Join us for a conversation with Kristin Hernandez, author of Sunlight in December, about wrestling well with God through recurrent pregnancy loss. Kristin shares her story of losing five babies: a baby boy, Ethan, due to a life-limiting condition, and four precious babies to early miscarriage.
In her heartbreak, Kristin discusses with Ashley how she turned to her faith in God and embraced the suffering. She believes that God will meet moms in the storm of grief and show them His goodness. In this episode, we discussed:
Wrestling well with God through loss and pain
What does wrestling with God mean and how do we wrestle in a healthy way?
How to navigate a life-limiting diagnosis in pregnancy
Not having answers for why miscarriage and recurrent loss happens
How grief exposes errors in our theology
The problem with prosperity thinking
Why we should expect and embrace suffering
Finding God's goodness in the messy middle of grief
Why our hope isn't (and shouldn't be) in a rainbow baby
Surrendering our desires for God's will
How we can turn to God even when we doubt Him
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!)
Kristin talks a lot about "wrestling well" with God (instead of turning away from Him). She shares ideas on how to do that in a positive, healthy way. Do you feel that you need to wrestle with God? What advice or wisdom that Kristin shared was most helpful to you that you can use in walking this out in your daily walk with Him?
In this episode, Ashley shared that grief has a way of exposing errors in our theology (i.e., areas in which we are wrong in our beliefs about God). Have you discovered this in your own walk? If so, what beliefs are you wrongly believing? Find Scripture to support the truth your heart needs to hear.
We talk about how as Christians, we should expect and embrace suffering because there is eternal glory that awaits us. How does this perspective shift change your outlook on your loss? In what ways can you choose to surrender your pain?
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Kristin is a writer, podcaster, wife, and mother to six children—one in her arms and five with Jesus.
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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.
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Episode 5: Wrestling Well with God through Recurrent Loss with Kristin Hernandez
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] In this week's episode, we welcome Kristin Hernandez. She is a writer, podcaster, wife, and mother to six children, one in her arms and five with Jesus. As she grieved her babies, Kristin wrestled with her faith and with God. It was in this process, she truly began to dive into Scripture and see the goodness of God in the midst of suffering.
Kristin blogs at sunlightindecember.com and is the co-host of the podcast Through the Lens. Her first book, Sunlight in December: A mother's story of finding the goodness of God in the storm of grief is releasing this summer. She lives in Southern California with her husband and son. I am looking forward to you hearing Kristin’s story; though it is filled with grief, it is also filled with hope. Let's welcome Kristin.
Welcome, Kristin. We are so grateful to have you here on the podcast today.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:02:21] Thank you so much for having me.
Ashley Opliger: [00:02:26] I actually found you on Instagram and I have been so blessed by everything that you share and your vulnerability in sharing your story and your grief. And so I just want the audience to know a little bit more about yourself, if you want to share about your story and your babies in Heaven and what your journey of motherhood has looked like.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:02:47] Yeah, I'd be honored to share. So as you said, I'm Kristin. I am from Southern California and I live here with my husband, Chris, who I met in college, and our 10th wedding anniversary is coming up this November.
And then we also have our son, Andrew, who is three, who's living with us. And to most people who just saw our family, they would think we're a small family of three, but we are actually the parents to six babies, five of whom are with Jesus. And our very first son is named Ethan, and we welcomed him after several years of battling infertility.
Chris and I got married pretty quickly after college, and we knew right away that we wanted to start a family. And so it was only about a year into our marriage that we decided that we were ready to start trying, and I think we were just so innocent and hopeful and really didn't think that it would take us very long, but years passed. It was like a year passed and then two years passed and we started wondering, “What's going on?”
So we went to see some doctors and it was basically what they refer to as unexplained infertility. There was really nothing noticeably wrong. The doctors kept saying, “Just keep trying. We really don't see anything. Your hormone levels are normal. You're both healthy. You're young. Just keep giving it a go.”
And finally one doctor said, “I think at this point with how long you've been trying, we can make a referral for you to meet with infertility (doctors).”
And so at that point, we had been two-plus years on this journey of monthly tears and it felt like to me, in my mind, “This is going to be our trial,“ like, “This is our life trial. It seems like everybody has at least one big life trial. This is ours. And eventually the Lord is going to give us this baby. We're just going to keep praying, keep praying, keep praying.”
And we just kept asking, “God, open my womb. We want to raise this baby to love You. We want to raise this baby to know You. What we're asking for is a good thing, and we feel like You're withholding it, and we know You're good, but we don't understand Your plan here.”
So we decided to do infertility (treatments), but we decided to wait a few months first, because I had just started a brand new job at the time and we thought, “Let's just take this season, settle into the job, really just enjoy that, and then maybe next summer we'll start pursuing infertility (treatments).”
And so it was early in that year, because it was right before the holidays too, so that was another factor, was, “We're going to enjoy the holidays, start the new job. And then we'll really dive into this, and we're going to go all in and really pursue whatever routes we need to from fertility (doctors).”
But during that time I did become pregnant for the very first time.
Ashley Opliger: [00:05:40] Oh, wow.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:05:40] And it felt like what people say happens. And I know so many of you listening have probably heard things like this and roll your eyes at it, just like I have, words like, “Just relax,” or, “Stop trying,” or things like that.
God isn't playing games with us. He's not manipulative like that. He's not looking for us like, “Just do that.” He is sovereign over all of that.
But in my mind I kind of bought into this, “Oh, maybe that works. We had stopped trying, I wasn't doing anything and now we're pregnant.”
And so we were, I mean, understandably ecstatic. And we were praising God and praying over this baby every single day that God would use this baby to be a means of sharing the Gospel and that he would draw people to Jesus. And in my mind, I was thinking that all of these prayers meant, “Jesus, when he's 18 and he wants to move overseas to go to the unreached and tell people about Jesus, I will just surrender that and let him go.”
And in my mind, those were what those prayers meant. And I don't ever think I actually had those intentions of boxing it in, but that was what I was picturing when I was dedicating him to God and dedicating his life to God and really having no idea what that would end up looking like and how God really would answer that prayer. But it would be in a way that I don't even think I knew was something that happened.
So pregnancy was going really well. We were excited. We were starting to make plans and preparations, and everybody around us was so excited for us, because so many people had been praying for us over those years that we would finally have a baby.
And so we went to our 20-week anatomy scan. And it was during that scan that they discovered that Ethan had a lot of health concerns. He was missing a part of his brain. He had a really severe heart defect. There were a few other things that looked like they could be markers for something, and so our medical team was very up front with us that, “We think that there's something really big going on here underneath the surface that could potentially be life-threatening.”
So they offered us a lot of tests at that point, and we weighed the pros and cons. And I was nervous about the risks of getting an amniocentesis, even though it's a very low risk. but any time they're inserting a long needle into your uterus, it's a very, very minimal risk of going into preterm labor or a stillbirth.
It was just like any risk for me, and I was just terrified. I mean, really I was terrified. And we decided not to do testing because doctors assured us that having a diagnosis wouldn't change my birth plan, it wouldn't change what they did. Because I also thought, “Well, if this will help them, if this will help my medical team treat him when he's born, I'm willing to take that risk.”
But they just kept reiterating over and over, “This is really just for your knowledge so that you know what to do moving forward.” And we knew that we would carry him to term regardless of what the diagnosis was. And so we just didn't know what we should do, but we knew that whatever it was, we wanted to fight for him.
And we loved him so much. From that very first moment we knew he was there, we loved him.
Ashley Opliger: [00:08:57] Of course.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:08:58] And so we went through the pregnancy, which was really, really difficult. There's so much fear and unknowns and praying for a miracle, just constantly praying for a miracle but not knowing if that is what would happen, and really wrestling too, because I had a lot of people around me telling me things like, “We're just going to pray. We're going to have faith that he's going to be okay.”
