“I hope to share what God has done in our family, so that you might find hope and the courage to see in your life how He brings beauty from ashes.”
Not long after the birth of their son Treyson, Julie Croshaw wrote a letter to friends and family to share this story of God’s goodness in the midst of suffering. Here is an edited version:
After our daughter Natalie was born in October 2012, we began hoping and praying for another child. When she was 18 months old, we were very excited to discover I was pregnant again. Sadly, at my nine-week checkup, we were devastated to learn the baby had stopped growing at six weeks. After another agonizing three weeks, I miscarried in June 2014.
Like many women who miscarry, I struggled with a grief so personal. No one knew that child, except me. While others grieved with me over the loss of a hope for a child, I felt I alone grieved the loss of the child’s presence. In fact, I still calculate and grieve the missed milestones of my baby, River.
During the grieving process, I have experienced two precious jewels of God’s redemption. One has been a transformation of how I felt about being the only one to know the child. This thought was once a source of loneliness and pain. Now, I know I am privileged to have been the only one who knew that little creation of God. His Word teaches in Psalm 139: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” I was the only one given the treasure of caring for River, handcrafted by God, through his or her brief life, and for that, I am thankful.
The other gem I treasure is knowing River is in heaven. I know it sounds trite, and in fact, it was offensive to me when others tried to offer comfort with similar words. Now, this gem gives me peace. Much like I know my own salvation is secure in Christ, I know my child is there. I sometimes get giddy when I think about how I am promised a place with Christ. But now, like David in 2 Samuel 12, I also know I have a child there, and I rejoice.
In September 2015, I had a precious, powerful moment when it seemed God spoke to me, telling me he was giving us a child. A pregnancy test confirmed it.
Then, on November 5, at 11 p.m., I woke up bleeding profusely. I was devastated. We called the after-hours doctor, who confirmed that I was miscarrying. I immediately began to cry out to God.
Against the recommendation of the after-hours doctor, Steven was adamant that we go to the ER. I was determined to be at home to miscarry. We were at a stalemate. Though I cried for wanting to remain in the comfort of my home as darkness fell over me, I could see the fear in his eyes. By God’s grace, I submitted as he asked me to go to the hospital.
At the ER, it was hours before I was examined by a doctor, who confirmed I was miscarrying. I begged her to send me home, but she recommended an ultrasound.
The ultrasound tech was aloof and cold. They hadn’t let Steven back with me. Feeling utterly alone, the darkness of the room gripped my soul. “Please let me go home, God.” My thoughts drifted to trying again. I struggled with such a strong desire for Natalie to have a sibling.
At 5 a.m., the doctor returned. “Actually, this is a viable pregnancy.” As my heart wanted to leap for joy, more words rolled out of her mouth. “But, she’s losing blood from the placenta, it’s very low. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, we will have to take the baby to save the mother’s life.” The world seemed to freeze. I begged for God’s mercy. “Please God, take my life, take my baby, but please God, don’t let it be our decision, or the decision of any medical personnel here to terminate the life of this one You have created.”
I know God doesn’t always answer prayers the way we desire, but I will eternally be grateful for his answer in that moment. The bleeding tapered. I was sent home, elated to know the baby was still alive and developing right on schedule for a 13-week baby in utero.
The next six weeks were grueling as I bled off and on. I must have called my doctor a hundred times. I battled the looming threat that they would have to take the baby, or that Natalie would grow up without me. Oh, I wanted so badly to believe God’s promise to me.
On December 15, at my next ultrasound, it was confirmed that the placenta had moved off the cervix, eliminating the risk of bleeding. From that point on, we were blessed with no complications.
Before I knew it, it was the last day of April. I started labor contractions in Lowe’s that night. We went to the hospital at 4 a.m., and Treyson was born in the afternoon of May 1.
Today, as much as my heart leaps with joy for all three of my babies, how much my husband loves and cares for us, how spoiled we are by our parents and how fulfilled we are by friendships, I know my contentment and joy does not rest in these good gifts.
My heart will experience and even conjure anxiety and loss. My circumstances will change. I will suffer. I will be emptied. I will cry. And yet, I have God. It is His presence.
In the Facebook Highlight Reel moments, and in the painful realities of this harsh life, it is God. It is His presence that I crave, I relish, I am carried by. God isn’t good only when we experience happiness. I have learned to trust him and treasure his presence all the more in this. In light of all that our world is heaving with these days, I pray you can taste, touch, feel, and know God himself, His presence — not just his gifts — with every fiber of your being!