Words of Lament: How 3 Of Our Children Died In 3 Days

On July 15th of this year, my wife Whitney was urgently rushed to a hospital in Detroit, Michigan. At the time, she was 20 weeks pregnant with triplets. Doctors informed us that her cervix had opened, that there was a bulging sac and that the babies were going to be delivered far too premature that evening. 

I stayed the night at the hospital with Whit and no babies were delivered. We call that an answered prayer. 

The next morning I read through Proverbs chapter 16 where the first line says, 

We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. 

Our plans, our dreams, as a married couple, was to have my wife become pregnant, experience pregnancy and give birth. It had been a desire on her heart for most of her life. 

Unable to conceive naturally, years into our marriage we have pursued in-vitro fertilization via embryo adoption four times. 

Attempt #1: Chemical pregnancy (false positive)

Attempt #2: Chemical pregnancy (false positive)

Attempt #3: Conception (miscarriage at 9 weeks)

Attempt #4: Conception (pregnant with 3 fetuses)

With each attempt there are mountains of paperwork, finances, medication, injections and prayer. But the dream we had to expand our family and love on another child was all worth it without a question. 

This past April was when we found out Whit was pregnant with triplets, and we were ecstatic. Not only was there hope of a baby coming, but it was threefold. The magnanimity overshadowing this attempt was that we were told this would be the last chance at pregnancy after three previous unsuccessful ones. 

Sure there was a pandemic starting, and school was canceled, and our family was moving out of state, but we couldn’t stop praising God for an answered prayer as Whit’s pregnancy prolonged through the first trimester with three healthy babies. 

When she was 19 weeks pregnant, we announced the exciting news to social media. Five days later she was a high risk patient in the hospital with doctors telling us the babies were coming too early and there wasn’t much they could do. 

Five days after that, her water broke. The doctors told us the babies were going to be born any minute, yet for the next 12 days no babies were born. We call that an answered prayer. 

On July 31, at 1:39AM, 16 days after Whit was first put on bed rest in the hospital, a child was delivered. A baby girl was born at 22 weeks and 2 days. She came out still born and we were able to hold her and cry and thank God for her. 

The concern at that point was that Whit would get infected. If she showed signs of fever or a high white blood cell count, the other two babies would have to be induced because at that point the situation would be life-threatening to Whit. Her health was primary to us. 

Later on July 31st, her fever spiked to 102.9° and she started having chills. At that point it was a no brainer, Whit was given medication to give birth to the other two babies. 

On August 1st, the other two babies were delivered. At 4:20pm another baby girl was born at 22 weeks and 3 days. She came out and gave one exhale and eventually within minutes had no heart rate. We were able to hold her and cry and thank God for her. 

11 minutes later a son was born. He had a heart rate and had low oxygen levels but came alive out of the womb. He was rushed to the NICU immediately. His weight was just under 1 pound. 

Over the first hours of his life he was put on a ventilator, and then another ventilator and a third ventilator. He was given two blood transfusions, given sugar, caffeine, hydrochloride, saline and multiple doses of dopamine. 

He was considered by the nurse first in charge of his care to be a fighter and ended up fighting for 17 hours, dying at 9:40AM, August 2nd. The last moments of his life Whit and I were able to hold our son and cry and thank God for him in our lives. 

Sometimes God blesses parents to love their kids for a lifetime, sometimes for a day.

Three babies, all three dead on three different days due to being too early in birth. During our time in the hospital, we were constantly educated that if the babies could make it in the womb until 23-25 weeks, there was a good chance at their survival. That was our prayer, and our three children almost made it to that goal.   

We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. (Proverbs 16:1)

Hadassah Lynne, born and dead July 31. Her name means: One who brings joy, of the church. 

Beatrix Tyler, born and dead August 1. Her name means: One who brings happiness, home builder. 

Samuel Dominic, born August 1, dead August 2. His name means: The Lord heard, of the Lord. 

The most amazing moment happened on Samuel’s first and only night on this earth. While in the incubator, his heart rate was dramatically dropping around 11:30pm. The doctors were doing everything they could but things looked grim. They asked me to go get Whit since she hadn’t seen or met him yet. 

When Whit got to the NICU, she asked if she could touch Samuel. With her two hands around his tiny head and chest, over the course of an hour, his heart rate, blood oxygen level and pulse all went up to the best they ever would be during his 17 hours of life. The doctors were amazed. We call that an answered prayer. 

