About 1% of all pregnancies worldwide are affected with a stillbirth. In the United States alone, about 24,000 babies are born stillborn each year. Those are staggering numbers, and it shows that women are not alone if they’ve suffered from this type of loss.
However, many who haven’t been affected find the subject to be uncomfortable to talk about. For those who have suffered through losing their babies, it’s a subject that has to be talked about – both to know they aren’t alone, and to allow themselves to grieve through such a sudden, terrible loss.
Any pregnancy 20 weeks or more that results in a fetal death is known as a stillbirth. Stillbirths can be early, up to 27 weeks, late, between 28 and 36 weeks, or term, at 37 weeks of pregnancy or more.
Regardless of when it happens, it is equally as devastating to the parents who once dreamed of their son or daughter’s name, nursery colors, their first day home, and the fun birthday celebrations and milestones to come throughout their childhood.
Unfortunately, many stillbirths still happen without a known cause, even with all of the medical technology available. This, perhaps, is what makes them so heartbreaking. Many parents suffer a significant loss without ever knowing what might have caused it.
For anyone who has gone through a stillbirth, or knows someone who has, pay attention to these stories from real moms who choose to share them. They are extremely heartbreaking, yet so important in spreading awareness and keeping the memories of these angels alive.
15 Targeted By Internet Trolls
Imagine having not one, but three stillborn babies. Triplets you thought you’d be holding in a few more months, who instead passed around the three month mark of mom’s pregnancy. That’s what happened to Amanda Morrison, who lost all three of her babies, born stillborn, in 2016.
Then, imagine being targeted by internet trolls who called Amanda a “baby killer” and “psychopath” for sharing photos of her triplets on her social media accounts, in the hope of reaching out to other women going through a similar situation.
It happened, and it’s incredibly unfortunate for the grieving mother, who used fertility treatments after years of being unable to get pregnant. “'I had been trying to conceive for 14 years without success. Seeing my angel babies were the same emotions that any mother would feel. I was in love like no one could explain but another mother.”
Unfortunately, the world didn’t accept her way of mourning, which included a small shrine in her home dedicated to her angel babies.
14 The Midwife Who Wouldn’t Listen
Angela Owens, already a mom of one, couldn’t wait for her newest daughter to be born. At 37 weeks, she was close to birth time. But, everything took a turn for the worse when Angela was at the store grocery shopping and suddenly had severe abdominal pain.
She ended up in the hospital, only to be told by a midwife that her situation wasn’t urgent, and she could return home. Angela refused to leave, knowing something was definitely wrong. Hours later, she was finally checked, and a fetal heartbeat monitor proved that Angela’s baby no longer had a heartbeat.
Angela fully believes, with good reason, that her daughter, Ella, would be alive today if she had been shown the proper medical care. She blames the hospital’s lower weekend staffing resources on the reason her baby girl didn’t get the care she needed, which could have prevented her passing.
Angela has since had another baby daughter, and continues to fight for legislation that could have saved Ella’s life.
13 A Heartbreaking Morning
In September 2015, Natalie Morgan delighted in her baby girl’s kicks and squirms one night before she went to sleep. Her daughter, Eleanor Josephine, was fairly active during Morgan’s pregnancy, and she even posted up-close videos of her belly dancing with Eleanor’s movements.
But, one night, Natalie went to sleep and when she woke up, she knew something was wrong. Normally, she’d feel Eleanor moving around. That morning, she felt nothing. She used her fetal heartbeat monitor, hoping to pick up her baby’s heartbeat and calm her concerns. She heard nothing.
A trip to the hospital confirmed what she already knew: Eleanor had passed as her mom slept the night before. Natalie delivered Eleanor that morning, and got to hold her baby girl for photos that she now cherishes for keeping her baby’s memory alive.
Natalie continues to urge other parents to enjoy every single moment they have with their babies, in honor of those who aren’t so lucky.
12 Baby Kicked The Night Before
Hayley Greenhouse went in for her routine 37-week doctor appointment one morning. Her pregnancy had been fine, with no complications or concerns. Each week, she’d gone to the OBGYN for updates, and her baby girl had been moving around and growing steadily.
Hayley thought nothing of it when she didn’t feel her baby move around that morning. In fact, she felt her usual movements and kicks the night before, when she was laying down for bed. She expected this doctor appointment to be as simple as all the others.
