Joy-Anna Duggar Forsyth and her husband, Austin Forsyth, announced the passing of their daughter after 20 weeks of pregnancy in a pair of heartbreaking posts last week on Instagram. Because she was so far along in her pregnancy, she had to deliver her baby, whom they named Annabell. When a baby dies in the womb at 20 weeks or later, the baby is considered stillborn.
In May, they announced their pregnancy, and excitedly shared an ultrasound video, writing, “Look how tiny it’s little arms and legs are!! Looking forward to meeting this baby in 6 & 1/2 months!!!” But weeks later, they received heartbreaking news.
View this post on Instagram
Today marks one week since we heard these words… . “So this is your baby’s heart (pointing to the ultrasound screen). I don’t hear a heartbeat or see any movement.” . We had gone in for our 20-week ultrasound and gender reveal. It was a baby girl. Although we don’t understand why, God has given us unexplainable peace and comfort during this very difficult time. Yes, it still hurts and we have cried countless tears, but we know that we can trust the Lord. In the words of King David after the loss of his baby, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (2 Sam 12:23). We don’t grieve as those who have no hope because we trust that we will see this little one again. We named her Annabell Elise. Annabell means “God has favored me”, and Elise means “God satisfies”. What a precious thing to know that when our daughter opened her eyes, the first thing she saw was the face of Jesus. Please pray for continued healing, not only physically but for our hearts as well. . “All the way my Savior leads me; What have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who through life has been my Guide? Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort, Here by faith in Him to dwell! For I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well, For I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.” -Fanny Crosby
She explained that they were told their daughter didn’t have a heartbeat during their 20-week ultrasound. “It was a baby girl,” she wrote. “Although we don’t understand why, God has given us unexplainable peace and comfort during this very difficult time. Yes, it still hurts and we have cried countless tears, but we know that we can trust the Lord.”
She continued, “We named her Annabell Elise. Annabell means ‘God has favored me’, and Elise means ‘God satisfies’. What a precious thing to know that when our daughter opened her eyes, the first thing she saw was the face of Jesus,” adding, “Please pray for continued healing, not only physically but for our hearts as well.”
After delivering Annabell, the Forsyths took photos cradling her tiny body, which they shared in a heartbreaking Instagram post.
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We only had her for 20 weeks, Life is fragile and precious. So thankful the Lord gave her to us for that short time! She will be in our hearts forever!💝😇 . Thank you all for your love and support! We can feel the prayers!💕 . Thank you, @carlinbates98 for coming to town to be here for me and for doing my hair and makeup for pictures with our little girl!💖
“We only had her for 20 weeks, [l]ife is fragile and precious,” she wrote. “So thankful the Lord gave her to us for that short time! She will be in our hearts forever!” Along with photos of Annabel surrounded by family, they shared a photo of her footprints, barely the size of a quarter. Close friend Carlin Bates, who was with her in the hospital, also wrote about the experience as well. “I wish there were words to express how broken hearted I am for my best friend,” she said. “Seeing her give birth to her little girl, Annabell Elise, and knowing that she would never be able to hold her again while on earth just brings tears to my eyes.”
According to the Endowment for Human Development, by 19 weeks, a preborn baby has had more than 20 million heartbeats. “Many common daily activities seen in children and adults begin in the womb—starting more than 30 weeks before birth,” notes EHD. “These activities include hiccups, touching the face, breathing motions, urination, right- or left-handedness, thumb sucking, swallowing, yawning, jaw movement, reflexes, REM sleep, hearing, taste, sensation, and so on.” In addition:
By 20 weeks the larynx or voice box begins moving in a way similar to the movement seen during crying after birth.66 The skin has developed sweat glands67 and is covered by a greasy white substance called “vernix,”68 which provides protection from the amniotic fluid.69
The 20-week fetus weighs about 9 ounces and measures about 10 inches from head to heel.
According to the CDC, approximately 24,000 babies are stillborn each year. While advances in medical technology have made it possible for babies to survive at younger and younger ages, stillbirth is still sadly not completely understood, and is often unexplained — and therefore, unpreventable. But despite their young age, these preborn babies are human beings, loved and mourned by their parents, with lives that had value and dignity.
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