In honour of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, we are honoured to share Kayla Leskiw's story with you. Kayla is a Christ Follower, a wife, and a mother. Her and her husband, Branton, have three children Heaven-side (Lyric, Arianna & Lael), and they just welcomed their Rainbow Baby, Orlo, earlier this year. Kayla is passionate about health & wellness, and she radiates hope, joy and life.
This is her story.
The air was cool and snow was coming down on an early February morning. Cuddled on the sofa wrapped in a sweatshirt, covered in blankets, new ideas were swirling around. I was preparing for an interview just a few days away, after quitting my job a month prior with plans to trust God and “slow down”. It had been two years since deciding to try and conceive, and we were still waiting on those two pink lines.
A new job opportunity came about in between leaving my job and “slowing down”, and counter-intuitive to my plans of chilling out for a bit, I was itching to create, to perform, and to impress. There was only one hiccup: I suddenly became quite ill. EXHAUSTION came over me like a freight train, and my head was numb while my brain felt foggy. Telling myself I could power through, I continued drafting a rough outline for my presentation upcoming that week. Until I just couldn’t any longer. Calling my husband, Branton, I asked him to come back home and take me to a walk-in to see what was going on.
We casually entered the white-walled walk-in clinic with plastic chairs lined up in rows. There were only two others waiting, and I was thankful this would be a quick in and out, so I could get back to my corner on the sofa - I had so much work to do! The doctor called us in within twenty minutes, and I started explaining my symptoms to him. Tired. Foggy. Exhausted, even after a full night’s rest. Achy all over - joints, boobs, everything.
He stopped me, and asked, “Could you be pregnant?” Catching me off guard, I nervously laughed, “Oh no... we’ve been trying to conceive for two years, but I don’t believe it’s possible we’re pregnant now.” Looking in Branton’s eyes, I added, “Right??” And there I saw it - that same hopeful glimmer in his eyes before every pregnancy test we’ve taken over the years. This is one of the attributes I love most about him - his ability to hope like he’s never been knocked down. Quickly guarding my heart, I made some joke about peeing into a cup and pretended as if I didn’t have any hope at all. But I did...
I went into the bathroom, orange mini pee cup in hand, and paused. I sat down and prayed, “Lord, this is crazy. I know it can’t be true. I know I’m not pregnant. But I know that anything is possible through you. Lord, I pray that this time it could be true. I pray that here in this suburban walk-in clinic - here in the least romantic setting possible, in this moment - I am pregnant.” Closing the lid and washing my hands, I walked out, placing that mini pee cup in the basket for testing, and took a seat next to Branton.
We sat in silence, then small talk, not allowing ourselves to dare to dream out loud just yet. Minutes later, the doctor called my name. I stood up, and looking at Branton sitting down, motioned for him to join me. Walking down the hallway, I grabbed his hand. We entered a new white walled room, and I sat on the crunchy paper covering the patient table.
“Well, your test came back and you’re pregnant, so we have to alter the dose of medication I was going to prescribe.” Staring at him, I thought I misheard. Nervously laughing, I said, “I’m pregnant?” He confirmed again, and I burst into tears, smiling, mouth wide open from shock, once again grabbing for Branton’s hand. “We’re pregnant!??”
We were ecstatic. Straight away we drove to the nearest baby store, and bought a onesie, “Best Auntie”, to go and surprise my sister who was working in the area. From there, we started googling cribs, strollers, car seats - the whole enchilada. I got my Pinterest board going (priorities right?? 😅), and started dreaming of nursery decor. Our infertility story finally had the end chapter. We made it!
Miscarriage never crossed my mind. We saw his heart beating at our 6.5 week ultrasound appointment. I video taped the sweet sound, and we showed our family. Weeks later however, my nerves started getting the better of me. Sharing with Branton, I explained how I had a bad feeling, second guessing every lack of symptom, and telling him I felt “different”. In an effort to ease my mind, we planned a 10 week ultrasound appointment at a private clinic, followed by a hotel reservation to celebrate. It was going to be the best Friday date night ever.
Until it wasn’t. Until I exposed my stomach to the ultrasound gel, eagerly looking up at the screen. Until we saw our baby - motionless. Floating.