And as they would speak those words to me, my thoughts were always like, “I know that God can do this, but I also don't know that that means He will, because I know He doesn't owe this to me. And I also look at Scripture and I see people like David, who is called ‘a man after God's own heart’, and he wrote many of the Psalms, and God allowed his child to die,” and so really wrestling through like, “God can do this, but I don't know that He will, because I am even in Scripture seeing examples of Him not and Him still being good,” but really still was kind of like, “but maybe that could happen.”
And a lot of people saying, “Doctors are wrong all the time. Doctors can be wrong,” and knowing that yes, that can be true, doctors do not know more than God, but also I knew He had equipped those doctors really well and had given them tools to support us and to study and to see what was going on with our sweet guy.
And so to fast forward a bit, on August 15, 2015, my water broke while I was at home. And so we knew this was kind of a moment of truth after months of driving to see specialists. And we had been driving down to several different hospitals for these appointments.
And I even had a pediatric cardiologist in LA that we were meeting with and they wanted me to deliver in Los Angeles, which would be over an hour drive from our house. And so we'd been told, “If your water breaks, don't go to your hospital in LA, just get to the other hospital you'd been going to, and we'll potentially transfer you.”
So water broke at home; we ended up rushing to the hospital and they got me admitted. They were going to transfer me to LA the next morning. And the next day, my labor really started ramping up so quickly.
So they had me on a magnesium drip to hopefully slow down my contractions, because they wanted to transfer me over. And he was a little early, and so they wanted to also give me steroid shots for his lungs. And they were just taking all precautions because nobody at this point knew the actual diagnosis, and so they were covering all their bases, doing everything they could.
And the next morning as they were prepping me for transport, I started transitioning very quickly, and so we ended up not going to Los Angeles, where I was going to deliver. We had him at our original hospital, which was really, God's grace is in all of this, too.
We had such a great team and caring nurses and doctors around us. I ended up having an emergency C-section because he was breached, and he was born on August 16th at 1:32 in the afternoon. And his birth was silent from him and just so much hubbub from everybody in the room, just so many beeps and voices and everything, and they did everything they could for our sweet son.
And after about 30 minutes of just so many efforts from the NICU staff and from my medical team, they told us that they were going to stop taking efforts because he just was declining no matter what they were doing. And so they asked if we wanted to hold him and my husband and I were like, “Yeah. There's nothing else we want more than to hold our firstborn miracle baby that we've been waiting for all these years.”
And so we held him and we just soaked up that time with him. We sang over him, and we took pictures, and we snuggled him, and just tried to condense this entire lifetime into the amount of time that we had.
And Ethan passed away later that same day at 3:05. So he spent 93 minutes in our arms and in our world before he went to be with Jesus. And we were devastated. There was peace in the room, which is just unexplainable. Unexplainable peace in the room, and then those first few days and weeks at home were so incredibly difficult.
I really felt almost as if I had been led out into the wilderness and left there. I was really angry and I really wrestled, and I really struggled with doubt for one of the first times in my life. I was just so mad, so mad at God and didn't understand why our infertility would have been almost healed in a way, without any interventions or anything, and just at the last possible moment felt like it was ripped out of our arms.
And so we were really just struggling and wrestling. And during that time we did meet with Ethan's doctors, because we did ask for testing to be done after the birth. And we found out that Ethan had Trisomy 9.
So many of you may be familiar with Trisomy 13, Trisomy 18, which do often create a lot of life-threatening conditions in babies, and Trisomy 9 is like that, because it's the ninth chromosome that you have a third copy of. And our doctors explained to us that the full version of Trisomy 9, when it's in every single cell of your body, because there are partial forms of this, Ethan had it everywhere. And that is, in their experience, always a fatal diagnosis.
So we knew, and they reassured us that going to LA wouldn't have changed anything. And I remember sitting there listening to the doctor explain how chromosomes are formed and cell division and all this stuff, and just sitting there thinking, “It is a miracle that any of us are here, just the complexity of one tiny little thing goes different and you have a completely different outcome,” and was just blown away by that.
