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Episode 11 - Pressing into the Pain after Infant Loss with Lindsay Johnson


Join us for a conversation with Lindsay Johnson, founder of Aspyn Arrows, about pressing into the pain after infant loss. Lindsay shares the tragic story of finding her one-month-old daughter, Aspyn, unresponsive in her crib. Following her daughter's death, she struggled with suicidal thoughts. She leaned into her faith and God brought beauty from ashes. In this episode, Lindsay shares her story and more about Aspyn Arrows (the nonprofit organization she started to educate families on safe sleep practices and empower them to sleep with peace of mind by providing them with Owlet Baby Care monitors). In this episode, we discussed:

  • Praying hard prayers and trusting God's will

  • What to do with baby items in your home after you've lost an infant

  • How death still hurts even when you have the hope of Heaven

  • Seeing God work in the middle of grief and why it's a blessing

  • Books that Lindsay found helpful in her healing journey

  • How to redirect your thoughts when the pain is too heavy to carry

  • The difference between longing for Heaven and being suicidal

  • The benefits of being in community and staying physically active

  • Talking about your baby and special family traditions in their memory

  • Parenting living children after the loss of a baby

  • Why guilt is not from God and how to forgive yourself

  • Postpartum anxiety with subsequent pregnancies after loss

  • SIDs and other sleep-related deaths and about Owlet monitors

Each episode has a special Hope Guide that you can download by clicking the button below. It is packed with hope-filled resources and extra information from the episode!

Discussion / Application Questions (leave your answers below in the comments!)

  1. Lindsay talks about the prayer she prayed the night of Aspyn's death: "But even if You don't (save her), I still believe." It's hard to trust God's will. Is there a part of your story where it's still hard to surrender the "even if You don't" parts? What would your life look like (and your heart feel like) if you prayed this prayer and could trust God with your pain?

  2. In this episode, Lindsay says that even with the hope of Jesus, grief still hurts so bad. In what ways can you resonate with her words? Write a list of the ways that you experience HOPE and also the ways you experience the HURT. It's okay to feel both. We are human and it's necessary to grieve even when we have hope (Remember 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

  3. Lindsay says that she sees each day as one day closer to Aspyn, not one more day without her. This perspective has given her hope as she looks forward to Heaven. How would this perspective shift breathe new hope into your grief? Is this hard for you? In what ways can you turn places of sadness (like Lindsay mentioned - her daughter's grave) into places of rejoicing?

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Lindsay Johnson is the founder of Aspyn Arrows, a nonprofit dedicated to educating families on safe sleep practices and empowering them to sleep with peace of mind by providing them with Owlet Baby Care Monitors.

Lindsay is married to John and they have four children: Aspyn, Phoenix, Memphis, and Waverly. Aspyn passed away at one-month-old due to SIDS in 2015.

Connect with Lindsay:

Facebook /aspynarrows

Instagram @aspynarrows



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Ashley Opliger is the Executive Director of Bridget's Cradles, a nonprofit organization based in Wichita, Kansas that donates cradles to over 1,090 hospitals in all 50 states and comforts over 26,000 bereaved families a year.

Ashley is married to Matt and they have three children: Bridget (in Heaven), and two sons. She is a follower of Christ who desires to share the hope of Heaven with families grieving the loss of a baby.

Connect with Ashley:

Facebook /ashleyopliger

Instagram @ashleyopliger

Pinterest /ashleyopliger

Follow Bridget’s Cradles:

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Instagram @bridgetscradles

Pinterest /bridgetscradles

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Episode 11: Pressing into the Pain after Infant Loss with Lindsay Johnson

Ashley Opliger: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Cradled in Hope Podcast where we believe that the hope of Heaven, through faith in Jesus Christ, has the power to heal our hearts after the loss of a baby. It’s a pain no mother should have to endure and we want this podcast to be a safe place for your broken heart to land. Here, we are going to trust God’s promise to restore our joy, use our grief for good, and allow us to spend eternity with our babies in Heaven.

I’m your host, Ashley Opliger. I’m a wife, mom, and follower of Christ clinging to the hope of Heaven. My daughter, Bridget, was stillborn at 24 weeks in my first pregnancy in 2014. In her memory, my husband and I started a non-profit ministry called Bridget’s Cradles, and God has given us purpose in our pain and we’ve seen beauty come from ashes.

Although we wish you didn’t have a need to be listening to this podcast, we believe God has a reason for you to be here today. We pray this time would be a source of healing for you as we remember that Jesus cradles us in hope while He cradles our babies in Heaven. Though we may grieve, we do not grieve without hope. Welcome to the Cradled in Hope Podcast.

