your journey? Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.


Filed under Hope, Loss, Perspective

Infertility: Surrender to Success

What does it mean when prayers for a pregnancy don’t get answered?  When a baby doesn’t make it to term, even though you pray for its health and beg God for its life?  When an adoption doesn’t go through, even though every step in the process has seemed like answered prayer?

There is no public dialogue on questions like these.  Maybe they’re too difficult, or too emotionally-charged.  Maybe they force people to think about things they’d rather not consider, or confront truths they’d rather avoid.  Whatever the reason, the absence of answers leaves us alone with our thoughts.  And those can be devastating.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”   What are we supposed to make of these words of Jesus’?  They used to submerge me in despair.  I was praying.  I was believing.  And instead of a baby, I had miscarriage after miscarriage – leaving me with the question:  What am I doing wrong?  Why don’t my prayers get answered?

Are you wondering the same thing?

Here’s what I’ve come to understand:

At first, my will wasn’t aligned with God’s. My will was:  give me a baby now.  It was, to be perfectly honest, an infantile kind of willfulness that was too obsessed with gimme!  to consider God’s purpose or His timing.  I wasn’t praying with a servant’s heart; surrender was nowhere on my radar screen.  My prayer was more often, “why not?!” – and sometimes, I didn’t even wait for an answer.

My prayers were more about entitlement than obedience.  Without realizing it, I presumed that I knew best.  That a child now was better than a child later; that this pregnancy would trump a future one; that the sooner I got a “yes,” the happier I’d be.  It was all about my plan (now!), not God’s plan.  It was about satisfying my intense desire (entitlement), not about serving God’s purposes (obedience).

My impetuous neediness wasn’t all that mattered to God.  Despite my sense that I couldn’t hang on much longer without getting the baby I wanted, God knew I could.  He resisted my pleas with patient  wisdom, despite the fact that my suffering broke His heart.  Over time, my broken spirit became a malleable one, and God made me more of the steward He wanted me to be for the soul He’d always planned to entrust to me.

Then, I learned to pray for God’s best.  Instead of trying to wrestle with God over whose will should prevail, I finally began to demonstrate my trust by letting go of my desire to control.  I chose to trust that God intended to make me a parent – in His way, in His timing.  With that choice to surrender, came a wave of peace.  And with peace, came a pregnancy… that went to term… and brought into the world the baby intended for me.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”   For a long time, I didn’t believe that I had received anything.  Where was some evidence?  All I could see was that I hadn’t received what I wanted.  But, when I learned to pray for God’s best – His best timing, His best plan, His best reasons, His best outcome – and trust that I had received a “yes” in response to that request, everything changed.

Surrender was the secret to victory.

Imagine that.


Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com


Filed under Battles, Control, Trust

Infertility and Words of Hope

One of the great blessings hidden in moments of desperation is unusually intense focus, an almost superhuman concentration that enables us to see and hear things we would miss on a “normal,” sleepwalking-through-life kind of day.  Even though we would never wish for circumstances that force us into crisis mode, we are wide awake – and God uses these moments of hyper-clarity to speak to us, if we will listen.

My five-and-a-half months of bedrest ended suddenly when my water broke at 34 weeks.  We raced to the hospital.  “Don’t have the baby yet!” the nurse commanded, and she sent the NICU team into the hospital room to hurriedly explain everything that might go wrong, even if the baby survived.  A few hours later, I was in labor.  Partway through the delivery, I began to bleed out.  Suddenly, I couldn’t see; my brain was shutting down non-vital functions to protect my heart.   Over the sounds of doctors yelling and nurses scrambling, I heard the intercom calling for blood to transfuse:  stat.

There were so many people talking to me at once:  “Can you see anything?  Do you feel this?  What do you mean ‘it hurts’?  Where does it hurt?  Has this happened to you before?”  I kept asking, “Where’s my husband?  Where is he?”  They didn’t tell me they’d made him leave the OR.  Instead, they called to each other:  “Who’s got vital signs?  Where’s the blood?  We need a transfusion!  What’s happening with this heart rhythm?!  She can’t still be feeling pain!”

