Faith

Walking through fire: We lost our baby at 27 weeks, but there is hope

Sarah De Winne // July 28, 2020, 1:58 pm

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Image courtesy of Sarah De Winne.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:2, NKJV)

I remember lying down on a Tuesday evening thinking that the baby was very quiet. We were expecting our third child who was over 27 weeks in the womb now. The check-up with our obstetrician on Monday had gone well.

I let myself drift into sleep, not thinking too much about it. Wednesday was another busy day… but by evening it felt strange that I hadn’t felt any movement from her.

Upon reaching the labour ward, three medical professionals were unable to detect a heartbeat with two different machines. Our obstetrician rushed down to simply confirm the grave reality — we had to induce labour for our already lifeless baby to be born or risk life-threatening infection.

Nadia Joy De Winne was born on November 15,  2019, at 0220 hours. Originally due on February 10, 2020, she was so beautifully formed.

We could see she had my lips, Daddy’s nose and sharp chin; her form was lanky and long, very much like my own. On the very day she entered this world, we had to let her go, and we held a small cremation ceremony with a simple eulogy.

In the moments of post-partum recovery, my husband Mark and I asked rhetorically: Why do we have to go through this, yet another dramatic incident in the year, after all that we’ve gone through already?

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But my spirit responded: God must have an amazing destiny ahead for us.

I wish I didn’t have to go through what I did. But being God’s precious daughter, I have now experienced that the fires we face in the “tests and trials of life” don’t have to be destructive fires, but refining ones.

If you are going through fire as I have been, take heart, that we may come forth as gold – purer, wiser and stronger than before.

LESSONS FROM THE FIRE

1. You do not have to be ashamed

Trials that we go through often have shame attached to them in some way. If you are suffering the unexpected and sudden loss of something or someone dear to you, please know that it is not your fault. 

Going through a loss of an unborn child, I asked and almost condemned myself – could I have done something to prevent this from happening? Did I exercise too much? Did I not eat right? Is there something biologically wrong with me?

But it only serves to be a negative thought cycle of shame, fear and doubt, one that the enemy is more than happy to keep us trapped in.

There is a remedy for that guilt you’re feeling

You don’t have to be held captive by the shame or the past or even a false sense of guilt. The most practical step in walking out of darkness into God’s marvellous light is to declare that all shame has been taken away by Jesus himself.

“… We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

Recognise that the spirit of shame has no power in the light of the Cross and that condemning thoughts are not your thoughts. If Jesus overcame the shame of the sinner’s cross, you can take hold of that same victory in Him who dwells in you (Hebrews 12:2).

Actively receive God’s love and forgiveness on a daily basis. It’s the only way you can forgive yourself and others who may be involved in the situation and release yourself from any shame.

2. Ask for what you need

Put yourself in the right environment and reach out to your community for help. You’ll need time to heal, reset, charge up, and press on.

Your physical environment does matter, as does your social and spiritual environment. For example, we stayed with my parents for a week so that they could provide much-needed support for us and our two older children, Ines and Leon.

Make it intentional so that nothing will hinder you from grieving and healing well for the next season. This means getting enough rest — physical, spiritual, mental, creative and social rest.

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Did you know there are different types of rest? Check out this quiz and find out what kind of rest you really need. I found that I really lacked physical and creative rest the most — creative rest being what we need for us to be inspired to create.

One of the most cathartic moments in our journey was when Mark and I sat at the piano together and wrote a song for Nadia. Sometimes being honest and releasing your feelings to God takes art.

Intercession is another practical covering at this time. Actively ask your leaders and church community for prayer. Intercession has surely covered us when we didn’t know how to pray or think anymore. We cannot thank the Lord enough for those who constantly pray for us, even now.

3. Choose to praise through the storm

This may seem ironic, but I believe that trials precede potential breakthroughs. Our response to the uncalled challenges in life will determine the new paths we forge. And to us, praise is the most powerful response there is.

Praise ushers in the presence of God in the most tangible way possible, where we enthrone Him in whatever situation we face. For us, that meant praising the Lord and giving Him worship in the hospital ward while waiting for labour pains to come, already knowing Nadia was home with Him.

That meant putting aside our tears and lifting our tired voices to say “You are my champion” in the face of death. That meant singing He Knows My Name at Nadia’s cremation because God’s knowledge of our every personal detail shows His deep love for us.

