Young Family Finds Strength and Purpose Amidst Pain and Loss

Building Our Life Together

A couple of years ago, we began looking for a church. We knew we wanted more spiritually in our lives, but we just didn’t really have any idea where to start… we were just coasting.

We were looking for a place where we could belong… to get along with people there and to get connected. We found City Church and it instantly felt like it was the church we belonged in. It felt like home and we soon got plugged in to the team, helping serve and lead others to discover their purpose and to make a difference every week.

It was an exciting time and our lives were about to get more exciting.

We started the process to buy our first home and some even more great news… we were pregnant with our first baby!

Things seemed to be falling into place for our young family.

But we were about to go through the most challenging time of our lives.

Hearts Broken

At 15 weeks of the pregnancy, our baby Wendy was diagnosed with Anencephaly, a rare neural tube defect that prohibited her skull and brain to fully form.

We were informed that she would not make it.

That she was not “compatible with life.”

There was no reason why this happened, it’s not genetic, it just simply happens.

We went from being hopeful, excited and extremely happy parents thinking of our baby’s future to the complete opposite. Looking death straight in the eyes, being forced to face the question of whether to keep going or not.

Either way, Wendy would not make it.

It was incredibly hard throughout the pregnancy waking up thinking, “Will today be her last day?” and then going to bed thanking God that we had another day with her.  This happened every single day until she was born.

However, we felt in our hearts, bones and soul that we needed to keep going. We needed to make the most of the time that we had with her. Include her in everything we do, take her places and dote on her. Treat her the way she deserved.

So, we did just that… we created many beautiful memories — the three of us together — ones that will never fade.

Her birthday was the happiest day of our lives.  But, once we let her go, the world transformed into this bleak, colorless, lifeless reality.

The same week our daughter was stillborn, we had to move out of our place and into our new home… without her.

It was by far the hardest thing we’ve ever faced. Something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

In All Things… Give Thanks

The days, weeks, and months that followed were incredibly painful, but throughout it we have become closer and more dependent on God than ever. We hit a mountain, but the Lord was standing there with us at the base of this mountain of pain and loss, ready to guide us through it all.

It was grieving time for us, but we are so thankful our church family was there. They were seriously God’s extended hands to us. They didn’t have to say anything, just being there for us was enough.

And through the strength, grace and love God gave us during our most desperate time, we were refined.  We’ve become dependent on God for every thing and we’ve never looked back.

God is still working through us, allowing us to share Wendy’s story with others and for us to be examples to people that even through loss, you have to continue to walk with God and trust in Him… because He is the answer!

We want others to experience the same grace, love and deliverance that God gave our family.

And I think that is why God blessed us with Wendy. He wanted us to share her story and to let you know that even though there will be times when you stumble and come to a crossroads, God will always be the light onto your path.

He walks with us all at all journeys of life.

This loss is something that we will carry for the rest of our lives.  But, the experience, time and memories we had with our daughter is something we will never regret.

We are grateful for everything.

 – Ryan & Kaitlin McLaughlin

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