If I were to sit beside that mom, the one who has just been given a diagnosis, or the one that hears “I”m sorry there is no heartbeat”, I would hug her close and tell her that she has support.
I can’t tell her everything to expect. But I can tell her as much as I can possibly tell her so that she doesn’t have to think of it on her own.
IF I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO HOLD THE HANDS OF A MOM TODAY AND TELL HER HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS, I WOULD TELL HER:
- To take a million pictures, during labor, during birth. Not just of the baby.
- To call a birth photographer, not just Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. The pictures provided by NILMDTS are very meaningful and important, but birth photo often captures the entire process and the moment you meet your child. Often this visual is one you will hold in your mind for a very long time, if not the rest of your life, as is true of every parent of any child. You may likely want pictures of the hours leading up to birth and the event itself.
- To decide who tells the world what is happening and when. To decide if you want to tell Facebook or if you want it to be your mom or your cousin. Ask that people offer you the opportunity to decide and not to take that from you. You may feel exhausted explaining to the world what has happened and you should do that on your own time frame. But ask people to respect your right to tell your child’s story and announcement.
- Be mindful of how you hold your baby and know that it requires more care than normal. It might be shocking. Knowing to expect it really does help, if you know to cradle the head with even more care than required of a newborn. You will need to hold them a bit more tightly and maybe use multiple blankets to create a tight swaddle.
- Get handprints AND footprints
- To get pictures of every square inch of that baby. Twice. And then one more time.
- To go slow. To slow down all the regular fast birth experiences. Birth. Then wait 30 minutes to measure. 30 more minutes to weigh. Go slow. You don’t have to rush it. It will be too much to do at once. It will get blurry if you do that.
- Don’t medicate yourself through it. For the physical pain, sure. The emotional pain, not so much. You’ll have precious little time. Hours. Minutes. Don’t be medicated through that.
- Call the chaplain. You may want a naming ceremony, a blessing, a baptism. You may want to sing a song.
long sleevedoutfits. Stillborn babies don’t look the same and sometimes you’ll want more covering your child so it’s not quite as shocking for you, adding to the trauma of that day. One minute you may want to look at your child and one second later, that may change. It’s ok if it does. It can feel very guilt-inducing, but again, babies who have passed often have skin changes and this can be difficult for anyone, even a parent.
- Take alone time. Kick everyone out, even dad. Then give dad his alone time too. My husband took her to the bathroom to be alone and shut the door and talked to her.
- Talk TO the baby. The room needs to talk to the baby as well. They need to call your child by their name. To coo over them and say and do all the things that happen in any other birth. That happened
forme and I’m eternally grateful. They treated her like a precious living newborn.
- You’ll need to decide if you want an autopsy. If you do, you’ll need to prepare that you get less time. If you don’t want one, you can take a few days. If they say no and pressure you to have less time, remind them that yes you can. You can have as much time as you need. Yes, even days.
- Ask for a cuddle cot, or a plan to help you prolong your time with your child that includes cold/chilling technology.
- Ask to be moved off the floor so you don’t hear crying newborns. Know that it will be hard to leave that floor anyways. Your child was born there.
- You won’t get a birth certificate but you can petition in some states for a certificate of stillbirth. You will likely want it.
- Get a lock of hair, fingernail clippings, etc.
- Don’t wash the blanket you wrapped them in.
- If you have other living children, strongly consider having them meet the baby, and take pictures with the baby. Many children later say they wish they had pictures together, and many parents say they regret not having their children all meet.
- Ask to do everything instead of the nurses doing it. My husband caught her instead of the midwife (although she helped). And we did everything else. Bathed her, measured her, weighed her, wrapped her, unwrapped her, dressed her.
- It’s the first and last time you’ll do any of these things and you’ll want to do it.
- Read a book to the baby.
- If you have decorated a room or have baby items around the house, you may want to ask someone to go remove those items and put them in a certain location for you before you get home.
- Learn about
post losslactation and if you want to dry up your milk or pump and donate. Plenty of moms does donate.
- If you have time even still in the hospital, do a belly cast. Send someone to get plaster of Paris and do it right there in the hospital bed.