Nola Grace

(This Story was written in October 2013)

Well… where to start, hmmm…

About 4 months ago I learned I was pregnant with my 3rd child… the excitement for my precious baby and the anticipation to know who she is has been brewing for months now.

As I share this story, I want you to remember who Jesus Christ is in my life, how his grace and power has been shown. The compassion, love and strength he gives is indescribable, and my understanding for God’s heart has grown leaps and bounds in a matter of 48 hours, and continues to grow as time goes on. We see how he uses the body of Christ to hold us, love us, and encourage us.


For several weeks now I have been planning a gender reveal party where we have people over, and I have a friend read the secret envelope with the gender information, she then makes the cake and at the party when we cut through the cake in front of everyone, we find out if it’s a girl or boy depending on whether the icing on the inside is blue or pink.

I had made an appointment for Tuesday the 22nd to get my 20 week ultra sound as well as finding out the sex of our baby, then we would have the party that night, an appetizer party… we were excited!

It ended up that ultra the sound tech was not going to be able to do it Tuesday so we decided to go Monday instead she had a 5:30 appointment we could come to.

So… to back up a week, when I hit 19 weeks I noticed that I wasn’t feeling a lot of movement from the baby, and I knew that with Ava and Penny, by now they were kicking up a storm. And so to say the least, I was worried… I started laying down a lot trying to feel a kick or something, and after a few days of intentionally looking and feeling nothing I began to feel worried. TJ tried to comfort me and tell me it was otherwise, but as the days went by he stopped reassuring me.  As I was laying awake one night I told God if this is what I think it is please give me strength for what’s ahead.

So back to the story. Sunday the 20th our good friends J.Jay and Jaleigh Carr came to visit us, and we were so excited to have them here, we had a hard time making the decision to leave them and go do the ultra sound, but thought it would be the best thing. The whole ride there I felt nervous and wanted to be reassured that my baby was fine.

This ultra sound tech that I found is a strong Christian, Tammy Cowan her mission is saving babies and providing a ministry to women, that’s what she is passionate about. She gives free ultra sounds to those considering abortions and I loved that! When we got there we walked into the room, and I laid down on the table, as I laid there I was shaking because I was so nervous Tammy allowed a girl in training to begin doing the ultra sound and right away Tammy asked if she could look, and before she said a word… I knew… my heart sunk… It was what I thought it was. Finally a couple minutes later I asked her what she was looking at, she said “well… I’m looking at your baby” and from what I could see that baby wasn’t moving. She had a hard time letting the words come out of her mouth. She said “I’m not seeing a heart beat, and from what I can tell there is not movement”. She started crying. I couldn’t cry yet, I knew if I did I would completely loose it, so I just laid there and watched the screen while she tried to find out the sex of the baby. Eventually she could tell that it was most likely a girl. She left the room to give us a couple minutes, as she walked out she turned on the florescent lights which I wished were still off. I sat up, covered my face and began sobbing… feelings and emotions began rushing in. I was right… my baby was dead… but why?! I knew God didn’t desire this, but he did allow it and right away, I wondered what he was trying to teach us, who would we be when this was over? Ava kept asking questions about why I was crying and why were we sad? We explained to her the best we could, but it was hard for her to understand although she knew there was something wrong.

The ride home was a little surreal, I texted everyone I knew was coming to our reveal party and let them know there would be no party. We were overwhelmed, but tried to let close friends and family know . I also called my midwife Jennie Joseph and she gave us some different advice that was helpful. The first stop we made before going home was to my mentor friend’s house Gayle and her husband Britt… I wanted to tell her in person and ask her to come to the hospital with me. When we got home J. Jay and Jaleigh had kept to our 2 week simple living rules of no lights past 8:00 pm. So when we came inside, the house was clean and all the candles were lit. The chipotle pepper pork butt I had been roasting all day, was shredded and ready for eating. I was so thankful that J.Jay and Jaleigh were there… God knew that we would need them, I know that for sure. We spent the night making tortillas and talking about “other” things. I wasn’t hungry at all, nor did I feel like eating ever again. But I had planned on this meal for weeks now, we cut up lettuce, I had made salsa, we had sour cream. We sat down to a candle light dinner and I ate half a taco.

