I sat on the rocking chair next to Andrew. We were visiting his parents for the weekend up in Indiana. The firsts thing he said to me was “Adam and Ashley lost their baby.” I couldn’t believe the news! Today Ashley is sharing her stillbirth stories with us.
You will learn about a side of pregnancy and motherhood that many people don’t like to talk about but it is the reality of many mothers.
What has helped you to cope with the loss of your babies?
The number one thing that helped me to cope with the loss of my babies were people.
Sometimes God draws near to His people through His people.
I needed to know that I was not alone in my pain and that my babies mattered to someone other than myself.
I needed someone to take my mind off the excruciating pain occasionally.
I needed someone to sit and listen to me cry about how it wasn’t fair and to talk with me about my sweet girls.
I also spent a lot of time in the scriptures. I would spend at least 30 minutes every morning reading the Bible and talking to God. Sometimes I would just cry out to Him, other times I would yell at Him or simply sit in His presence.
I knew He could handle my feelings, and He was with me in every single moment. I knew His heart was breaking along with mine, and I clung to that thought whenever I was feeling like I was being forgotten or abandoned.
Worship music was another thing that helped me focus on God and His faithfulness. I love singing praises to my Father and even though it looked a lot different in that season of my life, it still brought me peace.
Reading books on suffering and journaling about my experience helped me. I would write down my feelings and scriptures that spoke to me.
Writing about my pregnancy brought healing into my life. I would write about how I felt when I first found out I was pregnant, how we told friends and family, how we had prepared for the baby’s arrival.
All of the things you would write in a baby book.
How did your other kids react to the stillbirth? Do you have any tips on how to explain it to little kids?
With our first loss, Adeline, we found out that she had passed at our 20 week ultrasound.
We had no idea that anything was wrong during my pregnancy and so we had brought our two older children to the ultrasound so they could see the baby.
Unfortunately this was very traumatic for them. I started crying uncontrollably as I was not expecting this at all.
This was an experience that I was having for the first time. I always thought that if you made it past the first trimester you were in the safe zone. Both of my children were extremely upset.
They cried and asked why the baby died. They had a lot of questions and I tried to answer them the best I knew how.
I am thankful for our faith in Christ and the ability to reassure my children that their baby sister was in heaven and that we would get to see her one day.
With Evelyn, our second loss, it was not as difficult for them to go through again.
We lost Evelyn at 24 weeks, and we had known something wasn’t right for about 4 weeks. She wasn’t growing and my amniotic fluid was low.
We found out she had passed at a high risk ultrasound. My daughter I think was not as invested in this pregnancy. I feel like she expected something to go wrong.
She asked why it happened again and I told her we didn’t know. The doctors were trying to find a reason, which they never did.
My son was sad again and would talk to my belly and cry and say “I’ll miss you, baby sister”. It was heartbreaking to watch them grieve the loss of their baby sister.
As far as tips for explaining the losses to them. I told them the truth in a way that was appropriate for their ages (4 and 6).
I told them that the babies were sick and they went to heaven to be with God, and that He healed their bodies in heaven.
It wasn’t anyone’s fault and God didn’t make our babies die.
How can I help/support a friend who’s baby was stillborn?
This may look different for each individual, so I would say to be open with her and let her know you are willing and want to be there for her through this difficult time.
Ask her what she needs. Tell her what you were thinking about doing, and ask if she feels that would be helpful to her.
Here are some of my ideas and some things that helped me in my grieving process:
- Call her.
- Text her.
- Bring her food! She may not feel up to eating a whole meal, so bring her favorite snacks.
- Show up when she needs you. If she texts and says it’s a rough day, ask if you can come over.
- Don’t wait until she asks for help. Be proactive.
- Sit with her in her pain. It is extremely difficult to be with others when they are hurting. It is human nature to try and fix things. But grieving moms don’t need fix, they need comforted.
- Don’t say things that start with “at least”. “At least you know you can get pregnant” or “at least you have your other children”. This is not helpful.
- Don’t say things like “God won’t give you what you can’t handle” or other well-meaning sayings. It feels insincere and most are not true.
- Remember their baby’s birthday and send them an “I’m thinking of you and your baby today” text, call them, send flowers, etc. (tip: put their baby’s birthday in your phone calendar so you won’t forget.) If there isn’t a birthday, send a text on the baby’s due date.
- Pray for her! And let her know that you are. There were so many days that I just could not pray, but I felt encouraged knowing that there were people who were praying for me.
- Send her a package from Sufficient Grace Ministries.
What scriptures do you hang onto during turbulent storms that strengthen your faith in the Lord?
Wow! This is a difficult one for me. The Bible is full of verses that tell us how much God cares about our suffering and all of the ways He is with us through it. Here are some of the ones I held onto after losing Adeline:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
And here are a few that I held onto after Evelyn. I went through a different grieving process with her loss. I definitely got angry with the Lord and I needed reminders that He was still good. This reminders were also for me to not give up my faith in Him.
“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”
Hebrews 10:35-36 NLT
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:6-11
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”
2 Corinthians 1:9-10
What would you tell a mom that is dealing with this same type of loss?
The first thing I would want to tell her is:
“I’m so sorry you are experiencing this extremely painful loss. Please don’t ever blame yourself. You are a good mama. Seek the Lord, draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. Allow Him to comfort you, even if you are angry with Him. I know you may want to blame Him, but His heart is breaking too.”
Then I would encourage her to not seclude herself.
I know that many people want to be alone in their pain, and that is ok for a little while. But then you have to allow others to help carry the burden.
That is what your friends are there for. They can uplift you and encourage you on the darkest of days. They can make you laugh when you didn’t think it possible.
Finally, I would tell her to allow herself to grieve.
Sometimes women are made to believe that they shouldn’t be so upset about losing someone they didn’t even know. But we do know our babies.
I carried my girls for 140 and 165 days. I knew what their movements felt like, I knew what their heartbeat sounded like. I held their miraculous little bodies in my hands. They were known by me.
There is no timeline to grieve, and there are no right or wrong feelings.
Do not let people say that you “should be over that by now”. Your baby mattered, and the pain you feel when they are no longer with you is immense and valid.
Here are some Resources that can help you after having a stillbirth
King of My Heart- Steffany Gretzinger
Take Courage – Kristene DiMarco
Strength- Jonathan & Melissa Helser
Your Love is Enough – Jon Foreman
It is Well- Bethel & Kristen’s DiMarco
You’re Gonna Be Ok – Brian & Jenn Johnson
Though You Slay Me- Shane & Shane
Even when it hurts – Hillsong UNITED
Red Sea Road – Ellie Holcomb
Man of Sorrows – Ellie Holcomb
Your Hands – JJ Heller
You Alone – North Point
Last Word- Elevation Worship
Nothing is wasted – Elevation Worship
(These can be found on YouTube)
Christa Black Gifford – If God is Good, Why Did My Baby Die
Levi Lusko – Elevation Church – Turn off the Dark
Levi Lusko – Hurting with Hope
•A grief observed by C.S. Lewis
•Walking with God through pain and suffering by Timothy Keller
•Holding onto hope by Nancy Guthrie
•Empty arms by Pam Vredevelt
•I will carry you by Angie Smith
•A guide for Father’s when a baby dies by Tim Nelson
•Stillbirth yet still born by Deborah Davis
•Grieving the child I never knew (devotional) by Kathe Wunnenberg
•Surviving the loss of a child by Gary Roe
•On coming Alive: Journaling Through Grief by Lexi Behrndt
•Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko