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Episode 37 - Finding Community and Renewing My Faith after My Son's Stillbirth with Heather Cohen


Join us for a conversation with bereaved mother Heather Cohen about how she found community and renewed her faith after the stillbirth of her son, Levi.

Just days away from her scheduled c-section, Heather was shocked to discover that her son no longer had a heartbeat. Devastated and grieving, she turned to Bridget's Cradles and began attending our online support groups and volunteering to comfort others through the ministry. Hear Heather's story of finding hope in the midst of her heartache and how you, too, can find hope after the loss of your baby.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • Having questions about the cause of your baby's death

  • Struggling with shame and regret over decisions you made or didn't make during your pregnancy

  • God's sovereignty and why our theology of who He is matters

  • The importance of finding community in grief

  • Why counseling is helpful and why you shouldn't be ashamed to seek help

  • More about Bridget's Cradles Hope Online support groups from Heather's perspective of attending them

  • Circumstances change but God never does

  • The hope of what is to come in Scripture

  • Honoring our babies by serving others to bring God glory

  • Heather's volunteer experience with Bridget's Cradles

Full transcript below.

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. Heather doesn't know the cause of her son's full-term stillbirth. She wasn't given any answers as to why his heart stopped beating. For those moms who are in the same position, how does this make you feel? Have you wrestled with God and surrendered the knowing? Write a prayer of surrender and ask God to help you trust Him in the midst of the unknown.

  2. In this episode, Heather talks about how she found community and healing through Bridget's Cradles--both through our support groups and through serving in the ministry. In what ways do you feel God calling you to connect with other grieving moms? Have you found a community you feel safe in? What about serving? Write out what God has placed on your heart.

  3. Ashley shares the simple but powerful truth that God never changes. It's us and our circumstances that do. We don't fall out of favor with Him when bad things happen. He still loves us the same. How does this truth change the way you view Him in light of your loss? Write out 3 Bible Verses that express His love for you, then say them out loud.

Graphics to share on social media or pin on Pinterest!



Heather Cohen lives in Alabama with her husband, Kyle, and their three sons on earth. She is also momma to baby Levi in Heaven, who was born on June 27, 2021 at 38 weeks and two days (just days before his scheduled C-section).

Heather is a Bridget's Cradles volunteer who helps with our Cradled in Hope Facebook Group for Grieving Moms. She also crochets cradles for our ministry too.



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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 1,300 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:

Facebook /bridgetscradles

Instagram @bridgetscradles

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Episode 37: Finding Community and Renewing My Faith after My Son's Full-Term Stillbirth with Heather Cohen

Ashley Opliger: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Cradled in Hope Podcast on the Edifi Podcast Network. I’m your host, Ashley Opliger. I’m a wife, mom, and follower of Christ who founded Bridget’s Cradles, a nonprofit ministry in memory of my daughter, Bridget, who was stillborn at 24 weeks.

Cradled in Hope is a Gospel-focused podcast for grieving moms to find comfort, hope, and healing after the loss of a baby. We want this to be a safe place for your broken heart to land.

Here, we are going to trust God’s promise to heal our hearts, restore our joy, and use our grief for good. With faith in Jesus and eyes fixed on Heaven, we do not have to grieve without hope. We believe that Jesus cradles us in hope while He cradles our babies in Heaven.

Welcome to the Cradled in Hope Podcast.

Ashley Opliger: [00:00:50] Welcome back to another episode of Cradled in Hope. Today I am blessed to have a momma who we served through Bridget’s Cradles, who now serves others through Bridget’s Cradles. Heather Cohen is a bereaved mom who heard about Bridget’s Cradles while holding her stillborn son, Levi, in the hospital. When returning home heartbroken, she started attending our Hope Online support groups each month.

She also began crocheting cradles and keepsakes for other families. Over time, her and I developed a friendship, and then I asked her to be a moderator for our Cradled in Hope Facebook group because she is the warmest, friendliest, and most encouraging friend you will ever meet. I told her that she is like a big hug that welcomes mommas to our Facebook community.

The Lord has really gifted her with the ability to encourage, comfort, and empathize with other women in a very special way. I'm so honored to have her on today to tell her testimony through Levi's story and how God walked her through unimaginable grief after he went to Heaven just days away from his scheduled C-section. Her story is one of heartbreak but of hope.

