We Miss Her, Too

Told by: Anne

My sister in law and I were pregnant at the same time. She lost her precious baby girl somewhere between 20-24 weeks. Even though we’re not close, it hit me hard. My husband and I sat and cried and cried when we got that call. Our hearts just ached for them.

We didn’t know our baby’s sex until birth, but we had a girl too. She’s 14 months old. My sister in law and brother in law have come to visit my mother in law several times (she lives only a few minutes from my husband and I), and we disagree on whether we should just go over like we used to when they would visit.

My brother in law has seen our baby once when we brought our son to play with their son, but my sister in law had stayed home that time. So she has still never seen our baby, and I don’t blame her… I feel like we should stay away unless they ask to see us.

My husband’s heart still breaks for his brother. And I know, looking at our little girl, he thinks about the cousin she would have. I think about her too. And her poor parents who will always mourn her.

miss you

Photo Source (unconfirmed): Melody Godfred

Family Ties that Bind

Told by: Krysten

My maternal Great grandmother lost a young toddler to Polio

My other Maternal Great grandmother suffered several miscarriages in silence

My maternal Grandmother lost in utero child to miscarriage after a fall

My paternal Grandmother lost newborn to a birth defect

My paternal Grandmother- in- law lost a daughter to stillbirth

My cousin –in- law lost a son to stillbirth

Mother lost twins due to TTTS and Placenta Previa

I have lost 2 children in early pregnancy, and nearly lost a third to extreme prematurity.

Roe v. Grief

Bereavement faces many challenges.

The strikingly contradictory response to our bereavement from our loved ones who espouse strong religious, political or other personal beliefs can be quite jarring and indeed, even traumatizing.

Loved ones who espouse strong pro-life beliefs, specifically if they are someone who would be the quickest to say that elective abortion is the murder of a child, when they shun a mother who has experienced miscarriage or stillbirth be telling her, in word or action, to quickly “get over it”.

Loved ones who espouse strong pro-choice beliefs, specifically if they are someone who would be the quickest to proclaim freedom of a mother’s rights and choices, when they shun a mother who is experiencing bereavement and attempting to deny her the freedoms and the rights to explore and express her bereavement journey, these rights and freedoms they otherwise believe all mothers to have.

Dear loved ones, we need you to have an eye to your own hypocrisy, because it is wounding.  Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, it isn’t actually Roe v. Grief, and we need you to become pro-healing.

 

It Still Takes a Village

For more support as a Loved One, please visit our Friends and Family section.

A Grandmothers Stars

Shared by: Karen

This is my tattoo: the big star at the bottom is me with my stillborns star inside me her name is Lauren, the next 4 stars are my daughters, Linzi, michele, sami and abbie-Lauren (the second star has a cross in it for my daughters miscarried baby), then the next 3 stars are for my grandchildren, 2 girls and a boy.

SBD Speaks

These are little photos that we share at our stillbirthday Facebook page, as a way to invite others to finding us here, directly at stillbirthday.  If you like any of these, you can find them – and more – at our Facebook page for sharing.

 

Your Baby’s Age

If you believe in Heaven, Eternity, or Paradise – if you believe in life after death – do you have an age in your mind, an image in your mind, of what your baby might look like?

Photo Source

I love this photo, because it also shows how grandparents hold parents hold children.  It shows how our grandparents  are impacted by their family – including births and losses.

With Jesus & With Me

Told by: Amaris

I am a 22-year-old college student. I have two living sisters, and one brother. I also have another sister, her name is LeeAnn, and she is lucky enough to be in the presence of Jesus Christ and God in Heaven! :-) I am happy I stumbled upon this site as it was just her 23rd birthday yesterday. My Mom cannot tell people about LeeAnn as it is a painful story to tell. It is even too painful for me to reveal everything that she has told me, so all I wanted to say was that I am blessed to have a sister named LeeAnn. My Mom named me and my other sisters with LeeAnn’s name as our middle name. I am reminded of her every time I write my name on anything. She is very special to me and my family. We love her and I know I will see her someday when I go home to Heaven. She watches out for me, and she is the sweetest little girl in the world. A lot of the time when I need help she is there for me. I ask her sometimes to pray for me and then things go well for me. :-) I just wanted to tell you all about my sister because I want you to know what a wonderful sister I have. I also want to let you know that everything is alright. My Mom is okay, I know she hurt for a long time but my sister is safe in Heaven, and that comforts her. What better place is there to be than safe in God’s arms with Christ the King? :-)

Subsequently

On the hot summer night of June 7, several years ago, a woman began to labor her child, her daughter.  The father of the child lay asleep in the bedroom, after leaving stern instruction not to be awakened unless the birth of the child was imminent.

