Main Summary: Our Hope for Isabelle, Co-authored by a Elizabeth & Taylor Bloomquist. Is an inspiring book about their journey of starting a family, dealing with a life-limiting genetic diagnosis during pregnancy, and finding solace in their Christian faith. The book shares their struggles and emotions, offering practical advice on supporting one’s spouse during grieving by relying on God.
Lessons You’ll Learn From This Post
1. Facing Your Fears
2. Courage Even In Pain
3. Living After a Loss
4. Dealing With The Emotions of a Loss
5. Moving Forward From Your Loss
6. Victory at Last
Facing Your Fears
The Christian couple who are also the main subjects of this book, got married after a brief period of courtship and have been inspired to share their journey with their daughter Isabelle when she was diagnosed with Trisomy 18.
Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards symptom, is a genetic disorder that affects multiple areas of the body. Research indicates that only 50% of babies with this condition who are carried to full term will survive childbirth. Among those who do survive, the median lifespan ranges from 2.5 to 14.5 days. Sadly, the majority of infants do not survive beyond their first year, with 90-95% passing away within the first 12 months of life, and many surviving only a few days
The couples at the start of their marriage, worked hard to maintain their friendship and traveled together extensively. As they went on, the author (wife) revealed her fear of childbirth, which she had to confront in to time when her husband expressed his desire to start a family.
The author recounts their journey of receiving a Trisomy 18 diagnosis during her pregnancy. Her husband who was away to work, received the news over the phone, which was so difficult for him to process. However, at this point advises others to give themselves space to feel and process emotions, to lean on their partner and seek support from loved ones, and to turn to God in prayer during such difficult times.
Despite his research on the diagnosis after finding out, as a couple they were unprepared for the medical staff to ask if they still wanted to know the gender of their child. They were relieved to learn they were having a daughter, but the focus of the medical staff turned to the termination almost immediately.
The authors at this point urge others to stand firm in the worth of their child and rely on Jesus during difficult times. Saying, “Termination was not an option. God gave her to us for a reason; how could we take her away?”
Courage Even In Pain
Despite the challenges caused by the diagnosis of their daughter, the author and her husband celebrated their time with Isabelle in the womb and sought guidance from healthcare professionals who could provide specialized care. They were fortunate to find Carrying To Term, an organization that provided support and resources to help them make informed decisions.
The author also highlights the importance of celebrating Isabelle’s life, and how her friends organized a baby shower to honor her. Eventually, Isabelle’s health declined, and the author had to be admitted to the hospital for monitoring.
Isabelle had to be delivered prematurely through cesarean section. The father describes the anxiety he felt when waiting for the doctors to operate on his wife, and he advises others to pray and seek God’s guidance in such difficult times. The mother tells the story of the birth of their daughter, who even though was born prematurely, breathed on her own.
Although the birth was a miracle, the baby had several health issues, including heart disease, and the parents had limited time to spend with her. Despite the challenges, the parents were grateful for the time they had with their daughter and celebrated her life.
The authors share their experiences of having their first child in the NICU and the difficulties they faced while trying to bond with their daughter. They also provide advice to other parents who may find themselves in a similar situation, encouraging them to push for time together with their baby as soon as medically possible and to advocate for their child’s needs.
They emphasized the importance of taking in every second with their child and cherishing the moments because they never know when it will be the last.
The authors both narrate the difficult decision they went through and that parents of premature babies have to make, including their decision to stop assisted breathing and say goodbye to their child. They advise parents to communicate openly with themselves and with God to survive the experience as a couple
Living After a Loss
Different individuals experience the effect of a loss in different ways. The author notes that while others may transition back to their normal lives after a loss, you may still be struggling with grief. However, the author encourages you not to hold onto bitterness, and to pray for loved ones who are also grieving.
The author suggests that if you or your family are struggling more than expected, counseling or therapy may be necessary. She also talks about how difficult it can be to experience joy after a loss, but it is possible to have joy and sorrow at the same time.
The author shares her own experience of wanting to live life to the fullest and taking a trip with her husband. They toured the mission trail and took a pottery class together. She also discusses how she found fulfillment through volunteering at a local pregnancy center.
