Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Many of you know that I had a stillbirth almost 8 years ago. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through, but people have had to endure worse and life’s been good to me in many ways, so I don’t like to let the loss define me. I had a very rough time when it happened, but life healed me. The Husband and my older kids helped me get past that initial pain, and then it wasn’t so hard to go through the motions. Eventually I went on to have Bumblebee and after she came around I was too busy to dwell much upon the loss of Joseph.

This has been a tough week, though.

On Sunday, the show Extreme Home Makeover was building a house for a woman who photographs families with their gravely ill or deceased babies. I had to control myself while I watched that show, because Hollywood and Bumblebee were watching it with me, but it really struck a chord in my heart. I seriously felt a pain in my chest. The show explained this woman’s work – she photographs people with their babies, while they are gravely ill and after they’ve passed away. One of the women interviewed said, “Being able to look at those pictures reminds me that our baby was real.”

Unless you’ve gone through something like that, you might find the thought of holding or photographing a deceased baby morbid. For us, holding Joseph after he died was natural and in its own way, beautiful. We asked for photographs with him and the nurse who took them looked so visibly horrified that I wasn’t surprised to find that her photos barely show the baby at all. But the hospital staff put him in a white dressing gown and photographed him for us. They also took footprints of him. Tiny little footprints. Someday I might get a tattoo of them. I’m still deciding.

In the tv show I was watching on Sunday, the photographer said, “Those babies might not look like normal babies, but they are still beautiful and real to the families who are grieving for them.” And that’s just so true. Joseph was tiny and had trauma marks on him from birth. His chromosome disorder made him look similar to a Down syndrome baby. But he was still our baby. I spent a lot of time on Sunday night thinking about him.

And then life got hopping again. The Boy had his birthday and we got busy as usual. Moving on is really quite easy when you can’t stop to think about sadness.

But today I got an email from a family member who is going through something very similar to what we went through almost 8 years ago. My heart breaks for her. I wish I could help her through her pain. But I know I can’t, and that brings back memories of my own sadness.

I feel guilty because while I'm very sad for our relative, I'm also sad for me. That seems a little bit selfish, but it's honest. It makes me think about how Joseph's death must have made my mom remember a similar loss she experienced.

I’ll hug my kiddos tight again tonight – remembering that they have been such a comfort to me. And I’ll probably pull out those pictures of Joseph again… just to remember a little more clearly.


Kirsten said...

I'm so sorry to read of your loss. My mom lost a full term baby (this was before ultrasound...the umbilical cord should have 3 "tubes," hers only had 2. This was enough to supply blood and oxygen to the baby for most of the pregnancy, but by the end my sister's brain was starved of oxygen.

My mom was along with me during one of my ultrasounds and the technician commented on the healthy umbilical cord and my mom was so visibly relieved. Had ultrasounds been available when she was pregnant with the baby she lost they would have been aware of the abnormality and could have delivered her a month or two early--she likely would have been just fine. She otherwise had no signs of any sort of sad.

My mom has also talked about getting a tattoo of an angel someday, to represent the little girl she lost. She is 64 and still grieves for that lost baby.


Newsweek did a story just recently about the growing industry of photographers who photograph stillborn and recently deceased infants. These people provide such a wonderful service to families during such a tragic time.

The Casual Perfectionist said...

Oh, I am so sorry for your loss. I had a miscarriage, and I can only imagine the pain you're feeling (and felt). I often thought of what would have happened had we been farther along in the process when we suffered loss. :( (Not that it makes it easier or harder...just different.)


For what it's worth, one of my sisters and her husband volunteer for an organization that takes those photographs. Within that organization is a group that makes tiny clothing to be used in the photos, too.

This is all SO sad. I'm SO sorry. :(

The Casual Perfectionist said...

Sorry if I wasn't clear, it's probably not the same organization as the one you saw, but a similar one in your state.

Barb said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I know the pain must always be close to the surface. You are correct in one thing, I had heard of someone who had their still born child photographed and I did (then) think it was morbid but you've shed new light on the subject and I've realized that I would have wanted photos as well. Hugs to you!

Tiffany said...

Im sorry. My thoughts are with you!

WebGal said...

I'm so sorry you are having a tough week. I can't even imagine what that would feel like. I think it's great that you have pictures like that to cherish.

Monnik said...

Thanks, everyone, for the kind thoughts. I was in a rough spot yesterday, but feel much better today.

Kirsten, that's so sad about your sister. My mom also lost a baby - my sister who was born too early to survive. She would have likely made it if born today, but back then they didn't have the technology they do now.

Casual, that's great that your sister and BIL volunteer for that group. Can you email me (or facebook me) the name of the organization?

Barb, Tiffany, and webgal, thanks so much for your thoughts.

I'm going to try to write a happier post today. You know, just to further illustrate my bipolar tendencies.