Comfort Care Honors Life, Too: Why Sometimes Medical Intervention Is Limited For Premature Babies

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Recently an article was published that ignited outrage in the pro-life community, the baby loss community, and beyond. Twin babies were born alive at 22+ weeks, and medical intervention was not an option offered to them.  As I read the words, and the ensuing comments, my heart ached for the family…and for the medical staff of a very respected hospital. Sufficient Grace Ministries has been honored to work alongside the compassionate team of nurses and physicians at this particular hospital many times. While I do not want to get into the logistics of the article, and I was not part of this story, nor do I know all the details, I do want to clear up some misconceptions about medical intervention in cases of premature infants for the public.

We provide bereavement support and remembrance photography for families facing perinatal loss throughout the state of Ohio and train medical personnel throughout the country on providing support for patients experiencing perinatal loss. It is common practice in the majority of the hospitals we work with that families who experience the birth of a baby prior to 24 weeks (occasionally 23) are not offered medical intervention as an option. For various reasons. One example is the premature rupture of membranes. In those cases, babies are often born alive and live for minutes to a couple hours. It is the policy of most hospitals in Ohio to not attempt life saving measures prior to 24 weeks. Some hospitals may go by weight or other indicators…(500 grams is a weight for some hospitals). A baby may be assessed and an exception may be made. But 24 weeks is the current accepted age for intervention/viability. This may vary slightly. Obviously we all hear those rare cases where intervention is done prior to 24 weeks. And a miracle happened. But many times, these little ones are just too tiny to survive, even with intervention. So they are given to their moms to hold and love on until they pass.

Why would a hospital not offer medical intervention prior to 24 weeks:

  • Many hospitals are not yet equipped to perform life-saving measures on babies under 24 weeks.
  • Although there have been a handful of cases of babies who miraculously survived at 21-23 weeks gestation, it is still very rare. The age of viability is still considered to be 24 weeks.
  • In the majority of the cases, we still do not have the technology to consistently provide life-saving measures for babies born under 24 weeks gestation.
  • Babies born at very early gestations who do survive face many debilitating health issues.

 

According to an article published on the Very Well Family website and reviewed by a physician: “In many hospitals, 24 weeks is the cutoff point for when doctors will use intensive medical intervention to attempt to save the life of a baby born prematurely.” This is accepted throughout the country, not just in the state of Ohio.

We have found this to be the case in our work as well. And, while as bereaved parents and birth professionals, we understand the pain of watching a child born alive but not being able to save the precious little one, we also understand the limitations of medicine.

One of the misconceptions put out into the media frenzy was that the staff was not supportive of life or compassionate because they did not intervene to save the babies. While I understand at first glance, that may seem the case, and I was not present for that family’s situation, nor do I know the details, I do know the hearts of most of the labor and delivery nurses we encounter.

Nurses and doctors, almost universally, are healers. Nurses, especially are wired to be caregivers. Everything in their nature and everything in their training leads them to want to fix what is broken…to heal the sick…to save a life. Everything.

The cases when a mother’s labor cannot be stopped and a baby is born too early to save are incredibly difficult for medical personnel. I have held many nurses in the hallway, who tearfully proclaim, “It is so hard to do nothing. Everything in me wants to rush to save this life.”

Most of the time, families with babies born prior to 24 weeks experience comfort care. Comfort care can still bring great emotional healing when families are offered support and options. Comfort care honors life, too. It is not doing nothing. It is filling whatever time we are given with our babies with love. I have stood beside many mothers and fathers as their babies born from 19-23 weeks have quietly passed in the arms of their parents, surrounded by the love of family. Even in the midst of the broken, there can be great beauty. It is peaceful. Babies do not suffer. They are put directly into their mothers’ arms and loved from this life into eternity. We marvel at their tiny feet and hands, as we create mementos and capture the moments of their brief lives. At Sufficient Grace Ministries, we honor all life and believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity of human life. We view comfort care just as life-honoring as intensive medical intervention…whether a baby is given a life-limiting diagnosis in pregnancy or whether a baby is born too early to save.