She labored, alone, quietly, until she was sure it was time to wake him.

In the dark morning of June 8, she mounted his motorcycle, this laboring mother, and held the back of his leather jacket as he rode her to the hospital entrance.  Prior to “The Bradley Method” of childbirth, which includes the father in the laboring process, was the “Jack Daniels Method”; the man rode on to the nearest bar to celebrate the arrival of his daughter.  The woman entered the hospital, alone.

This same woman labored two years earlier, and gave birth to a stillborn little girl.

What was this labor like for her?  Was she scared?  Terrified of what might happen?  Did her body’s successive pulls and squeezes, painful contractions, remind her of when she had experienced this last?  Did she pray?  Did she hope?  Did she cry?  Did she long for someone to wipe her forehead with a cool, damp cloth and tell her that her feelings are OK, that everything is going to be OK?  Did she wonder if this little girl she was about to meet would be breathing, would look at her, see her, respond to her touch, or if this little girl, like her last, would die during birth?

I don’t know.

She never told me.  Pieces of my childhood are jotted down in notes – notes in different handwriting from the different people who made executive decisions on my behalf.  I don’t know how my mother felt about my birth, because her feelings aren’t jotted down in my government issed file.  It is probable that nobody bothered to ask her.

A short time after my birth, my mother went to prison and my father fled the state.  I was raised in foster care, group homes, and institutions for the majority of my childhood.

What if someone had intervened? What if someone had wiped her forehead with a cool cloth, and told her it was OK to feel what she was feeling?  What if, before this pregnancy, someone offered her mentorship after my older sister had died?

Would she and my father have begun to seek a healthy, legal lifestyle?  Would she have escaped his abuses and began a life of healing?

Mothers of miscarried and stillborn babies need immediate support.  We need support at the exact time of the news that the baby is not going to live.  We need support through the remainder of the pregnancy, and through the process of childbirth.  We need postpartum support.  These things are, in large part, what our bereavement doula program is all about.  And, we need support long after these things are over.

Our doula and mentorship programs may not be enough to stop a predisposition for addictions and abuses, but it could be enough to reveal these predispositions and it could be enough to recognize the hunger for healing.  It could change lives.

Furthermore, a parent’s life is forever changed after the birth of a stillborn baby and many, many mothers who’ve given birth to miscarried babies recognize this same irreparable break.

We will never be the same.

It is a new beginning.  A new birth.  A new life.  A subsequent life.

In the same way newborns need to be cradled, held close, and touched tenderly, so too are bereaved mothers.   Sometimes, we can walk.  Sometimes we crawl, and still other times we just need to be carried.  But we always want our loved ones to be near, and we always want you to care.

I am a subsequent child, and I have a subsequent child.  I know.

~~~~~~~~~~

Some things for others to know:

    •  I want you to remember my baby, the baby who died.  I want you to recognize that the hardship of grief I am enduring is because I’ve been blessed with the role of mother and that I did, in fact, give birth to a baby.  My baby.
    • When you mention my baby, it is healing.  If I cry, if I smile, if I seem cool – however I respond – it is healing.
    • I am heartbroken because I am missing out on so many lovely things with my baby.  When you call my baby by name, when you speak to me about my child, you are giving me something back.
    • My experience is different than anyone else’s.  My journey is different than anyone else’s.  It is my journey.  I’d like you to walk it with me and we can share what we see together – I do want you to point out what you see in me and around me.  I don’t want you to blindfold me and tell me where I need to step.
    • The death of my baby is not exactly the same as the death of anyone else.  We can share in our common denominator only if we don’t use that as a means of forging or expecting each other to mourn a certain way.
    • Joyous occasions, like the birth of another child, still are subsequent to the death of my child.  There are no replacements – of my deceased child, or of the feelings I have for him.
    • I am thankful for the life of my child, however brief, and for the reality of my child, which is eternal.  I am humbly grateful for the things I have learned through his death and because of his death.  Help me honor the reality of my child by remembering the day he was born, and the day he died.
    • A pregnancy loss is still a birth, and is still a birthday.  It is recurrent.  It is annual.  I want you to remember the day with me.  As I recall the tiny person I saw, I will feel love for that child.  This feeling is right and is intended to be shared.  I will also feel sadness for the love I haven’t been able to lavish onto that child.  This feeling is also right and is intended to be shared.  I’d like to share it with you, but more than that, I’d like you to share it with me.  I’d like for you to initiate conversation – I’d like you to tell me that my baby’s short life was important to you, and that my baby’s eternal reality is important to you.
    • Please remember my baby’s important dates, just as you remember my other children’s dates.  Here is a nice card you can give me as I honor my baby’s stillbirthday through the years.
    • I’d like you to remember that I am still adjusting to my new life – my subsequent life – and I’d like you to offer me grace and forgiveness as I stumble on this journey.
    • I have offered you grace and forgiveness as you’ve stumbled in the things you have done and said, and failed to do and say, to me.  It is sometimes excruciating to do so, because I am adjusting to this new life and need caring for, but I do.  If you are not sure of how to care for me, ask.  I have answers to your questions.
    • I am not alone in the way I feel about this subsequent life.  One mother sends a plea to her loved ones to just say something to validate the reality of her child, while another challenges those who seek to shape the path of bereaved parents.  And thousands more find their way here, to stillbirthday, because they, too, want to learn how to make sense of this new, subsequent life.

Forever in Our Hearts

Told by: Robin

I was walking through the cemetery near my home in Kentucky recently and saw the tombstone of a child who was born and died on the same day. There was a stuffed Valentine’s Day bear sitting beside the grave. I stopped walking and began to cry; imagining the pain and heartbreak of the parents of that baby.  My own brother is also buried in that same cemetery. I walk by his tombstone day after day and I always look over at it; even though I try not to… The tombstone is a pinkish color so it’s hard to miss. Inscribed on the stone are the words ‘Forever in our Hearts’. My mother married at a very young age. She was only fifteen. She was only sixteen when she gave birth to her first baby; a boy she named after my father ‘Donald’. Anyway, when Donnie was only a few months old, my father came home from work to find my mother napping and my brother dead. My parents were told that their baby son died of SIDS. There was no other explanation. My mother put him down for his nap and he never woke up. I can’t even begin to imagine how my mother processed such a tragic loss; especially at such a young age. I can’t imagine waking up from a nap to find my baby dead. I can’t imagine… Sadly, my parents did not even have the money to bury their dead baby; my brother I never had the chance to meet and know. My Mammaw (mother’s mother) bought a burial plot so my parents were able to bury their baby properly. (My Mammaw is buried near him now. They are in Heaven together.) As I read through so many stories of loss on this site, I have been reminded of the loss of the brother I never knew. Back when this tragedy happened, there was no internet with loss web sites like this one. There was really no help at all; no place a mother or father could turn for help with their grief and heartbreak. My mother had to internalize her pain and find a way to go on. She does not talk about Donnie but I’m sure she thinks about him and ‘remembers’ on his birthday, death day and on Mother’s Day…

Now, my mammaw, she gave birth to five children but only two survived; my mom and her older brother (who passed away about six years ago). My mammaw miscarried one baby that was so tiny, she buried the baby in a large matchbox. The baby was buried on their farm. She also gave birth to another son and daughter; Russell and Sarah. Sarah was still- born and Russell died at 18 months. I did not realize that Russell was 18 months old when he died. I thought he was born dead like Sarah. My heart broke when mom told me he was one and a half when he died. He was walking and talking… he had the flu and the doctor gave him the wrong medicine. I can’t imagine… Sarah and Russell are buried near Donnie and Mammaw. They are all in Heaven together. Mammaw has been reunited with all of her children now except for my mom.

My mammaw lost her own mother when she was just a young girl. She raised her two brothers. Her life was so difficult but you would never have known it from the way she carried herself and reached out to others, always helping others when she was in need herself. She taught first and second grade up until I was in junior high school (the mid-seventies). She gave to others when she was in need herself. That was ‘normal’ to me and what I was taught we are to do. I can remember her always saying no matter how difficult any circumstance “God takes care of His own”. She was truly a woman of God. I’m so thankful for a godly heritage that came down through my precious mammaw. I learned so much from her about God, about life and about how to love others more than myself.