There is a lot of confusion, loss and sadness right now, but rather than focus on those things at this time, let me give you the other answered prayers we were able to experience: 

  • Our dream was for Whit to get pregnant, to experience pregnancy, to go into labor and all of those things occurred. 
  • Being in love with having daughters, I had prayed for a son to see what that was like. Out of the three babies who died, our son survived birth as we were able to know him and hold him.
  • Each day Whit was on bedrest, with each healthy ultrasound given, the doctors kept telling us that something beyond science was happening. Again, they said on July 15th the babies were coming and to see Whit be prayed for and to watch her fight for the chance at life was beyond anything they had seen. We like it when faith and science work together and medical professionals noticed. 
  • My wife and I have been a praying couple in our marriage, but at no other time in our relationship had we prayed together, cried out to God together more than these past few weeks. It’s an intimate thing to pray with your spouse. We were able to tangibly feel God’s care for us by doing so. 
  • Our church stepped up to love on us practically during the 18 days of bedrest. They made meals for our family, mowed our yard, took care of our kids, sent flowers, gave gifts and kept checking in letting us know we were prayed for. 
  • Our witness for Christ was known throughout the entire hospital by nurses, doctors and administrative workers. With all of the sorrow, tears and loss, the hugs given to us came with comments like “We have never seen a couple with more resolve, faith and gratitude than you two.” Every new nurse that came in to care for Whit, they had already known about Whit’s joyous and kind spirit even while going through the scariest trial of her life. My faith in God grew and my love for her increased just by watching her character in hardship.  

During Whit’s time in the hospital, she would write in her gratitude journal, listing things she was grateful for to God rather than worrying about the future in the worst way. She would write thank you cards to express her gratitude to others while they were serving us in this time. She would read her Bible, listen to worship songs, read a book about anxiety, write encouraging notes for our two older daughters and always would uplift the spirit of the nurses and doctors checking on her. 

To see her be bedridden enduring all the IV’s and blood tests and morphine and pain and the bed pans and the lack of showering and the inability to sleep a full night and the concerns of a dream dying, to know the pressure she felt even though none of what occurred was anything she did or didn’t do, to know this was her last attempt at IVF, with all that going on, those able to witness her faith in God completely floored them. 

I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. (Philippians 1:12)

Since Hadassah’s death, I have been walking a little slower. 

Walking around the hospital God brought to mind a memory of my father that expressed the emotions I was having. 

When I was in the 6th grade, my father, a pastor, came into my bedroom the week before Christmas. He was wearing a suit and tie and he asked me to get dressed up. It was 10AM and I argued with him stating I wanted to stay home in my scrub clothes and watch TV. He kept asking me to get dressed. I finally gave in as I came downstairs in wrinkled khakis and a sweater. We got into his Chevy Blazer and drove off. 

My dad didn’t tell me where we were going even though I kept asking. 30 minutes later we pulled into a hospital. My dad grabbed his Bible from the back seat, and he and I walked into the cancer wing of a Cincinnati hospital. 

Over the next hour I witnessed my father officiate a wedding inside a hospital room. The patient, a dad with cancer, had the dream of walking his daughter down the aisle. His daughter was engaged to be married in six months, in June. Plans changed when the father had been told earlier that week that he only had days to live. 

So this dad could see his daughter be married and get to be a part of one of the biggest, joy-filled days of her life, my father showed up to the hospital room in December to officiate, as tears mixed with sadness by all were falling in the room. 

Had I remained lazy and whiney at home earlier that day, I would’ve not of only missed out on the emotion I felt that day, but also what my dad said when we got back into the car. 

My dad said, with tears in his eyes, “Z……I hate death……..but I love you and I love Jesus.” 

Twenty years later, on his own deathbed due to cancer, after he had walked his daughter down the aisle just two months before, I said to my father, “Dad, I hate death, but I love you and I love Jesus.” 

And with the death of three children in three days, it’s the exact sentiment I have. 

I hate death. I hate it. 

As people are unsure how to respond to our pain currently, we have heard that this is part of God’s plan. Our 8 year old, after initially hearing her siblings are dead, cried out to us, “How could something this horrible be part of God’s plan? I thought God is loving?”  

He is loving, but I had no words for her in the moment. Yes, it could be viewed as God’s plan for our family, a purpose we may never visually realize going forward, but there is also an evil side to this. There is an unseen but not unfelt wicked presence in our world. The devil’s only obsession each and every day is to hurt God by hurting us. 

I don’t understand how people go through the brokenness in this world without Jesus. How do people do it without His love and without a longing for heaven, a place where there is no pain or sadness?

Yes, I hate death. But still, I love people and I love Jesus so much. 

Thanks for reading and I thank you for prayers for my wife and myself as we move forward in grief and gratitude. 


Published by zachstewart81

Follower of Jesus, daily. Husband of Whitney. Father of Crosbee Lane and Izzy Cate. Lead Servant at Twin Oaks Christian Church (www.twinoakschristian.com). Thankful for God's grace and patience.

23 thoughts on “Words of Lament: How 3 Of Our Children Died In 3 Days

  1. Z, my heart breaks for you, Whitney and your family. I have only known you a short time, yet I consider you a dear friend and the way you have shown leadership in the church and during this time of unimaginable pain in your life, I can honestly say that you are one of the most inspirational people that I have ever met.