And as we were wrestling, and I think it's in those months I really started to dive into Scripture as I wrestled, and really felt like the Lord met us there. Not just feel like it; He did, He meets us when we're in His Word, and even in wrestling in His Word and drawing near to Him.
And so in those next few months, we decided to start trying to have another baby pretty quickly because it took us so long with Ethan and we thought, “Well, it might take us another two to three years, so we're just going to dive into this. We're going to give it another try, knowing that another baby's never going to replace Ethan. It's never going to make our grief go away. This grief is something we're going to always have in this life, this side of Heaven, but we want a baby. We want a sibling for Ethan and we're ready to do this again.”
So we started about six months after losing Ethan, we started trying to get pregnant and expecting it to take a while. And I got pregnant that next month.
Ashley Opliger: [00:16:17] Wow.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:016:18] And I took the test, was optimistic but fearful, and a week later I started bleeding.
It was really fast, really painful emotionally. It felt like the scab that was there that was already painful, just being ripped off of all of our grief. And so we really grieved that loss and that miscarriage of that baby. And I don't know anything about that baby. I know that they were our child and that’s as much as I know about them.
And I grieved that too, that with Ethan I had pictures and a name, and I knew little things about him. And I knew what I craved when I was pregnant with him. And I knew his movements and there were so many things I knew about him. And with this baby, I grieved all the things I would never know during this lifetime about him or her.
And so a little bit later we decided, “We're ready. We're going to try this again. We got pregnant pretty quickly last time. We'll give it a shot.” And within two months we got pregnant again, which is interesting. It was always interesting to us because we thought, “It took us so long before, and now we're not doing anything. We’re just trying and getting pregnant right away,” and got pregnant again and found out I was pregnant for the third time on Ethan's first birthday.
And you feel so many emotions in those pregnancies after loss, and I felt this mixture of guilt almost, that I had found out on Ethan's birthday, because I really wanted to just remember and focus on Ethan that day. And then at the same time, I almost felt this relief and this, “All right, Lord, this is You redeeming this really hard, beautiful part of our life.”
Of course we would never trade getting to meet Ethan. I'm so grateful for that time I had with him and I would not go back and change anything, but of course we miss him and we feel like our family, we want it to look different and we want to have kids in our home, and just felt like, “All right, like this may be the beginning of something else.”
And so things were going well. We passed the point where I'd miscarried our second baby and were just starting to let ourselves feel pretty hopeful. And when I was eight weeks pregnant, I went in for an ultrasound. And they told me, “We're so sorry. Your baby doesn't have a heartbeat, and it actually looks like you have what we call a blighted ovum, where there's a sac forming and a placenta and different things, but we're just not seeing a baby. It's just not forming. This doesn't look like a viable pregnancy.”
So they sent me home and they had me go in for blood tests, just to see if my hormones would go up or down. And they started dipping, and then I did start miscarrying at home not that long after, when I was about nine weeks along.
And so at that point, we thought, “Well, maybe there's something going on,” because we were assured with Ethan that Trisomy 9 and most of those trisomies are not genetically passed down. That's not usually something that we would be carrying, but after three losses, my doctor suggested that we do some blood tests and we just see: Is there some reason that you've had three losses in a row?
So my husband and I underwent almost every single test that we could think of or that my doctor could think of, and everything came back normal, which was difficult. You’d think that that would be such encouraging news to receive, that you're not a carrier for anything. “You're healthy. Just keep trying. There's no reason to be concerned.” Yet here we are grieving the loss of three beautiful babies, and we have no idea why.
Ashley Opliger: [00:20:01] Not having answers, I think, is so hard.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:016:18] No answers. It's such a hard place to be because we want that. As humans, we want those answers. We want to know. And I think it helps, I know for me, it helps me feel in control. And I was never in control, but I wanted that feeling of, “If I know what it is, then I can be better equipped to make decisions. Or I can take steps to be proactive about maybe preventing it, or doing something, or at least going into it knowing why and what my risks are, and what my chances are.” And no answers is such a discouraging place to be.
