Just two days before I met Stella I had a conversation about loss. I said that while I am trained in bereavement I hadn't yet attended a bereavement birth... but that at some point, I would. When I said that, I said it with a little trepidation. Walking with a family through possibly the hardest thing they will ever experience is daunting. This conversation actually happened at a birth I attended. A healthy baby boy was born that night and when I went to bed, I fell asleep quickly and slept hard, which I tend to do after a birth. Upon waking I grabbed my phone and scrolled Facebook. One of the first few posts I read that morning was Krista's post: "She's gone" "I don't know how I will survive this"... I felt that emotional drain of the day before lift and I felt God saying "This is why I led you to this work." Every ounce of fear, hesitation, and trepidation fled and I reached out to Krista. I didn't know Krista, but I offered to be by her and her husband's sides as they birthed a baby that they desperately wanted to meet under different circumstances.
Krista said yes to my services and we waited as it took over a day for a bed to be ready at the hospital. In the interim I questioned my training, my knowledge, and my heart. Would I be enough for this family? I didn't know. What I did know is that I was going and I was going to do my very best. I would be there, standing in that space, recognizing Stella, and holding their hearts.
And then I was called in...
Walking into that birthing room, ease entered with me. Stella's birth held so many similarities to every other birth I have attended and so much beauty... in many ways it was the same pattern of contractions, waiting, and anticipation for the baby to be born. There were also raw emotions, an understanding of the contrast, and hearts barely held together. I distinctly remember sitting on a window ledge as we kept vigil and Krista restlessly slept, and I thought, "There is absolutely nowhere else I would rather be tonight." I say this because stillbirth sparks fear, anxiety, and pity in the hearts of most when they hear it mentioned, but stillbirth is a birth and a baby is born, welcomed, mothered, loved, held, and cared for. Stillbirth is a reality and if there was one word for that night that Stella was born, it would be "beautiful." The after is so crippling hard... moving on without your baby, but the process... her birth... that was beautiful.
Below are the photos captured by the amazing (and my co-doula that night, for sure) Stephanie Emeigh of http://www.emeighphotography.com/
These photos speak volumes... down time, contractions, connection, exhaustion, labor, and the waiting...
And then she arrived. Stella calmly and without hustle, bright lights, or fanfare entered this earth. At the moment Stella was born, and the time leading up, Stephanie and I were next to Krista, providing physical comfort and emotional reassurance. The three of us were one in that moment. Stella knew exactly when her mama was ready for her. Calmly, smoothly, and gently, Stella arrived...
The hole you left was far bigger than your 10 ounce little self. You were so very wanted. You were longed for. You were and are fiercely loved. You were to be rainbow after 2 early losses and your passing was heart shattering. In the hours after you were born, there was a lifetime's worth of parenting encompassed... you were held, admired, studied, and kept close. Your presence in the room remained calm, even with the reality and the weight of your birth and death. Stella, you are an amazingly special little girl and I am so thankful to be a part of your story and your mama's life.
Nobody should ever have to talk this path. It shouldn't be allowed. However, if you look very closely, there is calm in the storm, beauty in the chaos, and redemption in the rubble. "She was born silent into this world, but her little life spoke volumes." Stella, I think this is only the beginning. I wish your story was written differently. I wish for mended hearts and happy lives, but I am also in awe of the hearts you have already touched and the impact that your little life has had and will continue to. Fly free, sweet girl... fly free...
Baby Love Blog
Here lies a stream of consciousness regarding, pregnancy, birth, babies, and my doula business...