The De Winne family just a day before Nadia was delivered through induced labour.

Not because of the situation do we praise, but because of who He is. He is worthy to be praised and His worth never changes. 

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NLT)

As Christians, it is promised that we have already won – we fight from victory and not for it. We don’t need to know how – just that God has given us a far mightier Spirit that can release joy and power into our situation. Meditate on and declare the truths of God’s word over the situation. Have faith over feelings.

See a Victory by Elevation Worship has been a constant anthem in my heart. I’ve found that declarations of victory begin in the mediations of the heart, for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).

What worship does to us

4. Renew your purpose again

Yes, a season of trial is the perfect time to renew your purpose. A piece of advice given by my dear uncle after the loss of Nadia was to “keep busy”. Indeed, life goes on, and we must wait in the shelter of the Almighty and constantly allow Him to show us purpose in the everyday.

For us, it was as simple as recognising an opportunity to build more deeply into our marriage and with our two children. That said, you don’t have to wait for a wake-up call for you to start to search for meaning in the mundane.

We also launched a new business, Taizjo, just two weeks after Nadia Joy went to heaven. Crazy, most people must have thought. How can you start a new business at this time? Why don’t you just rest? Isn’t it too much to be working when you should be recovering? 

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But this is how we saw it: the more the enemy tries to throw defeat at us, the more we know we cannot let voices of discouragement and complacency prevent us from going where we were heading. For us, we had planned this new business for months.

We launched the business with little expectation. But at the end of February, just 3 months after launching, we received our 500th order to close the month, and I know that it was nothing short of a miracle and a sign from the Lord that we were moving in the right direction to partner with Him using our abilities.

There’s no better time than now to take on a stewardship approach to life. Ask the Lord to show you the blessings, gifts and resources that you already have, and how He wishes for you to bless others with them.

There is purpose in every day, a time for everything under heaven. Ask the Lord to reveal what this time is for. Ecclesiastes 3 gives a guide to the seasonal nature of life. Is it for sowing or reaping? For mending or tearing down? A time to kill or to heal?

Purpose in pain

The fire you’re going through may be the very catalyst for such reflection, but after we have walked through a difficult season, we can continue in the discipline of renewing our purpose regularly – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly.

These times are precious to the Lord as we consider how we can continue to live a life poured out for His kingdom rather than being caught up in self-pity and losing hope. And even if you can’t see the light at the tunnel just yet, you can trust that God makes everything beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

5. Know that you are seen and loved

What can make suffering so unbearable is when it seems uncommon, uncanny or unusual. I asked the doctors how common it was to have a healthy baby with normal scans and tests to stop moving in utero: it was a 1% or less chance!

It’s easy to think, “How could this happen to me? Why of all people do I have to be the one?” or “Does God not see me? Did He abandon me in my great hour of need?”

We must hold on to the truth that God is always in control and that He works things out for the good of those who love Him. What happened to you or me did not happen because He closed His eyes for a second or helplessly watched bad things come our way.

Death, where is your sting?

In 1 Peter 2:9 we are reminded that we are God’s chosen, His special possession, people who are called to step out of darkness and into His light. We can trust in the promise that His love for us has not wavered or changed even with the brokenness and death in this world.

Instead of blaming God or pushing the sorrow aside, we can show up as we are in a tender vulnerability that gives Him glory. We don’t have to pretend we are strong, neither do we need to stay in the pit of self-pity – we can hope in Him.

He always has a plan of redemption to restore order to chaos. He always sees refining even when the devil only sees destruction.

And He is always in the fire with us.

Sarah is the founder of lifestyle accessories brand Taizjo, a mother of two beautiful kids and adoring wife to Mark. She’s also a creative producer and pop/R&B singer-songwriter known for her award-winning song, “Love-Shape Void”. If you have any thoughts to share or questions for her, she would love to hear from you on Instagram.

THINK + TALK

  1. Have you experienced something that trapped you in guilt and shame?
  2. Recall a difficult season of your life, who did you reach out to for help? Who supported you?
  3. What was the experience of worship and praise like in that season?
  4. Were you somehow able to find a renewed sense of purpose?
  5. How do you process suffering that you go through now?