Instead, her doctor found no movement or heartbeat when he checked Hayley with the fetal Doppler. Hoping that it was just because her growing baby had less room to move around, Hayley headed to a room to get an ultrasound, just to make sure.
Unfortunately, Hayley’s daughter unexpectedly passed away. Hayley chose to deliver her that day, so she wouldn’t have to go home and think about the tragedy.
11 Big Sister Called For A Doctor
Jennifer gave birth to her angel baby in November 2009, naming her son Abraham Amuhaya Imbula. Jennifer can, to this day, recall everything about her delivery: the quiet, the smell, the lights, and the last moments she got to spend together, with her son.
Jennifer has a 2 year old daughter named Gabriella, at the time, who also came to the hospital to meet her baby brother. When she saw him, she insisted that her baby brother was sick and needed a doctor right away. She even ran out into the hall to call a doctor for her brother.
Jennifer made sure to get plenty of photos of her son and his family together, including his protective big sister, Gabriella. For Abraham’s memorial service, Jennifer remembers Gabriella giving him a small version of her favorite stuffed elephant for him to be buried with. Jennifer continues to bond with her son through memories and photographs of his birth.
10 An Almost-Double Tragedy
Ben Fogel, an English television personality and writer, opened up to the world about the devastating loss of his 3rd child in 2014. His wife, Marina, was about 8 months pregnant at the time, and Ben was in another country celebrating a birthday with his family.
When he got the news that something was wrong, he quickly got on a plane to be with his wife. However, he soon learned that his wife, too, was on the brink of a tragedy. Not only had their baby passed, but Marina had suffered a hemorrhage that came close to killing her.
Marina, fortunately, survived, and she and her husband have decided not to have any more children. Instead, they make the most out of their time with their son and daughter. They also honor their angel son with an intimate ceremony on the anniversary of his birth, as a special way for the parents to bond with him, and with each other.
9 The Mom Who Didn’t Know Where To Turn
Star of Celebrity Big Brother, Kim Woodburn, recently opened up about her angel baby, who she gave birth to about 5 decades ago, when she was just 23 years old. At the time, Kim said that having a child out of wedlock was highly frowned upon in society. She had no idea where to turn, but planned on keeping her baby anyway.
When she was about 6 months pregnant, though, Kim gave birth to her son, who wasn’t breathing when he was delivered. Kim felt scared, alone, and devastated over the loss. Not knowing what to do, she gave her newborn son a burial in the park.
Kim says she can never go back to the place where it all happened, since it’s still too painful. As a means of therapy, she wrote about the incident in her 2006 autobiography, triggering the police to open a case to investigate the incident. However, they decided not to press charges because of the circumstances surrounding Kim at the time.
8 Unexpected Loss After Procedure
Becky Allen was at the 20-week mark in her pregnancy with twins, when they were diagnosed with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). This means that they shared the same placenta, resulting in one twin getting more nutrients and blood than the other.
Becky underwent a laser surgery to help correct the problem. Unfortunately, she soon found out that one of her twins had passed during the procedure. Soon after, she began experiencing intense stomach pains, which ended up being contractions. Becky delivered her twins on the way home from the hospital that day. Her other son was born an angel, too.
Since then, Becky and her partner, Adam, have helped raise awareness for CuddleCot. The organization provides a special blanket for stillborn babies that keeps their bodies at a regulated temperature to allow parents to spend more time with their babies after birth, and also giving them enough time to grieve.
7 The Mom With Two Angel Babies
In 2010, Jessica Nelles spent 12 hours delivering her baby boy, Tiberius, who was born a stillborn at 37 weeks. She and her husband buried their son just one week after learning that his heart was no longer beating.
About 3 months later, the couple was expecting again. Although she remained optimistic about the pregnancy, Jessica, of course, was worried about a similar fate. Unfortunately, she was struck with horrifying news again, at 18 weeks pregnant, that her baby boy would most likely not live to term. Jessica still chose to continue with the pregnancy, giving birth to her son, Jacob. He lived just over two days before his parents had to make the decision to take him off life support.
Nine months later, Jessica found out she was expecting her third child, a little girl. She gave birth to a healthy, full-term baby who she named Phoebe Faith. Jessica continues to battle Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to her losses, but she couldn’t be more happy to have a healthy baby girl with two angel brothers to watch over her.
