Story of a Stillborn Baby
19 years after Losing my Baby Boy
If you have recently had a stillborn baby or lost a baby in any other way this might be too much for you. Just know you are not alone.
19 years after losing my baby, the pain isn't what it used to be. Most days are happy with holidays being the hardest. This is the first time I've written publicly about my experience. I hope to help someone else see there is a future after losing a baby that you not only live through it, but you can enjoy your life again. If you are looking for ways to deal with your grief and are not interested in reading the story, I completely understand. I've written an article for dealing with grief after losing a baby here. Stillborn babies, Miscarriage and Ectopic - Time to Grieve. Best wishes to you!
The Day My Baby was Born and Died
BRANDON ZACHARY McNABB September 3, 1992 to September 3, 1992
Sept. 3, 1992, Brandon Zachary McNabb entered this world. He was born alive and on his way to NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) my baby died. The doctors called him a stillborn. In some places they consider him a miscarriage. All I know is, he was my baby and he is gone!
My life, forever changed that September day. He wasn't the first baby I'd lost, but by far the one that hurt the most and my only stillborn. After several miscarriages and a living daughter, I'm not sure why this loss was so much worse than all the rest. Perhaps it's because I carried him longer; 21 1/2 weeks. Maybe it was the fact I now knew what having a living baby felt like. I don't know.
Never Trust a Doctor if Your Instincts Tell You Something is Wrong
I felt a strange pain on Aug. 30, 1992. I passed it off as gas at first. I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for the next day so I tried not to worry. I went to my appointment and they told me I had an infection, "Take this antibiotic and go home." I expressed my fear as the pain had become more intense. The doctor told me I was paranoid and I should go home to rest. I took the prescription and left the office. TEN MINUTES after leaving the office, while standing in line to get a prescription, I doubled over the grocery cart. I left the pharmacy and within 10 more minutes, my water broke. I knew then my baby would probably die.
My instincts told me something more was wrong before I left the hospital. I knew I should not have trusted the doctor. I should have demanded to see someone else. When you think a doctor is wrong you should always trust your instincts.
My mother took me back to the hospital where they admitted me immediately. Another doctor came in and asked me how long I'd had the pains and I told him 2 days. He asked me why I hadn't been checked out.
I'm pretty sure my head exploded from anger!
I told him I told the other doctor just a little over an hour ago and she sent me home. He shut his mouth and continued checking me. Of course! He wasn't going to talk bad about another doctor in the same hospital. Then he told me, there was no way to save the baby.
He asked me if I wanted a C-section and I considered having a scar and no baby. No way! I elected natural delivery.
In Fear you Say Things You don't Mean and Later Regret.
They said with a pitocin drip, I should have the baby very soon. Here's where guilt comes in, please don't judge me. In that very moment, I stated, "I didn't want him anyway!" Man, even typing those words 19 years later, I still feel terrible.
The truth, I wanted him! I found the fast way out of my emotions. If I didn't want the baby, it didn't matter. Oh but did it matter!
50 hours later and a temp over 105, the doctor tells me I have to be induced because the baby is becoming a threat to my life. Here I thought I was the threat to his life. The doctor inserted a suppository to speed things along. The next 2 hours were so painful, but i found myself holding back and controlling the contractions. I wanted to keep my baby as long as I could. I failed!
With a strong kick, my son Brandon was born.
My Baby Just Died and You Want Me to Stay Calm?
It all floods together here. All I remember is screaming and being asked to try to stay calm because I was on the labor and delivery floor with other women having babies. GOOD FOR THEM! They were taking their baby home, my baby was dead. They were going to hear their babies scream, I knew I never would. They could put up with me screaming because I lost mine. How dare they ask me to be calm?
They were shocked to see Brandon was alive and rushed him to the NICU. When the doctor came back into the room, he told me my baby was stillborn. He was way too early and didn't stand a chance. I felt paralyzed. I wished my heart would stop beating. I had screamed myself out of a voice and lay there staring off into space.
Surgery after Losing the Baby. I Get a Scar Anyway!
I was rushed to surgery. After all that I got a scar anyway. My temp had sky-rocketed and they even brought in a Priest to talk to me about my soul! Hmm.. My soul had just died! What the heck did I care?
Needless to say, I survived the surgery, but I developed hysterical blindness and couldn't see anything. Even when my sight started to return, I could see everything except Brandon's dad. I guess I was ashamed of losing his baby. It took several hours for my sight to return completely.
I Chose to See My Stillborn Son. He's Beautiful!
The nurse had wrapped Brandon in a baby blanket and placed him in a basket in the bathroom in my hospital room. I finally decided to see him and it still amazes me. I saw a baby boy, 10 fingers, 10 toes, eyelids, a nose and mouth and forming fingernails. He was a baby, just a really tiny little guy. For a moment I was taken aback. The beauty of this tiny baby was unimaginable.
Then I kissed him!
At that moment, it became all too real. He was lifeless. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't think. I lost my mind for a couple of days. I played mental games, even convincing myself he was still inside me. I didn't do it on purpose. It must have been a coping mechanism. I told myself I couldn't walk and I refused to get out of bed.
The terror of leaving the hospital was ever-present. Once I left, I'd be leaving him behind. Going home to the baby things without a baby was scary. On the 3rd day, my dad came to the hospital and made me get out of bed. We walked the halls for a few minutes and I nearly passed out several times, but I made it back to my room.
The nurse brought me pictures and the blanket Brandon was wrapped in , in a tiny box with a card inside. They had put his hand and footprints inside the card and attached his tiny ankle bracelet. Today, it's all I have other than the memories.
One Week After I Lost my Baby Boy
This is why I hate cut flowers!
I'd watched the flowers sent by people who loved me, die. I'd watched my bulging belly shrink. I prayed it was all a nightmare, but the time had come - they sent me home.
Honestly, that's when the hell began. Not that having a stillborn baby isn't hell. It's the worst kind, but the life after seemed impossible. At first people would do their best to say something sympathetic, but usually turned out to be an epic failed attempt.
"Time heals all wounds", "you can have another baby", "at least he didn't die after you got to know him."
Really people! 1st: Time only makes a nice thick scab that if you pick at might bleed!, 2nd: I can have another baby, Maybe! and who's to say that's going to work out? Even if it does work out, since when can children be replaced by other children?, 3rd: I knew him! From the moment a doctor told me I was pregnant, I knew him! He was mine, in heart, dream, visions of the future, and later nightmares! Dangit! I KNEW HIM! I felt him move. I felt his desperation in those final moments. I felt his last kick! He was a real person, my baby, my son. Now he's gone and I cannot replace him.
I know they're just trying to be polite and it's a sticky place for anyone, but I can't help but feel hurt. I don't say anything, I just bow my head and stare at the floor. I only wish people would be more sensitive and if they can't then don't say anything at all.
Pregnant Women and Babies are Everywhere
Suddenly, pregnant women were everywhere. Mothers holding tiny babies seemed to explode out of the woodwork. I couldn't go anywhere or do anything without seeing something to do with a baby. I'd be in a store and hear a baby cry several aisles over and want to run. A part of me wanted to run to the baby while the biggest part wanted to get out of there as fast as I could.
Christmas was a nightmare. One of the other family members had a baby boy only 6 weeks old. She asked me to hold him and I couldn't. I know she thought I was crazy but I just turned and walked away. It seemed as though everyone had forgotten I lost the baby, except for me. I'd never been so glad to have Christmas over and done with.
Our Babies Funeral Was Simple and Quaint.
The funeral was quaint with his dad and me and a few people who had lost a baby in the same hospital. His dad and I couldn't afford a real funeral, so it was a common grave funeral for all the babies lost in that hospital during the same time period. It was a little cemetery with a beautiful statue on Infant's Circle in Indianapolis, Indiana. After a short prayer, they played "Somewhere out there," by Linda Ronstadt, as we all held strings on balloons and released them into the sky.
Phantom Pains Make me Remember
I still experience Phantom Pains. That is when you've lost a part of your body and you still feel it like it is still there. In this case, I feel a baby kicking from time to time and it always makes me think of Brandon.
Somewhere Out There by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram
Coping with the Grief after the Loss of a Child
Working through the pain of having a stillborn baby is hard. It gets easier, but never goes away.
Christmases got easier each passing year as did other holidays. I created an ornament with Brandon's name and birth date. I place it on the tree each year in memory of him. It helps me cope.
I read a book called, "I'll Hold You in Heaven" by Jack Hayford. It helped me with the questions I had about whether I was still a mother since he was a stillborn baby. I let him go. I didn't want to let go the title of being his mother too. I blamed God at first and it helped me with that too. I keep it around for times I need reassurance.
I did lots of other things to cope. I went to counseling and group therapy. I started writing poetry and that seemed to help. I cleaned feverishly for years; it was the one thing I could control. I went to work and for walks; anything to get me save out of the house. The most important thing was learning to talk about him and crying when I felt like crying.
Each year for 10 years, I bought balloons and wrote messages on them - one for each year since he was born and released them into the sky on September 3rd. On the 10th anniversary of his death, I copied a photo and sent it down the river with flowers as a way to finally say, "Goodbye."
After Losing my Babies I Appreciate My Other Children Even More
19 years later, I am a mother to a stillborn baby, several miscarriages, an ectopic and birthed 3 living, all premature children. There's not a day that goes by, I don't wonder what life would be like if Brandon were here, but I have come to accept that my baby is gone. I have learned to live again and be happy.
His death taught me something most people never realize; every little thing in life is important to someone. Even the most annoying things children do brings a certain joy. One of my children is special needs, and I believe losing my baby has helped me appreciate him even more. He is God's gift to me and I'm so happy I got the opportunity to be his mother even if he had to leave.
I hope this helps you realize that while it is a difficult road, there can be a good life after losing a baby. There's nothing wrong with you for feeling pain, no matter how long it's been since someone has died. Grief is a normal and necessary process.
I'm terribly sorry if you've lost a baby. No parent should suffer the pain of outliving their child, but we are special because our babies are Angels!
For more information about grief after losing your baby visit: Infant death: Grief and the path to remembrance.