Friday, June 1, 2012

A Little Piece of Paper That Says She Was Here

Shortly after Lily's birth, I found out she would not be issued a birth certificate. As if she was less of a person because she wasn't born alive. As if I didn't carry her for nine months in my womb, where she lived, grew and thrived. As if I didn't birth her into this world, as any mother does. As if I didn't hold her in my arms and now in my heart, with as much love as any mother whose child is here. As if she doesn't deserve to be honored and recognized as an individual LIFE that matters. She was born. She was my newborn. 

My sweet newborn baby girl.

In June 2010, I signed a petition for parents in North Carolina to receive one of these little pieces of paper that are so important to the parents of these babies. In October 2011, a new law was passed for parents in NC (many other states already have this) to receive a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth

My first thought was happiness that she would finally be recognized as a real baby and I as a real mother. I don't have many things that prove her existence and I cherish anything I do have. 

After a while though, it bothered me that it was different than a "regular" birth certificate. But, I know nothing about losing a baby is "regular," therefore how can I expect anything to do with her life and death to be regular? What I want is for her to have the need for a regular birth certificate, but that will never be.

I wanted to get the little piece of paper right away, but with going to Ellerslie, I was out of state until December. And I wanted to go in person, rather than getting it by mail. Not often do I get to do things for Lily, so it was a big deal for me.

Such a big deal that I planned to wait to go on her birthday, March 16. What better day to get her birth certificate than on the anniversary of the day she was born. And I like having special things to do for her birthday. :-)

So, I waited until then. I showed up at the NC Vital Records office in downtown Raleigh (thankfully I only live about 15 minutes away). I felt proud to show my I.D. that proves I'm her mommy. I was proud to fill out this piece of paper. Proof. Her name, birth date, little things about her. The only time I get to do this.

When I finally got called back, I was informed that there was some glitch with the program to download the format for the stillbirth certificate. And I wouldn't be able to get it that day. I could order it that day, but I wouldn't walk out of there with it in my hands. They would have to mail it to me on the next business day, even though that is what I wanted to avoid. Out of all the days for this to happen, it had to be March 16, the one day I go to get it. Her birthday. Somehow I had a feeling something was going to go wrong. It just didn't seem like it was going to happen for me. I was visibly upset, telling this woman behind the counter that I had waited for two years to get my child's birth certificate. That I waited to go on her birthday. And now "my" plan was falling through. What I did end up walking out with that day was Lily's Report of Fetal Death. The one day I wanted to rejoice that she lived and not focus on her death.  

I have come to realize that it's okay when "my plans" don't work out the way I want them to. I need to be full of grace, loving, flexible, patient, and gentle...despite my circumstances. It's okay. Breathe. I am thankful I get to have it at all, for it truly is a gift. Plenty of other parents don't get one, depending on the state they live in and the gestation when their baby was born.

It does still bother me that on the bottom of her birth certificate, it says,  "This certificate is not proof of a live birth." No, really? Thanks for that North Carolina. But, it is proof of a birth. A real birth of a real little girl.

I realize it is just a piece of paper. Yet, it feels like more than that. It's a piece of paper that says she was here. She was real. Someone doesn't have a name and a birth certificate if they weren't real, if they didn't truly exist. Though, it also says on this same paper that she died. That her birth and death were connected. Yet, she still did live. And now she will live forever in my heart. She was is my forever baby girl. I smile at this proof.

Though I need no proof. My heart changed is proof enough that she was real...

I believe it's important to give the unborn who die before birth the dignity of having a certificate like this for it is a testimony to the fact that they are indeed individual, irreplaceable children. 



  1. This is sad yet beautiful, I'm happy you were able to get this.

  2. I'm glad you got that. I got nothing. 19 weeks and 2 days....and on paper, it's as though he never existed. The cut off is 20 weeks in NC. So I guess if I had just waited a week at home he would have mattered??? I was just thinking about that yesterday. I'm hosting an event next weekend: 1st annual "Diaper Drive" to provide handmade bereavement diapers to Women's Hopsital of Greensboro. I'm not sure how far away you are...but if you (or anyone else) are interested, hop on over and let me know.

  3. Wow. That is shocking and a real disappointment. I'm glad you got something out of it though, I would like to see that changed. I also wanted to let you know that your button doesn't work. I tried posting it onto my blog but it didn't work. You might want to check that out, I think its just a small glitch though. I hope you are having a great start to the summer. I'll email you sometime soon with an update :)

  4. Never mind. I got the button to work. I must have messed it up.

  5. i did not know this was possible!!! i'm going to apply for mine :) ((((hugs))))


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