In the cases when families who receive a life-limiting condition are given the choice of medical intervention or comfort care…they weigh the options for their family, their baby, their diagnosis. They may pray and agonize over what is best. There are no right or wrong answers for these impossible situations. But, we must be careful about making snap judgments. Both families who choose intervention and families who choose comfort care are honoring the lives of their babies and valuing human life. Medicine does have limitations, and sometimes peaceful, gentle moments with a baby are the best a hospital can offer.

We send our prayers and stand in love and solidarity with all families grieving the loss of their sweet babies…and with the beautiful nurses and physicians who offer their best and many times carry grief in their hearts for the ones that couldn’t be saved.

For support and/or Dreams of You Comfort/Bereavement Resources, visit our website.

Sweet Eva: Miracles on Earth and in Heaven

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On this last day of Anencephaly Awareness month, we wanted to share the story of sweet Eva. Sufficient Grace Ministries Comfort Doula Kelly Gerken and SGM Remembrance Photographers: Erin Foster (maternity) and Kristi Bodey, along with the teams from Life Connection and Purposeful Gift had the privilege of walking with this family through their time waiting to meet their beautiful baby girl. Eva is so loved. She defied many of the odds, living much longer than expected…a life filled with miracles…even though it was brief. She was able to donate organs for research, as described in her mother’s brave and beautiful words below. Parents, Katie and David, were surrounded with the love and support of their family and friends, their support team, and covered in so many prayers…every step of the way. Sufficient Grace Ministries was honored to attend appointments with this family, helping with the planning process.

One of my favorite memories with Eva and her family occurred during the last moments of her life. The song Good, Good Father was playing on the computer. I sang along quietly as Eva took her last breaths while being held by her mother and father. Miraculously, her color…which had been slightly purple due to low oxygen and blood flow…changed minutes after she was taken to heaven. She was restored to a typical rosy newborn color. No one could explain Eva’s miracle. But, her family knew it was just another gift from their heavenly Father…a reassurance that she is perfect in heaven and that they would meet her again one day.

The beauty, courage, love, and faith Katie and David share shines in their eyes and in the telling of their story. It was an honor to watch them walk this path with beauty and grace…the sweetest beauty…even in the broken.

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Let me tell you about my daughter…

by Katie Yankee

Let me tell you about my daughter…

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva I would tell you that she was a fighter. She fought the odds. She proved everyone wrong. She fought to give us almost 6 hours with her.

 

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva I would tell you that she was strong. Just when we thought she had taken her last breath, she took another.

 

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva, I’d tell you she was strong-willed. She was sassy.  She knew what she liked and what she didn’t like and she wasn’t afraid to let us know.

 

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva, I’d tell you that she was beautiful. She had the most perfect little lips.  Even amongst great pain, even amongst the ashes, she brought us beauty.

 

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva, I’d tell you that she was a miracle. Her skin lightened just seconds after she had passed into Jesus’ arms, something no doctors could explain.

 

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva, I’d tell you that she was light in the midst of darkness. She showed us that there can be joy in the midst of great sorrow.

 

If I could tell you something about my daughter Eva, I’d tell you she was a hero. She donated 6 organs for research, to help improve the lives of others.

 

Many people said that I did something special because I chose to give Eva life even when I knew she would die. But let me tell you something about my daughter… It was Eva who gave me life. It was Eva who taught me to treasure each moment, to protect the ones you love fiercely. She taught me to fight. She taught me to be brave. She taught me to live with no regrets. She showed me that there’s a strength in me… Not because I’ve done anything special, but because He died for me.  That strength comes from Jesus.

 

Let me tell you something about my Jesus.. He holds a piece of my heart in His hands and her name is Eva.

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Don’t Cry for Me

Written by Kevin Park (Eva’s Grandpa) from the perspective of Eva Kathryn Yankee

Don’t cry for me Mommy, I am happy and blessed.. Jesus called me home and my soul is at rest.

Don’t cry for me Mommy, you and Daddy gave me life. Five hours and forty-two minutes was a miracle, and there is no strife.

