What I Mean When I Say "Stillborn" (applies to miscarriages too)

January 24, 2014

This article/essay was written by a mom who experienced a stillborn; it is by Beth Morey and you can read it here http://stillstandingmag.com/2013/04/what-i-mean-when-i-say-my-daughter-was-stillborn/. (I also copied/pasted it below) It is the most clear and powerful thing I have read that explains this type of death physically involves the mommy.  I've mentioned this before but Jude's death (his perfect little feet on left) was especially hard because he was alive inside while I was in labor but I knew that the impact of labor would kill him on the way out-a true true death trap.  This essay  is hauntingly beautiful, crystal clear, and 100% truth.

What I mean When I Say "My Daughter Was a Stillborn"
by Beth Morey
"I don’t think that most people understand me when I say that my daughter was stillborn.
That phrasing makes it sound passive, like it was something that just happened to me, externally.

But that’s not what a stillbirth is, and I imagine that’s not what a miscarriage is either.
A stillbirth isn’t something that happened to me, or my daughter, or my family.

It’s something that happened inside me. That I was forced to participate in.

I keep trying to think of an analogy to explain how devastatingly non-passive enduring a stillbirth or miscarriage is, but nothing seems adequate. Perhaps it comes close to say that it’s like having cancer or another horrible, soul-draining, body-emaciating disease . . . only that the cancer that is within you is slowly killing someone else. Someone precious to you. And you are forced to come along for the ride, to participate in the killing.

But then, I’ve never had cancer or watched a loved one go through cancer, so maybe that’s way off, too.

The simple fact is – there is nothing like stillbirth. There is nothing like going to the hospital to check on your baby, only to have the incredibly sweet joy of pregnancy replaced in an instant with the dull, moaning emptiness of knowing that you are still going to have to endure labor and birth and filling breasts and the weeks of bleeding.

Only your baby will be dead. Your labor pains will produce nothing but a shell of this most precious person. Your arms will be empty, and there will be no way to soothe your aching breasts.

And that doesn’t even factor in the grief, or the guilt, or the wondering of who or what in this wide world you are now that death has crept into your life, into your body, in such an insidious way.
I think it’s the not-understanding that enables people to tell me, not even a year and a half after my daughter’s stillbirth as I write this, to get over it. To move on.

But my question to those people is – how long did it take you to “get over” the death of a loved one, if you’ve ever had to endure such a thing? How long did it take you to “move on” (whatever that means)?

Now ask yourself: what if you had to participate in the death of your loved one, to help bring their ending of breath into being? Then how long would it take you to heal?
Stillbirth didn’t just happen to me. It doesn’t just happen to anyone. Your baby dies, and then you give birth . . . to your dead child.

It’s not passive. You participate, even though you don’t want to. Even though it makes you want to scream and scream and scream in horror.

You participate, and it keeps you up at night for weeks and months and years.

It’s been one year and four months since I birthed my daughter’s dead body, and that is still what blooms large in my mind every night as I wait for sleep to descend. I don’t ask for the memories to come – they are just there. I can’t escape. I birth her again and again in my mind, hold her again and again for the first and last time, feel the lingering ache of afterbirth that prevents me forgetting even for a moment the nauseating reality of what just took place.

Stillbirth does not just happen. It’s not clean and surgical. Instead, it is messy and active, and it opens a wound whose pain throbs on long past you wish it would. And it changes you.

So when I say, “My daughter was stillborn,” please know that I am not describing something that happened to me. I am describing a traumatic and pivotal event in which I was an active, unwilling participant, an event that I participate in the echoes of still."

-Beth Morey


January 21, 2014

After everything went down, I was shocked that I wasn't angry.  The floods of sadness kept pouring in so strongly, unrelentlessly, that I truly believed that there was no more room for anything but stomach-killing sorrow.  Of course we have all heard it, the stages of grieving.  I never really went through denial-
maybe for a few hours when Brinly's water broke in October.  I didn't even realize pPROM was a condition and knew it wasn't great on the way to the ER but never ever did I imagine what the next 30 days would bring.

I pretty much skipped denial after I heard the diagnosis.  When you physically deliver a child and then do it all over again 20 days later, and then look that child straight in the face, there is absolutely not once inch of room for any type of denial.  Death is hard to deny.  The only shock I dealt with was going into labor with Jude.  I had somehow convinced myself he would make it even though my aching worrying heart told me otherwise.

A huge explosion occurred in our life on October 30 and then November 17th.  All I could do was hold on for dear life, cling to those around me, focus on breathing and surviving the overwhelmly heavy-wet blanket that feel onto me and glued itself to my very soul.  I thought that was it.  I prepared for months and months of sadness.

