In Twenty Minutes

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In twenty minutes, a mother who has been laboring, in pain, terror, disbelief and anguish, will give one final push, and her silent, stillborn baby will be born.

In twenty minutes, a father, shocked, in horror and in terrible amazement, will watch as his lifeless child, perfect but still, is carefully swaddled.

He will watch as the doctor awkwardly and uncomfortably asks his distraught, grief stricken wife if she wants to hold this unmoving bundle of bleach smelled blanket and lifeless form.

The mother, wet from tears, sweat and blood, will be shaking, broken, overwhelmed, and will, with uncertainty, recieve her baby in her arms.  Both parents will feel ill-prepared and terribly alone.

In twenty minutes, this baby’s older brother, a surviving sibling, will face weeks, maybe months of distraction and mood swings from his parents.  He will wonder why mom is crying, or shouting, or throwing things for no reason.  He will wonder why dad doesn’t come home from work on time anymore or why he yells at him or his mom or why his dad retreats so often to tinker in the garage.

Yes, in fifteen minutes now, an ill-prepared loved one will soon tell this mother not to worry, because at least she has the older child.

Still another ill-prepared loved one will think to tell the parents that they can try again.

The distraught father will try to protect the mother from the mounting pain, anger, confusion and devastation.   He will try to minimize his grief in an effort to minimize hers.

The baby who is born will not need a carseat.  Returning home from the hospital, the birth will be unmarked by visitors bringing the family a warm meal.

Verily, in twelve minutes, a volcano of emotion, tension, and destruction will be brewing in these parents hearts.

The mother will wonder why everyone she knows and loves are demanding her to be so unloyal to her feelings of sadness and loss.

She will turn against those she loves as she retreats internally, trying to lick her own wounds while filling with resentment at being ignored and overlooked.

The surviving sibling – remember him?  In ten minutes, he will not know it, but the family plan to attend church this Sunday will be vanished.

After a weekend of hiding quietly in his bedroom, listening to the sounds of wailing, hushed whispers and shouting from his parents, he will return to school on Monday, confused and lonely.   He will wonder if his friends think he is weird, if his parents were bad, or if he somehow hurt his mom and killed his little sister.

He will begin to wonder if his parents love him.  Or if they even should.

It is true; in five minutes, each person in the family will question God, will question life, will question purpose.

They will feel that others around them are rushing them to move on and forget.  Forget that their child is not alive.

They will feel that others around them don’t want them to count their child.  That because nobody else knew their child, that their child doesn’t count.

These parents, this mother and father, will look upon that bundle wrapped in a hospital blanket, and will wonder if they should push it away.

They will imagine – for just a moment – that pushing that bundle away, not looking, not touching, will help them move on faster.

Will help them forget.  People they know will reflect this sentiment, time and time again, in the months and years to come.

But in three minutes, their hearts will be so heavy that they won’t be able to move.  They will be held there, in that moment, holding their lifeless baby.

In the United States alone,

  • 600,000 mothers endure pregnancy loss through miscarriage
  • 26,000 mothers endure pregnancy loss through stillbirth (source)

71 mothers today will give birth to a stillborn baby.  71 families will be changed forever, their spiritual health, relational health, marital health and even physical health will all be threatened.  Illness and injury manifesting as silenced grief will affect each member of the family, causing time off of work, time out of school, and time stolen from family bonding.  All 71 of these families need to know that they are not alone.  That there is hope.  That there is healing.  That there is stillbirthday.

Every twenty minutes a stillborn baby is born, in the US alone.

It is happening,

right now.


Tell your loved ones, your co-workers, your neighbors, your medical providers, your religious leaders, that pregnancy loss is still birth.

That the birth experience is only the beginning of a lifelong process of living in grief, a lifelong quest to make sense of it and to find your place within it.  That even the earliest miscarriage deserves to be honored as the birth, and the death, that it is.  Tell them, tell them now:

A pregnancy loss is still a birthday.

For further reading: every minute an American baby is born via miscarriage.







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  1. Thank you for sharing. Its nice to know that other parents are out there who’ve endured the same heart wrenching, life altering moments as I have and feel the same way I do! Forever I will remember my daughter who was born silent at 37 weeks 4 days, my daughter’s twin who made her transition to Heaven at 11 weeks 6 days and my sweet unknown surprise at 6 weeks.

