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Monday, November 11, 2013

Motherhood Mondays: "I had a stillborn baby."

Kate Suddes lives in Portland with her husband Jimmy and daughter June. She gave birth to a stillborn baby boy named Paul a year ago today, and she was kind enough to share her moving story with us...

*********

Nice Baby Boy
By Kate Suddes

We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them. —Kahlil Gibran

There are not many things I can stand to remember about that day. I can relive all the moments after he was born. But the hours before and between, 36 to be exact, feel too big to bear. Except this: I can hear the doctor say, “I can confirm there is no heartbeat,” and then I remember seeing a painting on the wall to my left. It was entitled "Mother and Son."

Paul Thomas Hilliard was born on November 11, 2012, at 10:56pm on a cold, rainy Sunday night. He weighed six pounds, two ounces. He was beautiful. And he was gone. The Chicago Bears lost to the Houston Texans. Skyfall was the number-one movie in theaters. We were five days past the national election and I had been awake for the last two of them.

He had died the day before on November 10, 2012, sometime on Saturday morning. I was reading People magazine in bed. My cousin turned 29. I had pumpkin pie for breakfast. I often think like that now. I may be having a cup of coffee or taking a shower, but somewhere; it’s the worst moment in someone’s life.

His heart was beating and then it was not. I had two kids and then I had one. I was pregnant and then I was postpartum. There was a baby and then there was not. How do I explain that he died before he was born? How many times do I have to tell my daughter June that he’s not coming back? How many times do I have to tell myself? Now I make lists.

I fill out forms like this:
Number of pregnancies: 2
Number of live births: 1

I think in numbers:
1 out of 2
50%
Batting .500
1-1 for the season
Half of my children
One alive, one dead

I keep track of people’s responses:
At least you’re not dead.
You can always have more kids.
I had a miscarriage.
Do you want to hold my baby?
You’ll figure it out.
You’ll move on.
My friend’s cousin had TWO stillborn babies.
At least you still have June.
You should eat.
You should sleep.
Pray.
Exercise.
Write.
Vacation.
Meditate.

Certain questions are no longer straightforward. How many kids do you have? Is she your only one? Do you think you’ll have a second?

I had a dream that I walked into a room with many dead babies wrapped in blankets. He was there too and I was so happy to see him. I wanted to hold him so badly. Somehow his blanket came undone and he was covered—head to toe—in blue icing and sprinkles. You know me so well, baby Paul.

Was it all the Diet Coke I drank that summer? Is it because I wrote a short story about a stillborn baby in 9th grade? Was it the positive pregnancy test on April Fools’ Day? My fear of handling two kids? My joking about him being a neglected second child? Packing and moving four weeks before he was born? Was I overconfident about how well my first birth had gone? Did I have too much pizza? Watch too many sad movies? Eat too few vegetables? Was I ambivalent about having a son? Did he know something that I didn’t? If I write him letters, will he respond?

March 26, 2013
Dear Paul,
My body is heavy. And I’m being mean to it. Feeling sluggish, slow, and fat with grief. My tummy is full. I can’t quite figure out what’s in there. It’s not you. But you’re not out here either. I had no idea about this thing called grief. How all consuming it is. How slow and syrupy and invasive. Turning plain old regular moments into painful, sharp, little things. Out of the blue. June put drawings, make-believe cupcakes and donuts on your special table tonight. She said you needed cupcakes. Sometimes when I’m not quite asleep, not quite awake I imagine you here. What you would be doing. Sitting in a bouncy chair, squealing. Nursing. I miss nursing the most. And smelling you like a hound dog. Making out with you, newborn style. Instead I just walk around in a daze. Sometimes milk leaks. Sometimes I cry and I don’t know why.
It’s March. This is the month we made you. And it’s all coming back to me. The smell of the weather changing. The smell of clothes I’m finding from last year that remind me of being pregnant with you. I’m so used to missing you that I forget you were here. In my body. Moving around. Listening to my voice. I only ever felt you move. I never saw it from the outside of my body. I’m so sad, baby Paul. I’m so terribly, utterly sad.
Love,
Mama


I dreamt that I had a really nice talk with Gwyneth Paltrow. We met somewhere in Los Angeles. She was visiting from London and we talked about grief—the loss of her dad and the loss of my son. She was really sweet, gentle, and compassionate. She talked about how long it takes, how you feel disconnected from the real world. Or rather the real world is disconnected from you. Then she bought me a beautiful ceramic bowl.

I watch June sleep. I make sure she’s breathing. I look at her mouth and it reminds me of his. And I can’t remember which came first. Does her sleeping mouth look like his still one, or does his still one resemble hers? I read. I grocery shop. I try to pay attention to my marriage. I attempt to answer emails. I do laundry. I quit Facebook. I look at pictures. I check Twitter. I listen to the Dan Patrick Show. I watch Louis C.K. I bake. I count the days since and the days until.

April 11, 2013
Dear Paul,
Today is the 11th. The 11th comes every month. And with it, a little knot in my stomach. An avocado pit. A lemon. A key lime. Not unlike the fruits used to compare growing babies in the womb. I think about what you would be doing. How my day would inevitably be different. You would be 5 months. People keep saying things like “I hope it’s getting better” or “I hope that you’re adjusting more and more each day.” As if this were a straight line. As if the day you were born was the absolute worst and each day gets incrementally more tolerable. But I can name dozens of days that have been worse. Sometimes I’ll be doing something, anything. In a pretty emotionally neutral place. And then this deep sadness just stabs me. Somewhere in my chest. And I remember all over again that you’re gone. That I carried you all the way until your death. That your life was 9 months long and from there I birthed you out of my body. It’s not a straight line. There’s no beginning and no end. Today you would be 5 months. And then you would be 1 year. 2 years. 3, 5, 10, 16, 21, 35. When I’m crying, usually late at night, all I can think to say over and over is “I’m just so, so sad. I just want him to come back.” And Papa says, "I know. But he’s not coming back."
Give a girl a sign,
Mama


There is one question that feels useless to me. Why? Others ask it. But why? What did they find? What went wrong? Are there medical explanations? I didn’t even know stillborn babies happen anymore? My midwife Catherine says, “He didn’t give us any warning. Like a child running out into the street.” But I was lulled into thinking he was a sure thing. Sometimes I think I can still negotiate his death. I fantasize about a time where his presence doesn’t feel absurd, audacious, cocky.

At my 20-week ultrasound we found out he was a boy. I knew it. Technology confirmed it. June was three years old. We said “June, it’s a boy. You’re going to have a brother. What do you think we should name him?” She replied, "Nice baby boy.” It feels strangely prophetic now. Like an idea or a wish. Like “maybe someday we’ll get a nice baby boy.”

*********

Q&A with Kate

Today is Paul’s one-year anniversary. I was honored to ask Kate a few questions about her experience over the past year. Thank you so much for sharing, Kate.
Joanna


How has your grief felt over the past year?
Surprising. I remember thinking, ‘Okay, so the day he was born and died will be the worst, and then it will get progressively better.’ It just didn’t happen that way. Physically and hormonally, I had that post-birth high that mothers get for the first few weeks. When the doctor put him in my arms, I remember seeing him and thinking, Oh, he’s so beautiful; and it sounds dumb, but there were a few seconds where I forgot that he was gone. I remember looking up toward the end of the bed and seeing my midwife, a nurse, my husband Jimmy, all these people, and they were all looking at me and crying, and I remember thinking, oh, right. It was like being told all over again.

What was it like after you went home?
Those six weeks after he was born, I was doing okay. I was functioning. I was writing thank-you notes. People were really present. We were still getting meals and flowers and cards. It wasn’t until a couple months later—January or February—that things got really bad. I started mourning and grieving in a way that I hadn’t fully done until that time. I wasn’t sleeping, I was staying up all night crying, I didn’t want to leave the house. The rest of the world has this unspoken expectation that you should get better and move on; I felt like I was nowhere near that. It was still so recent—I kept thinking, Now I would have had a three-month-old, a four-month-old, a five-month-old...I was still scratching the surface understanding what this loss meant for me as a mother, for our daughter June, in my relationship with my husband.

