Sometimes God does things we don’t understand. Sometimes we go through something so hard that it feels like the next breath will shatter all that we are. Yet, He’s always with us. Even in the darkest of moments, He is there.
If you’ve been following my blog at all, you will know of Noel’s story. Of the miracle of her life. If you don’t know Noel’s story, please click here and read what I’m talking about.
I’ve been honoured to share Caleb and Alex’s journey through all this. I spent months praying for little Noel as her due date approached, I’ve rejoiced with them as she defied all odds and they brought her home, I remember well the tears I cried as they asked for desperate prayer a short time before she went home and then in the days that followed. My family still prays for this wonderful, godly couple with each new day.
I am so grateful that, of all my blog posts, Noel’s story is the one that is visited the most often. If I get a day where Noel’s story hasn’t been viewed at least once, that’s a rare day. This story of God’s mercy, love and strength is still reaching out to people around the world. To God be the glory as He continues to move through this amazing little girl and her wonderful parents.
As we remember Noel’s arrival into the Father’s arms, I wanted to chat with Caleb and Alex about this journey that they have been on. They have been, from the beginning, so honest and open with everything. I wanted to give my readers, those still visiting Noel’s story, a look into the lives of this amazing couple.
If you’ve been through the loss of a child, some of the questions and answers may bring back memories of your own. Caleb and Alex have been honest about their struggles and triumphs and I know that you will be kind as they answer some very tough questions. 🙂
Thank you Caleb and Alex for being willing to join me and discuss this past year and all that it involved. I continue to be amazed and inspired with how you walked this journey. I can’t imagine how difficult this has been and I’m honoured that you will let me share your thoughts and feelings for those who have been following and for those that may walk a similar road in the future.
Thank you both, for being willing to chat with me about your precious daughter and how your lives have changed. First of all, can you tell me a little about your journey in the past year? Emotionally and spiritually?
Alex: Wow! That is truly a loaded question. Emotionally right after we lost Noel I was a complete and total wreck. I was depressed, suicidal, and hopeless. Depression hit me hard. I have never been depressed before, but now I understand why some people commit suicide. I understand how hopeless and alone and lost depression makes you. I tell Caleb, it’s so hard, what we’re going through is so hard, and we have Jesus, I still have hope, yet thoughts of suicide still run through my mind. There are people out there who don’t know the hope that I have. And that is a scary and real thing to realize. I was so attacked by the enemy; suicide was not a distant thought. I thought it day and night for months. I clung on to the little hope that I did have in the Lord. I honestly believe if I didn’t have Jesus, I would’ve killed myself. I remember thinking that every day. I remember telling the enemy, no I’m not going to kill myself, I won’t do it because that’s what you want and everything will go in vain. Spiritually I was so mad at God. I remember telling Him all the time that I was so mad and disappointed in Him. It was in those moments that I would feel His arms wrap around me and tell me He knew what he was doing. I felt Him say it was ok that I was mad and disappointed, but I couldn’t lose my trust in Him, my faith in Him, my hope in Him. So that’s exactly what I did. I would sob each day, tell Him how hurt I was, and each day He would reassure me that everything I was feeling was normal and that tears were medicine.
Caleb: It has been a hard year. This has been the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. Our marriage was on the rocks for a time and we have had many emotional nights and many tears we have cried. We have had to rely on God to get us through this.
How has your world changed in the past year?
Alex: I turned 24 right before Caleb and I got married, I got pregnant 3 weeks after, we had Noel 39 weeks later, lost Noel after 15 days with her, and 13 days later I turned 25. Who would’ve thought in one year your world could turn completely upside down. You see things differently, feel things differently, and live life differently. You learn to cherish moments you wouldn’t have cherished before and try to not take anything for granted. The Lord has showed me that beauty really does come from ashes.
Caleb: I view people with special needs in a whole new light. Any time I see a person with special needs I immediately think of Noel because that’s what she would have been. I used to think about parents that had children with special needs and wondered if it was hard having a child like that. Now that I have had a daughter like that I realized it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter the disabilities they have, if they would have to live with you their whole life, if it would be expensive, if it would be a difficult emotional journey etc. You would do whatever you needed to do because you love them so much. I also see having a baby in a whole new light. Many people take having a baby for granted. Like that’s just something you do. It’s a part of life. But for us it isn’t. Chances are we will never be able to have a healthy baby of our own. One of the things I feel God has been teaching me through all this to be thankful. So often I think about other people and how easy it is for them to have healthy babies and I think why couldn’t we have that? But God has been showing me that I need to be thankful for what I do have. I can walk, I can see, I live in a developed country with clean water and food. He has been showing me that I need to appreciate and be thankful for all that I do have. It can be hard sometimes but really try and see all the blessings he has given me because there are so many!
