As the first of our stories of families that have experienced infant loss or still birth, my sister Heather wrote about her experiences. Her daughter Eden, and son Lucas inspired the Love You Forever project.
This is her story:
There was a time in my life when stillbirth was that scary word at the back of the pregnancy guide. A word that described the uncommon experience of women in past generations. I was certain it was in there only to convince me, a newly expectant mom, to take extra good care of myself and my body during pregnancy. That chapter was for other women-those who knew they had risk factors. I was young, healthy and did all the right things. So I flipped past those pages because I didn't want my cloud 9 experience tainted by worry.
I wish I was still so unaware.
It happen to me. I am that 1 in 4. Actually I'm 2 in 4 because it happened to me twice. I have a gorgeous, feisty 3 1/2 year old girl at home. I was 39+ weeks with baby #2, a girl, when it happened the first time in March 2014, and it was December 2014 at 30 weeks pregnant when it happened the 2nd with baby #3, a boy, Lucas.
I was in labour and was so excited to meet the sibling for my daughter. Would I have another girl to pass all the clothes to? Would I have a boy and be able to compare the differences between raising a daughter and a son? My daughter Eden was born and the room was oddly silent...but only for a second before the chaos began. 22 minutes later it all came to a halt and there was silence again. This is what it all came to...silence, and many sets of eyes that wouldn't look at mine. She was gone.
What happened after that is a bit of a blur, and something I try not to replay in my mind, but what I knew instinctively after each child was born, was that I needed pictures of my kids. I needed to remember all their features.
Her thick dark hair, her nose, her toe that curved out like her daddy's.
I needed to capture his auburn hair, his tiny chin that looked just like his big sister's and his teensy tiny hands that definately travelled the gene pool of his father. And those pictures are one of the only physical reminders we have left that they were here. In the weeks after, I looked at them every day, terrified I would forget what they looked like. They are how my first daughter will remember them.
I regret not taking more, but I know I could have taken a thousand and it still wouldn't be enough.
NILMDTS is an amazing organization that gives parents a chance to remember their babies that don't get to stay. There is so much sadness and grief in that delivery room but the love-oh the love that is there too. Those photographers help to capture those tender moments of unconditional love. And as the trauma of the situation subsides, we as parents need those photos to look back on to remember that important moment when we met our kids. Because to us, they are just that. Our babies. Whether they stay with us or not doesn't change the love we feel for them.
*Thank you to Heather for sharing her story and to her and her husband, Adrian, for sharing this precious photo of their son, Lucas. Out of respect for her sharing her story, please do not copy or repost this photo or content. Photo credit: Sunny S-H Photography*
Follow the link for more about the Love You Forever Project