The End of Our Path

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The end of our path….After what seemed like the longest 5 months of my life leading up to Leilah’s birth- I was so surprised it was over so quickly. 3 1/2 days of non-stop cuddling, kissing her perfect lips, her hands wrapped so tightly around my fingers that they turned white. She was so beautiful, so strong. 3 1/2 days of love and pain, joy and sorrow like I had never expierenced. Going into this uncharted territory I didn’t know what to expect. I was surprised by the peace of it but yet side swiped by how hard too. It was much harder than I imagined because I didn’t know I would love her so much.

The end of our path. I write it but I have a hard time believing it. There are moments throughout my day where I feel like I can’t breathe, my heart aches and in disbelief I think ‘did I really walk through that? Is this journey really done?’ Today is 3 weeks since Leilah was born. Everyday that passes I find difficult. It’s one more day away from her, away from the smell of her skin, the sound of her breathing, her perfect lips that always puckered when I kissed them…I keep looking at pictures, listening to the recording of her heartbeat, anything I can do to keep it all fresh in my heart, to keep those memories alive. I know they will fade. I resent the days going by but I shouldn’t. Yes they feel like they are taking me away from her but really they are bringing me closer to her. Closer to the day that I walk into heaven and hear her squeal MOMMY! and watch as she runs into my arms, whole & healed. I am homesick for that day.

I’m still trying to process all that has happened so forgive my long and chopping writing. Also I’m still discovering things God did in the midst of the craziness. As much as my prayers were for a miracle – meaning that her skull would be formed perfectly and she would live a long happy life – we had so many other miracles surrounding us during our time with her. For starters her defect was pretty extreme, worse than the pictures I’ve accidentally seen, worse than I understood from the ultrasound, but she was born ALIVE and beautiful- so beautiful. About seventy-five percent of anencephalic babies are stillborn, those that are born alive may live minutes or hours, we had 3 1/2 days. She felt no pain, she was so peaceful and cuddly. We were surrounded by nurses, doctors and a beautiful midwife that were so supportive and loving. The children’s hospice home was incredible, it fulfilled all our needs at such a delicate time. And it was surprisingly completely covered by our insurance. I could go on but basically it was like every ‘i’ was dotted and every ‘t’ was crossed in this grand finale. In a situation where all I could do was surrender and just live in the moment, God proved that He was very much in charge and very much a good God. He was there every minute, every step. There was a blanket of peace surrounding us the entire time.

The blanket of peace…when we were at Bethel we asked a rather well known man to pray for Leilah, when he prayed it wasn’t this crazy healing prayer like I expected, he simply asked that the Shalom of heaven to be over her, for His complete peace to be over us.

Her birth-
When it came time to push Nick and I looked at each other nervously, this is it- she’s either healed or not healed. Life or death have been in the balance for months as we prayed and in the next few seconds we would find our answer. We felt a mix of emotions, a bit of fear of the unknown but nervously excited. As I gave the final push, she slipped out and Nick started crying. I knew in an instant she wasn’t healed. Like a scene from a movie a song started right then, ‘He is Jealous for Me’ by David Crowder Band. ‘Oh how he loves us’ the lyrics rang out and into the deepest fiber of my being there was peace. As my midwife put her on my chest I saw her unformed skull and held her close it was like a blanket of peace engulfed us. In these moments I knew His love hadn’t failed, He loved her more than I did or ever could, He loves us more than we understand, we were still in His hands, still anchored in His love even though we didn’t get the answer we wanted. He had and has a plan. There in the hospital room there was Shalom, His complete peace.

The night she was fading I held her hands and put my face close to hers soaking in everything I could, telling her that I loved her. I had the image of my heart breaking but all the broken pieces were in His hands. As painful as it was this ridiculous unrelenting peace anchored my heart. Then the final moments the next morning as she simply stopped breathing, still tightly clutching my fingers in her hands – there was still a deep peace. And unexpected joy – joy that this was not the end. She faded into the arms of the One who IS LOVE. In a situation where faith is shattered and hearts are wounded HE pulled us close and completely covered us. In the midst of my heart breaking I have never known peace and love so real.  And THAT is a miracle.

At the beginning of the journey God gave us the scripture Psalms 27:13-14 about believing that we would see His goodness, to be brave and courageous, to wait and hope for and expect Him. There were moments (sometimes weeks) where I failed, when fear closed my heart and I had no courage. But in the end we put our hopes in Him and expected His goodness whether she lived or died.
I won’t pretend to understand why she had this defect or why we didn’t see healing. But I don’t regret hoping for a miracle. I don’t regret believing and asking that He do the impossible. We risked our hearts but I now know deep in my heart that even if our petitions ‘fail’ (meaning we don’t see a miracle), that He is still Good, He’s still there right beside us in the midst of the pain, His peace and grace are more than sufficient. HE DOESN’T FAIL. I’m thankful for a Heavenly Father that redeems these hard unfair parts of life. He made our broken path beautiful. I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything. (yes I would trade it for a healthy girl.) If I could go back in time knowing what I know I wouldn’t choose to not walk through this. Carrying her, knowing her, loving her, knowing the tangible presence of God, the deepening of my trust in Him- this path has been priceless.
Our path to Leilah has ended and we’ll never be the same.

Thank you for joining us on this journey. Thank you for the prayer that obviously availed much. Thank you for loving our Leilah and risking your hearts as well. We appreciate it so much.

“It is much better to try and to fail than never have the courage to go after something. Too many missed opportunities lead us into the valley of shadow, where we are a pale version of what we could have been. Passivity, procrastination and caution are all forms of regret. It is where we look back at our fainthearted approach to life and discover how timid we have become. The future is still stretching before us. It is vital that our past does not become our future or regret will shadow us all our lives. Failure is less traumatic than regret.” Graham Cooke

Psalms 27:13-14 [What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.

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35 comments

  1. And heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss…I picture Leilah as that perfect kiss, changing our hearts forever. I cling to, and yet so often fail to remember, that God is Good. Your words have enabled that truth to sink in a bit deeper today…He is. I love you so very much, sweet Aubrey.

  2. As I read your “final” article on this journey. I weep for you… for the peace, pain and love I see… continuing to pray for your family that the feel and touch of Leilah never fades…. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thank you . This is an Amazing Testimony . We celebrated my grandsons 1st bday. that sat. of Leilahs service and I was wrecked as I reflected on our blessing and your loss and yet your testimony of GODs goodness is much greater and higher than mine could ever be ..May our God continue to hide you and your family under his wings of mercy and grace knowing He will restore to you exceedingly and abundantly beyond your wildest dreams . Thank you one again for your faithfulness and your strength. psalm 121.

  4. Aubrey, you r truely amazing. Im glad uve grown in faith, sad for ur loss, but rejoicing with u that u will see Leilah at the true end of your path.
    Thank u so much for sharing this journey with me. I’ve grown too somehow…
    ♡ A

  5. Precious Mamma, what a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your heart with us & revealing some of the most beautiful, intimate moments you’ve experienced with your family. When I read your words here: “Our path to Leilah has ended and we’ll never be the same.” I can’t help but believe that while Leilah’s path here on earth has ended, her journey with you is only just beginning. I believe with all my heart, that through this journey, God will use Leilah’s miracle birth as well as your own testimony, to draw others to Himself. We serve a big God and while we cannot always understand the why’s, He is incredibly faithful to meet us in our deepest of pain & bring the most beautiful outcomes. He always, always makes beauty from ashes. Praying for your family as you walk this journey. Praying God will continue to envelop you with His Love, Peace, Joy & Strength. Praying that He who started this work in you will be faithful to complete it. Incredible testimony of choosing life. Can’t thank you enough for allowing all of us (perfect strangers) to be a part of your journey! Love to you! {Hugs} ♥

    1. Dear Nick & Aubrey, Judy & I have been praying. I think a ministry is being born, a new work, in addition, in His time, Love Dave & Judy Blanchard

  6. Look for praying for malley jane on fb. They too lost a daughter. She lived 22 days. Different health issues but such strong followers of God. Maybe y’all can connect

  7. Your faith is so profound. This unbelievable journey has left me speechless. Your journey has left me amazed at the strength, courage and love that you and Nick have for our Father. I will forever be grateful to you for sharing your journey. I pray that the Lord continues to bless you, for He has an amazing journey for you both. I pray that the Lord continues to strengthen you for I see that this is only the beginning. I pray that the Lord continues to fill you with His grace and love – for you are and will continue to be a HUGE testimony of His glory. May you find peace and know that your memory of your daughter, her touch, her smell, her preciousness will never fade- she is a blessing and you will carry that always.

  8. My heart and love are with you All! Our precious Jesus blessed you with an angel and you will bless many many with your testimony before you see your precious angel again. Thank you for sharing your journey. Thank you for sharing God’s perfect love, HE has made you and your husband a vessel and he will do mighty things! Your daughter graced you for just a moment; but you will have all of eternity together. Prayers to your beautiful family for healing ! Your light shines for all to see! Mary Ann Hale

  9. Awesome testimony of faith and courage and God’s unending Love. His Peace surpasses all understanding in that even in the midst of our storms, He is right there with us. My heart breaks for you but I know that God will continue to be with you as you walk in this new renewed intimate relationship with Him. He has Leilah in His arms and now He has you walking closer with Him and giving your testimony to help others. May God pour out His blessings onto you and your family. Thanks for allowing us to walk this path with you all.

  10. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the path to Leilah. Oh how her short time on this earth left a profound impact on my own heart. Looking forward to that grand reunion in heaven where I will get to meet her. You and your family are deeply loved and continually held in my prayers.

  11. Praying for you and your family. I believe there is nothing so painful as the pain of losing a child. Thank you for sharing. I have friends who ‘many moons ago’ lost their baby to spinal bifida 7 months or so into the pregnancy. I created a journal for them that has blossomed into my ministry of creating customized journals for parents & grandparents. The loss of a baby is set up similar to a baby book. Stores do not carry baby books for when you lost a child. I create them with the theme of the child’s nursery in mind.

    May the Lord give you an extra measure of strength today.

    Blessings

  12. There is nothing more that I could add to such a beautiful love letter. Thank you for sharing Leilah’s life with all of us. Please know that I always keep you and your family close to my heart.

  13. Nick and Aubrey, I grieve with you but at the same time rejoicing that Leilah, your lovely princess, is with her Creator and loving Father. You may not know me but we are one in the Spirit. I read about your incredible/emotional journey through our loving friend, Karen. Tears well up in my eyes as I read this most recent journal, and I could feel your emotion and heartbeat as a mother for her lovely daughter. She will never be forgotten. She has become a part of our lives as well. Blessings to you all – Sonjeh Drainer

  14. Nick and Aubrey, I grieve with you but at the same time rejoicing that Leilah, your lovely princess, is with her Creator and loving Father. You may not know me but we are one in the Spirit. I read about your incredible/emotional journey through our loving friend, Karen. Tears well up in my eyes as I read this most recent journal, and I could feel your emotion and heartbeat as a mother for her lovely daughter. She will never be forgotten. She has become a part of our lives as well. Blessings to you all.

  15. Aubrey,
    You, sweetheart, are an inspiration and one of the strongest women I know. Thank you for sharing your story and for sharing Leilah with all of us. My heart is breaking for you and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried for you and prayed for peace for you and Nick. You’ve brought so many people together with your story and I can’t thank you enough for letting me share it with you. We love you, Aubrey!

  16. Oh Aubrey. Your story is so heartbreaking and beautiful. I cried and cried. No mother (or father) should have to experience this kind of loss. Thank you for your courage to share and open your heart so that others can understand more deeply what it is to love, and what it is to know the One who brings peace that surpasses all understanding. It’s obvious that you’ve received Grace as you walk through the pain of navigating the waves of grief. May that same Grace continue to cover you in the weeks and months to come. He is our Source for when it all feels too hard. So glad you know that. Your writing is a beautiful gift and tribute to Leilah and many will be impacted through your life and hers (as I’m sure they already are). Much love. x

    1. Oh Adriel! I came across your blog last summer while Pinteresting baby announcements. I read it and just couldn’t believe your strength and faith, wondering if my heart could ever survive what you went through. It wasn’t long after I received our own sad news. Thank you for being raw and real with your grief and journey, it’s helped me. He’s good in the midst and in the aftermath. We’ll see our beautiful perfect girls one day -my heart aches for that day!
      I pray you are surrounded with abundance in this new season!
      Aubrey

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