For 36 weeks and five days, I carried within me a little girl. Her name is Emily. Emily kicked, squirmed, and I could count on her daily hiccups at least three to four times. We prepared our home for her. Painted the walls pink and green. We bought bedding with flowers and butterflies. We filled her closet and dressers with clothes. We were ready for her to arrive at any moment.
However, on December 17th, 2007, our worlds were forever changed. A routine check-up turned into our worst nightmare. Emily’s heart was no longer beating. On December 18th, Emily Frances was born silently into this world. There would be no medical explanation. An autopsy provided no answers, and we were merely told, “these things just happen.”
Infant and Pregnancy Loss
According to the CDC, Stillbirth impacts about 1% of all 6 and each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States. That is about the same number of babies that die during the first year of life, and it is more than ten times as many deaths as the number that occurs from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester before the 12th week of pregnancy. Miscarriage in the second trimester are less common, occurring only in 1-5% of pregnancies. As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage. The exact number is unknown as a miscarriage may happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant. Most women who miscarry go on to have a healthy pregnancy later. “These things just happen.”
“These things just happen.”
Dying Without Being Born
On December 21, 2007, we laid our daughter to rest. In the weeks following we received a death certificate in the mail. We soon discovered, that in the state of Washington, because Emily did not take a breath outside of my body, I would not receive a birth certificate. I carried Emily for 36 weeks and five days. I labored, and I gave birth, yet there is no legal document showing her birth. Only her death.
There’s a movement across the nation, Missing Angels Bill, to change legislation allowing families that have suffered the death of a child to receive a “Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth.” It is only currently available in 33 states.
Raising Awarness by Remembering
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Each year, I share my stories of loss. I share them not for sympathy or attention, but for the many women who suffer and grieve in silence. No matter the length of pregnancy, each baby was loved and highly anticipated from the very beginning. Please offer your support to a family member or friend, by asking their story, listening and always remembering their precious babies that are gone too soon.
If you have a story you would like to share, email us at [email protected]