A Stillbirth Story from Emi Edgley

May 13, 2010

Just before our one-year wedding anniversary, my husband Steve and I moved to Chicago where my husband would attend Medical School. Not long after moving, we excitedly phoned home to our parents to relate the news: “We’re going to have a baby!” Through months of anticipation, every preparation was made in for our baby’s arrival. Dresses were hung in the closet, blankets were carefully embroidered, and quilts were pieced.  Little onesies and socks were folded neatly and placed in the dresser. The dresser was refinished, the cradle was readied, the room was painted. Most importantly, we had worked to ready our hearts by cultivating feelings of love and harmony in our home.

However, after 8 months of pregnancy, I stopped feeling my baby’s movements. We were shocked to learn that even before being born, our baby girl (whom we named Eliza) had died.

When Eliza stopped living, I felt like a large part of me died with her. I had many questions — Why did I lose my child if I had been living a life that I believed made me capable of being a caring mother? Why did this turn out so differently than I envisioned? In times of sorrow, I found hope in this scripture:  “Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.”

The loss of our beautiful baby taught me many lessons. As I internalized the loving truth that our Father in Heaven sent His Son to die for us, I learned the depth of a parent’s love. In the years that followed the death and birth of our daughter, Steve and I grew stronger together as a couple. We continued on, but it was difficult — there were still a lot of tender moments when I yearned to hold and teach my lost baby.

Our joy was immeasurable when, a few years later, we finally welcomed our precious newborn daughter Ella Jayne into our family. The first night after giving birth, I tried to rest, but I couldn’t sleep. I kept my baby with me. The nurses couldn’t believe that I had not utilized any of the pain medications offered for post-delivery pains. But I did not feel any pain, just pure joy!  I counted her fingers and toes. I fed her. Steve and I held her, talked to her and rocked her. I was so grateful to hear her cries. I felt profoundly the need to protect her, love her and teach her. I continue to feel this!  Ella is now 9 years old — and she lights up our lives!  Being a mother is truly a gift of the greatest proportions.

A few years passed and we found ourselves longing for another child and for a sibling and playmate for Ella. We found ourselves seeking pregnancy through fertility treatments and procedures. Miraculously (and much to our delight!), I eventually became pregnant.

Week after week of my pregnancy, I had helplessly watched as conditions worsened, amniotic fluid levels dropped and the baby’s growth declined. Because of my past experiences, I knew her life was not in my hands, yet I greatly feared losing another baby. After a 6-week period of bed rest, I was admitted to the hospital for monitoring. We rejoiced when Louisa Kate was born healthy. Just like Ella, she arrived 5 weeks early and weighed 5 lbs. 2 ounces. Louisa is now 5 years old. She is lively and fun and unpredictable! I count her life and her addition to our home as one of my greatest blessings.
Helen Keller taught, “The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.”

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Facts About Stillbirth (A stillbirth is a pregnancy loss after 20 weeks in which the baby dies before birth):
-Worldwide, 4.5 million stillbirths occur each year. 12,000 women deliver a stillborn each day. (World Health Organization)
-In the U.S., of the 4 million births a year, there are 26,000 stillbirths. 70 women deliver a stillborn each day. (National Institutes of Health)
-Stillbirths per year roughly equal all infant deaths during first year of life. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
-60% of fetal deaths happen after 28 weeks gestation. The majority of stillbirths occur at or near full term.
-Many stillbirths at term happen in otherwise healthy, low-risk pregnancies.
-Medical research supports kick counting as an effective and reliable way to screen fetal well-being during the third trimester in both low- and high-risk pregnancies. If problems are detected in time, intervention may be initiated to prevent stillbirth.

From Emi Edgley.

PS — Here’s a related story from Faye Larsen.

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Note from Design Mom: throughout my pregnancy, I’ve been posting advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. I just had my baby and am taking a blogging break for a week or so. I’ve received so many wonderful stories and thought it would be great to post as many as I can during this little “maternity leave.” You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Adventures In Babywearing May 13, 2010 at 9:30 am

Oh my goodness. Eliza was favorite name of mine. I am so sorry for your loss. Your family is gorgeous.

Steph

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2 Meg May 13, 2010 at 9:36 am

Thank you for sharing this story. I had a stillborn baby last year – the year mark will be this Saturday. A lot of the emotions and feelings that you shared are ones that I feel as well. I love the quote by Helen Keller at the end, I know that the highs and happy moments in our life are so precious, especially when we’ve been through the bitterness of the dark valley. I greatly, greatly look forward to the day when I can have another baby and experience that great joy again! One thing for sure is that I hold my little two year old so much tighter and am a more loving, forgiving, and sensitive mom than I would have been otherwise. Thank you for sharing your story.

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3 Anna Liesemeyer May 13, 2010 at 10:06 am

What an incredible testimony. I plan on sharing this with friends and family. It is one of the greatest sufferings to lose a child, and your perspective is inspiring.
Thank you.

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4 Jill May 13, 2010 at 10:23 am

Emi, thank you for sharing your story. I love the names you’ve picked out for your girls. My daughter is named Eliza Grace and I love love love her name. My husband and I were just talking about names for future little girls and I’ve been telling him how much I love the name Ella. And that I think the middle name Jane would be darling. You and I must be kindred naming spirits. :)

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5 Lauren Crouch May 13, 2010 at 11:14 am

This breaks my heart. Thank you for being brave enough to share it, and your sweet spirit!

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6 amy smart May 13, 2010 at 11:21 am

So beautiful, Emi! Made me hug my own kids a little more today.

Your girls are beautiful too. :)

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7 becca lloyd May 13, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Hi Emi! I get to see you occasionally when visiting my parents at church–I did not know this about you, and my heart goes out to you. No wonder you are such a compassionate, shining soul–your life seems to have some tremendous refining moments. I wish to be more like you! And you and your daughters are absolutely beautiful!

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8 sharon May 13, 2010 at 1:21 pm

thank you for sharing about your loss and i am so glad that God has given you two healthy girls to love! i don’t know how people survive losing a baby in their first pregnancy – i lost my third son during birth 6 months ago, but i had two little boys to go home to. i am now 4 months pregnant and trying to trust God and hope. here is a post i wrote on Mother’s Day to other mothers who have lost children…

http://lovelybud.typepad.com/lovely-bud/2010/05/thoughts-on-motherhood-loss-and-the-sea.html

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9 Rosanna May 13, 2010 at 2:19 pm

You wondered “Why did I lose my child if I had been living a life that I believed made me capable of being a caring mother?”. As simple as it sounds, it’s because bad things happen to good people too. By being good we have no certainty that we will get a reward in this life. Too many times we seem to think that if we are good nothing bad can happen. God works (and loves) in mysterious ways, which we understand not. But we sure can’t think that bad things only happen to bad people.

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10 Erin May 13, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Emi,

Thanks for sharing. When I saw “stillbirth,” I almost didn’t read your story. Like Meg, I also had a stillborn baby last year; our first baby, and I we also just celebrated/mourned his first birthday. I’m trying to get braver about sharing my story, but the grief is so deep–even while I am now enjoying our baby’s sister, our nine-week-old baby. I miss him every single day. The pain hasn’t gone away, but I don’t expect it to. I just expect myself to go on each day.

On the other hand, yes, it is a singular experience, and I’ve learned important lessons from our son’s death, like you learned from Eliza’s. There have been and, I’m sure, will be people in my life who I can comfort only because I’ve been where I have. Thank you again for sharing.

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11 sara May 13, 2010 at 3:25 pm

This was brave and beautiful and inspirational. Your family is lovely. I applaud you for sharing this difficult but ultimately uplifting story – you have no doubt touched so many people with it. Thank you.

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12 KarinS May 13, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Thank you so much for sharing Eliza’s story. 10 years ago, our son, Elliot was stillborn. He’s still very much part of our family and will forever live in our hearts. Including his younger sister’s, (Amelia) who came along 13 months later. The grief softens as time goes by but you never forget your sweet little babies.

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13 Lisa May 13, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Emi –

Beautiful, touching post. I never knew the story of Eliza but am always touched by your strength of character and ability to see our Heavenly Father’s guidance through our trials. Thanks for sharing.

Love,
Lisa Barlow

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14 Bradeigh May 13, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Emi, I was so surprised to see your name here. I’ve been enjoying reading all the delivery stories that have been posted here over the past few weeks. Thanks for sharing your story. You know I love the name Eliza.