But now, 9 weeks later, the dust has settled, the smoke has risen, and now I can see it.  Destruction.  I can see the mess.  I'm fully conscience now and I am fully capable of taking in everything that just happened. And I. Am. Angry.

Darren and I have entered into a new stage where I am constantly trying to avoid triggers in this fragile state and where he is constantly trying to prevent me from running into triggers.  I don't have facebook.  My heart cannot bear to read pregnancy news, updates, and even attempts.  Ridiculous things like waiting in line to see Santa Claus in New York threw me to my bed crying for hours. I change the channel on baby commercials.  I was watching a behind the scenes "Bachelor" special and some past-winners "special" news left me rolling my eyes-this is not me.  This is not who I am.  But I'm harder now.

Today I made the mistake of reading some blogs with newer pregnancies.  I knew better.  It's just not a good mental choice for me right now.  But I did it thinking I was strong.  Words like "God is so faithful" and "I never thought I would be writing my own bump update" stirred up the anger I've been fighting.  Although I believe in my heart God truly is faithful, I don't feel it now, I don't see it.  I felt that way too the day I found out I was finally having a son AND daughter.  I felt so loved by God, so remembered.  So blessed.  So na├»ve about the "safe zone."  I too couldn't believe my blog had turned from entry after entry of trying and trying and finally I, Holly Lynn Benson, could post pictures of a growing stomach, of a gender reveal, of my plans.  Obviously beating infertility SHOULD be celebrated and I think it's wonderful to do updates and share great news-that is all our end goal in the infertility world-but in my broken state its a cruel reminder of something that was mine was physically torn from my body.

Sadness is so sad.  It makes your eyes get wrinkles and your hair turn gray.  It ages you.  I look more worn than I once did.  But anger?  That is a whole nother beast.  If not dealt with it rots your bones.  I accept anger is a stage and I plan to embrace it gracefully.  To give people the benefit of the doubt.  To attempt to rejoice with those who are rejoicing.  To NOT become bitter and cynical forever but to accept that anger is part of this.

Today I had to have an HSG done again (they fill the cervix with dye to make sure there was no damage).  It was horrible because my 'cervix' kept disappearing as the tech said.  They literally had 5 different things up my &$#%&$% and a 5 minute procedure took 45 minutes.  After 2 very bumpy attempt they had to call in a specialist.  It made me incredibly sore and incredibly sad-this is the first time I've seen an ultrasound with an empty womb since I last saw Jude kicking away when he was alive.  I held in the tears till the staff left the room.  In the car, it was one of the first times I prayed, but it was a crying, "why? how could you? what did I do? when will this end?  Where is the mercy and grace we sing about?

Here comes the vomit on blog.  I have to get it out.

1.  I'm mad because we have paid $24k+ in infertility treatments.  This is like paying for air.

2.  I'm mad because I will NEVER get to enjoy pregnancy if I ever carry again.  I will be horrified, paranoid, and doubtful.

3.  I'm mad because at church at a baby dedication the pastor read a verse about how "blessed" parents are to have kids.  Am I not blessed? 

4.  I'm mad because if I want to look at my child I have to go to a memory box that has pictures of his face instead of tiptoeing into his nursery to kiss him goodnight.,

5.  I'm mad because people have to tiptoe around me.  I cannot be normal and jump to host the next shower or talk diaper cream.  The only way I can relate to pregnant friends or new mommies is by talking about what I've experienced and that makes people feel awkward and possibly scared.

6.  I'm mad because I truly believed "this was it."  2 kids, done with infertility treatments forever.  Doing the stupid HSG today is exactly what I was doing this time one year ago. 

7.  I'm mad because no matter where I go, what I do, I am always aware of missing a part of myself.  I'm mad because at night the memories and flashbacks suddenly start playing the saddest movie I've ever seen in my head.

8.  I'm mad that 2 days ago I got excited because I got a package in the mail all to find out it was a box of formula and a "congrats new mom" package for babies that are buried.

9.  I'm mad that I happen to be 1 of 10 people that struggle with infertility.  I'm mad that we have both female and male factor infertility against us.  I'm mad I'm one of the 3% that has to pursue IVF.  I'm mad that after years of trying, we finally beat the dumb statistics all to fall into the .04% whose waters break at a deadly stage and my cervix is possibly incompetent.  SERIOUSLY?

10.  I'm mad that when the phone rings from a married friend that I immediately feel with dread that "maybe they are pregnant" and panic.  (Please note I get this is not right, I'm just being incredibly honest.  I get over it really quick).

