Stillbirth can feel too terrible to speak about, but these stories need to be shared
Some things feel too terrible to talk about. Things like a stranger saying ‘we can’t find a heartbeat’, like giving birth to a baby who will never take a first breath. One of the tragedies of stillbirth is that it’s misunderstood, uncomfortable and – for most – unspeakable. But, for the sake of the women (and men) who bear it, stories need to be shared and their children remembered
Just imagine, for a moment, that you are pregnant. Your weekends, once filled with brunches and crunches, now involve trips to Mothercare that bring their own fun and wonder. You paint a bedroom. You google the etymology of names, and ‘is it true you shit yourself in labour?’. You’re expectant, in every sense of the word. In quiet moments, you imagine the kind of mother you will make, think about your values and how they will inform how you raise this child, trying to wrap your brain around the concept of unconditional love. You could swear you already feel it. As your due date approaches, colleagues send you off with a card and a cake, every conversation with friends begins ‘this time next year…’ and you count down to the moment when you (and your partner, if you have one) will meet your child. But for one in every 200 mothers, that meeting doesn’t go as planned. Stillbirth is a tragedy too incomprehensible for the average person to wrap their head around. It’s all but impossible to imagine being told that your child has died; to give birth only to spend the start of your maternity leave planning a funeral; to quietly leave the ‘NCT mums’ Whatsapp thread because it’s too painful to watch their lives moving on when your own will never be the same again. So what about those who have to live it? Here, three women share, in raw, difficult-to-read detail, what it’s like to lose a child to stillbirth.