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15 Lauren May 14, 2010 at 11:01 am

Oh, Emi! Thank you for sharing your story with so many people! You are such a special person and I just love you! I know I live far away, but I always think about you, Steve, the girls, and our friendship (that, we always seem to be able to pick up where we left off when we are able to see each other). Thank you for your shining example of love, hope, faith, and understanding. I love the picture of you with the girls…it’s beautiful! Y’all are beautiful! Love you!

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16 Ashlea Walter May 14, 2010 at 11:12 am

Thank you for sharing your story. It brought familiar tears to my eyes and a wave of emotional memories. Our first daughter, whom we named Ariel (angel of nature), died at 27 weeks almost three years ago. Miracle of miracles, our amazing daughter, Wren, was born almost a year ago. No meds either, I was just thrilled to be giving birth and still can’t stop holding her and cherishing the wonder of this child even now. Ariel is always with me and gives me strength.

Best and love! Ashlea

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17 carissa @ lowercase letters May 17, 2010 at 8:52 am

what a beautiful story of the Lord’s healing. He gives and takes away… blessed be His name! your faith is bringing much glory to Him! i found your story through anna’s blog.

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18 Michelle May 17, 2010 at 1:28 pm

thank you for sharing this – I bet you squeeze your beautiful daughters extra tight now because of Eliza. Blessings to you and your family.

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19 Anna Liesemeyer May 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Hi its me again:) Just wanted you to know I shared your story on my blog as well. I hope it reaches many!
http://inhonorofdesign.blogspot.com/2010/05/inspiration-emis-birth-story.html
Many blessings to you and your family,
Anna

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20 kelly black August 23, 2010 at 10:36 am

Hello

Please excuse the intrusion. I found this website and felt compelled to contact you all. Your stories echo the very sad path my brother and his wife recently found themselves on. I thought you might like to hear our story?

My name is Kelly, I am an Aunty to a beautiful angel named Max Jacob. He was born asleep on 27th December 2009 he weighed 4lbs 15ozs and was perfect in every way. Our family were completely devastated, not sure where to turn to for help. I helped my brother to arrange Max’s funeral, we sat with tear stained faces trying to find a song, but sadly nothing seemed right how can you find a song for a little person you never properly met. In the end we decided my husband would play guitar but wouldn’t sing, he played Somewhere over the rainbow and Tears in Heaven, it was beautiful. It was the saddest day of my life watching my brother carry the coffin, I though my heart would simply die, but they were so brave and composed. I’m ever so proud of them both.

My husband and I wanted to do something in memory of Max and all the other angels who don’t make it. Money didn’t seem to be enough so we decided to write a song as when we remembered back to Max’s funeral and the sad time we had searching for the right song I knew what we had to do, so we wrote a song that was meant for angel babies. We called it Sweet Dreams our Angels.

My husband is a musician, he recorded the song at the beginning of August, so far the feedback has been outstanding. I want to try and get as many angel parents to hear it as possible as experience has taught me that songs and poems seem to help the Mum’s and Dad’s…that may just be my brother and his wife but if it helped them it may help more?

The song has taken the experiences and feelings that my sister in law has gone through since losing Max. All the proceeds are going to a charity which is set up the North East of England (Newcastle) who make memory boxes for the local hospitals which are given to parents following their loss. this was one of the things that upset my brother and his wife the most (besides Max becoming an angel) that they left the hospital with nothing to show apart from a brown envelope with a polaroid photo in and some ink foot prints on a tatty scrap of paper. This really hurt them, a few days after Max died another girl lost her son in our home town my sister in law has become friends with her, they had talked about the experiences and the need for the hospitals to supply a memory box of some description and so the boxes started. They cost a few £s to make hence why we are giving them any money raised.

So…….

I’ve included a link to a preview of the song, I’m sorry I do not have a link to the full song as its too long to send, I’m not sure what I think you can do but maybe if you have friends who have suffered the death of a child you could mention it to them? I would like to think that the song could help someone with their loss? If this song can help just one person then I know Max didn’t die for nothing, he has made a difference to someone. We miss him every day, his death has changed our family beyond all recognition. His parents are two of the bravest people and I’m honoured to be their sister/ sister in law.

Kind regards

Kelly Black

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21 kelly black August 23, 2010 at 10:37 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swMbXNdgFp4&feature=search

Sorry I forgot the link, my tears got the better of me.

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