“On Thursday, July 6, 2017, my husband and I were in the OBGYN exam room for a 25-week regular checkup for our first baby. The compassionate doctor was searching for our son Cayden’s heartbeat, but we couldn’t hear anything. She brought in the ultrasound machine and there his cute little body lay, still and breathless, a picture I will never ever forget. Our son had died in my womb; the very home he should be safely growing in. The doctor apologized with tears in her eyes, while I let out a confused ‘it’s okay,’ with tears building up in mine.
The moments following that appointment felt as if I was watching this scene play out on a movie screen. It wasn’t real, it just couldn’t be. Hours later I was in the hospital getting induced to deliver my son. My body was shaking from the epidural and low blood pressure, but I could have sworn the shakes were from my resilient prayers and desperate pleas to God to please let me hear my son cry as he entered this world.
At 12:15 a.m. on July 7, 2017, we welcomed our son, Cayden, in silence. We held his perfect little body, meeting our firstborn that we had so many plans for upon his due date in October, our wedding anniversary. But we also said goodbye. To him, our plans, our family of three, and what was supposed to be. ‘What happens now?’ I asked myself lying wide awake in my hospital room at 3 a.m. with an empty belly and constant stream of tears. Exactly one year later I can say without hesitation, ‘the worst and best days of your life. That’s what happens.’
I couldn’t see the ‘big picture’ then, through the overwhelming pain and heartache my husband and I felt as we mourned and emotionally processed the death of our son. But as we approach the one-year mark of meeting and losing our stillborn baby, this thing we call life—a daily gift—couldn’t be any clearer. Although we do not have a medical cause for the death of Cayden to this day, we are okay. We have two four-letter words no autopsy report or hematologist can give or take away, and that’s HOPE and LOVE.
In the past year following Cayden’s delivery it is as if my eyes and heart were ripped open to the broken realities of this world, and the reckless love of God at the same time. Talk about riding an emotional rollercoaster. See, I’ve had some of the worst days of my nearly 30 years on this earth sobbing on that unfinished nursery floor. There were days that I felt unwanted jealousy towards pregnant strangers and screamed ‘WHY ME’ in the shower. I’ve had nightmares and dark reflections of that life changing July night to a point where my husband had to hold me and rock me like a teething baby. But then, God’s grace stepped in again and again.
I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of 22 after my spontaneous college years. From that January afternoon on, I developed a relationship with Him. Since July 7, 2017, I can genuinely say I know the Lord and have never been closer to his goodness and grace, especially through times of tragedy.
The last 365 days have also been the best days of my young adult life. While my son is up in heaven surrounded by incomprehensible love and joy that even I couldn’t give him here in the U.S., God has been blessing my husband and I immensely. And I’m not sure if our son’s life wasn’t ripped away from us if I would have taken the time to stop and recognize or thank God for them [these blessings]. Or, to even go to Him and ask for them in the first place.
I started writing again. When you’re an adult working full-time, you only have so many hours in the day and you stop doing things your younger self enjoyed. Writing was always one of those things for me. I started a Facebook and Instagram page immediately after getting out of the hospital, titled Stillborn Still Strong, to chronicle our journey and reach fellow families of pregnancy loss. Here I thought I was being a blessing to others, meanwhile I’ve met women who ended up sharing their stories of tragedy and triumph with me.
I learned how to love others more, starting with my husband. I married one of the most humble, selfless, loving, Godly (and good-looking!) men there is. Before Cayden died, I was definitely more selfish, short-sighted, and dare I say nagging in our marriage. After you watch your husband sit at the kitchen table preparing cold cabbage leaves for your painful breasts, which filled with milk for your stillborn baby, or stood by as he planned our son’s burial with the funeral director, because you didn’t have the strength to, your love and adoration for him grows pretty quickly. I know, because mine did. And I am forever grateful for him as the leader and father to our little family.
I quit my job. Which if you know me isn’t so surprising since I’ve done this quite a few times! The death of my son and the confidence in God’s ways gave me the courage to become a full-time freelance PR consultant. This trial has taught me a lot, but most of all that we are not in control of our plans. So why not trust in the Lord, take a leap of faith, and start a new career in the same month as Cayden’s due date? What’s the worst that could happen? I’ve already lied at the bottom of a pit full of sorrow and by God’s grace, I crawled out. I now have a full roster of clients with an income that surpassed my previous full-time jobs. And the best part, I l absolutely love what I do. God’s grace.
He has taken care of us financially. During Cayden’s pregnancy we would often discuss potential financial struggles and job situations. We said we trusted God, but we didn’t truly give it to Him. After becoming self-employed, we opted in to use Medi-Share, a Christian-based medical cost-sharing program, as a form of ‘health insurance’ and it has worked in our favor time and time again. Fellow members pray for our situation and contribute to our healthcare costs. We paid off Ben’s school loans, increased our regular tithing percentage, and have spending money to bless others, and enjoy life together.
Our friends and family held us up with every hug, card and listening ear. From our parents, siblings, extended family members and growing network of friends and colleagues, they were with us every step of the way. We could feel the prayers, hear their cries, and share in their laughter. If you don’t earn a penny in this lifetime but you have a caring friend or family, consider yourself rich. We can never express the gratitude and love we have for those who reached out to us, and who continue to help us keep Cayden’s memory alive.
I had a miscarriage. Yes, your read that correctly. I had a miscarriage in January 2018 at 10-weeks into my second pregnancy. And we are okay. Before I could only relate to the moms who’ve had stillbirths, and now I get to join and cope with the ranks of the many women who’ve had miscarriages. They’re a strong group by the way. We were sad of course for another loss, but it ended up strengthening our faith even more. Now, my abs on the other hand are a different story because those are slightly confused and in need of strengthening. But I’ll get there.
Ben started a wrestling club. Ben’s school offered him the opportunity to run a local wrestling club out of one of their buildings. If you know my husband, his life pretty much falls in the ranks of 1. God 2. Me (and family) 3. Wrestling 4. Wrestling 5. Wrestling…you get the point. He gets to live out his passion for the sport of wrestling while mentoring young men in our community using the Word of God all under one roof. We infuse Cayden’s memory and our story as much as possible, sharing our testimony of God’s love and goodness all the time.
I could probably go on and on of how this last year has been the best year of my life. How fortunate and blessed am I to be able to say that in the same breath as having experienced the worst days of my life? And I feel like I am just getting started. My hope is that if you are reading this, whether you have experienced pregnancy loss yourself, or know someone who has, that you will be open to truly living the life you were purposed to live. To number your days, because they are just that—numbered. To think about death differently, but eternally.
I hope and pray that you will not let the broken pieces of your life add up to the measure of who or what you are, but you look to the Lord for the strength that only He can provide to pick up your pieces for you, and allow him to guide your days, piece by piece, revealing a beautiful puzzle only He can plan and satisfy. Now go live your best life, others may be depending on it.
Provide hope for someone struggling. SHARE this inspiring story on Facebook or Twitter with your friends and family.