Your marriage was still very new when you found out you were expecting Noel, how do you both feel Noel’s life affected your marriage?
Alex: It was extremely new! Her life was my biggest blessing. She did things others couldn’t have and shined Jesus brighter than I’ve ever seen anyone shine Jesus. I wouldn’t change having her for one second. Did you know the divorce rate for couples that have lost a child goes up to 90%?!?! I’m not going to lie, losing a child is extremely hard on a marriage. I am blessed to have a husband who will fight for me and stand by my side no matter what. There were times I was ready to get divorced and Caleb would sit there and say no. He fought for us every single day. Everybody handles grief differently. Losing Noel didn’t hit Caleb has hard as it hit me, and that’s ok. I had to come to a place and understand that I carried her and he didn’t. I had a connection and love for her that he didn’t, a mother’s love. That was hard to understand. Would I go through having her again, absolutely! Would I want to handle my grief differently, of course. I believe it was by the grace of God that our marriage is where it is now. I’ve never been or felt more in love than I do today. I married an exceptional man of God.
Caleb: It affected our marriage tremendously! For a while our marriage was really struggling. The number of fights we had and tears we cried I feel like were in the millions. There was a long time that I did not know if we were going to stay together or not. It was EXTREMELY difficult. But we have made it through and I think our marriage is stronger because of it. I feel like if we made it through this we can make it through anything!
Throughout all the tears and all the struggles, did you get support from unexpected sources?
Alex: Yes! A Thousand trillion billion times yes! I once read a blog and it said that it’s extremely hard for people who are grieving to reach out to others, and I completely agree. When someone would text me to let them know if I needed anything, I thought, I can barely get out of bed in the morning. I learned that I want to be a good support system for others who are going through a similar situation, God really convicted me. I honestly think it’s really hard for people to be sensitive, or somewhat understand, if they haven’t been through what you’ve been through. That‘s also something I’ve learned… to be more sensitive, I want to be more sensitive. Now when I hear of someone going through a situation that was close to ours I go home and cry and have Caleb hold me. I pray for them A LOT.
Caleb: The support we got from the members of our church was unbelievable. When Noel was here someone was at our house everyday bringing us food. Not only that our whole church family was standing with us and praying for us and Noel. What is just as amazing is the prayer and support we were getting from everyone all over the world! There were people praying for us that we have never even met! Alex and I were in awe of the amount of people praying for us. We felt so loved and honored to be prayed for and thought of as much as we were. People were praying for us from all over the world! Also, when my family set up the donation fund we got donations from dozens of people! Some from my work, family, and friends of ours. We even got donations from people we had never met! I could not believe how giving people were! I even got a card and donation from two former students of mine that I thought weren’t very fond of me. But they both had recently had children and our situation must have hit home for them. Even now just thinking about all of it, I cannot believe how many people supported us
It was such a joy to watch the support pour in. Even on the blogs I did, there were people reaching out with prayer and support!! Were there any positive situations that arose that surprised you guys?
Alex: Oh gosh yes! People came to the Lord because of Noel. I mean two souls were saved because of one person. That’s amazing in my opinion. I’m honored to be called her mom. God is good, even in the darkness. To know that that was her purpose in life, well it leaves me speechless.
Caleb: The amount of people that Noel’s life touched is unbelievable. I had no idea how many lives she would touch. Her life went around the world. We heard many stories of how Noel touched their lives and I know there are many more that we will never know. Some people even came to Christ because of it. It is hard not having Noel here and it hurts. It hurts a lot. But knowing how much she has done for the kingdom of God makes it so much easier. She did more for the kingdom of God than I probably ever will.
What is your most favourite memory of your time with Noel? (If it’s even possible to pinpoint one or two)
Alex: I was just praying on the drive home that I would never forget the day we brought Noel home. I love that day so much! We never thought we were going to bring her home. I remember praying so much that we would bring her home, and we did J I loved the day she was born. I loved having her on my chest and having her all to myself. I absolutely loved being pregnant! I tell Caleb all the time that I miss it so much. I miss being uncomfortable and peeing every 2 minutes, and feeling her kick my ribs, and not being able to sleep at night. I miss it so much! The Lord really showed me that I NEEDED to enjoy this because there are hundreds of women out there who will never experience this. I was so honored that the Lord would allow me to experience feeling Noel and I really embraced it. I had a choice, I could either sit there and complain about the miracle that was happening inside of me, or enjoy every second I had with her. I mean, those nine months were the longest time I had with her.