Don’t cry for me Mommy, they said I would not breathe. But I breathed and I cried and I held Grandpa’s finger, and because you asked- Our Father let me linger!

Don’t cry for me Mommy, my body is perfect.  My cry used to be hoarse, but now I sing with a big voice, of course.

Don’t cry for me Mommy, I am running in a field.  My bare feet are squishy in deep heavenly clover, and then I see Jesus and He just called out to me, “Eva Kate, come on over!”

Don’t cry for me Mommy, I am sitting on Jesus’ lap.  Everyone is belly laughing because Jesus just began to rap.

Don’t cry for me Mommy, Jesus is telling me a story.  When I was in your tummy, He whispered into your ear.  He said my name means life and He helped to take away your fears.

Don’t cry for me Daddy, daily ice cream here.  Blizzards in heaven have more chocolate and whipped cream.  I know yours are good Daddy, but ours are like a dream!

Don’t cry for me Daddy, I know you would like it here.  The wine is so sweet and the deer are all running.  The does are very fast and the bucks have racks that are stunning.

Don’t cry for me Grandmas and Grandpas, I know you held me tight.  You loved me so hard and you helped me fight. Your prayers and your faith helped me see the light.

Don’t cry for me Kelly, you helped my mommy so much!  Especially your love and dedication, your faith, your smiles, and your touch.

Don’t cry for me friends and family today, because although my life was not long, our God was glorified and Mommy and Daddy’s faith was so strong.

Don’t cry for me anyone when you think of me today, for I am with my Savior and friend Jesus who said I am a keeper and he asked me to stay.  God the Father and the Holy Spirit, too, have given me the chance to laugh and play and do a heavenly dance.

There is no reason to cry and no reason to mourn, for I was so blessed since the day I was born.

My Mommy and Daddy are forever blessed for their commitment to life and our Savior- passed the test.

My life is recorded in history today!  Eva Kathryn is my name and I came to say: My life gave my Mommy and my Daddy and family a chance to profess their faith and think about the eternal dance.

Heaven is a place that you could not describe until you knew me and could see where I was going.  So don’t cry for me today, because now you know what I am knowing.  That our faith and our love of our God helps our minds to see the showing.  The angels and the cherubim are dancing and singing and I am dancing and singing too, and my dress is glowing.

I love you Mommy and Daddy.  You are so awesome and your faith is so strong.  But don’t cry for me- for I will see you again soon, I promise you it won’t be very long!

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Arya’s Story

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May is Anencephaly Awareness month. At Sufficient Grace Ministries, we wanted to share a couple stories of perinatal hospice families who have given birth to precious babies with this life-limiting condition. Comfort Doula, Kelly Gerken and Remembrance Photographer, Brittany Yankowski had the honor of walking with Brittany Lacourse and her family through their time waiting to meet her sweet daughter, Arya. They were able to help with birth planning, attending meetings with Brittany, providing support and encouragement along the journey, creating lasting and tangible memories of her time with Arya, and capturing some of the images of their time together. SGM continues to support and encourage Brittany and her family as they navigate life with their baby girl in heaven. We are inspired by Brittany’s courage to choose a lifetime filled with love for her baby girl, and by the amazing family and friends who walked alongside her on this beautifully broken path.

 

From the heart of Brittany (Arya’s Mommy):

On November 12,2017 my baby girl , Arya, was born silently into the world. She was absolutely perfect. Arya suffered from a fatal defect called anencephaly. When her condition was confirmed at 13 weeks, we were told termination was our best option. In the words of the doctor we saw, Arya would be gruesome to look at and she was incompatible with life. At that time I was working for a life affirming organization and had never thought in a million years I would be told to terminate my child, but here I was in that place. In that appointment it was drilled into my head all of the reasons I should end my pregnancy and not give her the chance to live.

I stood my ground and said no! My choice is life. I won’t lie. At that point I started to feel alone in my decision and wondered if I was doing the right thing because of all the pressure I had to abort. Thankfully I had my amazing coworkers, family, and an amazing ministry, Sufficient Grace, who stood behind me and helped to celebrate my girl.

When I first told my son about his sister’s condition, he was so upset. But, eventually he understood and had peace in knowing she would be with the Lord. Throughout my pregnancy, Arya continued to fight and was so strong. I would lay in bed and tell her how much she was loved and wanted. I would pray over her and just ask God to please allow me more time with my little one. Then at 27 weeks I stopped feeling her move.

I went to the hospital just to make sure she was okay but they told me she no longer had a heartbeat. I was devastated but thankful God had given me that long to bond with her. Her delivery was so peaceful and I got to spend three days in the hospital with her thanks to the Cuddle Cot that was borrowed from Sufficient Grace Ministries. Thanks to them I was able to make memories with my daughter as well as be a mama to her in the ways I knew how even though she had gone to be with God. Had I not had the support that I did through her journey I don’t know that I would be in the same place I am today. They helped get me to a peaceful and hopeful state despite my hurt and heartache. I don’t regret my decision for life. To show my daughter unconditional love and to show my son that all life is important no matter the diagnosis. I hope Arya’s story can help someone else facing this heartbreaking time to know they aren’t alone and that choosing life leaves no regret.

 

Creating precious memories with your baby, pouring a lifetime of love into moments, can be a healing process both in the moments and for years to come. Every baby is worthy of celebration. Brittany and her friends and family made the most of the time they were given, filling the time with prayer, capturing prints and images, and so much love.

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For support and/or resources if you are carrying a baby with a life-limiting condition, please visit the SGM Perinatal Hospice Link.

For more information about anencephaly, please visit: Anencephaly Info.  

The Season of Womanhood No One Talks About

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This season of womanhood has taken me by surprise. It isn’t just the slowing metabolism that leaves behind some less than welcome curves and cushion, or the merciless effects of gravity on my once svelt-ish middle-aged physique. Nor the hot flashes, the insomnia, or the myriad of uncontrollable emotions that were much more easily tolerated when I was a beautiful, blushing teenager. One of the harshest cruelties of this season of womanhood is that not only is your physical beauty diminishing, but you become unpleasant and difficult to live with in general, completely devoid of rational coping skills. It isn’t merely the increasing demands of a growing ministry…one that requires great physical, mental, and emotional sacrifice or the fact that society is constantly touting the reality that you are not only replaceable, but by someone younger, thinner, and more talented and capable than you.

Women who have mothered children face a loss of identity as they feel displaced. Suddenly, the people they have poured their hearts and energy into have moved into a different phase of life, one that requires much less of their input, finding their offerings of wisdom rather unwelcome. No longer needed by her children in the same ways, her role is diminished. At the same time, young adult children are exercising their independence, reflecting on what was broken in their childhood, determining what they will keep and what they hope to redeem as they ponder parenting the next generation. We all go through it…the recognition of what our parents messed up and the promise to ourselves that we will do better. We all long for the redemption, and we all try our best. And…guess what…we all make our own mess of it along the way. But, we try and we pray and we hope that we do a little better than the generation before us.

I hate to say it…partly because good Christian girls aren’t supposed to express doubt or despair. And, partly because no one seems to want to know about the thoughts and feelings of a cast aside middle-aged woman. But, much about this season of life makes it all seem so…futile. We put so much effort into building our families. And, very little turns out the way we plan.

Pray over your children. Pray for their hearts to love Jesus. Pray for their future spouses. Pray for every hurt, every need, every rejection and broken heart. Pray for the skinned knees. Pray for their future careers. Pray about the college they will attend. Pray for them to be encouragers…and to be encouraged. Pray that they will be strong women and men of God.

Love your husbands. Cook the meals. Do the dishes. Be the helpmate. Love him while standing at a social gathering and love him in the bedroom. Love him through the ugly. Die to yourself and love some more. Love through the hurts. Through the disappointment. Laugh when you can in between it all. Through job changes, late bills, college loans, burying babies and parents, in sickness and in health…in ungratefulness and selfishness…in victory and joy and failure and success. Choose love. Pray for him.