I was so shocked the emotions didn’t hit just then. We walked out, numb. Opening the truck door, climbing in, I broke down. This was supposed to be our final chapter, with the happy ending being our baby boy, Lyric.
I was angry with God. Why would he tease me?? What was the point of this?? I was heartbroken. Wow. This HURT. My heart literally felt as if it were shattering, leaving pieces of me strewn all over the ground. I ached and longed to have my baby back with me - alive and well in my womb.
And then I started digging into some Scripture. Stories of loss, stories of heart ache, stories of hope. I found hope especially in Psalm 139:
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
- Psalm 139:13-16
That meant our Lyric did matter. That meant he was sought after by our Heavenly Father.
I found comfort in knowing where Lyric was, and knowing he was in the most perfect of homes, something I would never have been able to give him. That helped. I learned to thank God, even through the pain, all while begging him to give Branton and I another baby to hold in our arms.
And then we were back to square one. Months went by and no pink lines. Maybe Lyric was our fluke. Maybe we weren’t meant to be parents. Maybe we were meant to be world travellers, and career all stars, instead (that’s always the alternative right? 🙈).
But then I remembered God’s promises. I remembered that if we have faith, we can move mountains. I remembered how much God loves me. I remembered all the shitty things I’ve ever done that He wiped away clean, forgiving me. And I pressed in. Nothing else was healing my heart, and I knew that if I believed God to be All Mighty and All Powerful, a God who loves me, and a God who desires me, He could heal me. At least I could ask.
I picked up a journal and started carving out quiet time. Whether before bed or after work, outside in the sun, in the bath with a candle, or even in a coffee shop. I would just write. Open up my Lyric journal, and write. Just letting the words pour from my heart to hand. I would start these entries one of two ways: “Dear Jesus” or “My Baby Lyric”.
Everything I was feeling - all the hurt, the pain, the questions - I gave them to Jesus. Before long, tears would be splattering the pages, and I would feel a presence of comfort wash over me. Even when the words were angry, scared, or confused, I would hear, “I am with you. With me, you are not broken. In your weakness you are made strong. Consider it joy when you face trials, for you there is great joy ahead.”
I grew up in a Christian home, going to church twice every Sunday, catechism class every Tuesday, memorizing Scripture every Friday. And yet, it wasn’t until after losing Lyric that I finally felt as if I KNEW Jesus. That I could call out to Him, and He was actually there. That there was a line of communication.
Lyric brought me to truly start to know Jesus. It’s as if he looked down from heaven, grabbing my hand ever so gently, saying, “It’s okay, mama. I am well taken care of here, and I want you to meet someone.” I was writing to Lyric, but I was getting to know Jesus. It was the first time my heart felt completely vulnerable to allow Jesus in to take a peek. To look around, and equip me with the tools to put it back together, this time stronger.
For the first time in a longtime I created space to get to know Jesus, rather than cramming him into a box for one hour on a Sunday morning.
After losing Lyric, we lost two more pregnancies, the third finding out at our 12 week ultrasound that her heart was no longing beating. Hearing those words, “I’m so sorry... there is no heartbeat...” once again, threw me back into a dark downward spiral, back to feeling angry with God.
The difference however now, was that this time I knew Jesus. This time I already had a foundation of a relationship established. As angry as I was, I knew how much He loved me. I continually found comfort knowing Lael (that is what we named our third baby; meaning, “belonging to God”) was loved more deeply than I could ever imagine, in the heavens with Jesus. And if that thought truly brought me comfort, then I must also believe that God is good and loves me too. Otherwise, why/how could I find comfort believing our babies were in heaven with a cruel, mean God?
This thought gave me perspective on the days that I would get angry with God - on the days the grief flooded over me in giant waves.
So we kept hoping, kept dreaming. Don’t get me wrong - it hasn’t always been happily running through fields of sunflowers as we hoped and dreamed. It has been more like climbing a mountain exposed to all the elements, with the rocks and the views. Through it all however, faith has given me this fierce hope and knowledge that “there is great joy ahead”.
Our greatest joy, our dream come true, arrived June 30th, 2018 at 5:59pm on a beautiful Saturday evening - Orlo Wesley. Five years from the beginning of our journey to meet him, our rainbow baby is here. Our bringer of light.