Caleb: I don’t have one favorite memory of Noel. I love them all! I loved holding her, I loved her smell. I even loved changing her diaper! I thought I would hate changing her diaper! Because seriously!?! Who likes to change a baby’s poopy diaper?!? I didn’t think I would but I did. Because it was Noel’s diaper. It was my beautiful daughter’s diaper.
Despite all the joy and peace that you have been able to find, what do you still struggle with?
Alex: Depression. I still have more bad days than good and still cry most days than not. But I’m more ok with not being ok all the time. I know I’m not going to feel this way the rest of my life but the Lord has assured me that crying is perfectly ok. I don’t let it consume me like before and I know that no amount of time will heal me, but through the Lord and his unfailing love I will be more than ok one day.
Caleb: It can still be hard to see babies and women who are pregnant. Whenever I do I think of Noel. It can still be quite difficult for me.
Do you struggle with anger at other parents? With the Lord?
Alex: I don’t think I ever really felt angry toward other parents. I feel sad, because I miss Noel. I would get irritated when women would complain about their pregnancy or when parents would complain about their late nights and no sleep. Because still, I would give anything to have late nights and no sleep if that meant Noel was still here.
Caleb: I was never angry at other parents. But I do think they often take having children for granted. Like it’s just part of life. I wish they could all truly appreciate what a beautiful gift they have. I was never that angry at God. A little at times but not much because he so amazing and I know he loved Noel even more than Alex and I did. And he loves us and hurts when we hurt. So he was hurting even more than we were through all of this.
It’s a very good reminder to me to never take a day with my kids for granted. We were amazed at how you handled Noel’s health and her homecoming, who do you attribute your strength to?
Alex: The Lord. All the glory goes to God. My flesh failed a LONG time ago. To this day it is because of His strength that I can get out of bed in the morning.
Caleb: My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is Lord of my life and the one I turned to through all of this. Without him I don’t know where I would be!
If you knew that this was how Noel’s life was going to unfold, would you do it all over again? (I don’t even need to ask but I love the answers!)
Alex: Yes, yes, yes, yes! She was and is worth every tear, every piece of my broken heart, and worth more than I can even fathom. Psalm 139 is real to me now.
Caleb: ABSOLUTELY! I would do it over again a million times if it meant I got to meet her and hold her. She is one of the biggest blessings in my life. I am so glad we had her and got to meet her even despite everything that happened and we had to go through.
What does the future hold for you in starting a family? Will you be considering adoption?
Alex: I’m still healing so I haven’t thought about that yet.
Caleb: We probably will adopt. Before everything happened it was on our hearts to adopt. We wanted to adopt internationally in the less fortunate countries because those are the kids that do not have an opportunity and need help. They often end up dead, as prostitutes, or in another unfortunate life. But it is hard to say when or how we will do that. We are both still healing and are not ready for more children. And ultimately we want God’s will. Whatever that may be.
Is there any advice you could give to other families that are going through similar situations?
Alex: First, I would cry, because I know exactly what they are going through. Second, I would ask to pray with them. I know I couldn’t do it without the Lord and would want them to have the same hope that I have.
Caleb: Lean on God. It’s not an easy road at all but leaning on him makes it more bearable.
Let’s end this conversation with some wonderful news! I’ve heard that there is a fantastic bursary that has decided to pay tribute to Noel, can you tell us a bit about it?
Alex: Of course! Tara, she’s one of the directors for Youth for Christ, a school lunch time club that teaches about Christ. She was in awe of how Noel defied all odds and thought her story fit perfectly with students who go away to university. Most kids who attend university out of state/town usually fall away from the Lord. The scholarship is supposed to encourage students to stand firm in the Lord and hang onto His truth. And I know that’s exactly what Noel did.
Caleb: We feel so blessed to have this scholarship named after Noel. When Tara said she wanted to speak with us we had no idea what it was about. She started telling us about this scholarship and neither of us had any idea what that had to do with us. We actually thought she was going to give it to us! We were both thinking, we don’t want the scholarship give it to someone else! Once Tara told us she wanted to name it after Noel we both felt EXTREMELY honoured and just started crying. It is just another instance of the impact she has had.
Thank you, Caleb and Alex for having this conversation with me. I appreciate your honesty so much and your willingness to let me share your journey. You are both amazing and I am honoured to know you and see how God is moving in your lives.
Here are the other posts for Noel:
Noel at home