We spend our lives aspiring to be the ever-elusive Proverbs 31 woman. A virtuous and capable wife…one who is valued by her husband, far more than rubies. His heart safely trusts her. She brings him good and not harm…all the days of his life. She gets up early…cooking, caring for her home, making a profitable business, speaking wisdom and kindness into those around her. She works into the night. She does everything right. She obeys…and because she is faithful…her reward is that she is well-provided for, dearly loved,  “her children will rise up and call her blessed and her husband will praise her.”

So, in this season of life, that’s what I expected. I expected to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I expected to have everything well-settled and flawlessly wonderful. After all, I followed Him. Of course…I didn’t do it perfectly. But, there’s grace right? Enough to cover my mistakes. I mean…He knows my heart. My children will always make the right choices, fiercely love Jesus, always adore their amazing mother. My husband will think I’m a rock star, will always see my youthful beauty, will treasure and cherish me…because we will totally have marriage figured out twenty-four years in. I mean, I did my time. I paid my dues. I prayed and waited. Twelve years in, he accepted the Lord and now we will forever enjoy ministering to others together in a happy co-existence, always on the same page, filling one another’s needs…skipping along, singing Kum-ba-yah. Because we did the suffering thing. Everything else is cake.

But, what if you try your incredibly flawed best to do those things, making plenty of messes along the way, and all of it feels broken and hard? No one is rising up to praise you or call you blessed. Instead, they are pointing out your glaring failures. I’ve been wrestling some with the brokenness of life. The loss of expectations. (You know what I think about the folly of expectations. No good ever comes from them.) What if it is all messy and unfinished and the secure place you once held as the center of your family’s hearts leaves you feeling overlooked and lost? What if none of it has turned out the way you hoped it would? What does that mean about all of your efforts, your vain attempts at obedience, your tearful mama prayers?

In the midst of the agonizing wondering, I felt God whisper my questions back to me with a twist…

What if your children didn’t rise up to call you blessed?

What if your husband never praised you…only saw the negative in you?

What if you saw none of the fruit of your labor?

Would it still be worth it to obey Me? Even if…

(Please note, I am not saying all of the above scenarios are true in my life. But sometimes God speaks in extremes to mirror our own wallowing.)

The story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac flashed before me, as I wondered why God would redeem my family if He didn’t intend to redeem the generations of broken. Why pray if it doesn’t matter? Why give me all of these promises to watch them all slip away? You promised to redeem our broken…give beauty for ashes…to restore to us the years the locusts have eaten. I trusted You. I don’t understand. Why is it still so hard?

Would you still trust Me…even if?

Would you still obey…even if? 

Would you still lift your voice in worship…even if no one hears but Me? 

Would you still minister to the broken?

Would you still pray for your children and your husband?

Would you still obey….even if you never see the answer this side of heaven?

Yes, Lord. I would. Yes, I will. 

Life has dry spells, in marriage, in parenting, in life. Seasons that feel parched and empty and messy and hard. Wilderness-wandering. Valley-wallowing seasons. Do I believe I will stay in this one? No. I still believe He heard every prayer. Keeps every tear. We will still choose to follow Him. And, He still sees. We are not forgotten, nor forsaken. We are His dearly loved children. In the eyes of my Father, I am always youthfully beautiful, never annoying or overly emotional, over-bearing or too much. Always dearly loved…filled. In Him I am secure. In Him, my family is secure. Even in the messes. Even in the broken hard stuff.

Even if…

He is faithful.

 

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
I feel like I’m king of the mountain!

Habakkuk 3:17-19

 

 

I Danced

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Last Saturday morning, I walked with a family as they said goodbye to their baby. My heart ached for them as we created some tangible memories. I carried them with me…pieces of their pain, forever woven into the fabric of my heart. Every time I wash a tiny baby foot, the humbling privilege of washing feet, as mentioned in scripture, washes over me. How our Jesus values every single life.

As I left in the van, the tears I carefully held back dripped down my face. I watched them holding hands, entering a world without their baby. I felt the ripping raw pain as I drove. Their pain. My pain. The pain of thousands of other parents who once walked out that door into a completely different world.