We all went to bed around 10:30. That night we decided on a name, Nola Grace. Nola, because I liked it, Grace because of the grace God was pouring out on us and for the grace we knew was awaiting us. I didn’t sleep much as now I knew I was carrying a lifeless baby girl. The next day we made the decision to go to the hospital, we decided to go to a hospital an hour away because it had a better reputation than the closer hospital.

Tuesday morning TJ was playing with the girls in our room. He put Ava and Penny up on the ledge by our room window and he said “Jump to me!” and they did one at a time, jumped into his arms trusting him fully as he caught them. At the same time I could hear God saying to me “Lily, I want you to do that today, I want you to step out in faith and jump to me”. While taking a shower and crying to myself the Lord brought Psalm 23 to my mind, and I recited it out loud as I sobbed, I remembered every word:

 “1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake .4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. “

We left the house saying goodbye to our girls, trusting that they were going to be well taken care of. Before going into the hospital my good friend Gayle who came with us prayed for us. As we were walking in I felt nervous about how they would treat me, what they would think of me and some of the personal decisions I had made. This is part of the grace of God that we experienced, every person that cared for us was compassionate and caring. We went through the emergency room, but they sent me directly to OB and delivery. Once we got in and were admitted, it took a little while for them to induce me because they were busy… but God’s time was good, processing everything was good. Going to the hospital was okay for me. I knew so many people were praying for me, and they must have been praying for strength because I had it. I wasn’t too emotional, I was ready to do the next thing. I knew it was going to be hard, I knew I would have to go through labor, but God would sustain me. I love Nola more than words can say and if I could go through this labor to deliver her alive, because I loved her so much and wanted to honor her I could do this with her dead too. This was a necessary process, and I was ready for it.

We arrived at the hospital at noon Tuesday, and at 3:40 pm they began to induce me. I was feeling crampy for the first 4 hours, and they gave me more of the pills about 8:00 to continue inducing labor. We watched several hours of cooking shows… which was interesting because I couldn’t eat solid food the whole time in case they had to do a D&C (you can look it up). My contractions only got stronger, I was grateful that it was like a normal labor, the contractions were not too unbearable. About 10:20 they were about 10 seconds to 1 minute apart and I wasn’t sure if that meant I was close or not based on the this inducing technique, so I told my nurse and she checked me and my cervix which was still closed. It was sort of painful, it threw me into my first emotional moment in many hours. It was getting painful and I was worried it would become like Ava’s labor which was 3 days long and I wouldn’t be getting the same result. I sat back and cried as TJ and Gayle held each one of my hands. TJ laid in the bed with me and began helping me with my difficult contractions, they started to become overwhelming and painful. Because I wasn’t concerned with a live baby I was okay with taking medications if it was too painful, so as it got really painful we called the nurse in and we started asking her about the side effects of each one, and even an epidural, she was waiting for my contraction to finish so that she could keep talking and it wasn’t ending, finally I had to sit up because it hurt to sit on my butt, and I had to pee even though I had just peed, but as I stood up I realized I was ready to push her out, so I’ll spare you all those details, but my body was able to deliver everything at once which means they didn’t have to do the D&C to get everything else out… I was so thankful to God, I even said out loud “Thank you God!” Nola Grace was born at 11:09.