What was helpful for friends and relatives to say?
The most shocking thing was when some people in our lives pretended nothing happened. I think a lot people truly did not know what to do and I often get the feeling that they didn't want to bring it up and "remind" me which, from my perspective just feels so absurd.

People just remaining interested, present, thoughtful and curious is so important to me. I'm always so touched when people say things like, I think of you all so often, I think of Paul, I'm so terribly sorry, etc. I want people to ask about Paul, about how he's doing, how we're doing, how June is doing...

I wanted them to ask the questions they would have asked if I had had a baby who was healthy and lived—where did the name come from? What was the birth like? Who did he look like? But people must have thought, ‘Don’t remind her.’ Nobody asked all those “normal” questions that come with having a baby. That felt like a huge loss for me. I wanted to talk about that. For me, when people ask questions, I feel comforted. It makes me feel more connected to him, as well.

He is so present in every moment for us, but I fear sometimes that he has just disappeared for a lot of people. I still feel him around. It's hard to describe but I feel like I'm still parenting him from far away.

What do you think Paul was like?
He was really different from our daughter June. I knew that right away. He had a very different personality—I think he was a lot like Jimmy, my husband. Curious, stubborn, quiet, very witty with a dry sense of humor, but coming across as kind of serious. He was an old soul. That is how I “felt” Paul. Jimmy was born in the year of the dragon; Paul is also the year of the dragon; my brother is also the year of the dragon. The three men who I’m closest to in my life happen to be dragon babies.

His death was a loss of potential, too. I think about all the things I know about June that I never could have predicted. How much she loves olives and hot peppers—all the tiny things that make us who we are. That loss feels really big and sad to me, too. Not knowing his quirks, the words he would use, the things he would like.

Where did the name Paul come from?
Right after we had the ultrasound and found out for sure that he was a boy, we thought we should get June an anatomically correct boy babydoll. So we got a doll named Paul from the French company Corolle; he even had a little "Paul" T-shirt. We got so used to saying Baby Paul that the name stuck.

Today is his birthday. What are you going to do?
We are going make him a birthday cake; I know for sure that we will do that. My husband Jimmy took the day off. People keep asking, what else are you going to do that day? I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. I thought about maybe going back to the hospital room. I feel nervous about the day.

Why did you want to share your story?
A big part of me wants to write about Paul to keep him and his story alive, to keep him present in our family. But equally my desire to write about him stems from wanting to provide comfort and support to women who very suddenly find themselves in this situation. Almost immediately after he was born, I tore through every stillborn memoir and story I could find and it was SO COMFORTING. In ways I can't even explain...it was like they were written in a secret language that only I could understand. And it was immensely soothing to know that I was not the only one, that there were all these perfectly healthy babies out there who were just gone. I know how lonely and isolating it was. And if I can put a book or even just this essay out in the world and one new mom can read it and feel even a tiny bit comforted, I feel lucky to provide that for someone.

Did you get to hold Paul?
We did get to hold Paul. I tried to memorize as much as I could, but it didn't feel like enough. Jimmy, my mom and I were all able to hold him. June actually came to the hospital to meet him too. It's actually one of my biggest regrets that I didn't keep him longer. Of course I didn't know at the time, but I read in some stories after that many women kept the babies and slept with them until the morning. Part of me wishes I had done that, but Jimmy felt ready to say goodbye. None of it would have felt like it was enough time, so I try not to beat myself up.

When did you find out that he had died?
One morning, three weeks before my due date, I didn’t feel him moving. I was with June in bed, reading books, and he was usually very active in the morning. But I didn’t feel him moving around. So I pushed against my belly and felt his arm or leg and pushed against it, and there was no resistance. That was the first moment that I had a twinge that something might be wrong.

I made some tea, and ate pumpkin pie for breakfast, and I called my midwife. She said, Drink your tea and lie down for thirty minutes. I lay down and waited for him to move, but he was still not moving. My midwife said at that point that I should go right into the hospital.

When we got there, the nurse looked for a heartbeat. I heard a really loud heartbeat and thought, There it is! But it was my heartbeat. She kept looking and looking. Finally, I said, “Look, you just need to tell me.” And she said, “I can’t confirm anything without the doctor, but I am having a hard time finding the heartbeat.” She left to get the doctor and I lost it.

When he came in, he said almost right away, “I can confirm that there is no heartbeat.”

Did you go through labor?
Yes, that’s something people don’t realize—that you still have to give birth. Jimmy said I could wait a few days, and my midwife and the doctors said I could take some time, but I wanted to do it right away. It’s funny, I thought it would go really quickly, like a few hours. I remember thinking, Okay, I’ll be home by midnight. But I was in labor for 36 hours.

You know that moment when you meet your beautiful baby for the first time? Well, realizing the beginning was also the end was heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking. And then regretting that I didn’t take 80 pictures instead of 75, or more photos from different angles, or that I forgot to take a piece of his hair...

This will never go away. He will always have his birthday. I had a child—a full-term, fully formed baby, with hair and fingernails—who was about to be born. Our son and June’s brother. He’s part of our family.

*********

Kate, thank you so much for sharing your incredibly moving story. If you'd like to see photos of Kate, baby Paul and their family, click here. Kate is working on a book about motherhood, which would be so wonderful.

xoxoxo Lots of love to everyone today.


(Illustration by the wonderful Samantha Hahn for Cup of Jo)

363 comments:

1 – 200 of 363   Newer›   Newest»
Lindsay Truax said...

I am so sorry. You wrote so beautifully. Thank for sharing.

Lindsay
Pinkandnavystripes.com

LizzyRae78 said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. My heart goes out to your family and your Angel watching over you.
xx LIZ

La Vie est Belle said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for letting us know about your son and his place in your family. I am so sorry for your loss . . . and I hope you feel the love that will pour in from around the world.

Joanna Goddard said...

Thank you again for being so honest and open, Kate. Paul sounds like an amazing person, and your children are lucky to have you as their mother.

Rebecca said...

I'm grieving with you today, Kate. You are a great mom to both your kids; don't doubt it.
Love,
Rebecca

Shoko said...

This is so beautiful and powerful and poignant. Thank you for your honesty and bravery in sharing - sending you so much love.

Rebecca said...

Also, for other mamas who may experience this heartbreak in the future, there is an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Professional photographers from across the country volunteer their time to come to the hospital to take beautiful and tasteful professional photos of your child when born (for free). Hopefully this can help with the grief.

L8Blmr said...

I don't have any children, but i found this very moving. Thank you for sharing your story about little Paul. He was beautiful.

Becca said...

I am so sorry for your loss. May you and your family continue to heal. You will always be his Mama, and he will always be your son.

Design Scouting said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us!

Melissa Monk said...

Heartbreaking. My heart is with you and your sweet family today. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Kate.

Joanna, thank you for asking what sorts of things it's helpful to say to someone that's gone through this. I honestly wouldn't have known.

natalienoods said...

That was unexpectedly the best thing I have read in a long time. I'm so sorry for your family's loss. Thank you for giving me a new perspective on motherhood and letting us all know how to help people in our own lives more. All the best to you.

Jeannie said...

Kate, wishing you so much loving vibes from California. What an experience...I'm so sorry you had to lose a child so soon and can't even fathom the grief. But your writing really tells of his beauty and personality for the brief time he was here. I loved reading your story and shed some serious tears. You are so strong!

Rachel Taylor said...

That was absolutely beautiful. I feel so touched to have read your story, and Paul is so lucky to have a wonderful mother like you. Thank you for sharing with us.

Brittany Cramer said...

oh boy, this is so hard to read! my mom had a stillborn too, it was on the due date she couldn't feel her baby girl, Rose. I was too young to understand what she was going thru, and I feel guilty for not being able to console her as her oldest daughter. this is also so hard to read because I am in my first trimester, and there are so many celebrations over pregnancy, but nothing is for certain. Anything can happen. And it worries me.

OperaWife said...

I don't even know what to say. Everything I want to type sounds cliche and trite. But my heart is swollen and heavy and I wish I could hug you. Thank you for telling us all Paul's story.

E said...

Thank you so much for your story and your rawness. I cannot fathom the hurt of today, and every day of the past year. You and your family (and especially your sweet Paul) are in my thoughts today!

Karin said...

Words feel so inadequate in the face of such grief - my heart breaks for you, Kate. I appreciate you sharing your story and I wanted to share this link: http://norainourfamily.blogspot.com
-- the blog of a friend who lost a child just after birth: a document of her grief and celebrations and her work to help other families negotiate how a deceased child changes their story.

Karin said...

I had a stillborn baby boy 13 years ago. The grief softens but never truly ever goes away. Its the most unspeakable loss and there are thousands of women out there who you'd never know went through it so thanks for sharing this.

Meagan @ Meagan Tells All said...

What an incredible and strong woman for opening up and writing about Paul. My heart was moved completely.

martinebo said...

Touchée au coeur.

jm said...

What a beautiful baby little Paul was. I love the picture of his little hand in yours. Thank you for sharing your heart breaking story. I will remember it always and think of your sweet family often. I send much love to you all.

Gina said...

I'm so sorry. I just can't imagine your pain. I loved reading your story. Baby Paul was beautiful. I send you all my love.

thewednesdaychef.com said...

What an incredible piece of writing. It's so beautiful and heartbreaking and wise and true. Much love to you, Kate, and much strength for your journey. xo

Katharine Lindsay said...

I'm not a mother yet. I'm 23 years old and a mother to only my miniature dachshund, but I'm heartbroken. I can't even imagine. I'm so sorry, Kate.
Warm wishes,
Katharine

Paige said...

Kate, thank you for sharing your story. I work with children and families and you have given me insight into a moment I have never known how to respond to. Thank you for your honesty and beautiful writing.

Praying for you and your family today,

Paige

Jennie said...

Thank you for sharing your story, Kate. I had to terminate a pregnancy at 5 months after learning my daughter had multiple fatal birth defects. I still grieve for her, even 3 years later, after subsequently having a healthy baby boy. I know it's not the same as a stillbirth, but I can empathize to some extent. I'm so glad you had a chance to meet Paul and have some beautiful pictures. Sending lots of hugs and strength to you and your family.

rachel said...

My heart is breaking for you and your sweet family and the baby boy you lost. I'm crying reading this! I hope you can feel the love from every corner of the wide web.

RL said...

Oh, gosh - Paul is such a beautiful baby. Thank you for sharing your story and pictures with us. I was very, very moved. As you mentioned that other mothers' stories of loss helped you, I know of a book that recently came out with mothers sharing their various stories, called Sunshine After the Storm (http://www.amazon.com/Sunshine-After-Storm-Survival-Grieving/dp/0989934713/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384191030&sr=8-1&keywords=sunshine+after+the+storm). Hopefully it could be of help to someone who needs it. And I look forward to hearing more about your book when it comes out! Sending you warmth and hugs.

Meg said...

I am so sorry for your loss Kate. And thank you for sharing your story and feelings. You are a good mama to your children, they both know how very loved they are.

Andrea Krill said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so incredibly moved by your strength. Paul is a beautiful baby boy. Thank you for sharing pictures of him.

the brunette said...

My own mother gave birth to a baby who died. It is hard for me to comprehend the loss that my family experienced but this gives me a small glimpse. I am aware that I owe my own life to that baby who passed away... That family planning would have concluded with Alexander, and that I would have never even been a glimmer in the eye. Life is mysterious, isn't it?

candace said...

Thank you for this blog post. I feel like the online baby world is so, so inundated with positive, glowing stories that this topic is a foreign concept for many young women. I was shocked and saddened when my cousin gave birth to a stillborn baby last year. I had trouble understanding how it could have happened and had the same reaction as someone Kate describes: 'I didn't think that happened anymore'. It's so important to share these kinds of stories, if only to help women who experience such immense loss not feel quite so lost and alone in their grief. So, thank you.

Catherine Gacad said...

i was riveted to this post and when i pulled up the tumblr pictures, i just burst into tears. i grieve with you and am so sorry for your loss. while i know it is not the same, i have suffered from two miscarriages and currently experiencing a lot of fear and anxiety as i am pregnant for a third time. thank you for opening up and sharing.

catherinegacad.com

Melissa said...

Kate,

This is simply the most beautiful piece I have ever read. There are no words to describe how moving this was an how much it meant for me to read it. Thank you.

Melissa

Jennifer hill said...

Dear Kate, I am so very sorry for your loss. My niece was stillborn last year and it has been heartbreaking in so many ways. Paul is so lucky to have you as his Mama.

Roseann Bath Photography said...

Absolutely heartbreaking and so beautiful. You have so much strength writing this and sharing it with the world. I know it will be a comfort to so many.

Lisette said...

Kate-

So much of what you said resonated with me. Our son was born still in October 2012. I appreciate you being brave enough to share your story.

Jaclyn said...

This is heartbreaking. I'm so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story. Paul will live on forever in your memory, and now all of ours, thanks to your beautiful writing.

Linda C said...

Dear Kate- Thank you for sharing your powerful story with us. I'm sorry for your loss. Paul is a beautiful baby.

Karen Bishop said...

I'm a grandmother who lost a granddaughter, Elsa, in this way. Thank you for sharing your deep and real feelings. I'm so grateful I got to hold Elsa and feel her kindness, strength, and charisma. Yours is such a helpful story as I relate to my daughter and her sadness.

Melanie Price said...

Thank you Kate for sharing Paul with us. Your story is so beautifully written and shows so much strength and love. I am sorry for the loss of your beautiful little man but am thankful for the wisdom and raw love you have shared. Much love to you, Jimmy and June through this journey. XO

Linda C said...

Kate, thank you for sharing your powerful story with us. I'm so sorry for your loss. Paul is a beautiful baby.

melanie said...

So powerful - your words, your story.
Sending you peace and strength

like fried chicken said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing, even if we see your talent in the most unfortunate of circumstances

Amanda said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Kate. How awful - I can't even imagine. Thank you for sharing. I hope everyone's kind words help ease your pain and make the day a little brighter.

charinthecity said...

I'm in tears, I wish I could give you a hug and tell you what a wonderful mother you are to June and to Paul, your words carry your love for both of them. I'm at the time when I'm yearning for a baby of my own, my body's saying it's time, we're still trying. To lose someone before you have met them seems like the cruelest thing. Thank you so much for sharing, I hope that you heal up strong and remember Paul with only happy memories one day when you are ready.

Rana said...

Thank you so very much for sharing your incredibly touching story about Paul. I am weeping for your loss and celebrating your bravery and gift for sharing. I feel wiser about how to talk to women about the loss of a child because of you and Paul. Thank you. With much love.

Ms. Magpie said...

Kate, my heart hurts for you. May you and your family find peace.

Stella Dobry said...

What a beautiful story. Life is so precious, thank you for reminding me, Kate. I'm one of those people who never knows what to say when something tragic happens to a friend, but I feel better prepared now that I have read your story. Thank you for sharing with us about Paul. He is lucky to have such a wonderful mother and family!

hungryalice said...

Thank you for sharing your story. My thoughts are with you and your beautiful family. Joanna, thanks for featuring this story.

Diana Silva said...

Thank you for sharing your story, my heart aches evrytime i read or hear a story like this, about 2 1/2 years ago my 7 week old son took his last breath in my arms, he was here and then he was gone… it hurts that now he feel like he was a dream...

paige renee said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Your nice baby boy has a strong loving mama. God bless you and your family.

Brittany said...

Kate, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful writing, your honest story, and your sweet son with us. Sending much love your way today!

melissa said...

Kate, thank you so much for sharing this. I am a labor and delivery nurse and it is always heartbreaking for us too. We try our best to be strong for you and the families who have to go through this, but in reality, each and every time we have a laboring patient who has lost their baby, we all end up crying together in the break room and just about every time we walk out of your room and back to the nurses station. The doctors often do not know how to offer emotional support and we have found them crying in a break room just moments after being seemingly short with a family. There is nothing easy about this. He will always be a part of your lives and you sharing your story is certainly an important part of the healing process. This book: Creative Acts of Healing: After a Baby Dies http://www.dutchessabroad.com/paseo-press/
is a book that several people I know have suggested. Art and Healing is wonderful way to navigate through the loss of anyone. I hope this helps a little. Sending you hugs and loves today.

Melissa

L.L. said...

I am weeping for you Kate. You and your sweet Paul...what a beautiful baby. Thank you for sharing your story. Your story taught me not to be afraid to talk to women about child loss in a way I hadn't thought of before, so thank you for that, too. I am sending lots of love your way.

Rasheeda said...

Kate,

Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sure it will help countless women, more than you can imagine. Today, I am praying for you and your family, and especially for sweet little Paul. I hope wherever he is, he is enveloped by the warmth of his mother and his family's love, as well as all of our prayers. I'm sure somewhere he's smearing cake on his face <3

Joanne, thank you for this.

Yvonne said...

Beautifully written piece. Thanks for sharing your story. My mom passed away this year, and I really related to the part about people not wanting to talk about your loss, and how meaningful it is when people bring up it up and how it comforts you. I think people are scared to talk about a painful subject but it actually feels better to talk than act like everything is normal and okay.

Jordan G. said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I don't have kids yet, and I honestly can't imagine what you went through. And because I can't imagine, I was really affected by the paragraphs you wrote about how others handled the grief. I think I would have been one of those people who didn't want to bring up Paul's name for fear of reminding you and making you think about the pain again. So I thank you for sharing how you wish people would have handled it. We all feel so inadequate when faced with tragedy, and I think your perspective will help me if/when I have to comfort friends and family (myself?) in the future. May God bless you and your family. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Addie144 said...

I am so glad you shared this- I have lacked the courage but have also felt the desire to share my story. I lost my daughter at 32 weeks gestation- a still birth. Her name is Milla. This is my story:
http://144-411.blogspot.com/2010/08/death-and-birth-of-our-daughter_16.html

raina tinker said...

Kate, I am heartbroken for you. I am so very sorry you are going through this, but I thank you for sharing your experience. I hope this comforts the women out there who have had the same experience. Love to you.

Addie144 said...

I am so glad you shared this. I have been wanting to share my still birth story for a long time. I lost my daughter at 32 weeks. She was 4 pounds 2 ounces and turned 5 this August. Here is my story:
http://144-411.blogspot.com/2010/08/death-and-birth-of-our-daughter_16.html

Rhea (Greek Feaster) said...

Heartbreaking. And this is one of the first things I saw (by total coincidence) after reading this story: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/11/18/131118fa_fact_levy?currentPage=4

Girl You're in Korea Now said...

Thank-you for sharing. Your son is beautiful. My friend's son died in childbirth, and she had the same thoughts as you regarding talking about her baby and people asking questions. I didn't know what to say, so I just said "I'm so sorry, and I'm here for you". Later, I listened and asked questions. Everyone is different, but if they don't want to talk about it, they will just say so. Stay strong. I believe Paul is with you and around your little family.

Frankie said...

What a powerful and sad story - thank you so much for sharing. I'm so very sorry for your loss and my heart hurts for you and your grief.

Thanks for the reminder to be grateful for the healthy babies in our lives - new motherhood is challenging, and we've had some dark days with our darling girl. As hard as it can be to try and soothe her sometimes constant crying, this reminds me that it would be even harder to not have those cries in my life.
Thank you again. You and your family are in my thoughts.

citycountrycity said...

I'm the youngest of three daughters, but my mom actually gave birth to four of us. My whole life I've always known that Sarah, her second daughter, was a stillborn. She was cremated and buried under our apple tree. Shortly after, my mom got pregnant again. In some ways I always was secretly grateful for Sarah, because if she hadn't died, I wouldn't be here.

Earlier this year I asked my mom to tell me the whole story. Like Kate's, it was filled with horrifying, heartbreaking details that only a mother could recount. I sobbed as she told me about being too sad to hold her, and regretting that to this day, 34 years later. My dad did hold her though. And my sister Laura who was 3 at the time also saw her.

I'm so sorry for your grief, Kate. But know that this story, and Paul, will always be a part of your family like Sarah is a part of ours. Sending love.

J.Mill said...

I'm not a mother and I have no experience with things like this, but I am moved to tears. I'm so sorry! This is beautifully written and so incredible!

goose and bear said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, Kate, and for your thoughtful questions Joanna. I have a friend who just went through a similar situation and I feel like I don't know what to say or do. This is a great reminder to do SOMETHING, to let her know I have not forgotten her or her little JJ. I am thinking of your family today, thankful for your Paul and the way you are using his brief but beautiful life to bring hope and comfort to others.

Becca said...

Sending love to you, Kate, and your family. Thank you for sharing.

Laura Rennie said...

Thank you, Kate. Your writing touches me in many ways, especially because I delivered a stillborn baby four months ago. I am currently in that everything-is-hard grief you mentioned that hit after a few months. I can so relate to your desire to have people ask you questions about your experience and about Paul, and that you feel more connected to him when they do. Thank you for sharing your story, even though it is not a story I'm sure you wish you didn't have.

camille said...

Thank you for sharing your story and your heart, and for writing about this raw pain so beautifully. I am so sorry you and your family lost Paul. Your description of grief as not a straight line makes so much sense, and it will help those of us who have friends and family who are grieving.

hadiya barlatier-johnson said...

Moments shared like this makes it easier to breathe about my experience.

love + light

Jillian@TheHumbleGourmet said...

This is such a beautiful and moving story.
There is this great line from an episode of "Six Feet Under" that Brenda says:
"When you're married and you lose your spouse, you're called a widow or a widower. If you're a child and you lose your parents, you're called an orphan. But what do you call a parent who loses a child? I guess that's just to awful to even have a name."
I've had a few friends now who have lost children, and it's something that I imagine you never truly "get over". My heart goes out to Kate and her family, and I hope that they're able to move to a more peaceful place.

Amy said...

My heart breaks for you, Kate. This is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your story. I have a dear friend who went through this and it helps me to understand her experience a bit more; I hope your story does this for others too. Prayers of strength and healing for you and your family.

Laura Rennie said...

Thank you, Kate. I am in that "few months later" grief you mentioned, after delivering a stillborn baby boy in July. I relate to everything you're feeling and have felt—especially the desire to have people ask questions about your experience and your baby. I wrote this blog post a month ago asking people to do just that. (http://lrennie.blogspot.com/2013/10/will-you-walk-alongside-me.html)
I liked what another commenter said about how you will never forget Paul, and now everyone reading this post will never forget him either. I ache for you. I share your desire to comfort and support other women who have experienced loss. Thank you for supporting ME.

Sarah Burton said...

so incredibly moving and heartbreaking and I thank Kate for sharing this very personal, emotional experience with us. After reading this, I felt so much grief… the kind that only a mother can feel when she hears about another mother losing their child.

nicolemw said...

You are so strong Kate, thank you for sharing your story of Paul.

Camilla said...

Thank you for sharing this. Paul is so beautiful in his pictures and your story really touched me because its exactly how I felt! I had a stillborn baby boy too. He was 6 pounds 1 oz and perfect and beautiful. I also had him in November. On the 24th 2005. He would be 8 years old this year. My heart still aches for my baby boy. I have had 4 children since him but he will always be in my heart and be loved and missed. Its one of those things that comes and goes in severity but every November my heart aches again for my sweet baby.

margaux said...

thank you so much for sharing the story of your beautiful, sweet paul. i hope it brought you comfort in some way to share it here and to read in the comments how your story has deeply affected so many.

Lora Brown said...

This was absolutely beautiful and moving. I feel so grateful to those who share something so deep and personal. It's a gift. To have these experiences tucked away in memory if something similar should happen to yourself, family member or close friend.

SMS said...

Thank you Kate - I feel so honored to hear his story and yours. He was beautiful. It seems so strange when something so real is suddenly gone. The mind doesn't want to comprehend. I'm hugging those I love extra tight today, and I'm sure you're doing the same.

Dorine Nafziger said...

A million times thank you for sharing your journey through grief. It's such a disservice to our collective soul to jump up and act normal. So much love to you today & everyday. xo

Mariana said...

Thank you for a beautiful story about your beautiful baby boy. Thank you for saying how you found comfort in people asking about Paul instead of pretending he didn't exist, your pregnancy didn't even happen, and all of that. His story deserves to be shared and YOUR story, the pregnancy, the birth, everything, does too. He will always be your son. And to others who have commented who have had stillbirths or late term loss, if more of us share our stories perhaps the more people will understand.

lindsay said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story! I went through this too, just a little earlier than when you had Paul. It is so hard when people say, "oh so a miscarriage?". no, not a miscarriage - a baby that i labored and delivered. i don't really talk about this so thank you for allowing me to say that out loud. any time i have brought it up people look at me like i am crazy for being so honest, so bold. i would love to read your book one day, these things take a lifetime to get through. i now have a 2 and a half year old girl and another sweet girl who is due any day but i will never forget, xo

Momma Nicholson said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Paul (and you) will be in my prayers.

Liv said...

I am deeply moved. I am grateful for your bravery and generosity in sharing, Kate. I wish you peace like a river: deep, and slow, and winding.

Kate Thomas said...

I read this story earlier and it has stayed with me. While looking through pinterest I came across this ( http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/81/80/de/8180de8c6cc24ac7e0ac61311ded94aa.jpg ) and it made me smile.

catie said...

oh, kate.
i have known devastating heartbreak, but nothing, nothing like this.
even one year is still so very recent.
i hate that the world keeps turning, expecting us to carry on in the face of tragedy.
take all the time you need.
bless you and your two babies.
yes, you are parenting them both, just differently.
sending you love & peace,
♥catie

Gabriella said...

Wow, what a beautifully written and powerfully told story. Thanks to Kate for writing about this.

melle-belle said...

Bah. I am due in 5 days and now I'm a mess, but I couldn't not read this. I'm so, so sorry for your loss.

Ellen said...

Thankyou for sharing, Kate. I lost a baby this year and can identify with so much of what you wrote, though I know that no two griefs are the same. I too find it hard to answer the "how many children?" question.

None of us reading this will ever forget Paul. Thankyou for sharing him with us.

Raj S. said...

Today is the 11th and yes it comes around every month. I both despise it and look forward to it. Bittersweet. It's a day of celebration and of mourning. Every 11th, my daughter Sofiya is one month older and it's one more month, I am living without my dear Abhi. We had just finished our residencies in Philly, we were moving back home to California and best of all, we were expecting twins. A boy and a girl. We were on the dirt road to a perfect life. So we thought. They were born 1/11/12. He passed on 7/11/13 at 18 months. Today is his 4month anniversary- he would have been 22 months. My heart has never felt so much heartache and my soul never so much emptiness. I miss his kind spirit, 'fearless' strength, his charm and his sparkle. Kate I am thankful for reading your story, especially today. It is good to know that we are all connected and that hopefully there is meaning and reason behind everything that happens. I may not get to seem him again in this cycle of life but I am thankful that I got to experience him for a little while. Raj.

madcow77 said...

Kate, I'm so sorry. Your relationship with Paul was/is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Melissa said...

Thank you for sharing. These stories and conversations are so important. x

carly jane said...

I am so sorry. I had to stop and catch my breath while reading. This is heartbreaking.

Hanna Woodley said...

My mother, father, little sister, and I lost my older brother, Adam, when he was 2 weeks old. He was born 5 years before I was and 9 years before my sister and although we obviously never got the chance to be with him here, we have always known and loved Adam as our brother.
We each mourned him in our own time. My mother and father grieved in real time, while it was something my sister and I eventually faced.
Grieving for a sibling, my only brother, who I never met is a weird sensation. One I even struggled to recognize. After all, it hit my out of nowhere. In a lecture hall. After 21 years of knowing that he was gone. And 26 years after he had died. It was hard to share that with others who might not understand. Why now? Why, when I had never met him? Why, when after so much time, my parents could speak and think of him and face his birthday without the overwhelming sense of loss?

Was I upset because the older brother that I had always wanted and should have had was taken before I had the chance to know him? Was I feeling this sadness out of sympathy for the kind of despair and helplessness I could only imagine my parents had felt for so long? Was I grieving for Adam who should have ridden horses with us and laughed with us and rolled his eyes at my mom and dad and grown up with us and pestered and annoyed us and loved and protected us and been loved and protected by us never had the chance?
I think I was grieving for all of those things, but it doesn’t matter. All that matters is the grief. It belongs to the individual. It’s yours and it’s respectable and you will cope the way you know how and in time it will get better.

I apologize for the lengthiness of this. Perhaps, like you, Kate, I felt the need to tell his story a bit. To keep him present in our family. To offer a similar and yet totally different perspective. Keeping his memory alive within my family and also with my friends has been invaluable. It sounds like you are open and honest with June, and that too is invaluable. Personally, speaking from my own feelings and experiences, I am certain that those who have died are not gone. Adam spends time with me and knows me. He does love and protect me. Even so, it always hurts to know that I never got the opportunity to do the same for him.

It didn’t happen because of anything “bad” you (or your husband or my mom or dad) ever did. There is no good reason. There is nothing fair or balancing about it.

Paul will always be a present and important part of your family. And nothing (not the passage of time, not the words and opinions of others) will change that.

Kerry said...

Kate, thinking about you and Baby Paul. Wonderfully written. Today would have been my mom's 77th birthday. I'll ask her to give Paul a little snuggle today, wherever they may be.

Melissa said...

Thank you for sharing your story. My heart goes out to you and your family.

seven smiles said...

Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this piece of your life.
I know it is absolutely not the same, but I had a miscarriage at the end of my first trimester after 3 years of secondary infertility (meaning that we already had one son), and I still mourn and grieve for that "potential;" what could have been. I have been blessed with four more children since then—three biological, one through adoption—and I still spend moments thinking, "what if?," and "I miss you."
I'm so very sorry for your loss.

Christina said...

Happy Birthday Paul! May your earth family have a happy day knowing that you are celebrating with all the angels in the arms of Jesus. I'm so sorry for your loss, I can't even imagine the pain you must feel. I pray that you will find peace.

Megan F said...

Nothing I type seems worthy of posting, Kate. I'm filling tissues for you and your family; it seems so cruel to have to go on without your sweet Paul. I carry your story with me and send you strength and all the love. You're an amazing mother and woman.

Aileen Plough said...

Thank you for sharing. A good friend is going through this exact situation, in labor, at the hospital today, this helps me and some of our friends get a little more insight on what we can do to be there for her in the coming days, weeks and months.

britsidwell said...

This is so incredibly touching. I'm not yet a mom, and cannot begin to even imagine what this feels like, but i know it has to be the hardest experience you've ever had to face. May God bless you and your little family, Kate...and bless and keep baby Paul. I think it is so brave and beautiful for you to write and talk about and live and Paul's memory. You are quite obviously such a wonderful mother. <3

girlseeksplace said...

Oh man. This is heartwrenching. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Kate. Hugs to you.

Patricia Paramo said...

Your words made me be teary-eyed...love this post. It taught me so much for when I become pregnant.

I'm sorry for what you had to go through.. I'm sorry a wonderful woman had to experience something like this. Hope you heal with time and pray to your little angel in the sky!

http://brunettelettersblog.blogspot.com/

Melissa said...

Happy Birthday to your sweet Paul. My first baby, James, was stillborn five and a half years ago. Thank you for sharing Paul's beautiful story. It is so comforting to share stories and memories---they sound so familiar!

Rachael {All Things Beautiful} said...

What a heartwrenching story. I cannot even begin to fathom what you're going through and continue to go through each day. How brave to share your story with all of us. You are a beautiful soul and wonderful mother. All the prayers and love in the world are being sent to you. Happy Birthday to your sweet baby Paul.

Meg said...

Thank you so much, you have reminded me to be grateful for my healthy baby boy. Some days I mourn the freedom of my old life, I forget how lucky I am.

1c4da61e-4b10-11e3-87b3-000bcdcb2996 said...

Thank you for sharing your story and Paul's story. I am so sorry you had to go through this. Your son was a beautiful baby. I wish you and your family comfort and smiles and strength.

DENISE. said...

Joanna, thank you so much for including this in your Motherhood Mondays post. As always, it's brave and so important to open up our minds.

Kate, this is an amazing work of art. Thank you so much for sharing. Even though we don't know each other, you and Paul will be in my thoughts for many days to come. xoxo

Meg said...

Thank you so much for sharing, you have reminded me to be grateful for my healthy baby boy when I'm mourning the freedom I have lost! I hope you are surrounded by love on Paul's birthday this year and forever, take care sweet mother xx

bisbee said...

I have no words...other than to say I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing Paul's story.

Michelle said...

Thank you for your bravery in sharing your story with us. Thinking of you and your family on sweet baby Paul's birthday.

Ana Ribeiro said...

Kate, Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are an amazing and strong woman. Wish you and your family a lot of love!

Mallory said...

This is so beautiful. THANK YOU for sharing Paul's story. Your story. Happy birthday to him, and Kate, you and your family, your husband and your two children, are in my thoughts and prayers. XOXO

RosyRilli said...

This makes my heart hurt. Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story.

Jeannie Jordan said...

Kate - Thank your for sharing your precious son Paul with us. My sister-in-law send me your story. My son Danny, finally our boy after having 2 living daughters, was stillborn on his due date in May 2008. No reason found for why his heart stopped. I could have written much of what you shared here....your words bring me back, and now, even 5 + years later - I still have my "punch in the gut" days. I now facilitate a parent support group in the Chicago area through the MISS Foundation....it still helps me tremendously as we help those parents that follow behind us in grief. Their online forums were my safe have in the 2 years following Danny's death. www.missfoundation.org. I would be honored to be a contact for you if you just want to send an email, or a text, or a phone call from a parent that understands our "new normal" I'm so sorry. Many (((hugs)))

Jeannie
jeannie.jordan@missfoundation.org

Jeannie Jordan said...

I am so glad that you read this blog today, and can use Kate's words and advice to help your friend. It's so important.

sophie lorraine said...

My mother had her son for five days before he passed; he was her second child, first boy too. I don't know all the details, (but I know I should ask, one day,) but was four weeks overdue as in she carried 44 weeks. We go to his grave, my mum, myself and my sister; even though I didn't know him, she still remembers him throughout her day. He would be in his thirties.

I'm so very sorry, for you and your family. I cannot even contemplate what it must be like, quite like I don't know what my mother went through only having her baby boy five days. All I can say is thank you for being so brave and sharing you, baby Paul and your families story.

Cherry Blossoms said...

Thank you for sharing your story. What courage and strength this had to take. May sweet Paul's love be shining down on all of you today and forever in your heart.

-Heidi
www.hjrcherryblossoms.blogspot.com

MEL said...

I'm standing up, rocking back and forth, reading this journey, and I can feel the heat tingling through my body and out of my fingertips, the feeling you get when your heart hurts so bad you can't contain it. I'm rocking back and forth because I'm wearing my 3 month old daughter who, if I stop rocking back and forth, will wake up from her much needed nap. One of the naps that she will only take when I'm holding her. The naps that, until now, I sometimes cursed because I found myself totally debilitated by the fact that I can't do anything else but be her mom. It is stories like this that remind me that life is precious and I need to stop my whining. Thank you for bringing the importance of my life with my new daughter back to the forefront, and reminding me to never take it for granted. My heart is burning out of my skin for you and this unbelievable journey of grief and love. Thank you for opening your heart to remind us all of the preciousness of life, and for making an unmistakeable imprint on my heart forever. xo

Merissa said...

I cannot imagine what you and your family are experiencing. Thank you for sharing. Paul is in my heart and my thoughts, happy birthday little guy.

Joy said...

Such a hard thing to read, but thank you so much for your honesty, Kate. Prayers for you and others who have endured this loss...

sian said...

in a strange superstitious way i was scared to read this post. i'm glad i did read it. so sorry for your family's loss. sending love. x

Merissa said...

I cannot imagine what you and your family are experiencing. Paul is in my heart and my thoughts, happy birthday little guy.

Votre Amie said...

My heart aches for you - Thank you for sharing your story. I'm honored to have read it, and admire your strength. Sending love.

Gwmfd$376 said...

thank you so much for sharing. what a bravery and love you have shown to Paul.

Dee said...

Happy Birthday to Paul. He will always be with you, just from another place in this universe. Thank you for sharing this heartbreaking story, no matter what, he will always be yours. Thank you for reminding us that you never know what someone might be going through. Be Kind. xo

Joanna. said...

I'm not sure, but I don't think anyone has commented with HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAUL! You met your little one on this day a year ago and that's something to celebrate! Eat cake and be happy! Albeit you said goodbye to him too, you had him growing inside you for 9 months, you're his Ma and I'll bet he's with you eating cake being happy too! Death is a horrible thing especially in this situation, but it's also a celebration of what happened before that too.

coco said...

Kate, thank you for sharing your story, your pain... you.

coco said...

Kate, I have no words but thank you simply for sharing you.

Micaila Wow! said...

Sending love and condolences to a beautiful family.

meredith said...

Thank you for sharing. The way you describe grief and emotions not traveling in a straight line is perfect. I experienced several miscarriages and while our two experiences are not the same, I can relate to the grief and emotional toll that you describe. The questions like, how many times have you been pregnant are ridiculously painful. I now have twin boys who I cherish but I still think sometimes about the ones who came before. I'm so sorry for the loss of Paul but I thank you for somehow putting all of that raw emotion in words and sharing it with us.

Haydée Rodríguez said...

OH, my god, bless you, and your family!

Ana Alegria said...

I'm speechless...
Kate, thank you for sharing your experience.
Paul will be always with you. Wish you and your family a lot of love!

Kathy said...

Thank you for sharing, Kate and Joanna for hosting her. I am so sorry for your loss, Kate. Paul sounds like a very special baby/soul. So much of this resonates with me and my experience as a bereaved mother. I lost my second child, my daughter Molly, soon after she was born to rare and severe congenital heart defects, in April 2008. She lived about 15 minutes. I have learned so much about grief, loss, life and healing through our baby girl. I am grateful to have two living children (a ten year old son and 4 year old daughter, our rainbow baby) now. Their sister Molly's memory is a big part of our family and I believe they are kinder more compassionate children/people for that. Thank again for sharing your story and perspective. The more we tell our stories, I hope, the more people who haven't walked in our shoes will start to get it and be able to support us and others who follow in our footsteps. I also know, from having blogged for 6 1/2 years now and working on a memoir myself, how therapeutic writing is. Wishing you the best as you write your book.

Take care,
Kathy

http://bereavedandblessed.com

Elle said...

What I am most grateful to you for sharing is the understanding about how the post-birth high may make it seem like someone is handling the grief for months, but that it is 3-4 months in that it will really hit and they will need the most support. Thank you for sharing that.

Also, I wonder if Paul knew something about June’s life that no one could know, perhaps that *she* will need all your love and support to grow into a successful human, not for any dire reason, but because of the times. The world is intense right now… I sometimes wonder how people can give several children all the love they actually need, all the years they need it..

I like June's suggestion of cupcakes - with baby blue frosting and sprinkles of course!

jk said...

I lost a baby at 23 weeks earlier this year. This story completely resonated with me. Like Kate, the worst part was the people around you who pretended like nothing happened. Those who never acknowledged the loss.

These types of losses are heartbreaking and don't get spoken about enough. Thank you Kate and thank you Joanna for bringing such an important issues to the forefront.

Laura Diaz said...

Thanks, Kate for sharing. Paul has crossed the ocean and in different parts of the globe we celebrate his birthday and your courage.

Francisca Figueiredo said...

Thank you for sharing Kate. It's such a bravery. My best wishes for you all.

Alison said...

Heartbreaking. Sending love to you and your family, Kate. Thank you for sharing.

Michelle Ash Latham said...

Heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing your story.

www.ahealthymrs.com

Claire Star said...

Kate, thank you for your strength in sharing your story with us. I cannot imagine your grief and wish you could hold your sweet baby boy today on his birthday. My best wishes for you and your family. You're a wonderful mother, and I know that you've touched so many women who have experienced similar grief to your family's.

Erin said...

Thank you for sharing Paul with us.

Alie said...

Kate, I've been sobbing all day thinking of you and sweet Paul. We too had a baby (a daughter, Amelia) that died and though it's been just over a year, some days the pain feels like it was yesterday.

I'm so grateful for your perspective. Our baby Amelia was diagnosed with a fatal birth defect at our twenty week ultrasound, so I continued the pregnancy to full-term knowing she was going to die at the end. She did, as expected, but the grief was long and drawn-out before and after. I've always wondered which would be worse - to know or not to know? - but in reality, you have showed me they are beyond comparison, that they are much more similar than I ever thought they were. You have opened my eyes.

I struggled for months as to what we would do for Amelia's birthday every year. I want our kids to remember and acknowledge her, you know? So we started a kind of "flat-stanley" (remember those as kids?) where we take a stuffed bunny (affectionately named Bunny Amelia by our toddler) around for the day. We went to the aquarium this year, and our toddler had a blast showing "Bunny Amelia" the fish and taking pictures with her. We are going to continue the tradition every year, and Bunny Amelia should have plenty of family adventures with us. :)

Love you, mama!

Alie said...

Also, can I add that I LOVE that you "know" Paul? People think I'm nuts when I tell them all about Amelia's spunky little spirit. She was a fighter, a brave little one. She would have been the trouble maker at our house, I know for sure! :)

Nora said...

Thank you for sharing this. My seventeen year old son's identical twin brother was stillborn and my husband and I adopted a baby girl in 2006, however her birth mother decided she could not go through with the adoption six days after we brought her home. I often think that I am one out of three, so it was reassuring that you have quantified the heartbreak too. Hearing others talk so openly helps more than you know. Take good care...

cecilia.folgado@gmail.com said...

Dear Kate,

My Mother, who passed away last year, had two stillborn babies and she had us, me and my brother. Although I say 'my brother', as if he is the only one, the fact is that we were always four. My elder sister and my middle brother, always had their names, a birthday, an history, features. They have always existed and keep existing.
I cannot imagine how you feel, as as I could never imagine how my Mother felt, but I can very easily imagine how your little girl June feels: one of my earliest memories is the brother that never came home.
I'm very happy and grateful that my parents choose to keep them in our lives, that they were always present. Existing.
Thanks so much for sharing. (And thanks to you too, Joanna, for this opportunity to us all).
Cecília

emma said...

Oh Kate, he is just beautiful. So very perfect.

Thankyou for sharing your heartbreaking story. I had to have a medical termination at 5.5months almost four years ago and I think of my little boy all of the time. Your story rang so true to me also as I struggled with wanting to remember him when everyone else seemingly wanted to move on and forget. The 'silence' about him was devastating.

You are Paul's mother and always will be. June will always have her younger brother and you and Jimmy will always have your two precious children.

Similarly for me, the loss of what could have been, the life I had imagined together and not getting to meet his little personality leaves me with such longing.

Thankyou for your honesty, strength and truly beautiful writing.

Sending you and your family all of my love and may my little Kaleb look out for your little Paul in heaven.
Emma x

emma said...

Oh Kate, he is just beautiful. So very perfect.

Thankyou for sharing your heartbreaking story. I had to have a medical termination at 5.5months almost four years ago and I think of my little boy all of the time. Your story rang so true to me also as I struggled with wanting to remember him when everyone else seemingly wanted to move on and forget. The 'silence' about him was devastating.

You are Paul's mother and always will be. June will always have her younger brother and you and Jimmy will always have your two precious children.

Similarly for me, the loss of what could have been, the life I had imagined together and not getting to meet his little personality leaves me with such longing.

Thankyou for your honesty, strength and truly beautiful writing.

Sending you and your family all of my love and may my little Kaleb look out for your little Paul in heaven.
Emma x

lipoooo said...

Best wishes for you all

Katie Thamer said...

Kate-Thank you for telling us about Paul. I know he is honored by your writing and your strength.

Sammie Lane said...

Beautiful momma. Beautiful babies. Beautiful sharing. Thank you. Praying for you.

Mary Rose said...

I feel blessed to have read this journey through the life and love of precious baby Paul.
Our little boy William was born on the 22.11.12 after losing a baby boy (at 3 months) the previous year. Through my (ongoing) grieving, I also devoured every book I could find on the topic. These shared stories somehow eased the burden on my broken heart.
William will turn one in 10 days. I wish both our beautiful boys happy birthdays. Sending love, gratitude and hugs Kate.
Thankyou Joanna for posting this most beautiful and eloquent of love stories. xxx

Mary Rose said...

I feel blessed to have read this beautiful love story from a mother to her son.
My little boy William was born on the 22.11.12. We lost a baby boy at (3 months) the year before. As I grieved, I also devoured every book book I could find on the subject. This shared 'secret language' somehow easing the burden my broken heart.
I wish both our beautiful boys a happy birthday.
Sending love and hugs Kate. Thankyou sharing so eloquently.
Thankyou Joanna for posting. xx

Anastasia said...

so brave, so strong - Thank you for sharing your story Kate.
Paul will be with you, Jimmy and Jane forever...
My Mother-in-law also lost her first child, a boy, who was stillborn - she talks about him all the time...I sit and listen, it comforts her to talk about him.
Thanks Kate and Joanna for bringing this issue to light and talking about it.

jenny k said...

What an absolutely beautifully written story. You will always be his wonderful mama, and to June as well.thank you for sharing.

deargraham.com said...

Thank you, Kate.

Allison said...

My heart, tears, prayers and positive vibes are with you. So beautifully written. Happy Birthday to sweet Paul. He is with you. June has a sweet guardian angel.

Mary Rose said...

Whoops! Sorry for posting twice! x

Grace @ Sense and Simplicity said...

You were able to pour words into the hearts and minds of others who have grieved, but not been able to express that grief. What a powerfully written and moving story. Thank you.

noria said...

Thank you for sharing this story. As a mother, I cannot imagine the grief and how it must stay. Paul was a beautiful baby boy. Sending love to you and your family.

julie said...

Thank you so much for sharing.

deannagabriel said...

Joanna, thanks for being a place to not only share this beautiful writing, but also engage in supportive discussion. This is an incredibly important topic and I am so thankful you created a space to discuss and educate others as to how they can best support people in similar circumstances. Kate, thank you for sharing your journey and your beautiful story. June and Paul are so very lucky to have you and Jimmy as their parents. I hope you find peace in your journey and know that there are people out here, near and far, who walk along with you. Happy birthday, sweet Paul!

Colleda Monick said...

My heart aches, like really aches, for this family. Thank you so much for sharing. May you take as long as you need to grieve in whatever way you need to grieve. hugs

Sandi said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Paul and June are very lucky to have you as their mum. Sending love to you and your family!

Erika said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Happy Birthday to Paul. (((hugs)) I gave birth to my stillborn twin daughters, Vivian and Annemarie, five years ago. Grief is a hard road. Be gentle with yourself and seek out others who have experienced this type of loss. Some of my best friends I've made have been because of my twins - it is not something I would have ever chosen, but it is what it is and I look for little silver linings now (five years later). (((hugs)))

Katie: Grow.Cook.Sew. said...

This is so beautifully written.
My second child was also stillborn.. a little girl called Grace. I think about her every day.
I'm so sorry for your loss Kate x

reiter8 said...

Thank you Kate for sharing and Johanna for hosting such a personal, heart wrenching and not often discussed experience. I am especially thankful as a 'bystander' for Kate addressing what people are missing socially when it comes to acknowledging and discussing this type of life experience. We do want to protect our loved one's from further hurt and pain however, this post gives us all permission to look 'Kate' straight in the eye and ask her to tell us more about 'Paul' and maybe most importantly to share in her sadness and pain which in turn is also sharing love.

Ecotruism said...

Hi Kate, thank you so much for sharing your story and letting us know how we might be able to comfort loved ones (or ourselves) who might experience this.

jcf said...

Thank you for sharing, Kate. This is very touching and sad and I'm glad you continue to talk about Paul. Your openness has helped so many others who have gone through similar losses.

Hugs.

Christen said...

Beautifully written. I have no doubt her words are comforting many right now. But boy oh boy I should NOT have read that 8 1/2 months pregnant. Still, my heart goes out to her and all the mothers who have suffered loss and I am thankful she shared such heartfelt words.

Brooke said...

My first daughter, Eliza, was stillborn. It will be three years ago this December. I'm so sorry to read about Paul's death, and I found myself nodding as I read this with tear-filled eyes. Yes especially to the part about people not asking questions, and how ridiculous it is that they were afraid to mention her when she was all I cared about, all I could possibly want to talk about. It's such a hard road, and it helps even now to know I'm not alone, that other people are speaking my language.

Thanks also to Joanna, for helping break the silence about stillbirth by sharing the heartbreaking side of motherhood.

Emikos Werid Unexplained thoughts said...

Though I have no little ones, I feel your pain. Paul is wonderful, blissful and beautiful. Thanks so much you are a brave would. You are blessed.

Liana M said...

My mother had a still born son 20 years ago. Every year we have a special family dinner and sing happy birthday to him, just like we do for everyone else. Its still a sad day but we use it to be thankful for what we have and the good news is it gets better with time. He is 18 months older than me and will always be the guardian angel for me and my 3 siblings
My parents are some of the strongest people I know, anyone who has lost a child is, however there is not enough awareness about stillbirths and miscarriages. To lose a child before you have met them is very tough. Thank you for sharing you story.
My thoughts and prayers are with you, Kate.

Buckley said...

Kate-
Thank you for sharing your story and Paul with us. I am a fellow baby loss mom (I lost my daughter to stillbirth in February 2010). I commend you for expressing yourself so well, and taking people there with you. This line gave me chills and tears, "Well, realizing the beginning was also the end was heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking."

You gave Paul the best birthday gift...you kept him alive today!! Sending you love and hugs!!
xoxoxo- Buckley

YFood said...

Heart-wrenching. Incredibly moving. brutally open and honest. Thank you for sharing this with us.

evie dear said...

oh my goodness. thank you so much for sharing so honestly and bravely. you"re amazing

Betsy Whitis said...

Thank you for sharing your beautifully written story with us. Happy birthday to Paul.

lochan said...

Happy birthday sweet Paul! He is lucky to have you as his mother. This was such a lovely tribute to him.

onechicklette.com said...

Kate, you wrote so beautifully about the terrible loss of your perfect little boy. I am so very sorry for the loss you all continue to suffer.

While your post was so hard to read and I'm sitting here crying, I am also grateful for the reminder to be kind and patient and available for any person in my life who is hurting, and not just initially.

Again, I'm so sorry for your loss of precious Paul. While I know the grief will remain, I wish for you to have joy and lots of love in your life too.

Catherine Masi said...

You are a gift; your family is a gift. Thank you for opening your world and your tender and beautifully strong heart. From the comments here, it's so clear how very much you've touched many. Sending waves of peace and love...

HDemaray said...

Kate and Joanna--thank you for this. Loss is still a common part of motherhood, but we rarely speak of it. I cried giant tears reading your words, Kate. Grief is indeed a jagged line. I lost a baby at 18 weeks and know all too well the deep, DEEP sadness of holding a lifeless baby. Thank you for your openness. It is so encouraging to see in the comments here how your story is already creating a more empathetic community around mothers.

onechicklette.com said...

Kate, you wrote so beautifully about the terrible loss of your perfect little boy. I am so very sorry for the loss you all continue to suffer.

While your post was so hard to read and I'm sitting here crying, I am also grateful for the reminder to be kind and patient and available for any person in my life who is hurting, and not just initially.

Again, I'm so sorry for your loss of precious Paul. While I know the grief will remain, I wish for you to have joy and lots of love in your life too.

Patty said...

Paul is such a beautiful baby! Thank you for sharing your story.

Tamara said...

Thank you for sharing your journey with us and being so honest. And most of all, thank you for sharing Paul. I will be thinking of him tonight. Sending love.

Renae said...

This post is so beautiful and so heartbreaking. I am so sorry for your loss.

the tea and cake said...

Kate, i think that you are so brave and so strong. I'm so sorry that this happened to you and I'm sorry for all the other women and their families for who this is also a heartbreaking reality. I too lost my baby, my very first baby, in December last year. I was 7 months pregnant. It was just before Christmas. I remember feeling like i had been hit by a train suddenly. It was so unexpected, it's shaken me to my core and truly tested my strength. Now, almost a year later, i am once again expecting a baby and here I am facing the holiday season that last year became so hard, almost impossible to get through. I'm so glad i kept on going. That my husband and I were able to support each other. We hold on to hope and happiness for our future. We trust that it has to get better, slowly but surely. I feel like the eye of the storm is getting further behind us and now it's just thick fog some days. Now I have so much hope growing inside me. I hold both my babies in my heart, with equal love for both of them. I have strengthened and made some beautiful new friendships since living through such a difficult time. I know who i can count on and I know how strong women and true love can be. For that i am so thankful. Some days are still so hard, but the pain is mostly less raw. I try my hardest to hold on to the good memories and happier moments from the past. I like to believe that when i see a glimpse of natural beauty each day, or i feel the wind helping to carry me along the pavement on a particularly difficult day, that this is my first baby letting me know that things are going to get better and that life is mysterious but so beautiful. I finally know what it means and how it feels to live for the moment. Thank you so much for being such an inspiration to others & for sharing your perfect son Paul with us.

JW said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. The memory of your son will live through all who were close to him, and through all of us who have read your story. Paul is beautiful. Although he may not be physically here, he certainly lives.

catie said...

kate,
i am picturing everyone here, from the whole world over,
standing together with you in the candle-glow,
singing your sweet baby paul a happy birthday.
eleven-eleven is a special date, indeed ♥

JW said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your son is beautiful. You are a wonderful mama.

Cheryl said...

Wow. Brought tears to my eyes. Beautifully written and so real. So honest. Thank you Kate for sharing your story. One many women wouldn't share and I'm so happy you did. As an expectant mother, it's good to hear the bad and the good.

Jane said...

Thank you, Kate.

Courtney said...

Kate, my heart breaks for you and your family. Thank you for sharing, you have a beautiful way of explaining this. I would have never known what one might feel like after going through such a loss.

memyselfandboston said...

Wow, this was absolutely moving. Thank you for sharing.

Marin Elizabeth said...

that was beautiful. thank you for sharing. you're honesty is an inspiration. i can't imagine the pain you went through. you're in my thoughts today...

Erin W. said...

This made me sob. How heartbreaking. Sending love to this family.

Lex said...

I am holding my baby boy with tears and boogies running down my face. Full on ugly crying for your loss. My heart goes out to you. Xx

Sherry Spinelli said...

Dearest Kate,
Your words are so moving and powerful. I knew but I didn’t know all at the same time. I’m so sorry you’ve had so much pain and sorrow. I imagined you all were hurting terribly but really didn’t grasp the magnitude of your suffering or how it was so all-encompassing in your minute to minute breathing and living.

I’m speechless and overwhelmed, impressed and yet not surprised, amazed and I don’t know. What I do know is that I love, love, love you and that’s for certain. Your story is remarkable and your pain palpable.

In your sadness Paul has given you the strength to share your heartbreaking experience, and by doing so you will help, educate and show the path you’ve traveled to many. Your courage will take you places you never knew you could go. I think Paul has given you this power. Paul is your son, your family and always will be. He is perfect.

I hope the words of thanks, love, sympathy, understanding and appreciation from the many who comment will feed your soul in return. Happy Birthday Paul!
Love, Aunt Sher

sleepyummy said...

Kate, a beautifully written and such a diffucult journey. Light and love to you and you're family.

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