And at that time I did start to have some other health issues and I ended up going to the doctor to check out some things. And it turns out I had PCOS, which they never saw before. My doctor's not even sure that I had it before. They said, “You may have had it before and now your symptoms are coming up.”
But I had gone to the doctor because I started to have some pain on the side, and so ended up being cysts on my ovaries, and I started to have really irregular periods at that point. And they said, “You have PCOS.” They did a work-up of my hormones after we did those initial tests, and they said, “You're a definite case of PCOS.”
They didn't really know what to do with me, because some of the things they normally would recommend didn't apply to me. And they were like, “Well, here’s some medication for you to try.”
And I was asking,”Can I try changing my food or different things like that?” And so they gave me some medication and I was only on it for about a week, because it made me really sick. And I said, “I’m not going to keep doing this. I’m feeling really, really sick, and at this point, we're not even sure we are in a place to want to pursue pregnancy.”
We had started to really pray, “Lord, is this what You even want for us right now? Or is there something else that You have for our family?”
And so I had started to really cut back, because I used to be a runner and I ran a lot. And I started to actually cut back on running and on exercise and did more of Pilates, and tried to just listen to my body more and was trying to just do some research on PCOS stuff, and things I could do to hopefully help with that.
And so during that time, we started to really pray about, “God, what's next for our family?” We went to church on Mother's Day, which is something many of you listening know is a scary thing to try. I usually on Mother’s Day want to just be home and not be around anybody. And we had just started attending the church where we are currently at, our church home, had just started there and I didn't know how they did Mother's Day.
I didn't know what to expect. Do they make a show of it? How hard is this going to be to sit there at our new church where we knew people, but we didn't know people super well? We'd only been there a few months, having never done Mother's Day there.
And I had left Mother's Day church services in tears before, even during those years of infertility, before going through losses, it was just so painful to be there. And I wanted to just rejoice with those families that were rejoicing and it was so difficult for me to do. And I wanted to. I really wanted to, but it was so painful when that's what you want so badly.
And so we decided to go. We said, “We're going to give it a shot.” And that day I'm so glad we went. It was very encouraging. I feel like they prayed over all of the women in different stages of life, and women who had lost mothers, and women who were adopting, or walking through infertility, or had lost children, or had toddlers at home, or were sending teenagers out.
There was a time of prayer just for women in the church and how we love and mother those around us through discipleship, and I feel like there was just such an emphasis on that. And then they specifically talked about God's heart for adoption and how God has adopted us as His children when we come to Jesus, We are His children, and really talked about that.
And then they announced that our church was going to be starting a new foster care ministry. And they asked this local foster agency, this family who had adopted their kids and worked through the foster care agency and then also the people who ran the agency or worked with the agency, and they had them share their stories at the very end and announced their church is going to start this ministry.
And I just felt this like stirring in my heart. And we walked out of the service and I looked at my husband and I was like, “I want to do foster care.”
And he said, “Me, too. I couldn't shake it the whole time we were sitting there.”
And so very quickly we met with the couple who worked for the agency. We filled out our application. We had a date with a social worker. We were so excited about it. I was praying and we were praying the whole time, because we knew we jumped into it very quickly.
And we said, “Lord, if this is not what You have for our family, whether at all or in this season, make it very clear to us. Close the door. Just prompt us, because we're going to move forward, because we don't feel like it's clear either way at this point. But slam the door shut in our face if this isn't what You have for us.”
And so we were excited about it. I felt such optimism and hope and really was reading everything I could and trying to educate myself on foster care, and really felt like I was in a place for it. I really felt I could love kids no matter how long I have them in my home, because I know what that's like to do with a child that I didn't know how long I'd have, and just felt like I was able to give Ethan my all knowing I was going to say goodbye eventually. And so we were all in.
And I had an appointment with my doctor that next month, just to check out my cysts and see how things were going, because he had told me, “If you want to try some natural things, I can't really advise you on it. But if you want to try it, I'll retest you. I'll retest you and see what your levels are and we'll see how it works.” Like basically, “I give you my support, but I can't actually prescribe or tell you what to do with that.”
