Episode 12 - Renewing Your Mind after Pregnancy Loss with Alicia Michelle
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Join us for a conversation with Alicia Michelle, host of the Vibrant Christian Living Podcast, about renewing our minds after pregnancy loss. Alicia is a Bible Teacher and certified NeuroCoach. She equips women with practical brain-and-Biblically based tools to overcome negative thinking and cultivate godly confidence.
After losing her son in an early miscarriage, Alicia struggled with overwhelming sadness. Through her journey, God has given her wisdom on how to cope with grief in a healthy way. She teaches us how to manage our thoughts and get out of the negative spirals that we get stuck in so that we can draw closer to God in our grief. In this episode, we discussed:
Giving voice and legacy to our babies in Heaven
The nearness of Heaven and how we can talk to our babies (through Jesus!)
What Alicia wishes she would have known when she was grieving her baby
How to honor our grief and allow it to exist
Sin tendencies and how our brains can trap us into negative habits
Self-sabotaging behaviors and why we do them
Amygdala hijack and how to stop moments of panic
The root problems of fear and control and why they impact our grief
How to trust in a God who allowed your baby to die
The American dream vs. the Kingdom dream
Going deeper in fellowship with God and being refined in our pain
How to combat the enemy's schemes to destroy your healing work
Surrender and the fruit of spiritual gifts and good works
Full transcript below.
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Discussion / Application Questions (leave your answers below in the comments!)
Alicia and Ashley discuss a quote about Jesus sitting our babies on His knee and talking to them about us. What would you want Jesus to tell them about you? Spend a few minutes talking to Jesus (His Holy Spirit in you) and reflect on the fact that He is also in the physical presence of your babies in Heaven. Does this bring you comfort knowing how near Heaven is to you?
In this episode, Alicia says that we shouldn't beat ourselves up for the things we wish we would have known (whether that was during our pregnancy or after our loss). We need to release regrets. She reminds us that each day is an opportunity to grow closer to God and to change and learn. What are the things that you need to release? What are the things you have learned?
We talked a lot about sin tendencies and negative thinking/behaviors that we do in grief. What earthly coping mechanisms are you turning to that are not healthy? What areas do we need to expose and bring into the light? How can we choose to turn to God in our grief instead of the need to control or escape our emotions?
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CONNECT WITH OUR GUEST
Alicia Michelle is an author, Bible teacher, podcaster, and certified NeuroCoach. She equips Christian women with practical brain-and-Biblically based tools so they know how to renew their minds. She is the host of the weekly Vibrant Christian Living podcast.
Alicia is a mother to five children: four on earth and a baby boy in Heaven.
Connect with Alicia:
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MEET OUR HOST
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.
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Episode 12: Renewing Your Mind after Pregnancy Loss with Alicia Michelle
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 nonprofit 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: [00:01:26] Welcome back, friends. I am so honored to introduce you to my friend Alicia. Alicia Michelle is an author, Bible teacher, podcaster, and certified NeuroCoach. She equips Christian women with practical brain-and-Biblically based tools so they know how to renew their minds in order to overcome negative thinking and cultivate godly confidence.
She hosts a weekly podcast called the Vibrant Christian Living Podcast, which I actually had the honor to be on and share about Bridget’s Cradles. You can go back and listen to Episode 119 of her show if you're curious and want to listen to that conversation.
Alicia has a baby in Heaven as well, and we bonded over our shared grief and our shared hope. I know you will be so blessed by the wealth of knowledge that she has on coping with grief in a healthy way, so let's jump right in.
Ashley Opliger: [00:02:20] Welcome Alicia. I'm so glad to have you on the Cradled in Hope Podcast.
Alicia Michelle: [00:02:24] Thank you. I'm so glad to be here.
Ashley Opliger: [00:02:26] Yes. I got to be on your podcast a couple months back, and that was such an honor, and sort of cool to be able to have you on this side.
