Finding Hope and Strength in Christ Alone
“I’m so sorry, but your baby is incompatible with life.”
These are words that no parent ever thinks they will hear. But on September 30, 2016, as my husband and I sat in a small room in my OBGYN’s office, we listened as my OBGYN explained that our baby had a condition called acrania.
She said that our baby’s diagnosis meant that I would either miscarry or go into pre-term labor. Or if I somehow made it full-term, our baby would be stillborn or not live for long after birth. She had a fatal neural tube defect, and there was no cure.
After she gave us this heartbreaking diagnosis, she quietly got up and left the room. The walls seemed to move in towards us quickly, and it seemed as if they would crash down at any moment. Speechless, my husband and I held each other and sobbed.
For four years, we had waited, hoped, and prayed for this baby, and for the first several weeks of my pregnancy, everything about our baby and my pregnancy had been perfect.
But now, at 11 weeks, 6 days, our sweet baby girl was big enough for the ultrasound tech to see that her head was not developing properly.
After a few moments of holding each other tightly, through hot tears, my husband mustered up the words to pray the most beautiful prayer.
He asked God that somehow, some way, our baby’s life would glorify Him.
After praying, we walked out of our doctor’s office, heads down, heavy with grief, confusion, and shock.
The Beginning of Our Grief Journey
That night, heartbroken, I sat on my bathroom floor and wept. I was devastated. How was it possible that we were going to lose this sweet miracle baby that we had waited so long for?
I cried out to God, and as I wept, I felt the Lord there with me, listening to my pleas and holding me and my baby close.
While I had never experienced pregnancy, I had become a mom nine months earlier when my husband and I became foster parents. In a few months, we would be adopting our son who had recently been placed with us. We had been overjoyed that not only would we get to be parents to him but also to this little one in my womb.
But after our baby was diagnosed, all of our dreams for her and our new family of four were replaced with the reality that we would have to walk through every parent’s worst nightmare–losing a child.
I remember telling my husband the next day after our daughter was diagnosed that I didn’t understand how someone could walk through something so devastating without Jesus.
And to this day, I don’t know how anyone does.
Navigating Grief and Joy
Through our years of infertility, the Lord had refined and strengthened my faith in beautiful ways. I had learned to surrender all of my hopes, dreams, and desires into His loving, caring hands. I knew that God was good and that His plan for my life was good, even if I didn’t understand why He allowed certain things to happen.
And now, as I carried this sweet baby girl in my womb who I knew I would not get to carry in my arms for long, I relied on the goodness, sovereignty, and power of God to carry me.
I clung to the truth that the Lord was with me and that He would help me each day. Psalm 34:18 brought me so much comfort and peace: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (ESV). I felt His tangible nearness to me as I cried out in grief and laid all of my sadness and fears at His feet, sometimes multiple times throughout each day.
I had to depend on Him in a way that I never had before.
And each day, as I entrusted my and Hannah Grace’s lives into His hands, He gave me the strength to keep going.
Throughout my pregnancy, the Holy Spirit comforted my sorrow, and God’s Word was a soothing balm for my heart. He gave me unexplainable joy and peace in Him (Philippians 4:7), as God showed me again and again that His grace was sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Those early days after her diagnosis turned into weeks and those weeks turned into nine beautiful months as the Lord blessed us with a full-term pregnancy with our daughter.
Then, on April 10, 2017 Hannah was born alive! She lived for an incredible 31 hours and 22 minutes.
During that time, she met her brother, grandparents, aunts, and other family members and friends who loved her and had prayed for her. We soaked up all of the snuggles with her as she cooed, nursed, and drank from a bottle.
That time with our daughter was more than we had asked for, and it’s time that I will forever be grateful for.
Hope and Strength in Christ Alone
It’s been four and a half years since Hannah’s death, and in my own power I know I’m not strong enough to withstand the waves of grief that still come and knock me off my feet. But as the beautiful hymn “In Christ Alone” reminds me, “In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song; This cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.”
Christ is my solid ground. In my grieving, I find endless strength and everlasting hope in Him alone.
Because of Him, when the waves of grief come rolling in, I’m able to get back up and stand again. And friend, with Him, you can, too.
Jennifer Perez is passionate about encouraging women in their faith and pointing them to the hope of Jesus through her writing and speaking. She is the author of a 40-day interactive devotional called She Laughs: A 40-Day Journey to a Heart Filled with Joy and Peace, designed to help women engage with God’s Word as they combat stress, anxiety, and worry. With raw honesty and occasionally some humor, she writes devotionals and shares encouraging videos on her social media platforms and blogs at http://www.theencouragingmomblog.com. She lives in Houston, TX with her husband Mace and 2 children and daily misses her baby in Heaven. You can find her on Facebook @theencouragingmomblog and on Instagram @theencouragingmom.
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