    God Bless you and your Family!!!


    1. I’m sorry is all I can say as the tears ran down my face reading this I just before reading this I have been praying and I broke down crying because my children use every chance they get to hurt me as a widow I thought raising my children alone with such difficulties they would be there for me I was telling God of what they doing to me and asked are they like that but reading this made feel so guilty of not being appreciative of being a mother now I would thank God and trust Him to work everything out my love and prayers goes to you and your family Pastor Z I miss you guys wish to see again someday until then God bless you


  2. I wish there were words to say that can make the pain go away for all of you. I’ve been finding myself asking why just like Crosbee. But I know God doesn’t want that. I’m sure He wants to focus on the good and the prayers that were answered. I hope in these hard times you can all do that. For being so small they are loved so big and by so many. I hope you know we’re all here for you. I also hate death but I love the Stewart family and I love Jesus too.


  3. Zach, I’m crying as I read this. I’m so, so sad. I also hate death. But I love Jesus. And, having watched you grow from a child to a wonderful husband and father, I have to say that I’m so proud to have known you and I love you. Blessings on you and Whitney as you walk through the coming days together.


  4. Brother, I think of you often. Always curious what’s going on in your life and my heart aches that this is what’s going on in your world. I love you my friend. It’s been too long since we have talked but know I’ll always be there if you need an old friend to listen and pray with you. As a father with a daughter in heaven I will be praying alongside so many others. Love you Xac


  5. I graciously read each word and will take your words of wisdom and will weave them into my own stressful daily life events. We hate pain. We hurt but we still love Jesus and want to be with him and those we have lost before.
    My prayers reach out to your and your family has u mourn your loss and seeing u build up to what has planned for u.
    Love. Seanne Brazelton


  6. I am sitting here reading this with tears streaming down my face!! I was so excited for you both when I saw she was pregnant, My heart hurts for you both! You both are so amazing in this walk with the lord! My thoughts and prayers are with you both! Love Tammy Bloss


  7. Oh, Zach, my heart breaks for you, Whitney and the girls. I know what it feels like to lose a child— a 28 year old who was married and wanted to start a family. But at least I knew him, his heart and spirit, his faith, and I knew of his walk with God, in part, thanks mostly to your dad. Healing and sadness from grief can be so slow. I will pray for your family and for the future that God has planned for you.


  8. Zach, Whitney & girls,
    We love you guys so very much and our hearts break with you. We will be praying for you.

    Jason, Melissa, Ella & Ava Canada


  9. My heart breaks for your family. I can’t even imagine your grief. I will be praying for your family through this sadness.


  10. What an absolutely beautiful, heartbreaking testimony. Zach, you and Whitney are grace and trust in the Lord personified. Such a wonderful model of what faithfulness and gratitude looks like in our most difficult moments. I have no doubt that God worked mighty things in that hospital. As confused as we are over the “Why?” I am certain He made something wonderful from something that would have broken so many. You have showed what a life walking with Jesus looks like to all looking in. Thank you for your example. Thank you for sharing your experience. Our hearts are with you all as you walk through this valley. We are here if you need anything.
    With love,
    Jeremy, Dawn, Jace and Hudson


  11. Zach and Whitney,
    I’m crying reading this. I’m so very sorry. The love you have for one another, your family, and God is truly inspiring. Please send the girls over to play whenever you need some quiet time.

    Diane, Tom, Claire, & Joseph Guthrie


  12. Praying for you and your sweet family cousin. I can only say to you that Jesus is near and the peace of god is without understanding. Luv u all


  13. I’m sorry is all I can say as the tears ran down my face reading this I just before reading this I have been praying and I broke down crying because my children use every chance they get to hurt me as a widow I thought raising my children alone with such difficulties they would be there for me I was telling God of what they doing to me and asked are they like that but reading this made feel so guilty of not being appreciative of being a mother now I would thank God and trust Him to work everything out my love and prayers goes to you and your family Pastor Z I miss you guys wish to see again someday until then God bless you

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Chills and tears, dear Zach, as I re-read this, getting ready to put you and your family on our Homebuilders Sunday School Class prayer list. Many prayers and hugs from your Cincinnati church family. Love, Elaine McCoy

    Liked by 1 person

  15. So, so sorry to hear this. My heart breaks for you. May your entire family be blessed with the peace that passes understanding, with courage, and with hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I am a nurse at the hospital where you and your wife experienced this awful loss. I am so very sorry. I did not have the privaledge of caring for Whitney but I knew about the situation and I was always hearing how loving and brave you both were. You are wise beyond your years. I really admire you both. I am sure I am not the 1st to say this. But I know you must find some comfort knowing that those three little angels are in Heaven waiting in the arms of Jesus for you both. May you grieve as only those who know Christ do.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: