Chances are, even if you don’t know who, you know someone whose life has been impacted a stillbirth. If you are aware of this, then you probably know how important it is to acknowledge and honor the baby who was lost. You may have heard the parents ask for you to say their baby’s name and to remember their existence. This acknowledgment is so important to the families who have lost their babies.
We need to remember that even when our babies are stillborn they are still loved.
But, there is something else that needs to be remembered. There is a conversation that is discussed far too seldom, even among the women who have experienced it. Maybe this conversation isn’t happening because we’re uncomfortable or because we’re unaware. Maybe we just don’t have the words for something so heartbreaking. Whatever our reason, we are forgetting to mention something.
We need to remember that stillbirth is still a birth.
I say this on behalf of all mothers whose child was stillborn. Our babies did not silently appear in our arms. They were delivered there by us. Just like any other woman, we gave birth to our babies and we have a birth story. The only difference is that for the mother of a stillborn baby, the ending comes first.
The pain and exhaustion of childbirth? Yeah, we’ve done that. We know what it’s like to be wheeled in for a c-section or to have our cervix checked for progress. That fear you have before childbirth begins, the fear that makes you question whether you are truly ready for what’s ahead? We know this feeling. We also know the feeling of wanting to give up, but finding the strength to keep going just so you can finally see your baby. That strength is a lot harder to find when you know you will be seeing your baby for the last time.
Our babies were stillborn and they were STILL BORN.
The most heartbreaking validation comes from our bodies. Even when our babies stop living, the maternal instincts of the human body are strong. Our bodies are so committed to the existence of our babies that they continue on as if they were still alive. People are often surprised to learn that, even after a stillbirth, we endured the usual postpartum experiences. To be honest, this is something that was surprising for us too. No one told us that we would go through the aftermath of childbirth without our child, but we did. We changed bloody pads. We healed from c-section scars and episiotomies. We felt our breasts fill with the painful reminder that there would be no baby to feed. We did it all, we just did it with empty arms.
Our stillbirth experience is still a birth experience.
So, please continue to remember our babies. Acknowledge their existence, honor their memory, and say their name. Do all of these things and then go a little further to recognize their birth. Our children are not something we imagined. They existed. When you acknowledge how they came into this world, you are honoring their life. You are also honoring the woman who carried them through that life and delivered them to a place beyond the living.
What is your baby’s still-a-birth story?
Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash
Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash
6 thoughts on “I Need You To Know That My Stillbirth Was Still A Birth”
Thank you for writing this. A friend on Facebook shared it- a friend I’ve never actually met in person… a friend that I connected with through an introduction made because we both shared the singularly huge and painful experience of having a stillborn child. It was such a relief to finally connect with someone that had survived a stillbirth and was able to have an open discussion about our shared experiences. It’s stifling and isolating feeling alone with such a loss, but the warmth of a connection and being able to speak freely about my stillbirth story with someone who has been there – with eyes that aren’t full of discomfort and disbelief- is an amazing and beautiful thing. In 19 days it’ll have been two years since that horribly clear ultrasound showed our tragically still son and his lack of heartbeat. In 20 days it will have been two years since he was born. I am still processing, still remembering, still looking for the right words… but still hopeful for what the future may hold. Reading your words- that put words to what I felt but couldn’t articulate- is equally a relief and warmth of understanding. Thank you for the bravery and honesty of your writing, and thank you for the sense of community.
I wrote my daughter’s birth story 2 days after giving birth to her. Not just for me but for so many other people who just couldn’t wrap their head around it all. Very healing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and giving us all the validation we do seldom get!
I really appreciate this article and how it details the importance of remembering our lost children. I wish more people would be aware of this and how much it can mean to the mother to talk or hear about her child. I created a tribute product to keep my daughters memory alive and to help other families.
This really hit home for me. My husband and I experienced a still birth 17 years ago, there were many things that I was not very grateful for at the time. The box was one of them. My attitude changed about the box when I realized this was what I had left to remember her by. One of the things in the box was a booklet to record my thoughts about the loss, that was one thing that I loved about it. The booklet had space to record my thoughts, and it became a real blessing. I recorded answers to the questions in the booklet sometimes with tears in my eyes, sometimes with bitten tongue due to anger, but sometimes with peace and calm, as well. The booklet allowed me to express some of my feelings with out worry that others would judge my attitudes. Thankfully, our families were very supportive and gracious, and our church family was very helpful as well. (It may have been partly because we were so far along, but knowing my church, maybe not) My husband designed a web page for her back then and wrote a piece about Bethany (which also went in the box). Another thing I will always treasure is an ultrasound of her giving us the ‘thumbs up’. (this item was part of the reason I had a love/hate feeling about it, rather than the ultrasound and pictures, I wanted her.)