Honestly, before experiencing stillbirth myself, I don't remember hearing about it or even knowing what the word meant. I certainly never thought it could happen to me. After all, I was fullterm in a healthy pregnancy with a healthy and perfect beautiful baby girl. Everything was great, I was simply awaiting Lily's anticipated arrival.
That is until everything came crashing down around me in the early morning hours of March 16, 2010... when I arrived at the hospital in labor, 2 days past my due date. Her heart rate couldn't be detected by the nurse, so my doctor brought in the ultrasound machine. And it was then that the devastating news was confirmed. Her heart had stopped beating. Just stopped. No reason, no explanation. At some point in the 5 days since my last prenatal appointment, where her heart had been strong as it'd always been, it ceased. Her perfect heart that created the most beautiful melody.
In the days that followed, others asked me how I didn't know, how I couldn't tell that she was gone? The best way I know to explain it, the way I've heard other stillbirth parents explain it as well, is that we simply thought our babies had run out of room. I thought Lily was big and therefore that is why I didn't feel her as much. And I did feel her, only now looking back, the only way I can describe that is that she felt like she was floating. That's a haunting memory.
You don't think stillbirth happens.
You certainly don't think it'll happen to you.
Until it does.
You play and replay everything leading up to the moment you heard the life-changing words that your baby had died. You wonder how you could have changed what happened.
26,000 babies are stillborn every year in the United States.
Each baby represents a family that most likely never thought it could be them.
"Stillbirth is known as the great equalizer - if you think it can't happen to you and your child, you're wrong. Stillbirth strikes all races, all religions, all walks of life. And it happens much more often than anyone likes to think about." ~Heather Fettig
Stillbirth throws families into a world of burials and headstones, and endless missing.
There are some ways to fight stillbirth. Pregnant mothers and those who know pregnant mothers: please take note of the importance of counting kicks. Become familiar with your own baby's unique movement pattern and be sure to be aware if the movements are not typical. This has literally saved babies lives.
#1 - Babies do not run out of room to move. They will run out of room for somersaults but they should be moving all the way up to and during labor.
#2 - Call right away if you notice a change in your baby's movement pattern. Even if you have an appointment scheduled for the next day, do not wait.
Listen to your gut. Don't let anyone make you feel like you are being a nuisance or dramatic. I don't think pregnant mothers should be wound up tight and constantly anxious about tracking their baby's movement, but it should be an intentional thing.
Once a pregnant mom is into the 3rd trimester (28 weeks) it's time to start counting.
Here's how you do it, as shared by Count the Kicks:
-Count the Kicks every day, preferably at the same time.
-Pick your time based on when your baby is usually active, such as after a snack or meal.
-Make sure your baby is awake first; walking, pushing on your tummy or having a cold drink are good wake-up calls,
-To get started, sit with your feet up or lie on your side. Count each of your baby's movements as one kick, and count until you reach 10 kicks. After a few days you will be able to see a pattern for your baby.
-Most of the time it will take less than a half-hour, but it could take as long as two hours.
-Log your recorded times using our Count the Kicks App or a kick chart.
For more information, visit the Count the Kicks website.
Honor the babies who were stillborn and protect your own baby by counting the kicks.
My Lily Katherine
March 16, 2010
7 pounds 9 ounces
Perfect and beautiful, but without a heartbeat