My (Still) Birth Is Not A Horror Story

March 1, 2019

By Sanda Rathamone

"Babies lost in the womb were never touched by fear, they were never cold, never hungry, never alone and importantly always knew love." - Z Clark-Coates

"What is a fear you have about giving birth?" That was a post I saw on Instagram one day. I went through the comments and read almost all of them (there were 100+ comments).

Many of these were the same fears I had: pushing gas/poop, third degree tears, complications with labor/birth, painful contractions, needing an epidural/ineffective epidurals. And then, I saw a few comments mentioning "losing the baby" or stillbirth.

Surprisingly, stillbirth wasn't a fear I had when I was pregnant with Elijah. It had never crossed my mind that stillbirth could have been possible. No one in my family had a history of stillbirth, or at least to my knowledge. For me, stillbirth was a term that was rarely used. It was something I had only ever heard of in movies.

I remember reading on pregnancy apps and websites that the risks of miscarriage lessen after the 13th week, which is why many people wait until then to announce the pregnancy. And, since I was in the middle of my second trimester with Elijah, I thought that we were safe. We made it "safely" to 20 weeks. After stillbirth, I now know that there is no such thing as a "safe zone" in pregnancy; anything could happen in an instant. In my case, the unthinkable happened and I was not prepared for it. Honestly, I don't think any woman could be fully prepared to lose her baby.

I wonder why I had never come across anything about losing a baby after week 13 (before Elijah died). Maybe it was because I was too confident that I became oblivious to possible dangers down the road? Maybe it was because there were no physical signs that I would lose my baby?

When I read those few comments about stillbirth, it made me sad. I realized that I am living the life of a mother's worst fear, a fear that I should have had before Elijah died. A fear that never once crossed my mind - this made me feel so naive. Being that I am now almost three years into loss, I have concluded that stillbirth isn't the worst thing to fear, but life itself. It is a cruel thing to live after a baby dies.

There is this constant heavy feeling of emptiness and sorrow that sprinkles on top of joy in every minute, moment, and memory of my new life after loss. 

There was this other day that I came across another pregnancy (and thought provoking) post. It said something along the lines of, "DON'T LISTEN TO OTHER PEOPLE'S HORROR STORIES." This post was concerning (horrific) birth stories. Basically, it was a post trying to encourage moms-to-be to not give into birth stories that could cause more fear/insecurities about giving birth. Clearly, most of the comments were praising this and I felt... offended? outraged? upset?

For some reason, I felt that this post was (indirectly) saying that my stillbirth was a horror story. I mean, yeah, what happened to me was tragic and my worst nightmare, but I would never say that my birth story was horrific. Like every mother who gave birth, I gave birth too. Beautifully. Fearlessly. And I never once gave up and said that I couldn't do it. I endured the contractions. I pushed out my baby. And I endured my baby's death. But never, ever, EVER, will I say that the birth of my son was horrific.

Somewhere in the pile of identical comments, a woman spoke the very words that were fuming inside of me. She said something like, "There is a fine line between spreading fear and educating others."

Every birth is different, not all births end in the same way, but all births are stories of a mother and child. All births are stories of love, and some of them, like mine, include loss. And yet, loss does not make my birth story any less beautiful. I believe that the most horrific story is a world that fails to acknowledge all births. My birth is still a birth and worthy of being heard.

(This blog post was inspired by a book that I am currently reading, "Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife" by Peggy Vincent.)

Please share to spread Stillbirth Awareness.

With love,
Must Read:
Read Elijah's Story, "From Gender Reveal to a Spontaneous Delivery"

Photo: pinterest/etsy

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