When we talk about stillbirth it’s easy for people to distance themselves from the full extent of such a reality. Some people have the belief that a baby who never drew breath never lived. Some people think that their family ‘didn’t know’ them.
The reality is, a stillborn baby DID live. Their heart beat, their legs kicked, they listened to the sound of their parents voices. They could feel heat and someone’s hand over them through their mummy’s belly. They developed sleeping patterns and some would have been sucking their thumb. They responded to music and were startled by noise. They had perfect little fingernails and the cutest little ears. They didn’t live on the outside world but they did live.
The reality is, that baby’s family did know them. They talked to them, sang to them and felt the way their baby moved. They had dreams, hopes and plans for a lifetime together with them. These dreams, hopes and plans aren’t simply forgotten. The desire and instinct to protect and parent them doesn’t just dissolve. Their love doesn’t fade. They may never know the person their baby should have grown up to be but they did know them.
The reality is, a stillborn baby is a baby who died.
A stillborn baby is a baby who was born.
A stillborn baby is loved forever regardless of the fact they never cried or got the chance to grow.
These babies and all babies no longer here matter and their lives have the same value as the children running around in front of you.
So if you know a friend or family member who holds a baby in their heart and not their arms (regardless of the gestation or age they died) please make sure you recognise, acknowledge and treat them as having so.
For some links to resources for bereaved families and their friends and family on how to support them