After a bit, we asked to see her, so they brought her to me. I held her for a couple minutes, she was about as long as my hand, then TJ held her and I felt like that’s all I could take. I began to cry… I began to sob, this was my baby… she wasn’t supposed to come out yet, she isn’t supposed to be out of the womb this small. I wanted to hold her when she was big, when she had her normal skin color, I wanted to hear her cry… I felt caught off guard by all the emotions. Next the doctor came in and let me know that the cord had been wrapped around her neck twice and was in a tight knot and that was most likely the reason she died, but they couldn’t say for sure. I felt instantly angry because it seemed like such a stupid reason for my baby to die… she was otherwise perfect! And I was instantly reminded that God has a reason for everything, He didn’t want this to happen, but he allowed it and is using it in our lives to be of better service to him.

I just want to say, we got what seemed like a thousands texts from all sorts of people, family, friends, people we didn’t know that were praying for us and had been praying for us ALL day! How incredible is the body of Christ and the love we can experience through “the church” around the country. Thank you to those of you who prayed for us and are praying for us, it was so evident and still is how God is using you!

To continue the story, I didn’t sleep well that night, and in the morning TJ crawled into my hospital bed with me and held me while I sobbed. I felt empty, like something was torn from me too soon! As we experienced all this emotion and emptiness I realized none of this would be a problem if it weren’t for love. If we didn’t love Nola, we wouldn’t be going through this, and then we realized that God IS love and if it weren’t for God we wouldn’t love. God is the one who gives us the ability to even love the way he loves. Gayle came back to the hospital to pick us up. We were discharged and handed our baby in her little casket. It felt odd to walk out of the hospital with my little girl in a box.

We stopped and got some coffee on the way home. We also stopped at Dierbergs to get flowers for Nola and for her burial. We went to the flower section and were looking around (with me sitting in my electric cart), a employee manager looking man walked past us quickly and said “you guys having a wonderful afternoon?” We weren’t sure what to say, we almost told him what we were doing there, but instead both just sort of stared at him as he walked past seeming to feel a little awkward… poor guy would have felt bad the whole day, but I guarantee he would never ask that question the same way again :).

We arrived home to our children well taken care of, it was so healing to see them and hug them knowing God has blessed me with them. We put the girls down for a nap, and when they woke up we got them ready. I did my hair and put on some make up, I told the girls we wanted to look pretty for Nola. Ava drew pictures for Nola, and she kept calling her “Granola” which made us laugh :). We had good friends that made Nola a cedar box, and had dug her a grave in the perfect spot by the woods here on campus. We invited 4 people to go bury Nola with us, we didn’t want there to be many people, but we also didn’t want to be alone. Jason and Jonie Mellinger came, as well as Matt Zawada and Gayle Hemphill. When we got there, we kneeled down by Nola’s box with the girls, and we showed baby Nola to Ava, so that she might be able to grasp a little more what was really going on, we wanted this to be real to her and be as honest with her as we could be. We put Nola in her box and surrounded her with pink Calla lilies, and a big lily, Ava put the cards she drew for Nola in the box as well as a letter that I wrote to her.

My friend Gayle said a few words about Nola and about what we’re going through. The main thing she said that stood out to me was the fact that God created us FOR him, we were meant for relationship, we were meant to glorify God. But Nola Grace, she was meant just for God all along, He made her specifically for himself, she went right to him. How true that is. After she said a few more things, she played an Andrew Peterson song called “More” that we had listened to that night before. The box was sealed, we put her in the ground and TJ and Jason filled the hole, when they were done each one of our immediate family members put a rose on Nola’s grave. This was extremely hard. We were saying goodbye. We were burying our daughter, and that was the reality. God provided grace, he provided strength, and I can now say I know God more now that I have ever known him before. He has given us more compassion, and more love than we’ve ever had. He has shown us a piece of his heart and allowed us to know him better and I can’t be more grateful to him for that.

We are saddened by the loss of our little Nola Grace, and will continue to take one day at a time. We look forward to meeting our baby girl in Heaven.


Being admitted... I was so thankful to have Gayle there as well!
Being admitted… I was so thankful to have Gayle there as well!
Ava drawing "Granola" some pictures
Ava drawing “Granola” some pictures


Ava's letter to Nola
Ava’s letter to Nola



Hard day.
Hard day.




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