JOY Stories


Nicole + Cliff

Trusting God in Loss

On Thursday, August 6, 2020, my world changed forever. At my 38-week gestational appointment, I was weighed and as usual, wobbled to the examination room. I hopped onto the table for the nurse to take my blood pressure and note any questions I needed to discuss with my midwife. The nurse had me lay back and lift my shirt so she could get my little boy’s heartbeat. He had been a little stubborn the past two appointments for this nurse, so we joked that he must be doing it again. After a number of attempts, she grabbed another nurse to help find his heartbeat, and that nurse struggled as well. They asked my midwife if she wanted to come to try or perform an ultrasound instead. My midwife opted for an ultrasound. I was taken into the room and in just a few moments, the sonographer looked at me and said the worst words ever – “I’m so sorry, there isn’t a heartbeat.” In utter shock I asked, “Wait, are you serious??” I felt like it was some kind of cruel joke. After viewing the sonogram, my midwife said, “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what happened; you’ve had a normal pregnancy, he was perfectly healthy, and we have had no reason for concern leading up to now.”

My husband, Cliff, and I met in 5th grade, were boyfriend/girlfriend off and on throughout middle and high school, and became serious with dating in our junior year of high school. We got married in 2012 and began trying for a family in 2014. After a year of not being successful on our own, and another year of testing, we were diagnosed with “unexplained infertility.” We know the Lord is in control of the womb, but those almost 5 years were some of the hardest ones we had experienced. Our son was a miracle, a rainbow after the storm of infertility. But now we were met with the death of our son and the grief that comes with death.

Because this was at the height of COVID, visitors were not allowed in the office, and since this was a routine appointment, I had no reason for Cliff to come with me that day. After receiving the news, I tried to get in touch with Cliff, but he couldn’t hear his phone ringing. During this time, my midwife asked for one of the OB-GYN doctors in the practice to come to look at the ultrasound as well. As I was being laid back for a second ultrasound, Cliff called. Through tears, I was telling him they couldn’t find our baby’s heartbeat. He told me not to worry because our baby had been stubborn the past few weeks, and that was probably what was going on again. I quickly stopped him and said, “No, you don’t understand! They are doing a second ultrasound with one of the OBs. They can’t find it.” The next thing I knew, the OB-GYN rubbed my forehead with her thumb, saying, “I’m so sorry, honey.” Through tears, I told Cliff, “Brooks is no longer here. He’s gone.” My midwife asked if I wanted Cliff to come up to the office if he were available to do so. Once Cliff got there, I could tell he was angry. He didn’t understand, nor did I. I was still in shock because just the day before, I had felt Brooks move.

We had a few moments to ourselves before my midwife came in to talk to us about whether to come in later that evening or to wait until the next day for an induction to start labor. Cliff and I chose to start induction later that evening. We both felt it would do us more mental and emotional harm to wait another day because we knew our baby boy was no longer with us and was now in the arms of Jesus. Through tears on the drive home, all I could ask was, “Why, God? Why did you allow this?” I was heartbroken.

We arrived home, completely devastated and shocked. Over the next half hour or so, we started updating my family, friends, and workplace. I tried to lie down to take a nap, but could only cry. We headed back to the hospital and at 10:15pm on Friday, August 7, 2020, our Clayton Brooks Langston was silently born at 7 pounds, 2 ounces, and 18 and a half inches long. Leaving that hospital with empty arms was absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This was so unfair – we were so close to meeting our son, and we had all these hopes and dreams of who he would become.

In the Bible, we learn about Job. God allowed the Devil to take everything away from Job as a test of his faithfulness to the Lord. The Devil believed that Job would buckle and give up hope in God after losing his family, his livelihood, and his health; however, Job did not. He pressed into the Lord, relied on the Lord, and hoped in the Lord despite everything he was going through. In no way do I think Cliff and I are modern-day Jobs, but I think we can certainly learn from him. Cliff and I pressed into the Lord like Job during the difficult days. Many days were spent crying out to God in anger - I would be lying if I said I wasn’t angry with Him.

Brooks’ birth didn’t end up how we had planned it, and we still don’t have answers as to why we had to go through losing our son. We did the only thing we knew to do- trust God and His timing. We felt Jesus in ways we have never felt Him before- we felt His arms literally carrying us through each day.

We began trying for another baby shortly after the doctor gave clearance. About 7 months after Brooks’ birth, we found out we were expecting again. It was both exciting and scary. We prayed every day that our little miracle would grow and be able to come home with us. Months went by, and the week after Brooks’ first heavenly birthday, we found out we were having a girl. On December 13, 2021, we welcomed our precious baby girl, River Jordan, into the world.

Just because God redeemed our loss with life doesn’t mean we aren’t still hurting. A part of my heart is missing, but God is healing me. I still have days when my grief is overwhelming, but I’m grateful for the ability to turn to Jesus and say “I need you.” I am so thankful for the promise that I will see my son again. That day will be the BEST day! Until then, I choose to take one step forward each day by remembering the scriptures: “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” – Job 13:15 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” - Psalm 34:18 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” - Revelation 21:4

Photos for Nicole + Cliff


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