Being a Mom When Stillbirth is your Dirty Secret

So you would think that having your first baby up and die on you at 42 weeks gestation would be the toughest part of surviving stillbirth, right? I am not going to deny that it was, in fact, the worst day of my life. Of course the days and weeks after the death of my child Evan were the bleakest and toughest days I have ever encountered. That being said; most days since then continue to be equally tough, thanks in part to this societal taboo about death and dying. You just can’t talk about death matter of factly in polite company, people get too weird and out of sorts.

Pregnancy and birth are major rites of passage. Growing a baby in our own womb, watching it blossom and wiggle in utero, experiencing the growing contractions and then giving birth; these are major, humongous, life altering events. My birth with my son was a horrific one; everything that could go wrong basically did, this is something I want to talk about with other mothers, and yet I don’t.  I ‘want’ to say “well first I went two weeks overdue, then labor started and it was horrific and I kept puking, then I found out the baby died, then I found out he was posterior,  pushing on my spine and couldn’t descend into the birth canal as a result, then I had an episiotomy and high forceps delivery, then I had a broken coccyx, then I had to go home and heal from all this horrific-ness and learn how to go on living without a baby after that horror. ” I want to say all of this; to say “things can go wrong, they do, they did. I don’t want to scare new mom’s, chances are slim this would even happen to them, but I want to share MY birth story.  Instead, I talk about my daughter’s gestation and delivery.  I play along with the notion that she was my first go round the birthing experience.  “How was the pregnancy?” “Oh, it was difficult; I threw up the entire nine months and had pretty heft sciatic pains.” “How was the delivery?” “Not so bad…excellent compared to my first experience”…..”I mean”…Change of subject.

People see me with one child, one little girl. I never got to bring my son home, so people don’t know he existed. Not their fault, how would they know? One child, one pregnancy, one birth story, but there were two! When I do bring Evan up people just get quiet and uncomfortable.  “Oh that is just awful, I am so sorry” and I always feel forced to comfort them and say things like “Oh its fine, it was a few years ago now, I am ok”. Really, though, it’s not totally a lie, I am mostly fine now; I just want to talk about my birth experience and pregnancy.

Through the past three years, while trying to integrate this reality into my world I have again and again comes across the same realization. I have two options; I will leave feeling uncomfortable, or half the room will leave uncomfortable.  So time and time again, I find myself wincing on the inside, pretending I have just the one child, just the one pregnancy and birth experience.  It just seems easier that way. Sigh!

Perhaps someday North American society will figure out a way to integrate death into life, as an inevitable and very real fact OF life. Until that day I will continue tip toeing around my stillbirth story, my dirty secret.

About mommamaynard

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” — Albert Einstein. When it feels like your world has been shattered, and you have reached rock bottom, you must make a choice: Stay where you are and fade away, or keep moving forward. Thankfully I chose to move forward and was blessed with the two most wonderful children after the death of my first in early labor. Things are looking up.

Posted on September 15, 2011, in Blogging, Infant Loss, Parenting, Stillbirth and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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