'But God said to me, “My GRACE is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9'

Our story

Jeremy and I were so excited to start 2011 by finding out we were expecting the birth of our first child, but sadly as well as welcoming her into our world, we also had to farewell her and give her back to the Lord. Hannah Grace Frances is our beautiful daughter who was born on earth on August 29th, 2011, and born into heaven on September 4th, 2011. This is our story.

The first scan went well – everything looked normal and the baby was growing as it should. However further down the track at our second routine scan, the doctors discovered a few abnormalities. We went for another scan, and more concerns were discovered. Jeremy and I were so scared – what would this mean for our baby? And for us? How would we cope if our baby was sick, or had to have surgery? We were told later that week that there was a chance our baby had a life threatening condition, although the doctors couldn’t be sure, and had a list of over 10 possible conditions. This came as a huge shock; we didn’t know how to process this kind of news. Our emotions were all over the place, and it felt like our dreams for our family had been shattered. There were so many unknowns that we had to learn to live with, and trust God with, for the rest of the pregnancy. There was nothing we had done to cause her health issues, but sadly there was nothing we could do to fix them either.

All the doctors could suggest was ‘terminating the pregnancy’, but this was never an option for us. Although it is presented as the easy way out, in the long term we knew it would only bring about guilt on top of the grief. Instead, Jeremy and I chose to love her and to carry her for as long as the Lord granted us that privilege. Not that this was easy. While as Christians we do believe that abortion is wrong, as we think every life is special and of immense value, our decision wasn’t solely based on this conviction. Our baby was a gift to us from the Lord, and we love her desperately; so we wanted to do everything within our power to protect her and give her every chance. However we would never judge someone who has made different choices to us - we understand the immense pressure that parents can be under. And we serve a God who offers forgiveness and wants to heal our wounds. For Jeremy and I, we decided to hold on to hope in the Lord, and pray for a miracle healing for our baby. We knew God was capable of healing her, and we planned as if this would be the case. But we also knew sometimes He allows painful things to happen; for reasons we might never fully understand.

The doctors told us if she had the suggested condition she probably wouldn’t make it to full term, and may not survive the birth process. We prayed constantly for her, as did many of our family and friends, and we treasured each day of the pregnancy as this was special time with her. We had so many ups and downs during the pregnancy, and many answered prayers! At every hospital appointment our specialist was surprised by how active our baby was. And our amazing little girl beat the odds and was born by planned caesarean at 38 weeks, and was even crying and breathing by herself! She was the most beautiful baby we had ever seen. The doctors couldn’t believe how strong she was (such an answer to prayer), and they thought maybe her condition wasn’t so bad after all.

10 minutes old
Sadly at the end of her first day, the neonatologist told us that tests had confirmed Hannah's condition was life threatening. They didn't know if she would even last overnight, let alone much longer. But yet again Hannah beat the odds, and the Lord gifted us with 6 wonderful days with her. She was so alert and responsive in that time – and very strong willed and stubborn too! She was a little fighter, not at all weak like the doctors expected. We held her almost constantly because we wanted to maximise every moment with her (and also partly because she cried so much when we put her into her cot!). The hospital staff were amazing, and once I was discharged they arranged a parents room on the neonatal floor for Jeremy and I to stay in so we could sleep just down the corridor from Hannah. I hated leaving her, and there is no way I could have gone home at night, so we were so thankful for that room. Jeremy and I only left her side to eat our meals, and to sleep; each morning we went to the neonatal unit before breakfast, and didn't go back to our room for the night until around midnight. When we had to pop out to eat our meals, one of Hannah's Grandparents would stay with her and hold her. So she was in her family's arms for most of her life! She was kissed and cuddled, rocked, talked to, sung to, and prayed for. 

Hannah's favourite thing was to be held and talked to by her Mummy and Daddy, and she was so calm and settled whenever she was in our arms. During her regular awake periods, she would gaze into our eyes and listen intently as we talked to her. And talk back to us with her sweet little baby sounds! We loved her passionately, and treasured every single moment with her. We also had lots of hard moments though; with different medical procedures, and numerous times later in the week where her oxygen levels dropped and we almost lost her. Those times were so scary, as each time we didn't know if she would pick up again or not. Our world felt like it was complete, and yet falling apart, all at the same time.

Gazing into daddy's eyes

Even though there was so much pain in those days, as we struggled to come to terms with the thought of having to say goodbye, the joy and love Hannah Grace brought us definitely overshadowed the pain. Whenever we were with her we felt the Lord’s peace. There was something so special about Hannah that deeply touched not only our family and friends, but also all the medical staff that got to meet her. She radiated God’s love and joy.

By the end of the week, Hannah was having trouble breathing and retaining enough oxygen in her little body. Through that last night I held her close for many many long hours; reassuring her, kissing her gorgeous face, and loving her in every way I knew how. And at the start of her 7th day, Hannah Grace died in my arms and went to be with the Lord. It is the hardest thing in the world to watch your baby die, and as her parents it broke our hearts. There are no words to describe the utter devastation and pain that we felt as we watched her slip away. A part of us died that day too. But we are thankful that through the whole process Hannah knew nothing but unconditional love from her family. She went straight from my arms, into the arms of her Father in Heaven. She is now in a place of perfect peace – it is only us who are left behind who have to suffer.

The grief, loss, and emptiness we feel at losing our first child seems unbearable; but we know one day we will be reunited with her in Heaven. How we long for that day! And in the meantime, we trust God will give us the strength and grace we need. We love Hannah and miss her more than words can describe, and will forever treasure the memories we have with her. She will always be our oldest child and precious daughter, and will remain a very important part of our family.

Hannah's short life has touched the lives of uncountable people - God really has used her in amazing ways. The stories of the impact she has had continue to amaze us! Her legacy is continuing well past her short little life. We wouldn’t change any of the decisions we made; looking back we definitely have no regrets in choosing to carry our precious baby to term. In fact, it was a privilege. Although the pain is so intense from losing Hannah, we have grief but no guilt; and we have so much joy too. We wouldn’t trade the time we had with her for the world, in fact we would do it all over again if it would give us extra time with our precious daughter. Carrying your baby knowing they might not live long is hard; but through God's strength it can be a journey that brings deep love, joy, and peace amongst the pain.

For Jeremy and I now, it is so hard to face life without our precious first child. We desperately miss her and long to have her here with us. I cry more than I ever imagined was possible. But God has, and is, carrying us through every step of the way; and as He promises, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. In Him, we grieve with hope.

We are so thankful to the Lord for the precious gift He gave us of Hannah Grace Frances.

New update: Hannah is now a big sister! On October 28th, 2012, we welcomed our second daughter into the world - Abigail Sophia :) She is such a sweet wee girl and we are loving having her at home with us! Then on August 6th 2014 we had our second rainbow baby, a son, Ezra Samuel. He is doing so well too and is such a wonderful blessing.

Psalm 139:13-16
13 "For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be."