Probably one of the biggest unknowns about someone who has a stillborn baby is that delivery and all the recovery afterward is still the same even though you go home without a baby. Don’t worry because had I not had a stillborn baby, I probably wouldn’t know this either.
The doctor determined my baby no longer had a heartbeat and gave me two options:
1. Go home and wait for things to happen naturally
2. Go to the hospital
I was an hour from home with a friend and had nothing but my purse; however, I couldn’t bear the thought of going home without my baby. I chose to go ahead to the hospital as that was the only choice that made sense to me. For someone who likes to have a plan, I had no plan. Luckily I had a few friends who sprung into action on my behalf and even went to my house to gather the items we needed most. Making a list of what we needed took some discussion. At first, I only requested a toothbrush.
At the hospital, I was admitted and settled into a room. I started going into labor but it was a slow process. I probably got to the hospital mid-afternoon and labored throughout the evening & night. Normally, this is a “happy” occasion but not this time. I had an epidural just like I did with my prior two pregnancies.
The doctor would periodically check the progress just like my previous pregnancies. It was a game of waiting just like my other pregnancies but with an outcome already decided. No matter what you are going through, there is always a bigger plan. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal”- 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18
There were differences. Normally in between contractions & pushing, you have butterflies and excitement wanting to see your baby. Not this time. In between contractions and pushing, there were tears, prayers, and silence. I delivered my third baby, Ella Claire Pritchett, “stillborn” early in the morning on March 8, 2015. I held my baby just like my other pregnancies. This time though, I held the baby in silence. After the delivery, I had to spend the night in the hospital just like my other pregnancies.
I had many of the “after” effects of delivery just like my other pregnancies; however, this time I didn’t have the sweet baby at home to remind me how it was all worth it. I was sore for a few days just like my other pregnancies. My milk came in even though there was no baby at home. This was probably one of the hardest parts.
There was a newborn outfit and special blanket, just like my other pregnancies; however, no one will ever see them. Pictures were taken of my baby just like my other pregnancies; however, the majority of the world will never see them. We will forever have Ella Claire’s image etched in our minds and hearts.
In honor of infant and pregnancy loss awareness day, I write all this to explain that stillbirth is STILL a BIRTH. Don’t try to put yourself in someone’s shoes because the process is almost unimaginable unless you’ve experienced it. Be kind to those who experience a stillbirth. I sometimes wonder how we made it through those days and my answer is simple: God and our inner circle of family and friends. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”- Matthew 6:21