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?