I had my appointment scheduled and I went in and had my scan, and my doctor told me, “Your cysts are gone completely. And are you aware that you're pregnant?”
Ashley Opliger: [00:26:10] Oh, my goodness!
Kristin Hernandez: [00:026:10] And I was like, “No, no idea.”
And my doctor said, “Well, the test,” because they make you take a test when you get there. And at that point I would roll my eyes at them because in this time, this was a full year after our last miscarriage, and my periods had been all over the place, and we just knew.
They had told me last time, “You're not even likely ovulating at all because of everything we're seeing.”
And so I was in shock because I didn't realize my period was that late, because my periods had been so irregular, and so came home and told my husband, “They told me that I'm pregnant. We are pregnant. We're expecting again.”
And so we continued praying, “All right, Lord, if You want us to not do foster care, show us this, because it's seeming like maybe this is You rerouting us,” and went to my next appointment and it was with a tech. They just did a scan. They got me an early scan because of my history. And they did the early scan and I didn't get to see anything. And they were asking me all kinds of questions during the scan about, “How did you conceive,” and all these things.
And in hindsight, I didn't think anything of the questions, until the doctor sat me down after and said, “I'm glad you're sitting down. I wanted you to know that there are two healthy heartbeats that we found in your ultrasound. You're carrying twins, and they look good.”
Ashley Opliger: [00:27:23] Wow!
Kristin Hernandez: [00:027:32] “They look great. You have two.”
And so we went home that day and we withdrew our application, because we felt like, “This is not the time.” And the agency we were going through, they don't allow you to receive placements or even to be active if you have children under the age of one in your home.
And so we were like, “Well, this is confirmation.” And now I'm going to have a twin pregnancy, which any pregnancy after a loss is going to be a pregnancy where I'm going to need to really try to really minimize stress if I can. And also, a twin pregnancy is going to be a high-risk pregnancy anyway. And so we just really felt confirmation and peace that we needed to withdraw.
So we withdrew from foster care, from the application, and we just started to prepare to have these twins. And we saw their heartbeats again and they were just growing so well, and we were just like, “All right.” We were researching double strollers.
And at this point, and I'm sure we'll circle back around to some of my journey with Jesus through all of this, but at this point I had come through this intense season of wrestling and doubt. And prior to, I think around the third miscarriage, is where I really began to feel this indescribable peace and this understanding that God is good and really believing it. Not just saying it, but really believing it. “God is good, even if I never carry another baby in my womb. God is good, even if not.”
And even before we started pursuing foster care, when I was just having the PCOS diagnosis, I started to really grapple with God and come face to face with the question of, “Kristin, what will you think of Me even if I never give you this? Who am I to you, regardless? And who are you even if I never ever give you this thing that you’re striving after?”
And I really felt like I came to this peace of like: Yes, of course, I would always want to be a mother, and that was okay. And also at the same time, trusting that God is good and has a plan and is going to use my life and for His glory, even if it doesn't look like how I thought it would and even if I never bring another child into my home.
Ashley Opliger: [00:29:48] Such a place of surrender, too.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:029:50] It was such a place of surrender.
Ashley Opliger: [00:29:50] I think that is when you get to that place in your walk with Jesus, where you can say, “These are the desires of my heart, Lord, that I feel like You placed in my heart, but I'm willing to surrender those because I believe in You, and I trust You, and I love You, Jesus, more than I love any earthly thing.”
Even if it's like you said, a good thing, a good gift. We know that children are a gift from God. But I think when you're in your Christian walk and you can get to a place of, like you said, even if. “Even if You don't give me a baby, even if this happens, I still love You, God, and I can walk with You through that.”
That's a hard place to get to, but I think it's also a beautiful place in your Christian walk because I think it really resembles what Jesus asks us to do, “Pick up your cross and follow Me.” That's where we're going with Jesus, is following Him, no matter the cost and no matter the sacrifices that we make, but it's extremely hard.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:30:53] Absolutely. I couldn't agree more with every single thing you said. And you touched on something, too, of these good things, these things like children and our marriages. These are good things that God gifts to us and entrusts us with, but I think there is this temptation, I know for me, to make those things the main thing. And these are gifts that, yes, we should praise God when He generously gives us those things. But I didn't deserve those things. He didn't owe it to me.
And He in His goodness has given us some of those things and how there are these good things that He uses and that glorify Him. But there's this temptation to make that my idol and to put that at what I'm living for and realizing, “No, Jesus is what I'm living for. And I could lose everything else, absolutely everything else, and if I have Jesus, then I have everything I need.” And I really felt that peace and that surrender.
And so I think when we found out we were expecting twins, I was like, “All right, Lord, You are giving me this thing that I've wanted, and I trust You that You are good, even if we don't bring these babies home.”
But also, that was the desire of my heart, and like you said, “The desire, Lord, that You've given me, and so help me know what to do with it and how to glorify You in it, even when it's an unfulfilled desire.”
And so everything was going great with the twins, and we were so excited and just really began to pray, “Lord, we devote them to You and we thank You for, in this time where we were not pursuing pregnancy, that You gave us these two babies that are developing well and are doing great.”
And so when I was 10-and-a-half weeks pregnant, I went to another appointment and I told my husband, “Go to work. I'll go by myself. We've already had two appointments where there were good heartbeats. I'm not even in the second trimester yet. I'm almost done with the first, but we still have a few more weeks until we're there. And I'm going to have so many appointments now because the twin pregnancy, just save your time off for later and I'll go by myself and I'll be fine.”
I went, and I got there and met with my doctor. And as soon as she turned on the Doppler, I knew immediately because I knew there were two babies and to not be able to find either heartbeat probably means something is going on. “I don't think they're alive anymore,” I just knew immediately.
She did an ultrasound. She said, “I am so sorry. It looks like they're measuring a week behind where they should be.” She's like, “It's looking like around nine, between nine and 10 weeks, they stopped growing,” she said, “but I don't want to jump to conclusions yet. I want to send you to get another ultrasound with the specialty department that has a little bit better equipment. And before we make any decisions and before we make a plan from here, I just want you to have that peace of mind and a second opinion.”
And so the second opinion just really confirmed what I feel like I already knew the moment she turned the Doppler on, was that our babies had both died. And so I really felt just so broken and I was like, “Lord, five. Five babies.”
And I really wrestled with Him and was like, “Lord, I trust You, but was there a better way to tell us no to foster care in this season? And was there a better way, rather than things looking so good, and feeling like, ‘This is it and it's twins, and there's two of them,’ and then for them now to be gone?”
And so I ended up having a D&C the next day. My doctor said, “At this point, just with it being two, and with you being a little farther on, and the other miscarriages, I really don't want you to do that at home. I really recommend you delivering here.”
And so she told me all of my options and I ended up opting for the D&C, and so the next day, I came back and had a D&C. And after that we said, “I don't think we're going to do this anymore. We've already come to this place of peace with this not being what our family looked like.”
And I feel like the pregnancy with the twins rekindled this, I mean, the desire was always there, and it was always something that even in the surrender I would talk to Jesus about. “I still desire this. The desire is not gone, but my hope is elsewhere. My hope has been redirected, but I still long for this, although where my ultimate hope is and all of that, that is somewhere else. And I trust You in that.”
And at that point we said, “I think we're completely done. I don't know what God has for us next. It doesn't seem like it's foster care in this season. It doesn't seem like it's pregnancy in this season. We don't know what it is. We’re just going to focus on other things.”
And so in that time, in those next few months, my husband, and it's interesting because he was also very like, “I can't ever watch you go through this again. I don't ever want to watch you go through this again,” which I understood.
I understood where he was coming from. I know it was so hard for him to watch and to feel helpless in so many moments of only being able to do so much. And so he came to me a few months, it was two months after we lost the twins, and said, “I don't know what it is, but I just can't shake this feeling that we should try one more time.”
And I looked at him and was like, “You're crazy. I'm never doing this again. Never, ever. I'm so terrified of ever getting pregnant again. And no. I don't want to do this again.” And we talked about it and I agreed, and it was definitely a two-way conversation. We were talking it through and he was very understanding of my fears. He was like, “I know. I felt that way too, but I just can't shake it. I think we should try one more time.”
And we together decided, “How about until the end of the year?” This was in September. “How about until the end of the year we don't try to prevent it and we just see what happens?” And I am fairly certain that within the week we got pregnant for the sixth time.
And I was scared, very, very scared again to be pregnant with our sixth baby after losing five. And we went to all of our appointments, and had a lot of early scans.
My doctors were very proactive with me. They said, “We're going to just do scans on your cervix every other week, just to see if it's getting shorter. We're going to put you on progesterone, just in case that helps. We're just going to do everything for you. We'll be very proactive. We're going to get you in with the high-risk doctors really early. That's going to be your primary doctor. Your primary OB is going to be with a maternal fetal medicine specialist. You're just going to be bumped up.”
And so everything was going great. I was having my cervix measured every two weeks and everything was looking long and nice. And when I was 20 weeks pregnant, well, even sooner, around 16, they did a full anatomy scan and they said, “Everything looks wonderful. We're going to keep doing this. Next time we see you we'll do another one.”
And in 20 weeks my doctor said, “Everything looks perfect. I am going to dismiss you to a normal OB because I don't think you need me anymore. I am telling you, this is a textbook normal, healthy pregnancy. You'll have a healthy baby, no reason to be concerned. I'm going to see you one more time when you're 22 weeks.”
Ashley Opliger: [00:38:37] Wow.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:038:37] And then I think around 24, he said, “I'm going to dismiss you.”
So when I was 22 weeks pregnant, I showed up, and my doctor scanned my cervix and said, “I did not see this coming, but you're dilating.”
No one saw this coming. I don't know what happened. I mean, it was a miracle. It was the grace of God that he even told me then, he's like, “I think he could stop seeing me now, but I want you to breathe easy. I'll see you until,” I think he said 24. He said, “I'll see you two more times, until 24 I'll see you, because then you can breathe a little easier.”
And so he said, “You need to go to Labor and Delivery right now.”
And I was, as you can probably understand and imagine, I was a wreck. I was a complete wreck. And I was like, “Lord, why?” I was in my mind convinced, we are losing our sixth baby and after everything has looked wonderful, they discovered I had incompetent cervix, which I don't know if I had it before. I don't know if it was having multiple deliveries and having a D&C and all a combo of things, or if this was something I had always had. I don't know.
But they admitted me to the hospital and we prayed. Everybody told me, “We're going to try to get you to 24 (weeks). We're going to do everything we can to get you to 24 (weeks). We can't give you steroid shots for your baby's lungs until your 24th (week). That's just our hospital policy. The NICU won't meet with you until then.” There were so many things, it just felt like, “We're just going to put you on bedrest and give you stuff to hopefully slow you down, and give you a bunch of IVs and have you lay down and just hope that your baby stays in.”
And so I prayed every single day. Honestly my prayers in that moment were, “Lord, help me believe You can protect my baby, even if You choose to do it in a different way. Even if You say no, help me to believe You are capable because I am doubting. ‘Help my unbelief,’ like that prayer of, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Help me to believe that You are powerful and You are good even if You don't do this. Even if You don't do this, help me to believe You can.”
And so we just prayed for another day. It was every night, I went to bed not knowing, “Will I be pregnant tomorrow,” and just prayed, “Lord, give us one more day with this baby, who seems to be perfectly healthy and my body is just trying to kick him out early.”
And so a day turned into a week, and that turned into two, and this is already a very long story that I'm giving the most condensed version possible, really. But by the grace of God and a complete and utter miracle I was on hospital bed rest in the hospital for 10 weeks.