Every day in the United States alone, 26 babies are stillborn.
This is Ruth's story:
i don't have any leather pants to strap on, as i have been invited to do on the homepage, but i'm gonna share my story. i'm 37 years old, happily married, and the proud mother of three (living) children.
last year, almost this exact time of year, i found out i was pregnant with our fourth child. the news came as a bit of a surprise, as i was on the pill, and we'd thought we were "done" - our kids are 12, 10, and 8.
after the initial shock wore off, we were thrilled. it was going to be so much fun this time around, knowing what we already know about having kids and whatnot. all the stress of just keeping the little buggers alive and well until they started school was behind us. we could relax and just enjoy having a little one to hold and snuggle.
at our 20 week ultrasound, we discovered that it was a girl we named ruth, and her umbilical cord had only two blood vessels instead of the usual three.
the doctor explained the problems this could cause, and after educating ourselves about the risks involved, we felt confident that we could handle whatever GOD chose to bring our way. her due date was set for january 11, 2013. because mine was considered a high-risk pregnancy, i had weekly ultrasounds scheduled for the last two months of the pregnancy.
on january 2, just nine days before our due date, my ultrasound revealed that there was no heartbeat. ruth was dead.
i headed to labor and delivery to be induced. early the next morning, I delivered my baby girl who had already left this world.
the pain and shock have been enormous. i am so grateful to my husband for being my strength over these last 4 months. he lost a daughter too, but somehow he manages to rise above his grief when i need him.
our families have been wonderful, letting me grieve in my own way, never judging, always loving. we never did find out what happened; why she died. now the big question is, do we want to try for another baby? we know we can't replace the one we lost, but it just seems so sad to end our baby-making years with a tragedy.
if anyone reading this is interested, Jason Collins, MD of knoxville, tennessee is an ob-gyn studying the causes and risk factors for stillbirth. i was able to get in contact with him after losing ruth, and discovered that this tragedy is all too common: every day in the united states alone, 26 babies are stillborn.
i'd become concerned during the last few weeks of my pregnancy that the baby wasn't moving enough, but when i contacted my doctor, i was told that it was fine; babies slow down as they get bigger.
listen up, everybody! babies DO NOT slow down. all pregnant moms: do a kick count. be a pain in your doctor's ass. drive the nurses at the hospital crazy. do whatever it takes for that little one.
s/he is counting on you.
GOD bless all of you who read this. GOD bless ALL the unborn babies.
thanks, the band, for letting me have the floor for a moment.
This post was written on the night after the horrible school shooting in Newtown, CT.
I let my emotions get the best of me, but it was necessary.
All of it.
To see what happened in our world today; not a lick of sense in it.
Who walks into a school - A SCHOOL - and does something like this?
Who takes the lives of precious children into their own hands like this?
What's wrong with our world that an individual with this violent agenda can walk into a school and do this to our kids? Our babies? Someone's CHILD.
This is fucked up. Beyond belief.
We're upset. We're pissed. We're angry. We're crying.
Some of us walked away from the coverage early on. Others sat on Twitter and Facebook, watching streams and feeds and took in every word; hung on every possible link.
Picture of the guy who did it? Sure - I'll check him out.
Thousands upon thousands of people shared the image that was *supposedly* him on Facebook. I seriously mean thousands. I saw it. I clicked some news reporter's link on Twitter and I saw it. And I felt sick. And you know what? I still don't even know if that was him.
The reports changed. It was his brother. He killed his mother, his father, his mom's students.
What the HELL is wrong with people?
People are talking about where we failed this 20-something year old man. As a society. As a country. State. Nation. Whatever you want to call us.
I honestly don't know.
Right now I'm awful, because I honestly don't give a shit.
I can't understand his actions and I am glad he's gone. But then the part of me that is a mother wants to know why he doesn't get to suffer. Why parents don't get their justice.
But would there even BE justice? What sort of justice comes to someone who shoots up a room full of kindergarteners?
Do you know my baby is in kindergarten?
She is. It's her first year of school.
I'm shielding her from all of this. Many people won't be that lucky.
Many moms and dads tonight are holding their babies so closely. Their babies who today walked, eyes closed shut, hand to shoulder (you've seen the pictures, haven't you? Who the hell shared those picture) away from danger into who knew where. Who knew?
The grown-ups taking care of them didn't know. They just did what they knew to do. They protected those small beings as best they could.
I can't even begin to imagine the loss. The ache. The pain. I can't begin to think of what the parents who dropped their kids off this morning, walked them to the bus stop and ran their final steps, blowing kisses, quick hugs, here's your backpack - what are these people even thinking? How do you stop crying when this happens to you? How do you begin to believe again? To trust?
Do you? Do you ever? Is there a faith that brings strength to people during such a hell? Something magical that lifts them up and lets them move forward? How do you be a mother or father to your other children when one of yours hasn't come home? How do you teach their brothers, sisters, that they will be safe, even though their sibling was not?
What happens then? What does school represent? A place of learning, turned sour. Solid framework, so much of our lives, our childhood, our memories, gone. Shattered. Do you build that back up somehow?
I sure hope so. Because if there isn't a way I don't even know where to begin.
I think of these moms and dads tonight. Curled up in the darkness holding their loved ones close. I pray for strength and light, and I send love and healing. I don't know what else to do. I'm not really a praying person. I'm usually one who sends positive thoughts. But I need something to hold onto tonight. Something that reminds me that there has to be a hope, a strength, a greater something somewhere.
Because this? Today? Whatever it was - it was wrong. Horribly, terribly, all kinds of wrong.
And I'm sad. I hurt. It pains me.
And I would love answers for us all, but I don't think we'll get them. Because the mean man is gone. Or, as I believe, we should try to define him to our children, should we choose to approach the topic with them, the man who did a very bad thing. It's hard when you're trying to teach kids that behaviors are not nice, behaviors are mean, people aren't. But today he is. The mean man is gone. And it's all gone with him.
Including those children. Those adults who were there with them - I don't forget them.
But as a mom of a young child, it's the children that are foremost in my mind. I just cannot stop seeing the children I have never known, will never truly know. Because they could have been anyone's. They could have been yours. They could have been mine. That is the scariest freakin' thought ever and it's really hard to move past.
So instead I wallow a little bit, and I hug my baby about nine hundred times tonight. Because she's here and I love her and she's safe and she's mine.
You do the same.
I have a thing for sleepwear. I like cotton nightgowns, silk nightshirts and girly pajamas. I own six bathrobes; one of them purported to be “The Softest Robe Ever.” It’s soft, alright. It’s also very fluffy, and putting it on makes me feel like a lavender-hued Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I hold onto it for those two or three days a year when the temperature dips so low that warmth trumps frump.
Two of my robes are girly. The silky peach one channels Hedy Lamarr. The sheer black one was an impulse purchase from a Victoria’s Secret catalogue. It has bright pink feathers at the collar and cuffs. I’ve never worn it; but you never know.
The red robe is short, made of cotton and features a very large dragon embroidered down the back. It’s one of my favorites. Depending on my mood while wearing it, I either feel like a prize fighter or a naughty Geisha.
The black one is heavy and hooded and used to belong to a man. It’s a Bill Blass. 1998 was a very good year.
The one I wear is flannel and plaid, tartan plaid, in blues and greens. I remember tearing open the Christmas wrap covering the box it came in, and looking around to see what my sisters’ robes looked like. For several years, since we all had married, my mother bought four of the same thing in different colors. One year it was sweaters. Mine was beige. Have you seen me? Well you can’t if I wear beige.
Blue and green are not my colors either. I’m more a red and black or, better yet, a turquoise and silver kind of girl. And plaid? Honey, please.
And yet, that’s the robe I wear. I take care to make sure it hangs on the outside of the hook so that in the morning, as I stumble out of my bedroom and into the bathroom, I can grab it without thinking.
This morning I noticed a hole - a slice really - in the back. The fabric around the slice was thin, very thin; thin enough to make me wonder if the slice wasn’t really a tear; a surrender to time. The discovery inspired me to inspect further. As it turns out, there are lots of holes, some of them bigger than others; you would expect that in a 30-year-old robe.
This morning, as I drew the robe around me, I felt her. I imagined her hands on the robe, as she chose it, as she wrapped it, and the image comforted me.
“It’s going to be alright," Mom whispered. “You’ll be fine. He’s here with me, you know. Your boy is here with me.”
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On the 13th of November, 2005, I gave birth to a baby girl. She was four months premature, and didn't even make it out of my womb. I was only 16.
