Stillbirth: A Quiet Death

 

When a child you carry in your womb for nearly six months stops moving; when a small tiny life ceases to have breath; when all that you were looking forward to is extinguished; life changes in those moments.

A quiet death has taken place. At first not even noticed. Without any warning, an umbilical cord has wrapped itself around this wee infant in the silent world of the unborn.

This was to be our fifth child. We were the parents of three sons. We had, only months earlier adopted our first daughter from Korea.  Anna was almost one when we met her at the airport, with other adoptive parents, each of us to meet the child we had eagerly been waiting for. What an amazing way to receive this precious gift. First girl, after three boys.

We never thought we could have any more children, and amazingly after Annas adoption, I became pregnant. What a surprise. And  in many ways difficult. I now had a new baby girl, and she and I needed bonding time . She had traveled from a place quite different than where she was now. We needed to get to know each other, yet I began to be very sick with the early stages of pregnancy. I was 37, and so my body was in a different season of life than when I gave birth in my twenties.

It was a stressful time, and a joyous one also. I had always wanted a house full of kids as I was an only child myself.  And was our home a busy place! With a fifteen, thirteen, eight, and now a one year old I had my hands very full, and very happy.

On an ordinary day in August, as I was out shopping, I felt a strange almost jerking sensation in my now large abdomen. I had a even stranger feeling that even now it is difficult to explain — almost as if something deep within me was leaving. It was only a brief moment, and while it startled me, I really did not connect it in any way at the time to anything serious.

Later that evening, as I was moving about, it occurred to me that I had not felt the baby moving. This was not too unusual, as our little one was not very active as the others had been.

I went to bed, and early the next morning, I was aware that something was very wrong. I could feel no movement, and I felt the taste of fear rise in my throat.

Later, seated in front of the ultrasound machine, it became apparent that our baby had died.

My first response was just disbelief. I heard, but it didn’t impact my senses. How could this be? I only had three months left, and now the doctor was trying to gently explain to me that my child, still safe in my womb, was no longer living.

And he explained, that the baby would have to be delivered, and I would have to have a certain procedure done before the labor could be induced. And none of it sounded pleasant, but frightening.

My head was spinning, listening to what was ahead of me. Actually, as I recount that horrible time, it is hard to remember how I responded exactly. I do know that I prayed, and I do know that God was near to me, and that I was casting myself upon His Mercy, to enable me to go through this door of grief.

Now years later, and having gone through the death of our oldest son, I was able to draw upon this experience. I was able to go through a greater grief, remembering this chapter in my life.

The time came for our baby to be born. I had never had induced childbirth. It was a difficult birth. And when the baby, a girl , was born, my heart was broken into pieces.

We named her Amy Desiree. She weighed one pound, and was fourteen inches long. Everyone in the birthing room was sad. I was crying. This was not the way it was supposed to be, and yet it was.

I stayed in the hospital for several days. People came to see me. The nurses were quiet around me.

My children at home needed me. My husband had suffered loss. Our parents as well. One tiny life we never got to know, and she had affected us all.

What was God saying to me in all this?  I began to think of others I knew about in similar situations, and how I never imagined what it meant  to have a stillborn child. STILL BORN, I thought of the word. Born Still. Born not alive.

And yet, and yet, the child was still born!  The baby was a real person, and was created.  Her life did matter. Beating in that tiny heart for a short time here on earth, yet alive in another place for all Eternity. She entered the world only to leave it, yet one day we knew we would meet her.

For the Christian, there is hope. This world is not all there is. Yes, in the days ahead there was sadness. But it wasn’t a hopeless grief.

Since then I’ve learned that grief can separate you. What I needed was just to talk, and for someone to just listen, and let me pour out.  Some were uncomfortable with this. And yet there were those who listened.  But overall, it was a lonely journey.

In my life, I try to not let sorrow become wasted, but to utilize my hurts and turn them into compassion, empathy, and greater understanding of the pain of others. Our baby was born silently, quietly, but for us her family, never to be forgotten.

 

 

 

 

Jill Smoot

More Articles Written by Jill

I am happily married to my husband, Dwight, and we are blessed with five children, six grandchildren. I am active in my church, and I have been a teacher, bible study leader, and a guest speaker at a women's conference in Oklahoma City. My topic was about children born with cleft palates, which our youngest adopted daughter was born with. I attended junior college, but only one semester. Have traveled to Ukraine three times, as I have relatives living there. Taught myself Russian, so I could converse, but it is very basic.I am an organic " farmer", on a small scale. I am a Master Gardener. I am currently doing book signings, but hope to connect with those involved with mental health. .I am looking for opportunities to share my story of our son, Aaron. to reach out to those who hurt as we still do. To come alongside of those whose lives are torn apart as ours was, and to offer the comfort and hope I found in God.

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