“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.