“On Thursday, July 6, 2017, my husband and I were in the OBGYN exam room for a 25-week regular checkup for our first baby,” Kailey Clymer shared with Love What Matters.
Kailey explained that the caring doctor was searching for her baby boy’s heartbeat, but she couldn’t hear a thing. When the doctor brought the ultrasound machine in the room to evaluate their son Cayden’s condition, both Kailey and her husband’s heart sank at the gut-wrenching image that lay before their eyes.
“His cute little body lay, still and breathless, a picture I will never ever forget,” said Kailey. “Our son had died in my womb; the very home he should be safely growing in. The doctor apologized with tears in her eyes, while I let out a confused ‘it’s okay,’ with tears building up in mine.”
After that moment, the grieving mother felt like she was watching her own life in a movie. Nothing about what was happening seemed tangible, or real, or possible.
Not her baby. This wasn’t supposed to happen to HER baby.
They had made plans, so many plans for the son who wouldn’t even live to take his first breath.
“My body was shaking from the epidural and low blood pressure,” said Kailey, “But I could have sworn the shakes were from my resilient prayers and desperate pleas to God to please let me hear my son cry as he entered this world.”
Sadly those prayers were not answered–at least with the answer that she was relentlessly pleading for.
On July 7, 2017, they welcomed their baby boy “in silence.”
“We held his perfect little body, meeting our firstborn that we had so many plans for upon his due date in October, our wedding anniversary,” shared Kailey. “But we also said goodbye. To him, our plans, our family of three, and what was supposed to be. ‘What happens now?’ I asked myself lying wide awake in my hospital room at 3 a.m. with an empty belly and constant stream of tears.”
365 days later, she can now answer that question with absolute certainty:
“Exactly one year later I can say without hesitation, ‘the worst and best days of your life. That’s what happens.’”
Partially through documenting their journey on their Facebook page Stillborn Still Strong dedicated to Cayden, the Clymers were able to begin to see past the grief into the hope that God had for their future:
“I couldn’t see the ‘big picture’ then, through the overwhelming pain and heartache my husband and I felt as we mourned and emotionally processed the death of our son. But as we approach the one-year mark of meeting and losing our stillborn baby, this thing we call life—a daily gift—couldn’t be any clearer. Although we do not have a medical cause for the death of Cayden to this day, we are okay. We have two four-letter words no autopsy report or hematologist can give or take away, and that’s HOPE and LOVE.”
In the year that followed, Kailey’s eyes were keenly opened to the brokenness of this world but also the blessings that she wonders if she even would have seen or thought to ask God for if Cayden had lived. And though she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior at the age of 22, she affirms that her relationship with Him has never been stronger.
Kailey vividly explains this contrast of having her eyes opened to our broken world while simultaneously witnessing the all-consuming love of God:
“In the past year following Cayden’s delivery it is as if my eyes and heart were ripped open to the broken realities of this world, and the reckless love of God at the same time. Talk about riding an emotional rollercoaster. See, I’ve had some of the worst days of my nearly 30 years on this earth sobbing on that unfinished nursery floor. There were days that I felt unwanted jealousy towards pregnant strangers and screamed ‘WHY ME’ in the shower. I’ve had nightmares and dark reflections of that life changing July night to a point where my husband had to hold me and rock me like a teething baby. But then, God’s grace stepped in again and again.
I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of 22 after my spontaneous college years. From that January afternoon on, I developed a relationship with Him. Since July 7, 2017, I can genuinely say I know the Lord and have never been closer to his goodness and grace, especially through times of tragedy.
The last 365 days have also been the best days of my young adult life. While my son is up in heaven surrounded by incomprehensible love and joy that even I couldn’t give him here in the U.S., God has been blessing my husband and I immensely. And I’m not sure if our son’s life wasn’t ripped away from us if I would have taken the time to stop and recognize or thank God for them [these blessings]. Or, to even go to Him and ask for them in the first place.”
In the year that followed Cayden’s death, she watched God shower her in blessings that she never thought imaginable.
She began writing again, chronicling her life’s greatest trial to infuse hope in others. She quit her job, empowered by trust in God that she could become a freelance PR consultant. And as our Mighty God does, He pulled through:
“I’ve already lied at the bottom of a pit full of sorrow and by God’s grace, I crawled out. I now have a full roster of clients with an income that surpassed my previous full-time jobs. And the best part, I l absolutely love what I do. God’s grace.”
Most importantly, Kailey started loving better, particularly her husband:
“I learned how to love others more, starting with my husband. I married one of the most humble, selfless, loving, Godly (and good-looking!) men there is. Before Cayden died, I was definitely more selfish, short-sighted, and dare I say nagging in our marriage. After you watch your husband sit at the kitchen table preparing cold cabbage leaves for your painful breasts, which filled with milk for your stillborn baby, or stood by as he planned our son’s burial with the funeral director, because you didn’t have the strength to, your love and adoration for him grows pretty quickly. I know, because mine did. And I am forever grateful for him as the leader and father to our little family.”
But the biggest lesson of all that Kailey learned from Cayden’s stillbirth is that we are not in control of our own plans, so why not trust the Lord’s plans instead?
He blessed them richly with both financial stability and the overwhelming support of friends and family.
“We could feel the prayers, hear their cries, and share in their laughter,” said Kailey. “If you don’t earn a penny in this lifetime but you have a caring friend or family, consider yourself rich.”
The Lord’s rich provisions emotionally, spiritually, and physically are what gave the Clymers the strength to get through the miscarriage that they had just 6 months after the stillbirth of Cayden.
“I had a miscarriage. Yes, your read that correctly,” said Kailey. “I had a miscarriage in January 2018 at 10-weeks into my second pregnancy. And we are okay.”
Instead of brooding in grief and resentment, she’s chosen to rest in grace and trust. Kailey’s grateful that now she can relate to not only women who have had stillbirths but also those who have suffered miscarriages.
“They’re a strong group by the way,” she shared. “We were sad of course for another loss, but it ended up strengthening our faith even more.”
Her primary goal now is to infuse Cayden’s memory and their story as often as they can, “sharing [their] testimony of God’s love and goodness all the time.”
Kailey’s takeaway message for anyone who takes the time to read her journey of grief to joy is worth its weight in gold:
“I could probably go on and on of how this last year has been the best year of my life. How fortunate and blessed am I to be able to say that in the same breath as having experienced the worst days of my life? And I feel like I am just getting started. My hope is that if you are reading this, whether you have experienced pregnancy loss yourself, or know someone who has, that you will be open to truly living the life you were purposed to live. To number your days, because they are just that—numbered. To think about death differently, but eternally.
I hope and pray that you will not let the broken pieces of your life add up to the measure of who or what you are, but you look to the Lord for the strength that only He can provide to pick up your pieces for you, and allow him to guide your days, piece by piece, revealing a beautiful puzzle only He can plan and satisfy. Now go live your best life, others may be depending on it.”
SHARE Kailey’s powerful faith-filled story, infused with the wisdom of a God-fearing woman with the ones you love today.
**Read Kailey’s story in full on Love What Matters.