Tag Archives: Stillbirth

Dear Grieving Mama, It’s October

Dear Grieving Mama,

It’s October. The trees have begun to shed their colourful leaves and the smell of pumpkin spice lattes float throughout the cool air. For everyone else, this is a month about Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving turkeys, and trips to the pumpkin patch. But for you, this month signifies something a little different.

This is your first October after the loss of your little one.

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Trying Again After Loss

It feels like it’s taken me a long time to get here. To arrive at this in-between place where I’m finally ready to entertain the idea of ‘trying again.’

Another pregnancy. Another baby.

The thought volleys around in my head. Back and forth I debate whether I’m ready to get pregnant again – whether I even want to. Maybe we have already reached our family’s final number; maybe we will find new ways to grow, just the three of us.

But I know in my heart that I’m not satisfied with this ending.

Not that this wouldn’t be enough. Not that I wouldn’t be perfectly happy leaving things the way they are. But there’s more to this story – it’s not finished yet.

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Comparing Miscarriage and Stillbirth

I was seven months pregnant when I lost my first child. The doctors hurriedly pulled him from my stomach but they found no heartbeat, no breath. He was declared stillborn.

My second pregnancy ended quickly. I barely made it to the eight week mark when the doctors confirmed what my body had already told me – it was over. They told me I had “experienced a miscarriage.”

When you look at their definitions on paper, a miscarriage and a stillbirth are essentially the same thing. Both involve the loss of a beautiful baby in utero. A miscarriage occurs before 20 weeks of pregnancy, a stillbirth occurs after 20 weeks.* Both types of loss involve the pain of losing a child; and both leave a mother with empty arms and crushed dreams.

And yet, there’s no denying that these are two very different experiences.

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Facing Stillbirth

A few years ago, while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I came across photos of a mother holding her newborn baby. With tears in her eyes, she gazed lovingly at the tiny babe that had just been brought into the world. Bundled gently in a white hospital blanket, he was small and beautiful. And although he appeared to be asleep, this little fellow would never wake up.

He was stillborn.

To be completely honest, this picture confused me. I was genuinely grieved over the loss of this mother’s baby but more than anything else, I was weirded out. I found it strange that they’d posted a photo of their deceased infant and odder still that the mother’s arms were wrapped so tightly around him. I couldn’t imagine wanting to hold someone who was dead, even if they were your child.

“Would I hold my stillborn baby?”

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