Ashley Opliger: [00:01:27] Hello, and welcome to another episode. I'm excited to introduce you to Lindsay Johnson. We met through a friend several years ago, and I've been blessed by her friendship and inspired by all that she is doing in memory of her daughter.

She lives in Oklahoma, just a few hours away from me here in Kansas. And she is a mother to four children, three on earth and a daughter in Heaven named Aspyn. Aspyn passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, known as SIDS, one month from the day that she was born.

In her memory, Lindsay and her husband founded an organization called Aspyn Arrows. Their mission is to educate families on safe sleep practices and empower families to sleep with peace of mind by providing them with an Owlet baby care monitor. I know you will be so encouraged by Lindsay's vulnerability in sharing her story.

Welcome, Lindsay. We’re so glad that you're here.

Lindsay Johnson: [00:02:20] Thank you. Ashley, I have not got to meet you in person, but all the virtual conversations and meetings we've had and communication has been incredible, and I'm so grateful to be here. So thank you so much for having me.

Ashley Opliger: [00:02:34] Yes, I feel like I know you. And isn’t that weird sometimes when people online, you feel like you've already met them? And we were supposed to meet up when I was in Tulsa recently, and it didn't work out.

Lindsay Johnson: [00:02:43] I know.

Ashley Opliger: [00:02:43] But we're so close. We’re just a couple of hours away. I know we'll get to meet.

Lindsay Johnson: [00:02:48] I hope so, with everything, I would love to get together in person. I definitely know what you mean, though. It's fun to meet people and then be like, “Oh, that seems like somebody I've known for a lot of years.”

Ashley Opliger: [00:03:00] Yes. Well, Lindsay, will you introduce yourself and tell us about your motherhood journey and your experience with loss?

Lindsay Johnson: [00:03:07] Absolutely. So my name is Lindsay Johnson and I am from Jenks, Oklahoma. And my husband and I have been married for 12 years and we have four beautiful children.

Aspyn is my oldest, and we're going to talk a little bit more about her. She's with Jesus, and that story is beautiful, and I can't wait to share it. My son Phoenix is four, and my son Memphis is two. And I have a beautiful little girl who is seven months old just last week, and her name is Waverly. And that is my crew.

I do work outside the home. I'm a pharmaceutical sales rep and my husband works with oil and gas here in the Tulsa area. And so in our spare time, which is very little, we also run a non-profit organization called Aspyn Arrows. And I'm so excited to share a little more about that with you guys on this episode now.

Ashley Opliger: [00:04:00] We are very excited for you to share about Aspyn Arrows. And that organization started in memory of your beautiful little girl, Aspyn, and I would love for you to share her life story.

Lindsay Johnson: [00:04:13] Absolutely. So I mentioned that I've been married to my husband for 12 years, so we weren't the youngest when we got married. We were like late 20s and we were ready to start a family. And so we prayed and were excited to get going with that journey. And unfortunately, it didn't happen easily for us.

And so we started doing a lot of different medical procedures, a lot of different medications because we were faced with a medical diagnosis for myself of something called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). And they named it Stage 4, which is one of the worst versions of that, and then also endometriosis Stage 4.

And so we were told by a couple of different physicians, without any medical intervention, it was really unlikely if not impossible to become pregnant. And so we started doing something that is called IUI, which is like a baby step before you would go into in vitro fertilization.

And so this was all taking place over four years. Three different surgeries for myself, like I said, lots of medication, lots of fertility treatments, all to no avail. And I remember in October of 2014, we were moving forward with the most extensive procedure, which was IVF, in vitro fertilization. And we were told on our next appointment, we were right at the start of getting going with that.

And they said, “Okay, next appointment, we'll need a check for $14,000.” And we were just blindsided by that. And for us, it was a huge shock and also a huge stop sign. We just knew that wasn't something we were capable of doing, for one. And it really brought to our minds the realization that maybe children were not in our future.

And that was really hard, but it was time to start working on ourselves individually in terms of health and working on our marriage, because if anyone's gone through fertility, for one, I'm so sorry and I'm thinking of you because it is so challenging. And for two, you can only imagine how challenging that is on your marriage.

I feel like it's one of those things, that it's just part of the process. You get married, you start a family and that's just part of it. And for us, that wasn't happening. And it wasn't because we didn't want to. It was because something medically wasn't working, and it was just really awful.