Life was waiting for me at home.

My son’s band was playing at the Corn City Festival, and our house would be filled with guests. Soon the combination of music and being surrounded by people I love, lifted my heart a bit. I thought of Angie Smith’s famous words, “Life is a sacred dance of grief and joy.” Yes. Yes it is. There’s so much grief carried in this tattered heart of mine.

But…there is also joy. And, sometimes, these tired feet just have to dance.

I danced most of the night, thanks to friends and my darling kitchen boys. I danced with every one of them. At first, I felt a little self-conscious. I’ve never been heavier or older than I am right now. Curvy girls jiggle when they dance. For just a wee moment, I was uncomfortable, silently focusing on my flaws. And, then this fabulous freedom swept over me, as one of the kitchen boys twirled me around in the middle of the street, in front of the stage, at our tiny railroad town festival. This life is short, and I may never have the chance to dance in the middle of the street with my beloved, beautiful kitchen boys and half the town…and eventually in the arms of my husband…again. (Even he can’t resist that kind of contagious joy.) We don’t know what tomorrow holds. So, I danced, with complete abandon. For hours.

And, once I stopped worrying about the things that just don’t matter this side of heaven, I began to feel beautiful. And, loved.

I felt loved by my friends, my kitchen boys, my Tim…and most of all… loved by God.

I felt Him whisper as I laughed and spun…

You are cherished. You are beautiful. You are dearly loved. You are Mine. And, I see you, dear daughter of my heart.

Oh, how grateful I am that I did not allow a few extra pounds and some grey hair to keep me from dancing freely. The kind of dancing that heals the soul-ache of a weary heart. Dear women everywhere, there is nothing more beautiful than a confident, joy-filled, free woman. No matter how she is packaged.

You are cherished. You are beautiful. You are dearly loved. You are His. He sees you, dear daughter of his heart.

So, dance. Dance freely, covered in His grace and love for you. And, remember…radiant joy covers a multitude of jiggles (and other flaws).

 

Photo credit

Embracing the Gift of Time: Micah’s Story

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Over the last couple months we’ve had the honor of walking with the Wilhelm family as they waited to meet their son, Micah. I will let Micah’s mother, Jenna, share the details of their story below. But I wanted to share a bit from my own heart about our time with this beautiful family.

Besides the beauty of this couple, inside and out, I was struck by the love and support they exemplify with one another and their family. The faith and love they share is so evident in the way they’ve walked this journey. We had the pleasure of several conversations over the last couple months as Jenna and Nate planned the birth of Micah and the time they would spend with him.

 

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During Micah’s delivery shortly after we arrived at the hospital,  I waited with his grandparents as SGM Remembrance Photographer, Brittany, took pictures of his welcoming and baptism. Jenna had handed me a bag of items that their family and friends had gifted them as they waited to meet Micah. She wanted pictures taken with Micah and each of the items. As we talked and waited in the hallway, I took out some of the contents and asked about the story behind them. The first thing was a teddy bear, given by Jenna’s father. He said it was a tradition in his family that the grandfather give a teddy bear to his grandchild, a tradition he wanted to continue. It touched my heart, the meaning behind the bear that would be given to sweet Micah…and the meaning behind the other gifts as well. There was book from grandma, a cross from the other grandma, and several other special mementos from aunts and others. There was also a tiny Indian toy that had been one of Daddy Nate’s favorites as a young boy according to his mother. The toy came with the movie, Indian in the Cupboard, that Nate used to watch as a child. The tiny Indian would be placed with Micah in one of his pictures.

The bag represented the dreams they had for Micah, and it was an opportunity to celebrate him in the ways that a first child and grandchild should be celebrated. It was an honor to meet Micah, to help his family celebrate his life, to stand with them on the sacred ground where heaven meets earth…and to capture a lifetime of love and memories that will be forever cherished by those who loved him. The Wilhelm family is such a wonderful example of embracing the gift of time they were given with their child. I’m so grateful for the love shared within his beautiful family.  ~ Kelly, SGM Support Companion/Doula

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The following was posted from Jenna a week after Micah’s birth.

