Sharing birth stories is a rite of passage for mothers.
We take pride in this massive achievement of growing a human and bringing it forth into the world. The difficulties and successes of pregnancy and delivery are like badges of honor. I would bet that all of you reading have listened to at least one friend share all the gory, bloody, painful, nasty, beautiful, and joyful details of the birth of her child. For some women, women who have lost their little ones, these stories can bring up feelings they would prefer to forget, but their stories are important to hear.
Two weeks after I delivered my firstborn, I received a call from a friend letting me know that a mutual friend suffered a stillbirth the day after my delivery. I sobbed until my shoulders shook. We had enjoyed being pregnant together and seeing her carry a child in her womb after a decade of infertility was beautiful. That this was suddenly taken away from her devastated me. About six months later, my friend and I had a few minutes alone at a gathering of friends, and I expressed my utter sadness at Baby Maggie’s death. We cried a bit together as I listened to her story.
Miscarriage & Infertility
My soul sister suffered a miscarriage two months after I gave birth to my first child. She was three hours away, and I could do nothing. Her husband let me know it was happening, and I cried and held my baby knowing my friend would not hold hers. I was angry I could not be with my friend during her greatest time of need. I wanted to hear her voice to know she was still breathing and no longer in pain. Instead, all I could do was pray and give her space to grieve and fall apart and not think about anyone or anything else. We talked soon after, and after I expressed my sorrow for her suffering, she unloaded all the details of this horrible experience. And I listened to her story.
A dear friend suffered through years of infertility, and then gave birth to twin boys following IVF treatment. Two years later, two more embryos were introduced into her womb, but only one survived. When she called me with the news, we were so excited for this new little one who was growing and thriving, but we both acknowledged the loss of that little spark of life. We cried as I listened to her story.
A high school friend and her husband received news during their long-awaited pregnancy that their baby was not developing as she should. They received a diagnosis of Down Syndrome and set off researching her condition and preparing for her arrival. Caroline was loved for 20 weeks inside her mother’s womb and spent her hours on earth in her parents’ loving arms. I attended her sweet funeral and witnessed the love and honor bestowed upon Caroline by her parents through the acknowledgment of the life she had. They continue to do so each year on her birthday. They now have an infant son who knows of his sister, and he listens to her story.
These birth stories are different from most you might here in mom conversations, but they are every bit as valid as a tale of an emergency c-section or an unmedicated home birth. These women who have lost their little ones deserve our support, and our ear.