Alicia Michelle: [00:02:34] Yes, I know. I was just thinking this morning, it's an honor to bring voice to the legacy of our little ones who are lost. They didn't have a voice to share this message, but we get to share their story through what you're doing. And so it's an honor for me to share my son's story on today's show.
Ashley Opliger: [00:02:52] I would love for you to introduce yourself. Tell us more about you, who you are, as well as your motherhood journey and about your experience in losing your son.
Alicia Michelle: [00:03:02] I am Alicia Michelle. I am a Christian mindset coach and a Bible teacher and an author. And my heart is to help women learn how to manage their thoughts, specifically those thoughts that are self-sabotaging or negative spirals that we get stuck in, so that they can learn how to develop confidence, true God-confidence in themselves.
I do that through a course called the Christian Mindset Makeover, through lots of resources on the site, through a podcast, which Ashley just mentioned, and I am honored to do that work with women. So that's my “job”, quote, unquote, in terms of a career, but I have also been a mom for almost 19 years now.
I have been married to my husband for over 20 years and we have our son, who is almost 19, one who is almost 17, their birthdays are actually two days apart in November, and one, a daughter who is 14, and a son who is nine. And then we have a son who is in Heaven, who would be about 10 right now.
So we had three children at that point. And we just felt like we weren't finished, God still had more children. And we had tried for so, so long to get pregnant and were not able to get pregnant. And it was very frustrating, like, “God, why would You not allow us to have more children when we love You and we want to raise them for You?” And it was this really long period.
We finally got pregnant and of course we were so thrilled, telling everybody, telling our other three kids. And I remember going to the doctor's appointment for the 10-week visit.
When you're trying to get pregnant, as you know, you're checking every time you're late. The day after you're late, you're like, “Oh, I'm going to check.” And of course I found out straight away that I was pregnant.
And so I had known for probably about a month that I was pregnant and we'd begun making plans. We'd begun falling in love already. So I went to the 10-week appointment. We even had all the kids in there with us for like, “This is going to be a great experience.”
And I remember the doctor did the ultrasound and he said, “I wonder if there's …” He made some sort of story about the kids going outside of the room with my husband. And he looked at my husband in a certain way.
And he said, “Okay.” And so he took the kids outside and he shared that the baby had passed, that you could see that it was no longer attached inside the uterus.
And I just didn't understand. I was like, “How is that possible?” So it was at least a week and a half or two. I remember just being in the deepest, darkest hole I had ever felt.
Now, I had gone through a time of deep depression in my early 20s, and it was a darkness similar to that, but it was a loss. It was like somebody had just come in and just taken something from me, stolen, that I did not want them to take.
And I didn't understand. “Why would You do this, God? You made us wait all this time. We waited. We were faithful. We believed and You gave us, why would You take it away?” And so I just remember grieving and grieving.
And then the thing that really helped me in that moment, I feel like looking back on it now, I wish I had known some of the things that I learned through all this time, of course you learn so much, that would have helped me then, but what God allowed me to see and experience was a true gift.
I remember one morning sitting in bed being really upset and just having a vision is the closest thing I can describe it, because it’s the only time I've ever had anything like this, but I had a vision of Jesus holding our baby is all I can describe him as. I knew he was our son. He looked to be about a year. He wasn't a newborn baby. He had blonde curly hair.
And I was like, “Wow!” And he looked straight in my eyes and he said, “Mommy, stop crying. I'm with Jesus. I'm okay. I'm okay. You can stop crying now.” Like, “I know you're sad, but I'm okay.” Like that’s just what he kept saying. “I'm okay. I'm okay.”
And I was like, “Okay.” And that was a double gift for me, because I first of all knew that our baby was okay and he was with Jesus. I saw it. But I also saw that it was a boy. And one part of the grief for me was that I never got to know, was this a boy or a girl? It was always such a gift for me when I was pregnant to be able to go, “Oh, it's a girl. Okay.” I could imagine this child. I could think about them.