Heather lives in Alabama with her husband, Kyle, and their three sons on earth. She is also momma to baby Levi in Heaven, who was born on June 27th, 2021 at 38 weeks and two days. Let's hear her story now.

Ashley Opliger: [00:02:08] Welcome, Heather. We're so glad to have you on the Cradled in Hope Podcast.

Such a blessing to have one of our mommas who we've had the privilege to walk through your grieving journey with you. Of course, we wish that we didn't have to meet you in this way and that you never had to attend one of our support groups, but we're really glad that you're here and that you can share your testimony and Levi's life story with us. So would you introduce yourself to all of the mommas listening?

Heather Cohen: [00:02:35] Yes. My name is Heather Cohen. I am 35. I'm a mom of two boys here on earth, and our third son, Levi, went to be with Jesus when I was 38 weeks and two days pregnant. That was back in June of 2021 and five days from my scheduled C-section.

I had two C-sections before, so I wasn't nervous about that, but had noticed some of Levi's movements had been dropping off and mentioned it at my doctor's appointment. So two days before he died, I had an ultrasound and everything was perfect. His fluid levels were perfect. His weight and his heartbeat, his attempt to swallow and breathe was all perfect. And my doctor reassured me that everything was going as planned and there was no need to have any fears.

And so I went on about my day, and two days later I had the boys out at my parents' pool. It was a hot day in June, and I kept thinking, “I haven't felt him move today. I wonder if everything's okay?”

And I drank a coke and had a snack, and just throughout the day realized, “He's really not moving.” And about three or four in the afternoon, I decided I would go to the hospital and get him checked out.

I went to the hospital, I checked in probably about a quarter to five. My husband had stayed at home with the boys. I had told him, “I'm sure everything's fine, but I'm just going to get checked just to see.” And when I got to the hospital, I had to wait a really long time to be seen. And that was really hard, knowing that something is wrong and having to trust other nurses with my baby and my life.

And I had been waiting about an hour and that's when I went up to the registration desk and I said, “Ma'am, am I still checked in? Do they know I'm here? Because I don't even have an armband on.”

And the clerk told me, “Yes, ma'am, they know you're here. We just don't have a bed for you right now.”

And I said, “Okay. My baby's just not moving.” And so I continued to wait in the lobby. The night that I went in, there were also two other women who had lost twins. So four babies had died before Levi, that we know of, so they were very busy. The staff was very overwhelmed, sad, shaken.

But there was also a baby shower going on in the room right by the waiting room for one of the staff members. And so I could hear celebration and clapping and things like that, and just made my impatience grow. So in the waiting, I tried to be patient and pray and reassure myself that, “I'm sure everything's fine. I just had an ultrasound two days ago.”

And then ultimately they led me back to the room and the nurse, her name was Haley, tried to hear heart tones and she was moving the machine around my belly really rapidly, and I could just tell by the look on her face that something wasn't right.

And I said, “I'm going to be sick. I'm going to be sick.”

And she grabbed my hand and she said, “I'm with you. I'm with you. I'm not leaving you.”

And I said, “Okay.” So we waited. We still didn't hear anything. And I think that's when it really set in for me that what I was feeling was true. And it hit me like nothing had ever hit me before.

And she said, “I need to go get the doctor, so I'm going to leave you, but I'll be right back.”

And I said, “Okay, Haley, please come back. Please come back.”

And she said, “I will.” So when she came back in, she had the ultrasound tech with her, and they placed the probe on my belly and they had the screen turned away from me and they're not allowed to share, and I knew that. So I just couldn't even look at her face. I just looked down into my lap.

And I remember saying, “Levi, please don't be stubborn right now, please.” And I just knew he was gone. I just knew he was gone. And she rolled the machine out. She never said a word.

And Haley sat by me and sat on my bed and she pushed my hair back behind my ears and she said, “Who can I call?”

And I said, “Please call my husband,” so she called Kyle. And at some point I must have texted him, but I don't have much memory of it. At some point I must have said, “They can't find his heartbeat. Something's wrong.”

And he was there in a matter of minutes. My dad had gone to be with my boys and my mom came to the hospital with him, and I just couldn't believe when I saw my mom and my husband. They just started crying when they came in the room. And they fell down on either side of my stretcher and held my hands. Each of them held each of my hands and we just cried.

And it was a long hour or so waiting on the doctor to come in. And when he finally was able to come in, I knew he'd had a terrible night. I knew that they had been busy and he'd been in surgery. And he took my hand and he said, “I'm so sorry. Your son died and we don't know why.”

