Birth is birth, no matter what gestation or the situation, I firmly believe that. “Once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” - The Velveteen Rabbit
Last weekend I had the honor and privilege of serving a young woman who had just received the devastating news that her 35 week old baby no longer had a heartbeat. A fellow doula in the area reached out to see if anyone was available for her induction, and luckily I was. I didn't want to do it... I saw the post, prayed, and then responded knowing that if I was supposed to support her, God would make it happen and would guide me through it. I am currently 23 weeks pregnant, have lost a child myself, and knew this would be hard. I wanted her to be supported, but didn't necessarily want to be the one to do it. I know that sounds awful, but it's true. The happy births are the fun ones. The crying babies and smiling parents are the easy births. But this would be different. The mother called me the next day and we started working out the details. After speaking with her, I knew it was where I was supposed to be.
This sweet mother had several other small children at home, and her husband was needed there, so my client would be delivering her little boy alone, besides me and the volunteer birth photographer I found. I am so glad we were able to be there for her, and grateful for the wonderful photographer willing to volunteer her time and talents so this family would have beautiful photos to treasure, when there was nothing left but the memories.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was astonished by her stoic demeaner and gracious smile. I was in total awe of her, she was simply remarkable in everyway. Over the next several hours I was able to be there to support her, help with pain management, hold space, and share in her grief. The staff at the hospital was encouraging, informative, and kind, and I was so grateful for them. I have never been more humbled than I was in those hours.
I feel like stillbirth is something not spoken about often, because it makes people uncomfortable... and why wouldn't it. The death of a baby shouldn't happen, but it does. What absolutely shouldn't happen is for a family to have to walk this journey alone. There are so many resources out there, but most don't know they exists until after the matter. Stillbirthday is a wonderful organization that trains doulas to not only assist with healthy pregnancies, but loss as well. One of my goals and passions is to make sure families know they are not alone.
I learned so much through this experience and will be forever grateful this amazing mama let me walk along side her while giving birth to her gorgeous little man. I don't know if she will ever know the impact she has had on me, but I will hold her in my heart forever.
God rest your soul sweet boy.