This article is part of an editorial series, “Stork Stories,” brought to you by Fort Worth Moms. Join our subscriber list so you don’t miss a moment of “Stork Stories” and all Fort Worth Moms has to offer throughout the year.
This article is dedicated to the neonatal nurses at the Andrews Women’s Hospital at Baylor All Saints. I will always cherish your kindness and sensitivity.
Every mother knows the story of her child’s birth. We share our stories with friends and family, sometimes recalling the details with excitement and nostalgia. Though all birth stories are different, the ends are all the same: We began motherhood with a precious baby to know and love for a lifetime.
But not every birth story ends like that. Some birth stories end with loss.
My first children’s birth story was the second worst day of my life. On Christmas Day 2010, I released twin angels from my body into the next world beyond. I returned home that evening to receive Christmas gifts from family — gift cards and jewelry that were last-minute replacements for all the baby gifts that had be to hastily and discreetly returned.
The first worst day of my life occurred two days prior, when an emergency sonogram revealed that both my babies were gone — present in my body but without life. It was the beginning of my heart-breaking birth story, one I could not share with excitement or nostalgia with anyone.
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A Mother Without a Baby
If you’ve gone through the tragedy of a stillborn birth story, you may have also felt the same confusing feelings I felt in the months to follow. Particularly, your feelings about motherhood. I thought, “I still feel like a mother, but I’m not a mother. So, what am I?”
I’ll tell you: You are 100 percent a mother. You may not be scoping out daycares or participating in playdates yet, but you are welcome in my parenting circle.
Motherhood is in your heart, even if it exists nowhere else. You loved like a mother. You cared like a mother. And now you grieve like a mother. That maternal state of being never leaves you, even when your child does.
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Grieving Lost Memories
In the United States, about one in 160 pregnancies result in stillbirth. That large number took me by surprise, as I felt very isolated from other mothers after birthing my children.
Other mothers have a child to raise and are there for the first steps and first words. The first day of kindergarten, and the day they graduate. The first bike ride, the first school dance, the first broken bone or broken heart.
Mothers without children miss these milestones. It is part of the silent grief we carry. Just like other mothers, while we awaited our babies, we dreamed of having these happy memories with our children one day. We readied our minds and hearts for these experiences.
But those future memories are taken away, too, and you grieve the loss. These feelings are how motherhood lives in your the heart. Others may not understand grieving the loss of a memory you never had, and you may feel confused in your grief like I did. But remember, even when you feel alone in motherhood, you still are a mother.
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The Bittersweet Memories
Though they are sad, there are some memories of my birth story I look back to with fondness.
I saw my babies one time. After birthing them, the neonatal nurses placed them on a towel and handed them to me to hold. They had arranged my twins so that their arms were embracing each other, and bless those sweet nurses for that. Through my tears, I told my twins that I loved them and they always had each other, wherever their spiritual journeys would take them.
The hospital provided me with some of the quintessential keepsakes that all mothers get – their hospital wrist tags, a newborn hat, and a set of inked footprints on paper. I gave my children names and said goodbye.
These are the sweet moments I will always remember.