Elizabeth Joy Koch

And through faith, Elizabeth still speaks…

“We are obviously brokenhearted and unsure of all that lies ahead. We know the next weeks and months will be difficult, but we truly believe there is good that comes through suffering. We trust the Lord will teach us a great deal through this loss.”

We shared these words with our families, friends, and co-workers on the day we learned our baby girl had Trisomy 18. Our doctor said that if our baby made it to term, she was unlikely to live long. In the days that followed, our people showered us with love and support. Several of our friends referred us to the organization Abel Speaks knowing that it could be a beneficial resource for us. As it turned out, Daniel and Kelly Crawford, the founders of Abel Speaks, were also members of our church and lived in our area. After exchanging texts and emails, we met with them.

It was so helpful for Blake and I to connect with a couple who had walked a similar path and could speak into our lives with strength and biblical wisdom. They encouraged us to hold loosely whatever “plan” we chose for delivery and subsequent care, remembering it would be impossible to predict the outcome of that day. They also shared the value of celebrating the life of the child the Lord had entrusted to us and how to joyfully and purposefully make memories with our daughter while she was with us.

As we initially worked to process that the majority (and maybe even entirety) of our child’s life would be spent in the womb, Blake and I struggled with how to embrace the pregnancy knowing so much of our daughter’s life would be marked by grief. But learning about the joy that so many others have experienced because of Abel’s life inspired us. We committed to cherishing our baby’s life throughout whatever time we had remaining. We named our baby girl Elizabeth Joy and fought to find joy in the midst of our pain.

Just shy of 34-weeks EJ’s movement decreased, so we went to the hospital where we learned her heart was no longer beating. We were devastated to learn we wouldn’t have the chance to meet Elizabeth while she was alive. We decided to go home so we could inform our family and friends and make preparations before inducing labor. We called Abel Speaks to ask for advice on what we were about to experience. They were extremely encouraging and offered suggestions to help us cherish the time we would have with our daughter.

Elizabeth Joy Koch made her grand entrance into the world at 5:33am on Monday, December 31. The day we spent with EJ was truly beautiful and the Lord’s presence and kindness was evident throughout. Abel Speaks coordinated a photographer who graciously arrived at an early hour to capture pictures of our first moments with EJ. Blake asked the photographer about her connection to Abel Speaks and she shared that she had also experienced infant loss. It was a powerful connection with someone we’d never met before, and we were honored for her to share in Elizabeth’s day. We’re so thankful for the beautiful photos we have from our special day with EJ.

I couldn’t have guessed how much the physical gifts from Abel Speaks would mean to us during pregnancy, delivery, and after. We read the Christmas story from EJ’s bible on Christmas day, the week before her birthday, and plan to do the same every year. The blanket monogrammed with Elizabeth’s name and my “E” necklace are in our pictures from the hospital. We keep some of our most treasured physical reminders of EJ in our beautiful engraved box. The ways Abel Speaks supported and continues to support us seem endless.

As it turns out, Elizabeth Joy’s fit her perfectly. There were so many beautiful and joyful moments throughout the pregnancy, EJ’s birthday, and following her death that we will cherish forever. If we could choose, we would choose to still have Elizabeth with us physically. But we can so clearly see the ways the Lord used her life and story to refine us, to deepen our faith, strengthen our marriage, and inspire joy and hope in the lives of so many.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character; and character produces hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)

Blake & Lindsay Koch, in memory of Elizabeth Joy Koch

*To see the personal blog that Blake & Lindsey kept throughout their season with Elizabeth, click here.