Dealing With The Emotions of a Loss
Losing a loved one can trigger diverse kinds of thoughts and emotions The author shares her experience of losing her baby girl and feeling lost, confused, and alone after quitting her job during the period she was pregnant. However, she found comfort and support in studying scripture and her husband; who listened to her concerns and comforted her.
They were determined to love each other biblically and support each other’s grief biblically. The author warns against allowing oneself or one’s spouse to grieve without boundaries, as it can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
It is essential to help and support each other in a way that brings God glory and honors the baby. The author admonishes those facing similar challenges to pursue grief through love and honor the loved ones in memories and moments
The authors emphasize the importance of acknowledging that men grieve differently and suggest allowing husbands to have time and space where they feel safe to feel hard emotions. They encourage partners to engage in tangible activities together that honor the child’s memory, noting that such activities can support and encourage both partners while grieving.
The couples also stress the importance of seeking additional help from friends, family, or professional counselors when patterns of unhealthy grief persist. They share their personal experiences of finding comfort in friends and support groups and offer suggestions for activities that can be beneficial in moving forward.
The authors also touches on struggling with productivity and feelings of guilt. They note that work is good for the soul and is God-honoring, and they urge people to take each day one day at a time.
Moving Forward From Your Loss
Having time to grieve after a loss is healthy and scriptural, however, a time comes when you have to leave the past behind. The author decided to try for another baby after her loss. Despite her obstetrician’s advice to wait for 3-4 cycles, she initially felt it was too soon to even consider the idea.
However, as time passed, she became more open to the possibility, and after much contemplation, she felt at peace with trying again as long as her husband was on board. “As he is the leader of our family, I not only needed to trust God’s timing but Taylor’s timing as well,” she explains.
With her husband’s support, they decided to move forward and trust in God’s plan. The author acknowledges the fears and doubts that come with trying again after a loss, but ultimately puts her trust in God’s sovereignty. Through studying God’s Word, the author and her husband build trust in God’s faithfulness and compassion as they embark on this new journey.
The author talks about how pregnancy is a sanctifying battle that is fought spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. And how it is an act of submission to the Creator. She also shares how they learned to be confident in Christ while living with the fear of losing again.
The author describes their joy at discovering they were pregnant and their relief upon hearing the baby’s heartbeat during their first ultrasound. She then shares their fear and anxiety about genetic testing, but eventually, they found out that their baby was healthy and they were having a girl. Oh! how they cried over the possibility of having another daughter to love in honor of their previous loss.
However, the author also shares their experience of a threatened miscarriage and how they cried out to God to save the baby. In the end, the author experienced God’s peace during the emergency and learned to appreciate the preciousness of life.
She reflects on three passages of scripture that provide comfort and strength: Philippians 4:6-7, Matthew 6:25-34, and 2 Timothy 1:7. They note that you must trust in God and not be anxious, to focus on the goodness of your Creator, and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
The authors also advises those who are struggling with infertility to seek guidance from God, take time to heal and rebuild their relationships, and seek counseling if needed. They encourage such persons to focus on positive and uplifting thoughts and to be thankful for God’s strength, peace, and love.
Victory at Last
Dear friend, the authors of this book share with you a sentiment that you may have also felt—the wish to understand how it’s possible to live with sorrow and joy. But there is hope to find joy even while suffering.
The authors find joy in their faith in Jesus Christ, their family and friends, their ministry pursuits, and the legacy of their child. As they remarked, “Our joy is our faith and hope in our Savior Jesus Christ, our daughter Vivienne, our son Theodore, our families who live close by, our dear friends who share life with us, the Hope Box ministry, my fellow Hope Mommies and loss mothers/fathers we meet, our church community, our ministry pursuits serving others, and Isabelle’s legacy.”
They also remind us that we are not meant to grieve alone and that God is close to the broken-hearted. The authors encourage us to identify the joy and hope in our own lives and to trust in God’s love and faithfulness. As they write, “No one will ever or can ever steal your joy from you if your joy is solely rooted in Christ alone.”
Finally, here are some questions we’ll love you to answer.
Have you or someone you know faced a difficult diagnosis during pregnancy or in the early stages of parenting? How did you cope with the challenges and emotions that came with it?
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