Stillbirth effects about 1% of all pregnancies, and each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States. This statistic can be found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (HERE ) along with other facts on stillbirth.
I read this statistic more than 4 years ago and thought, “How terrible. I’m so glad that will never happen to me.” I wasn’t fully aware of how I felt immune to such a “low statistic.” The truth is, I read it and immediately placed myself in the 99% of pregnancies not effected. How could it happen to me? I was healthy. My pregnancy was normal. Besides, such a terrible thing like this is something we only hear about when it happens to someone else right?
That’s the thing about stillbirth…
There are no warning signs. There is no screening for stillbirth in pregnancies. It happens unexpectedly.
Nothing prepares you for those 6 words…. “I’m sorry. There is no heartbeat.”
Once you have heard them, you will never forget them. The look on the medical professionals face and the tone of voice they used, all of it is burned into your memory. Because up until that moment, you life was “normal.”
That is the very moment life as you knew it stops and a whole new life begins. A life without the baby and the hopes and dreams you had for a future you will now never know. It is completely out of our control. You don’t want life to change, but it does.
My son, Mac Bryson, was born into Heaven on August 16, 2012. Having a stillborn is unlike anything you could ever imagine. I can say that because, I used to think I could imagine what this kind of loss would be like. The truth is, what I thought only scratched the surface. I had no idea. I heard of stillbirth before I had children and thought how terrible, heartbroken for the family. After I had children, it tugged at me a little more but, I still only scratched the surface when imagining what life would be like for the family. The thing about imagining grief is you can put it away, tuck it in your pocket if you will. The grief isn’t yours to carry so, you never know how heavy it really is. The load with stillborn grief is unimaginable and exhausting at times. We grieve what we will never have. We ache for these moment stollen from us. More often than not, we do this in silence. We may cry or get a little sad when Halloween rolls around because we remember the cute little pumpkin outfit we picked out for our baby. We pictured him or her in it and imagined the joy it brought. It might be something very simple that triggers a memory or hope we forgot we had. It is sometimes hard for us to talk to talk about this. Sometimes it isn’t because it is hard for us, but because it is hard for others to listen. It can make them sad and uncomfortable. Sometimes they worry because we are sad (again) we are stuck or “never getting over” our loss. Sometimes it is because watching us hurt, hurts them so much they think if we just stopped talking about it would help us. I believe it isn’t out of lack of compassion. I believe it is impossible for others to know how we feel or what imagine how remembering our babies by talking through our tears is helpful. I believe (a do not at all mean this offensively) it is simply ignorance. This is why grieving your stillborn can be lonely. It can be dark and destructive if we allow it. BUT, It could also be a motivation to live life as we never had before.
“What grief does is it puts us squarely in the middle of a fire, and it burns away everything that is not essential in our lives.” ~ Alana Sheeran
This quote perfectly sums up what happened after Mac. It wasn’t immediate for me. It took time but, slowly I realized how I craved to LIVE in honor of Mac. I made promises to him and my two living children, Hagen and Suzie. I promise to speak out on stillbirth and the grief surrounding it. This is where “Bereaved, Blessed, and All Things in Between” was born. It was through my desire to start a global conversation on the grief surrounding stillbirth. I want to let people know if they are experiencing this loss they are not alone. Their grief will at times want to get the best of them but, they can get through this. I want to ease the feeling loneliness by having more conversations with other bereaved parents and putting their stories out there. My hope is that not only will it touch the hearts of the grieving parents but, also open the minds of those surrounding them. Allowing them to see the grief is lifelong for us. Our babies are never far from our hearts and thoughts no matter how many years have passes. It helps us to remember our babies, even if we cry. I want others to hopefully feel more comfortable around us if our babies come up in conversation. Even more than that, I want others to know it is ok to bring them up in conversation. We should be able to talk about our babies. Help us grieve the best we can by supporting us.