The Birth. The Presence. The Journey.

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The Birth of Stillbirthday.

In 2003, Heidi Faith became pregnant with her first child and her love for birth work has grown with her child.

In 2011, Heidi gave birth to her fourth child in the first trimester. In her experience, even having served as a birth doula for 10 years, she still felt ill-equipped. “Each moment was catastrophic. What do we do now? And…….now?

_N9F7412She saw her lifeless baby bobbing gently to the motions of the ultrasound technician pressing in, pressing in for hope, for life. But just as surely as she knew her baby was not alive, she was just as sure that God was going to breathe life, speak life back into her baby. As the ultrasound technician was talking, Heidi recalls that she was thinking “Just shut up, because this is going to be the coolest facebook post ever!” She recalls this thought tongue in cheek, but as the ultrasound monitor went black, so did her heart. She defines this moment as a “spiritual wrestling,” a time not unlike Jacob wrestling with God, trying to understand how she was “actually going to have to walk with this.”

“How am I going to actually walk this?” is a fundamental yet often indirectly asked question by every mother touched by pregnancy and infant loss. Shame, sets in strong and it sets in fast. Somehow, losing a pregnancy can equate to losing the race, losing the title of mother, being the loser, the one who gets left out. And, pregnancy and infant loss can prove to be a series of rejections, a cornucopia of not-good fruit, it can be the catalyst to an epidemic of abandonment. While yet in labor, Heidi Faith had what she refers to as a compulsion to reach out and hold the next mother’s hand, that this earliest moment would be met with a softness that she felt was lacking in her experience. A doctor entered the room and said, “We need to get that debris out of there.” And so Heidi went home to give birth, but not before calling the hospital with each newly unfolding part of the process. “What do I do now?” she cried. “You probably already flushed it. It’s just a period.” And later from her church family, “This is just God’s will.” “God spared you from a special needs kid.” “An infertile woman in Heaven gets to be a mother now.”

And so Heidi spent the greater part of several months correcting those who offered her platitudes and misinformation, all while still wrestling with that foundationql question of how she was going to offer love to the next mother whose experience of birth was met with bereavement.

Finally, in the middle of a hot July night, a voice woke her from sleep that was so clear it was nearly audible. coffee
“What are you waiting for?”
Instinctively Heidi attributes this voice to that of the Holy Spirit and awoke to begin the task of coming alongside the next mother via a free blogging platform at wordpress. With little more than a few photos from her baby’s funeral, she started a pot of coffee at midnight and started pouring everything she knew about live birth in the third trimester and comparing and contrasting this with birth in any trimester and in any outcome. Every night for a week this continued, this pot of coffee with a flurry of typing. On August 1, 2011, the website stillbirthday was published.

In the first week, stillbirthday worked as a doula matching website, connecting mothers with local birth doulas who aligned with the core values of stillbirthday and who simply sought to come alongside mothers giving birth in any trimester. The website held medical explanations for mothers, guidance for doulas coming alongside them, as well as affirming messages of hope, dignity and love.

Within the first week, birth doulas and midwives rallied from across the nation and every US state had at least one representative birth professional available to offer love to families meeting with both birth and bereavement.

Personal stories filled the website with a continued sense of community, and within the first month stillbirthday held at least one photo of a beloved baby born at each week gestation, from 4-41 weeks. Soon we’d hold more.

Each story, each photo, each suggestion, question and need poured from the hearts of those claiming the love of stillbirthday as theirs and inspiring an exponential growth of networking, awareness and support.

The birth professional and other allied professionals such as social workers and funeral home directors sought even more information and sought diligently that stillbirthday would provide a formal training program.

Before 2011 ended, a team of perinatalogists, midwives, nurses, social workers and doulas came together collectively to offer treasures of wisdom, resources and information, simply as offerings to the work and message of stillbirthday, that a pregnancy loss is still a birthday, and with that core truth, that every person meeting with birth and bereavement has a right to validating support.

The online training program was at first offered twice annually, but as grown both in size and in frequency. To date the training program is offered 4 times a year with an average class size of 75 persons.

The stillbirthday doula training began offering 30 nursing contact hours, and has had students from all over the globe.

doulalogomini

 

The Presence of Stillbirthday.

Stillbirthday the website is visited over 2740 times each day.  That’s 2 visitors a minute and 1 million visitors each year.

Stillbirthday has been translated into multiple languages specifically to serve families who speak Africaans, Arabic, Dutch, German, Italian, Korean, Polish, Spanish and Thai.  Because pregnancy and infant loss knows no boundaries, stillbirthday aims to support every continent and every demographic.

Stillbirthday is respected by known individuals such as: Dr. Laura Schlesinger, Fox News, Focus on the Family, and Polly Perez.

Stillbirthday establishes innovative and inspirational opportunities for healing, including our annual Hearts Release events, Proclamation 5890 at the US Capitol, and Love Wildly, an international event.

Stillbirthday has been a part of global events such as being credited in the Emmy nominated Return to Zero and MicroBirth.

Stillbirthday creates volunteer and job opportunities to allow individuals to work independently of the organization and bring their passion to love others into the realms of birth and bereavement, while still feeling the familial affirmation and community support of the organization.  In essence, we all share the platform.  This includes:

  • mentors
  • Love Cupboards
  • bridal gown / Legacy Gown Collection
  • online support / blogging, writing, connecting through social media
  • franchise opportunities for local M0M Centers
  • events such as Love Wildly and Stillbirthday Summit
  • doulas and chaplains
  • local, state and regional representatives (local is simply word of mouth, state and regional are SBD Doula held roles)
  • instructor-aides (Student Leads)
  • speakers – like you!

 

 The Journey of Stillbirthday.

The primary vision is to continually seek more credentialed doulas to serve communities.

Stillbirthday Palliative Birth Center.

 

 

Speaker Guide through the Doula Handbook

bookcover

 

Intro Words

Articulating the Need

 

History of Doula

 

Barriers to Support

Advancing the Need Cross-Culturally

  • Perceptions and Values Placed on Pregnancy
  • Perceptions and Values Placed on Pregnancy and Infant Loss
  • Medical and Legal Limitations

 

Support Prior to Birth

  • Why it’s necessary: I Am Still Pregnant.  Anecdotal/Personal
  • Types of Loss, found on page 192 of Doula Book
  • Birth Methods, found on page 81 of Doula Book
  • Birth Plans, found on page 94 of Doula Book

“Birth Plans are the options you have within your Birth Method.”

 

Support During Birth.

  • Birth Plans include special situation-specific items helpful for the labor and delivery.  Can include any specific that might be most relevant to the audience: first trimester, fatal diagnosis, home stillbirth, Cesarean, or others.
  • Levels of Augmentation might be interesting to draw out.  Found on page 87 of Doula Book.
  • Doula Supplies are outlined in training.  Can give some examples/demonstrations for birth in each trimester, including items and techniques.

 

Support After Birth.

  • How to Doula in Bereavement, found on page 42 of Doula Book, offers many opportunities to draw out principles and examples
  • Both our During Birth main page and After Birth main page include links for such things as Photographing during labor, Bathing the baby not alive, and Lactation Support.    Can give demonstration of photography or of holding and bathing baby.  Found on page 126 of Doula Book.

 

Support for Professionals.

  • “We’re all in this together.”
  • Provider Care offers practical and emotional support for care providers.  Has a fantastic audio file you can play.
  • Loved Ones, found on page 142, outlines some ways of guiding family and friends.
  • Community Project helps bridge uninterrupted support.  Can draw out local examples of funeral home or support group resources.
  • About Doulas page is embedded into each stillbirthday credentialed doula’s profile page.  Contains printable materials for hospitals.
  • Further Education – promotional PDF material on the training is embedded at the top of the registration page.  Can be printed for group.

 

In Closing.

  • Community Project and other resources.  Your contact information.
  • Any workshop or event sponsors mentioned.
  • workshops intro

 

 

Optional Activity for Speakers

  • Define shame.***
  • Invite your attendees to write on a piece of paper one shame that they hold, in this format: “I carry shame because”
  • Ask everyone to crinkle their paper, and toss it into the group.
  • Each person then can pick up a ball of paper, and, toss it again.
  • Invite each attendee to open the paper, and read the message aloud, with this adjustment: rather than reading “I carry shame because” replace with “Your more inspiring message just might be that”
  • Discuss how this relates to the courage of a bereaved mother to then become a doula, and the depth of work of healing from shame this journey includes.

 

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