And I was like, “God, You didn't even let me know when the baby passed.” And so that was a gift from God to let us see that. So yeah, ever since then, I mean, you never think something like miscarriage or stillborn, any of these really tragic things that happen, you never expect them to happen to you. But when they do, you begin to see little glimpses of how these are part of your story, that this child's story has a testimony still to encourage others.
I can't even tell you the number of women that God has brought into my life, who have gone through miscarriage, who have lost a child. And I can sit with them and cry with them and understand that pain.
I'm grateful that He gives a legacy to these little ones that we lose, even though my child never lived outside of my womb. But he still has a legacy, so to me it's just incredible.
Ashley Opliger: [00:08:13] Absolutely. And what a beautiful image that God allowed you to see. There's actually a quote from Billy Graham, the late evangelist.
He actually lost a nephew that was three months old. And when talking about his loss and his family's loss, he explained to people that if we could only get a glimpse of Heaven for even a second, we would never want our loved ones to come back to this broken earth.
And that really stuck with me because I think so much of it, when it comes to the hope of Heaven, it's faith. We have to believe in something we can’t see yet.
And so we know our babies are in Heaven. We believe that our baby is in Heaven, but because we haven't actually seen it, I do think sometimes it's hard for us to really take comfort and rest in knowing: Yes, they are okay. They’re more than okay. They are fully alive in the most beautiful, perfect place that we could ever imagine.
And I love that God gave you that vision and peace and comfort, knowing that your baby is sitting on Jesus' lap. It actually reminds me of this quote. I want to read it because it's so beautiful and it reminds me of exactly what you just said.
It says, “Jesus. I wanted to sit my babies on my lap and tell them about You. As I can't do that now, will You sit them on Your knee and tell them about me?”
And I just love that quote because it's something that you don't really think about, but the fact that Jesus can talk to our babies about us because His Holy Spirit is in us, and Jesus knows us so intimately that He can talk to our babies about us. And as well as our loved ones that have gone on to Heaven before us, I imagine, are able to hold our babies and talk to our babies, and that just brings me so much comfort.
Even on Bridget’s headstone, we have Jesus holding a baby. It's just so much comfort knowing that our babies are in the presence of Jesus. And one thing I like to say is Jesus is physically in Heaven, holding our babies and His Holy Spirit is in us. I feel that Heaven is so close. It's so near. We're connected through Heaven, through His Spirit.
And when I'm missing Bridget, I always think, ”I can just talk to Jesus because she's right there with Jesus and Jesus is in me.” So Heaven is so much closer than we think.
Alicia Michelle: [00:10:32] Mmm, that is beautiful. I love that picture that you shared. That's actually very similar to the vision that I saw.
It was literally Jesus holding a baby, just in His arms. It was sitting on his hip kind of, because it was a bigger child. So comforting and so true. And even to think, like I shared with you before we started recording, we lost our mother-in-law a few weeks ago, my mother-in-law, my husband's mom. And she loved her grandkids. And that she's holding our baby, that's just a beautiful picture. So thank you for that.
Ashley Opliger:[00:11:04] That’s beautiful.
Alicia Michelle: [00:11:05] Sorry to break down.
Ashley Opliger:[00:11:07] No, it's okay. That is so beautiful and so comforting to know that. My mom always says, she's still on earth, but she always says she's going to get to Heaven and see Bridget before me. So they're going to have already bonded and been hanging out and exploring Heaven without me.
And so when I get up there, then they'll be able to give me a tour and catch me up on everything that they've been doing. And I just sometimes picture Bridget being like, “Come, Mommy, look!” Like, “Come and look at this beautiful waterfall, this special little place I found!”
There's just so much glory and beauty that we're going to see and, I think, colors that we've never got to see on this earth, and smells, and sights, and tastes, so many beautiful, amazing wonders that await us in Heaven I think we can't even fathom with our human minds. So yes, thank you for sharing that.