Jenna:
“This is an update regarding our family and what we have been experiencing the past few months. A week ago today, we welcomed a beautiful baby boy named Micah Andrew. He was born via c section at 37 and half weeks old. It is with sadness today that we buried him. Although we only had a short time with him (as he only lived a couple of hours), we loved and embraced every minute of it. He was a miracle child in every sense of the phrase.

At 13 weeks we were told at a specialist appointment (which we had gone for something else, a treatable issue) that his chest cavity did not develop and that his organs were forming outside of his body. We received support from the doctors and were told this was random and was not caused by anything we did. We were told that it was very rare (~1-20-30,000). We were also told to terminate the pregnancy as it would not result in anything but pain, heartache, and ultimately his death (not to mention a probable c section delivery). We were told there was pretty much no chance he’d make it full term due to the severity of this fatal diagnosis.
When we chose to continue with the pregnancy, we were given love and support by our families and the doctors, which we will forever be grateful. Despite all odds against him, Micah kept growing.

To say this was/is the most difficult thing Nate and I have been through is an understatement, but we also say with complete confidence that we were able to experience moments of pure joy. God’s hand was in this the entire time, allowing us to feel Micah kick/move often, develop a personality/respond to our voices, and allowing us to love and celebrate this baby as he should be. Carrying a child, was incredible, and unfortunately it is a blessing some families do not get to experience. For that we are grateful. Micah made it to full term, was delivered safely, and baptized. We were able to spend time holding him and loving him. Grandparents were able to meet him as well. Through God’s mercy, Micah was at such peace, we were unable to tell exactly when he passed.

This post was meant to accomplish many things. First and foremost, Nate and I ask out of respect that this does not turn into a pro-life vs pro-choice argument board out of respect for our son and family as this is not the intent of this post. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone (friends, families, churches) for the continued love, prayers, support, gifts/cards etc…It truly has shown what wonderful people we have in our lives. We’d like to thank the doctors for their wisdom, skills, and support/love with this pregnancy. We could not have asked for a better medical team and experience given the circumstances of this pregnancy. We would like to thank Kelly Gerken and Sufficient Grace Ministries for their support. This is truly a wonderful and selfless organization. Nate and I encourage anyone given a difficult circumstance with pregnancy to contact Kelly. They provided many items we are able to keep in memory of Micah, supported us at the hospital, took pictures of our beautiful baby, and countless other things. If you are looking for a great cause to donate to, again please consider this organization, as unfortunately Nate and I have found that many families have dealt with similar situations (many more than we initially realized).

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And last but definitely not least, we thank God and our Savior Jesus Christ for his mercy through these past few months, allowing our boy to beat odds so we couldDSC_1364 meet him, and giving Nate and I strength when we did not have it. Micah means “Who is like God?” and our answer to this is absolutely no one. He is all powerful, merciful, all-knowing, faithful…he is EVERYTHING. We were blessed to see all aspects of life… from the beginning to the end, and it is because of Jesus we are confident we will see and hold him again.

Please feel free to like/share this post, as encouragement for those who have been or will be given difficult situations with their pregnancies. Let this serve as encouragement if you are able to/choose to continue with those pregnancies…that although it will be difficult, there are opportunities for joy and happiness to come from it.
Thank you again- love Jenna and Nate”

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For more information about the perinatal hospice services offered by Sufficient Grace Ministries, please click here.

Under that link, you will also find information about birth planning, memorial planning, and other resources if you are carrying a baby with a life-limiting diagnosis. You can also request Dreams of You memory-making resources here.

*Thank you to Brittany Yankowski (SGM Remembrance Photographer) for taking these beautiful images of the Wilhelm Family.

SGM Christmas Extravaganza 2016 Winners

Thank you to everyone who participated in the SGM Christmas Extravaganza 2016! Congratulations to the winners. Please email us your shipping address with the item(s) you won in the subject heading and or the text of the post to: sgm.shipping@gmail.com.