  2. The most real, honest, truthful description of exactly what it was like to experience the most tremendous loss of my life. I still can’t believe I survived that moment or even the next moments after it. I still feel so alone in my grief. Thank you for awareness of the most traumatic and sacred life and death experience. I gave birth to my son Seth after death. He was still born on March 18, 2012.

  3. You have given words where I have none. Will the grieving never end?

  4. wow. I am from canada and i dont know what our stats are, but i am on of them. i gave birth at 38 weeks to Owen, sleeping. it is heart wrenching. i have had years to learn how to live with how this event changed my life, and it has become something i live with, and no longer allow to run me, but you know to this day, when people ask me how many children i have, i am confussed on what to answer back. yes i have 3 live and well children but owen was my child too.

  5. @julie,
    trust me the pain will subside, slowly. it wil always be a part of you but you will one day get to a place in your heart were you can carry on, never move on , but carry on. if oyu ever need someone to talk to please email me

  6. My stillborn baby girl would have been 21 years on August 10. Though time has dulled the sharpness of that day, my heart can very quickly feel exactly those exquisite feelings that came upon holding her for the first time. I found comfort reading stories of others experiences. It was so important to me to know I was not the only one who had gone through this. After 3 years and at the age of 42 I gave birth the my rainbow baby, now 17 and a joy and delight in my life.

  7. I wish that I had been given access to this information when we lost our stillborn granddaughter 2 years ago. It would have been so helpful to know what our son and his wife and sons were experiencing, and how we could have been more helpful. We had never experienced anything like that ourselves, and were trying to deal with our own grief, and trying to help as much as we could by taking the boys to our home as much as we could to give them all a break from each other, and it was a very hard experience for all of us. Our baby girl was named Isabella and we miss her. She was stillborn on Oct. 28th,2010.

  8. Hugs to the women who wrote before me. What an emotional piece to read. October 7, 1996 is my Angel Emily’s “angel day”. I was in my 15th week of pregnancy when her heart stopped beating, and mine broke. I am still brought to tears when I remember that time in my life, but Julie, the grieving may never end, but it does get easier to bear. Once I got to see and hold her in a dream, my uncontrolable sobbing lightened up a little bit, and I felt a peace in my heart. I also have a journal in which I write to her.
    God bless you all, and to our sweet angels.

  9. Tina Meeker says:

    Wow!! It has been five and a half years since my daughter was born into the arms of Jesus and I remember it like it was yesterday. I have learned that I will never forget nor will I ever get over her death. I have learned to live with it. You have done an amazing job putting it into words. I do count her in my number of children, we have a Makenzie bear that we include in all of our family pictures, and I sign her name to our cards. She is still apart of our family …she just isn’t with us.

  10. It has been a short 4.5 months since our beautiful, perfect grandson, Caleb Reed was born into the arms of Jesus. There is not a day that I don’t cry for the lost moments of holding our precious Angel. The day Caleb was born has to be the tougest day I have ever endured. Just a short hour before my daughter went into labor, Caleb’s heartbeat was strong. He was fighting so hard to stay with his momma until he could survive with out her warmth. I will never forget the short time I had to hold and love him or the pride that my children had when Caleb was born when they introduced him to his family. We all held and loved him as if we would be taking him home. No one wanted to mention the horror that we were to face in the coming moments, days. I am proud to claim that Caleb is my grandson. Caleb was and is one of my children. I know that Caleb looks down on his wonderful parents that wanted him so badly and is so proud of the strong people they have become.

  11. Beautiful!! Achingly, hauntingly, beautiful…and true. Thank you for this sweet Heidi.

  12. God is so good. We lost our baby girl in July of 11. A few months later we were expecting again and gave birth to a healthy baby girl at home on July 15th of this year.
    I felt so angry when she died first but still knew that God had things under control. After about 2 weeks, I started to cry a little less everyday. I started to think about her a little less everyday. When we found out we were expecting the pain nearly vanished b/c I knew God had given her back us. Her middle name is Eliashib, a Hebrew name meaning, God restores, God will give back.

  13. Beautiful…absolutely beautiful. It was like this was my story a little over 5 years ago. My daughter would be in kindergarten. Her brother was 3 at the time she was born. Kate was still born. She is still my daughter. I still miss her very much.

  14. Beautifully said and so well written from the prospective of everyone who loved these quiet babies.


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