So that was October of 2014. We stopped all medication and, like I mentioned, just focused on our marriage and I like to say recalibrated what our future would look like. And four months later in January, on the 24th, we found out that we were pregnant with our first baby, with zero medications, zero medical intervention. And immediately, I mean, I get chills telling you that because immediately I knew God had something really special for us.

And so I had the most incredible pregnancy. I was that annoying pregnant lady who's, “Yay! My ankles are swollen.” Like even the worst symptoms, I was cheering for them, because I had worked really hard and prayed really hard and begged God to allow us to become pregnant. And so when we did, it was just like the most incredible blessing.

And so every month was wonderful and sacred. And then she was born on September the 25th, 2015, so her birthday is coming up. And it was a Caesarean delivery, due to some of the surgeries that I had had in order to do the fertility treatments. That was going to be my only option, was to have a Caesarean delivery.

And she was seven pounds, seven ounces. Perfect. So healthy. In fact, I was really surprised that it was so simple. And I don't know what I had in my head thinking about giving birth to her, but it was the most incredible, perfect experience. And she was perfect and healthy.

And 30 days into her life on October the 25th, I went to nurse her. My body told me it was time to go nurse her, and I found her unresponsive. And I don't know if it’ll ever get easier saying that, but from that, my husband immediately started CPR on her and we called 911. He was on the phone and I was hysterical and very confused, and it felt a lot like an out-of-body situation, out-of-body experience where you're watching what's happening.

And I remember running, my in-laws live two doors over, and I ran to get help. I don't know why, what I thought they were going to do, but I just wanted to get help while we were waiting on all of the emergency vehicles and emergency people to be there. And so I ran over to their house and knocked on the door to try to get their help.

And as I was coming back, running back to our house, here came the fire truck and the ambulance and all of the EMS crew. And I just remember waving my arms and telling them, “Here! Come and help! Come in here!”

As they were coming into the house, this part always chokes me up, I just remember falling to the ground in the grass in the front yard, and praying this prayer that would, little did I know at the time, that would point me in the direction of my grief, how I would handle this, how you would face this tragedy.

And I fell to my knees and I just said, ”God, I know that You raised Lazarus from the dead, that You are capable of doing this.” And I didn't know that she was gone, but I knew things were not good. And so I just prayed.

I said, “God, I know that You can bring her back. And I just have the faith that You will.” And immediately I felt the Holy Spirit just say through me, “But even if You don't, I still believe.” And that was a hard prayer.

It was a hard prayer in that moment. It was a hard prayer as the night continued. It has been a hard prayer to walk out at times, but I know that God allowed that to be my heart posture in that moment for such a time as this.

We went to the hospital and immediately they took us to the family room, which if you've gone to the hospital in a tragedy situation, the family room's not good.

And it wasn't much longer that the doctor came in and he knelt down in front of us and explained that there was nothing else that they could do, that she had passed away. And I just remember breaking down and really feeling like, “What just happened?” All of it was so fast and quick.

My mom had came to the hospital, of course; all of our family was surrounding us when we were told that information. And I remember going to my mom and saying, “Go ahead of us before I get home. I don't want to see anything in my house ‘baby’. I don't want to see her bottles. I don't want to see her Pack and Play. I want everything gone.”

If you've had a child, they immediately take over your home and everything is ‘baby’ right around your house, and I just didn't want to go and see any of it. I wanted to come home and just pretend like none of it had happened, the whole thing.

And as soon as I walked in the door, I just wanted to be in her room and surrounded by all of her things and to smell her clothes and to hold the things that she touched and to be close to anything that was part of her.

Ashley Opliger: [00:12:05] Oh, Lindsay. I’m so sorry.

Lindsay Johnson: [00:12:11] You can’t cry. Now you’re going to make me cry.

Ashley Opliger: [00:12:12] I know. I know.

Ashley Opliger: [00:12:18] It’s so, so sad and so heartbreaking as a momma.

Lindsay Johnson: [00:12:22] Yeah. I just remember, too, immediately reaching out to one of my closest people, friends. She is my therapist, but we've also developed such an incredible relationship that I call her a mentor, a friend. I don't even know how you describe someone like this, but she had prayed with us during our fertility treatments and helped our marriage stay strong during so much strife during that time.

And I messaged her at three in the morning on the way home from the hospital after we'd been told that Aspyn had passed away. And I knew that I was going to need a lot of help getting through this.

And I think anytime you lose a child, there's just nothing that you can describe that is similar. And I think that feeling like we had gone through all this fertility treatment and there was this feeling of, “Oh, God has blessed us,” we had become parents. And then to have it taken away just adds a different type of level of grief