‘I know we’ll see her again’
How does a fully formed, healthy baby just slip away,…
After struggling for three years with infertility, Jenna and Sean Vasquez, members of The Park Church of Christ in Tulsa, Okla., were elated when they were finally able to deliver and bring home their baby boy, Noah. That was in 2009.
Years later, when they decided to add to their family, they had no idea the painful road they were about to travel.
In 2015, Jenna discovered she was pregnant. A test later confirmed the pregnancy didn’t fully implant.
Within weeks, she was pregnant again. Things seemed OK until the end of her first trimester. There were signs something was wrong. She didn’t miscarry, like the doctor thought she would. But, for weeks, things felt uneasy. Then, at 22 weeks pregnant, she was admitted to the hospital for a few days before going home. At 24 weeks, she found herself back at the hospital. This time she was in labor.
“We just never foresaw anything but delivering our baby,” Vasquez said.
Poppy Lynn Vasquez was born July 2015. The precious little girl her husband had prayed for lived just four hours.
Vasquez talks openly about that day and the weeks leading up to it in a podcast she hosts called “1 in 4: You Are Not Alone” — which according to some studies is the ratio of pregnancies that end with a loss.
“From the moment you get pregnant, you start planning the future and everything about that child — your hopes and dreams,” she said. “When you lose your child, those hopes and dreams go away. … It feels like your world shatters.”
‘PEOPLE TEND TO ACT LIKE THE PREGNANCY NEVER EXISTED’
Vasquez has partnered with the Oklahoma nonprofit Kids Joining Eternity to host the podcast, highlighting those who have been personally affected by infant loss.
“The goal is to give a space for women to talk about their stories and share their experiences and to know that they are not alone in this journey,” she said.
Melanie Edwards, founder of Kids Joining Eternity and a member of the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City, said the podcast is a way to offer support and hope to women who wouldn’t otherwise know where to turn.
“Just knowing that there are other people out there” helps, Edwards said. “It’s helping these women move forward in life.”
Edwards lost her own child, Kendal Janae, in 2005. Years later, she met Jenna Vasquez through a Kids Joining Eternity support group. They quickly became friends. The podcast later grew out of that friendship.
The conversations are raw, about miscarriage and infant loss. The women, men, siblings and even grandparents or friends of those who have experienced a loss are all included in podcast episodes.
“Doing the podcast gives me a chance to give their lives purpose,” Vasquez told The Christian Chronicle.
AN ‘EXPLICIT’ TOPIC?
Getting started wasn’t easy.
Vasquez has a degree in communications, so she had the skill and knowledge to get started. What she didn’t expect was the struggle to get it approved for release.
At first, her application to get the podcast listed was denied. The content was labeled as explicit.
Vasquez said that was even more reason for her to push forward, to “normalize” the topic.
“There are podcasts about everything, and I thought this would be a cool way to reach out to women who have gone through loss and help them to feel like, ‘People are talking about it, so it’s OK for me to talk about it,’” Vasquez said.
“I wouldn’t not acknowledge your grandparents that passed away. This is the same.”
It’s also given her community, connection with families who understand her pain.
And it’s helped her teach others how they can better support those who have experienced a loss.
“When you’re pregnant and you have a loss, people tend to act like that pregnancy never existed,” she said. “I wouldn’t not acknowledge your grandparents that passed away. This is the same.”
While she knows the topic can make people uncomfortable, she said simply ignoring it can cause more pain, feelings of loneliness and even shame to the grieving family.
ADVICE FOR THOSE SUFFERING
To those who have friends and loved ones that have gone through a similar loss, Vasquez offers this advice:
• Remember the date of the loss;
• Call their baby by name;
• Acknowledge that it was real and that it did happen.
“Sadness in a loss is normal. Pain in a loss is normal,” Vasquez said. “Women would appreciate the acknowledgment of this loss.”
IT’S OK NOT TO BE OK
The Vasquezes’ story doesn’t end with Poppy Lynn’s death. They had a miscarriage later that same year, 2015.
Then, last fall, just before the anniversary of Poppy Lynn’s birth, they found out they were pregnant.
They were understandably nervous, but things were progressing. Then, in January, Jenna, at just 18 weeks pregnant, delivered another angel baby, Libi Rose.
They had just moved to Tulsa a few months earlier but found their new church family surrounding them. In those painful days to follow, when she found herself asking why, friends surrounded her with love, and one had a special message of encouragement.
“She said, ‘It’s OK for you not to pray. It’s OK to be mad because we’re here. We’re here to pray when you can’t.’ It gave me peace to know that they were praying and that when I was ready, I could,” she said.
It also reminded her that sometimes it’s OK not to be OK.
“I think it’s really important to know that the church really does a lot in helping someone heal,” she said.
Vasquez plans to continue the podcast. She’ll keep telling the stories and sharing the heartache, the hope and the healing that come with infant loss.
She says each baby featured on the podcast will never be forgotten.
Their families will find a way to move forward without them, but their memory will always follow.
We have compiled a list of podcasts hosted by people associated with Churches of Christ. Check out the list HERE.
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