Day One: Ornaments
Ornament #1 goes to Talia Hammer
Ornament #2 goes to Anna White
Ornament #3 goes to Jenn @ Treasuring Life’s Blessings
Ornament #4 goes to Allison Leusink

Day Two: Angel
Dawn Shugert

Day Three: Angels and Dreams of You
Angel with Lamb goes to Stephanie Tanner
Angel with Until We Meet Again saying goes to Jennifer Rocketfield

Day Four: Words and Pictures
Wooden frame with encouraging words for grieving hearts goes to Amanda Mangas
Picture frame goes to Jill Sakowski

Day Five: Books
Seamless Bible Study goes to Leslie Sams
Empty Arms goes to Renee Suydam
One Thousand Gifts Study goes to Tienne Wilkin
Celebrating Pregnancy Again goes to Amanda Wu
Anchored Study goes to Becky Pyle
Not Pregnant goes to Jennifer Sommer
Sufficient Grace goes to Randi Schlenkner

Sending love and grace to all of you this Christmas season and a peaceful New Year. Thank you again for joining in our Christmas celebration. Remembering with each of you.

SGM Christmas Giveaway Day Five: Books!

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Not Pregnant

This year, we have been delving into some bible studies that can be life-changing. God’s Word is so powerful and life-breathing…and…alive. A great time to start a study is at the beginning of the year. So, Christmas is the perfect time to offer some of our favorites.

We’ve included Seamless by Angie Smith (a study that ties the bible together as one story)
Anchored (a study offering hope for those walking through the loss of a child)
One Thousand Gifts Study (A companion to THEE Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts opening our hearts to gratefulness by counting the daily simple gifts we’re given)

As well as some beautiful books for those who have endured loss or other challenges to their faith…

Empty Arms by Sherokee Ilse

Celebrating Pregnancy Again by Franchesca Cox (one of our favorite resources for those expecting a pregnancy after a loss)

Sufficient Grace by Kelly Gerken (the story of faith and beauty from ashes as the Gerken family faces the loss of three of their five children…also a great resource as the second half includes topical grief-related information and the birth of Sufficient Grace Ministries)

Not Pregnant by Cathie Quillet (a NEW book for those facing infertility or secondary infertility)

To enter, leave a comment telling us which book or books you’d like to read. You can enter to win more than one. :)

We will be announcing all of our winners to this week’s giveaways late tonight or early Saturday morning. So, make sure you keep an eye on our Facebook page for that post. Love and grace to all!

SGM Christmas Extravaganza Day Four: Words and Pictures

Today’s giveaways are…

1…. a Wooden frame with various slides you can display, offering words of comfort for grieving hearts.

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2. A memorial picture frame
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To enter, please leave a comment telling what you hope to win and some words that have been an encouragement or comfort to you in your grief. ♡

SGM Christmas Giveaway Extravaganza Day 3: Dreams of You and Angels, Too

Each year, Sufficient Grace Ministries sends hundreds of Dreams of You memory packages to grieving parents worldwide. We never charge parents for our products or services, but do ask for shipping donations. However for the rest of this week, we will be offering our FREE Dreams of You packages with FREE Shipping thanks to the BGSU Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity who recently held their annual Build-a-Bear for Moms fundraising/bear stuffing event! Comment on the link on Facebook to let those amazing gentlemen know how you feel about their efforts. We are so grateful they have the courage and compassion to help spread awareness, stuff our Comfort Bears, and support SGM as we support grieving parents. (We will be writing a post soon to share more about their amazingness!) We will accept up to 50 orders. So EVERYONE (up to 50 families) who would like a Dreams of You package can request one here. Please allow 3-12 weeks for delivery as we finish making the Comfort Bears.

Dreams of You items Carmine2

Also…Yesterday, I forgot to add 2 angels in our heaven post…so they are options for today’s giveaway! :)

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2. 20161207_113347 (1)

Leave a comment to enter. Share on Facebook and Twitter for additional entries. Please leave an additional comment for each entry or share.