11.  I'm mad that I struggle praying.  I don't want to be a whiny "Christian" that gets hard-hearted and bitter towards God because He does something I cannot understand; however, after years of unanswered prayers I'm at a place where I accept that He is going to do what He is going to do.  My faith is more raw and I'm more "scared" of the huge amount of pain and sorrow that this world is capable of offering to Christians and non-Christians alike.  As we move forward with future efforts to build our family, I more of the mentally of "buckling up my seatbelt" and seeing what His plans are. 

Alright.  That's off my chest.

I know anger is natural and as mentioned, I was warned it would come.  The crappy thing about grief is I've heard it comes in cycles.  I know time helps heal and I KNOW that moving forward in the fight for Jude and Brinly's siblings is the best I can do to cope and allow myself to hope again.

Through all the pain, sadness, anger, and destruction there have been a few beautiful people placed in our lives that have reached out and helped us realize we are not alone and have given us that glimmer to keep on hoping.  I have to cling to that, accept the fact that life is unfair and I'm one of her victims.  To rejoice in the beautiful life I've been given outside this stupid fertility category.  But for today, I'm mad.

A Grief Observed

January 9, 2014

My sister in law gave me A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis.  In the past I've never connected much with is writing (he is too smart) but I read this entire book in one sitting.  He wrote it after losing his wife to cancer.  I could relate to so many things. 

1.  "No one ever told me grief is like fear; Perhaps more strictly, like suspense.  Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen."

I love this.  Grief, at this level, is very, very similar to fear.  I'm waiting for peace.  I'm waiting for healing.  I'm waiting for baby.

2.  "There is sort of an invisible blanket between the world and me."
When I'm out in public, I often feel this way.  The world sees me, but they have no clue that I kissed my dead son on the forehead 7 weeks ago.

3. "Meanwhile, where is God?  This is one of the most disquieting symptoms.  When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with graitutde and praise, you will be-or so it feels-welcomed with open arms.  But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is in vain, and what do you find?  A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside.  Then after that, silence."

I'm a Christian, I have been, and always will be.  But that doesn't mean that I can't question my faith.  The ugly parts that don't make sense here.  After our cries for help, our begging for a miracle, the thousands of friends, family, bloggers praying-when they broke Jude's water all I could hear was the nasty sound of  a door slamming and bolting and double bolting on the inside and then awful awful silence.

4.  "I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief."
This is true too.  I realize, tomorrow and the next day and the next day, grief will be near.  Sadness.  His face. The kicks.  The loose skin on my stomach.  The look in my husband's eyes when I cry again about the same thing.

5.  "What chokes every prayer and every hope is the memory of all the prayers H. and I offered and  all the false hopes we had.  Not hopes merely raised merely by our own wishful thinking, hopes encouraged, even forced upon us, by false diagnoses, by Xray photographs, by strange remissions, by one temporary recovery that may have ranked as a miracle.  Step by step we were 'led up the garden path.' Time after time, when He seemed most gracious He was really preparing the next torture."

Even CS Lewis admits later that this was a "yell" at God.  I really appreciate the honestly of his emotions because it means he is human.  I couldn't relate more with this statement and I am human too.  It is so hard for me to "pray"-it truly does get choked up.  From the initial early water breaking and me not going into labor till a week later (big false hope), to my body stopping in labor once I delivered Brinly, to the doctors saying things are looking good, to the cerclage, to when Dad cried out for a miracle and the Dr. came back in saying there was no infection in Jude's water, to hoping/praying the left over placenta was infected.  In all honestly, I truly thought Jude would make it-I thought God would be gracious-I believed it. While I don't truly believe "he was planning the next torture" it really really felt that way.  The truth that the false hopes were not hopes still feels like salt on a wound.

6.  "What grounds has it given me in doubting all that I believe?  I knew already that these things, and worse, happened daily. I would have said that I had taken them into account.  I had been warned--I had warned myself-not to reckon on worldly happiness.  We were even promised sufferings.  The were part of the programme.  We were told 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accepted it.  Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not in imagination."  "the faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination.  The taking them into account was not real sympathy.  If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came."

Wow.  If I would have read this book (I would have been bored) when life was "good" I wouldn't have really gotten it either.  It's true.  We live in a world where we know of suffering and feel bad for it and have "sympathy" until it happens to YOU and like he says, its real and not imagined, it's surreal.  We hear horrible news all the time on tv, about people in other countries, war, famine, natural disaster, but then BAM, it's you?  You are the victim?  The sorrow floods in.

7.  "But suppose who you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good...The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting.  If he yield to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless.  But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us?  Well, take your choice.  The tortures occur.  If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one.  If there is a good one, the these tortures are necessary." 

Although I have way more questions than answers, at this point much more sorrow than joy and deeper fear than hope, I chose the later option-there is a good one-a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. 

My Bucket List:

My Bucket List: