08 Jul 2014 1 Comment
On July 3rd I received an email from my midwife asking if I can help out someone who just had a stillbirth at the birth center and is looking to donate her breastmilk. I said sure and soon after I got this email from Sarah.
“My sweet son Theodore was stillborn last Monday at the birth center, and I’ve been pumping. I pump between 45-50 oz a day and our freezer is already very full! I would love to give it to some mama’s & babies who need it.I want to donate this milk for Theodore…”
I shared this message in several mama groups and my Facebook page. Soon Sarah received several messages from local mamas that were in need of breastmilk. Like so many people, my heart ached for what this incredibly giving mama went through. So many people left comments about how touched they were by her generosity.
After some email correspondence with this wonderful Sarah I asked her if she would like to talk about her birth and here is what she said:
It helps me to tell my story, actually. Theodore Robert was stillborn
on the 23rd of June at 8:46 pm. I went into labor early that morning,
and when we arrived at the birth center, the midwives could not find a
heartbeat. We were devastated, and I felt totally numb and in shock -
there are simply no words to express it. But I knew I wanted to give
birth to him at the birth center like we had planned, so we were
checked in and went to the room we had picked (the contemporary one,
decorated in light blues).
The birth center and the midwives were
incredible – they contacted a doula who has been through her own
stillbirth and helped other mothers through stillbirths and she came
to be with us. We have a strong faith in God, and we were surrounded
by people near and far who prayed us through the day. My doula (Heidi
Faith) and the midwives prayed with us and cried with us and helped us
process things. My labor was easygoing, but it was not progressing
very fast so at 4pm Whitney broke my water and things kicked into high
gear. I labored hard for three more hours but Theodore was not moving
down enough to dilate my cervix the whole way, so I was given some
Cytotec. After some agonizing, body splitting contractions spent lying
on my side on the bed for the medicine to work on the cervix, my body
started pushing. A stillborn baby does not “help” you give birth -
they do not wiggle and turn like in a live birth, so I was having to
work a lot harder. I probably pushed for nearly an hour, and once his
head was out his shoulders became very stuck in my pelvis. Cathy had
me getting into all sorts of different positions and she had to reach
in and help him out.
The miracle in all of this was that I did not
tear – with a 9lb 12 oz baby and all the difficulty in getting him
out. Eventually Cathy helped him out and he was laid on my chest. Oh,
he was perfect… such a beautiful baby boy from head to toe. He did
not have any molding, his head was perfectly round… he was chubby
and such a big boy. The post-birth endorphins kicked in and I was just
so happy – I knew he was already in heaven, but I was so happy to hold
his sweet body and love on him for a few hours. My 2 and 1/2 year old
son Judah came and met his “baby brother” who he had been SO very
excited about. We told him baby brother was only going to be with us
for a few hours and then we would say goodbye and see him again in
heaven. My husband (who was my rock through the day) held him and
loved him. His Grandma flew in and came straight to the birth center
to hold him. We Skyped with the other grandparents and they got to
Saying goodbye to his earthly body was the hardest thing – and leaving
the birth center with empty arms and an empty carseat… coming home
to all his baby things. The grief comes in waves – sometimes the water
is calm and we cherish his memory and trust in God’s purposes, and
other times the waves crash around us and we feel like we are
drowning. Ultimately we know he is resting safe in Jesus’ arms, but
oh, how we miss him here on earth.
Pumping my milk has helped with the recovery and with the grief. It
gives me something tangible I can do during the day. And it helps me
to know that Theodore’s milk is helping other mama’s and their babies.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, Sarah. I am honored to be sharing your courageous birth story. You are such an incredibly strong women. I believe everyone comes into our lives for a reason and through our emails you have helped me with my soul searching by inspiring me to solidify my decision to become a post pardum doula.
I look forward to connecting with you in person! You truly have inspired me beyond words. I gave birth less than two months ago in that same birth center and also had Cathy and Whitney by my side. I know you were in good hands at the birth center and now your sweet baby rest in the hands of God!
All my love,