It was crazy.  Totally chaotic.  I was in complete darkness, at the center of a tornado of activity.  The last thing I remember is wondering if I would die without seeing the baby.

Thankfully, I survived – and our baby did, too.

The next morning, I woke up in a hospital room, with a nurse reading the newspaper at the foot of my bed.  On the front page, there was a photo of a McDonalds sign that said, “God can do anything.”  I remember thinking, “What a crazy thing to put on the front page.”  But somewhere much deeper, I affirmed, “Yes, God, I know it was you.”

It’s happened several times since then, God finding ways to speak to me in the midst of a crisis.  Most recently, yesterday.  My son fell and hit his head.  The doctor sent us straight to the hospital to determine whether the concussion included a skull fracture or internal bleeding.  As I began to fill out paperwork for xrays, I noticed a postcard tacked on a bulletin board:  “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me?”  [Jeremiah 32:27].

I’m primarily a visual learner, which means I register things best by seeing them.  Do I think it’s a coincidence that God “speaks” to me with visual messages?  I don’t.  He knows how my mind is wired; He knows how I’ll “hear” Him best.  Do I think these stories are coincidental?  No.  There have been times in my life when I’ve desperately needed to know God was present and in control, and He’s found ways to reassure me, “I am with you always.”  He has heard my prayers for help before I’ve even prayed them, and He’s answered.

He will do that for you, too.  It’s likely that He already has.  Were you listening?  Or watching?  Did you grab onto His message, clinging to His words for dear life?  Or did you rationalize, “it’s just a coincidence.  That could’ve happened to anyone”?

God speaks to those who want to hear Him.  If you cry out, He will answer.  The Bible promises us, “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help” [Romans 10:12].  Are you listening?  Watching for Him?  Expecting Him to respond?  The God of the universe knows what you need.  Open your mind, heart and spirit to His words of hope.

He will speak.


Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com

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Filed under Battles, Peace

Infertility, Loss and Peace

Sarah is a triplet who was six months into her pregnancy when she lost the baby, a few months ago.  After a funeral, which her two pregnant sisters attended, Sarah and her husband tried to return to life as normal.  But nothing about losing a baby feels normal.  So, when Sarah’s due date approached, she and her husband headed to Mexico.  At the last minute, she decided to bring a copy of Pregnant with Hope.  She hadn’t struggled with infertility and wasn’t at all sure the book would speak to her, but something made her want to bring it anyway.

She called her mother from the airport a week later.  She sounded good for the first time since the baby’s death.  They were back from Mexico, she said, and she couldn’t wait to share some news.  She had read the book while they were there, learned about taking negative thoughts captive, and finally felt some peace.  She was starting to move out of the darkness that accompanied her devastating loss, and beginning to believe she would survive.


God is so faithful.  He knows what we need and when we need it.  He delivers messages of hope and grace to us through the most unexpected sources.  When life is painfully difficult, we are tempted to assume that He is absent – or worse, utterly unconcerned.  The opposite is actually true.  He draws nearer to us, seeking to comfort us in our fragile brokenness.

Losing a baby opens a black hole of despair that makes it hard to think clearly, much less hear God speak to us.  He understands.  So, He sends people to speak words of blessing, mercy and peace over us.  If we can’t – or won’t – hear those, He does not stop trying.  He finds other ways to speak to us.  For Sarah, it was a book from a family friend that materialized just before she left for a quiet, peaceful place.  She began reading, and God whispered the words she needed to hear straight into her heart.

Are you like Sarah – struggling to recover from a heartbreaking loss?  You may not feel able to let anyone near your heart, but God is waiting for the right moment to deliver words of comfort.  He is waiting for you to be still and listen.  Then, He will speak to you in a way you can hear.