I did everything I could to make sure that she would have a good life. I found a great couple and talked to them via text/email/phone at least four times a week. I was absolutely positive they would provide the best life for my unborn child.
While I was in labor, I sent a text to the adoptive mother and asked her to make the 40 minute drive to the hospital. By the time they arrived our baby was gone.
It was so fast; I can't even remember most of the process. All I can remember is the guilt. I felt like I had failed them, and I knew I couldn't face them.
It's been seven years now. When will I be able to stop thinking about this? When will I stop feeling so sad? How long does it take to get over something like this - something that really shouldn't have had such an effect on me?
I know she wasn't mine. I couldn't have taken care of her. But I can't stop thinking 'what if?' What if she was healthy, what if I would have kept her, what if I did give her to those people...
What would have been different if I were raising her?
I miss her. I never even got to see her beautiful face - I can only imagine it. It hurts so bad.
The last three days gave been harder than the actual day I lost her. I can't get out of bed. None of my friends know what I'm dealing with because I'm to embarrassed to tell them. I really just need someone to talk to who isn't going to judge me.
So please, if you read this and have any advice on how to get over it and move forward, please share with me. I really don't know how much longer I can stay in bed without just dying...anyway, that's all I've got. Thanks.
The creation of human life is one of the most complex and shockingly beautiful things that our bodies are designed to do. The microanatomy that goes into this task is so astonishingly complicated that it's a miracle any of us walk around at all. And yet, most of us do. Most...but not all.
When a baby dies, we are fragmented. Shattered, we must pick up the pieces and put them back together as we pay tribute to our children, our tables forever missing one, our families incomplete, our treasures in heaven, our babies alive only in our hearts.
It is through our stories that they live forever. These children were here and they mattered. They were loved. They are loved.
It's been just over three years since I last held my sweet boy in my arms, tiny at just twenty-two weeks gestation. Three years of not changing his diapers or watching him grow. Three years of aching every time I see my friends fly through their own healthy pregnancies. Three years of a guilt-ridden jealousy of every parent who doesn't know the depths of my sorrow. Three years of never knowing how to answer the question “how many children do you have?"
Three years of hurting.
I know that death is a part of life; from the moment of conception, it's a solitary promise. The only question is how much time we have between our first moment and our last. All of us, on some level, know this.
But that will never relieve the suffering of grief. The risk of pregnancy loss will never erase the pain. Like so many other women, I knew the odds. I kept track of the statistics. I celebrated my way into the second trimester. But when the grim reality of stillbirth was visited on my family, I was unprepared for a different reality: the reality of a complete and limitless grieving.
This is a different kind of grief than the kind I carry for my father, who died when I was fifteen. Or for my grandmother, who died three years later. My sorrow for them is tempered by the memories I have; ones I can share with others. I have comrades in my grief, people who help me remember and be grateful for our times of joy.
Our time before loss.
In sharing these memories, our loved ones, for a moment, live again.
We don't have treasure chest of memories to share and hold dear. He's already dead in the photographs we have; every memory of his existence outside of my body completely entrenched in heartbreak. Talking about my son is, by its very nature, an exercise in grieving.
I have amazing people in my life who have not only allowed me the room to grieve my son in my own way, but who have reached out in an attempt to touch my son's memory with me. I don't think I can tell these people how wonderful and rare and beautiful and needed they are. I don't think I can ever thank them enough.
But these people are rare. They are the exception to a very tragic rule.
For many, pregnancy loss is a difficult, terrible, avoid-at-all-costs topic of discussion. The awfulness of a dead baby lends itself to stilted conversations; to awkward pauses and hurried condolences. To overly cheerful nods towards the silver lining of my living children, as if they somehow are obligated to, or even can, “make up” for their brother's death. As if children are interchangeable.
And instead of the sharing of memories... silence.
This is the awful truth about pregnancy loss: so much of it is absolutely carried alone. People don't know what to say, so they say nothing at all. Nobody wants to remind me of my heartache, but it has never for one moment been forgotten. How could I forget the boy who should have been my future?
And why would I ever want to?
I'm not angry at anyone for being absent or silent or unsure. I understand. I really, really do. I don't even know how I need to grieve; how can I expect anyone else to? But just because I understand, it doesn't mean it hurts any less.
It doesn't mean I feel any less alone.
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