And he said, “Sometimes we never know, but as parents, we want a physical reason for why this happened and a reason here on earth,” but in that moment, there was not a reason. So he asked me what would I like to do? Would I like to go ahead and induce and try for a vaginal delivery, which I had not done in the past, or go to C-section immediately?

And I said, “I would like a C-section immediately,” because it's just like if the school called and said one of my boys was hurt, I want to see them immediately. I want the teacher to FaceTime me and show me what's wrong.

And that's how I felt, like if I wasted any time laboring or if he had any injuries during birth, he wouldn't look the same. I wanted him to be as close to what he would've looked like on his delivery day. And that was all I was thinking, was about pictures and about seeing him, holding him. What did he look like?

And so we went to the C-section and he was born just after midnight on June 27th, and he was five pounds, 11 ounces and 16 inches long. And he was perfect in every way. He had perfect features, his nose, his cheeks, his hair, his fingers, his toes, and I just couldn't believe how much he looked like my oldest son. And we got to spend a couple days in the hospital with him.

At that time, our hospital didn't have a CuddleCot, but they had a cooling blanket, which I was able to wrap him in and hold him in. I kept him in the bed with me most of the time. And this was all during the Covid pandemic, and I wasn't allowed visitors other than two people, which was my husband and my mom. And so I just kept saying, “I can't believe my boys aren't going to get to see him and hold him.”

And that's been a hard part of this whole thing is their grieving process, because they never saw him. But my in-laws immediately started driving to Dothan from Birmingham.

And when they got there, we had a conversation with the charge nurse and asked who all could come in and could they make special arrangements because of the circumstances.

And with much hesitation, they allowed my in-laws to come in and my sister to hold her nephew. And so they each held him for about 10, 15 minutes. And I didn't think to take any pictures of him with my in-laws or with my parents or my sister. I didn't think of other things that I could do in the hospital with him.

We did have his handprints and footprints made, which I'm thankful for, and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep was able to come in and take photos, but they took them in the early morning hours, like 3:00 AM, after he was born. So they're not the best that I would like, but they're all I have and what I took on my phone and my husband's phone. Now that's still one of my largest regrets is not taking more photos, or one thing I wish I'd done is saying happy birthday to him on a video just to replay each year for myself.

Ashley Opliger: [00:11:12] It's so hard looking back on the day that your baby was born and have all of the questions of, “Why didn't I do this?” Or, “Why didn't I think to do this,” and wishing that you could have crammed a lifetime of memories into that day. And I know still to this day, I have regrets that I actually do not have any videos of Bridget whatsoever.

I took pictures on my phone, but I honestly just did not think to take any videos. And so I want to say, first of all, I'm so sorry for everything that you walked through, and that night at the hospital, and sitting in the waiting room, and waiting, and then being in there with the nurse. I can't imagine the fear and the overwhelming sense of shock and grief that you experienced and being all alone.

What a Godsend that Hayley was so comforting until your husband and your mom could be there. But I'm just so sorry, and I know that talking about it is so hard, looking back on those really painful memories and how traumatic that was to experience.

But I've been so inspired by your faith through your journey, because I got to meet you very soon after you lost Levi, and I'll let you share how that came to be, but I met you very fresh in your grief as you were still processing the raw weight of your loss.

And I've had the privilege to walk alongside of you through this journey, and I've been so blessed by seeing how God has used your pain and how you've responded with being obedient and trusting Him, even when that's hard and even when you can't see what He is doing at the moment, and you still have questions.

I think there's a lot of women that are listening who really resonated with what you said about, you just want answers as to the why. The doctors never were able to tell you a reason, even after he was born, and that can be so difficult to not have answers. And I frequently talk about this with some of my closest bereaved mom friends here in Wichita.

I have several moms who know exactly what caused their baby's death. And then I have some moms who don't, and not that we ever try to compare grief to each other, because that's actually one of the things that we always say in our support groups is that we all have our different stories and we don't compare grief to each other.

But really, I think there are aspects of both situations that are very painful because for the moms who don't have answers, they want answers because there's this big question mark of what happened. And, “Was it something that could have been prevented? And what did I not know,” and all of those things.

But likewise for the moms who do have an answer, then depending on what the answer is, it's like, “Could I have done something different to change that outcome?”