When you agree to listen for His voice, you open your mind and heart to timeless truths that can renew your spirit.  You say “yes” to moving out of darkness and into the light He brings.  His words can heal your wounds, and nourish the seed of hope He planted in your heart long ago with sustenance only He can give.  He does not intend for your hope to die.

The Bible says, “No one who trusts God like this – heart and soul – will ever regret it.  It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be:  the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help.  Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help [Romans 10:12].

Are you grieving?  Do you sense that your dream of becoming a parent is slowly dying?  Listen for the God who deeply desires to comfort you, and ask Him to whisper words that give you peace.


Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com [tweetmeme source=”pregnantwhope” only_single=false]

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Paying It Forward After Infertility

Here is a unique story with a great outcome.  I was able to use our experience to help Kendra’s mother get comfortable with the biological and ethical issues of the process….”

This is part of an email that landed in my inbox today.  It’s from a man who went through the infertility Bible study I taught for several years.  He and his wife shared their inspirational story in Pregnant with Hope, and they continue to “pay forward” the blessings of God by reaching out to other infertile couples.

He jokes that his wife can’t run an errand without meeting someone who happens to be going through infertility – “she’s like a magnet!”  She takes these encounters very seriously – believing God has pre-ordained them because of her own experience – and so she prays over each of these new friends.  As much as he teases her about it, he seems to be doing his part to pay it forward, too.

Here’s the story he played a small part in, excerpted from a recent newspaper article:

When Kendra Allen lay in a maternity ward at Baptist Hospital in Nashville two years ago, giving birth to a son whose heart had stopped beating, her friend Nita was there. Kendra’s doctors told her she would never be able to have another child. She had developed a serious condition requiring weeks of bed rest and intravenous fluids with her first pregnancy. This pregnancy was even worse, and doctors warned she might not survive a third one.

So, Kendra and her husband began thinking about finding a surrogate mother. Kendra asked Nita and other friends to pray for her.  Nita supported the idea but never thought of herself as a viable candidate. For one thing Nita was almost 49. She also had difficult pregnancies in the past, ruling out a normal delivery. When another surrogate candidate dropped out, though, Nita volunteered.

In January, the two friends were back in the maternity ward. This time, Nita was giving birth, as surrogate mother for the newborn son of Kendra and John. No money ever changed hands; this surrogacy was about faith and friendship.  Both couples believe they have experienced a miracle and are “reveling in the graciousness and generosity of God,” said Kendra. “God is dancing with us and celebrating the life of this child.”

It’s hard to see the blessings in our own seasons of suffering, and hard to imagine that our suffering can be redeemed.  Truth be told, if we were offered a choice between accruing blessings amidst suffering or sidestepping suffering altogether, we’d probably take the latter.

Give me what I want now, and I’ll forgo the blessings later.  That’s the selfish, me-centric perspective that is part of our human nature.

But sometimes, God has a plan that incorporates our current suffering into a miraculous larger story.  The challenge, of course, is that we aren’t told how – or when – the story will unfold.  So, we must trust the author of the story and the promise that “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” [Rom 8:28].

Brian, the email’s author, would never have chosen to struggle through infertility.  But, his experience of God’s very real presence in and through it equipped him to talk with Kendra Allen’s mother.  To testify to God’s faithfulness, and to explain what Kendra was contemplating through the perspective of his own journey.  That helped her to be supportive – which was one piece of the larger puzzle that came together to create the picture of a new family.

Why does this matter to you?  It means that nothing you are experiencing is pointless.  It is part of the story that is unfolding in, through, and around you.  A story that is not just about you – but also about God’s faithfulness, purposefulness, and desire to work all things together for good.  He wants to work a miracle in your story, and then, to give you a role to play in other couple’s journeys.

One day, you, too, will have a chance to pay it forward.


Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com

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Filed under Blessings, Bystanders, Speaking Up