6 A Symbolic Couch
Former model, Elaina Bellis, gave birth to an angel son named Lincoln, not long after she and her partner moved in together. Elaina finds solace in her sectional couch, which she says is her favorite piece in her home. It was on this couch that Elaina shared the news about her pregnancy with Lincoln with her family and friends, talked about it to her partner, James, and daydreamed about what the future would hold.
After Lincoln’s passing, Elaina and James found out that they were expecting again. This time, they were expecting twins, both girls. Elaina uses the couch to spend time with her babies, bond with them, and talk to them about their big brother that they’ll never get to meet.
For Elaina, her home is all about being able to tell a story, and her couch, perhaps, is the piece with the most stories. It’s here, after all, that everything seems to come full circle for Elaina and her family.
5 Mourning The Wrong Baby
Stacey Lamb suffered a devastating loss when she found out her son, Daniel, passed away in her womb when she was only 20 weeks pregnant. Stacey got her son’s name tattooed on her and set up a small grave for him with a headstone that read his name.
It wasn’t until 5 years later that Stacey would learn the baby she actually gave birth to was a girl. The nurse, apparently, had incorrectly stated the baby was a boy at the hospital. Female reproductive organs can, as babies, be so swollen that they look more male, and Stacey thinks that’s where the mistake could have been made. Stacey learned the truth when she requested her medical records for Daniel, which stated that Stacey’s baby was a girl.
Stacey has since been struggling with what to do next, since the ordeal has made her grieve in new ways. She’s considering changing the headstone and her tattoo, and possibly even the baby’s name on birth and death records.
After the popular BBC One show, EastEnders, filmed an episode focusing on stillbirths, one of the actors, Rakhee Thakrar, decided to spread the word about stillbirth to her followers. On Twitter, she posted a photo of Zaair’s name, the baby born a stillborn on the show, with the caption: “For all the babies and children that don’t get a tomorrow #SayTheirName”.
What followed was grieving parents who wanted to share their stories of their angel babies who didn’t get to grow up. Fans posted their angel’s names with the #SayTheirName hashtag to open up an important conversation about stillbirths and how it affects families.
Not only did the hashtag help those in similar situations connect, but it also opened up a dialogue for those who haven’t been in the situation to show their support and let others know they care. Thakrar has since set up a dedicated Twitter page for the sole purpose of sharing stories of stillbirths.
3 Gone, But Not Forgotten
You likely have heard of the Duggars, the Christian family who have 19 children. But, as mom, Michelle Duggar, will tell you, she has “21. Nineteen here, and two in Heaven”. Her 2nd pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage, and her 21st pregnancy resulted in a stillborn baby girl, named Jubilee Shalom Duggar. She was born on December 11th, 2011, and the family continues to keep her in their prayers and keep her memory alive.
The Duggars had a series of photos taken when Jubilee was born, thanks to the nonprofit organization, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. They handed out some of the photos during Jubilee’s memorial service, and intended on keeping them private among the Duggar family.
However, since then, one of the Duggar daughters, Jill, has decided to keep Jubilee’s memory alive by publicly sharing some of the photos with fans of the family. The Duggar family hopes that, by honoring little Jubilee, others will be open to having more dialogues about stillbirth and feel comfortable sharing their stories.
2 Staying Strong For Big Sister
Sarah Jane Young chronicled her pregnancy with her 2nd baby girl, Charlotte Rose, on her Instagram account for her many followers to share in her joy. Unfortunately, when Sarah was 21 weeks along in her pregnancy, Charlotte’s heart stopped beating. Sarah delivered her tiny baby girl, but she made sure to get some beautiful photos of the short time she and her family got to spend with her.
Charlotte’s big sister, Mia Grace, got to meet her baby sister. One of the touching photos shows Mia kissing baby Charlotte as Sarah held her and Dad looked on. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s a truly powerful photo that shows just how devastating this type of loss can be for a family.
Sarah says “if one positive thing can come from losing our daring Charlotte Rose, let it be the reminder to all that EVERYONE has a story. Never judge, never compare and just be. I look forward to brighter days”.
1 A Surviving Twin
This is a stillbirth story with a twist of hope. Emma Comito gave birth to her twin babies at 38 weeks, a boy and a girl. In the delivery room, Emma prepared for her C-section as her nervous husband waited nearby. Her baby boy, Tobias, was delivered successfully and was whisked down the hall to the nursery to wait for his twin sister.
Unfortunately, Imogene-Kate never got to meet her brother. She was delivered stillborn, and, although Emma wasn’t told right away, she could tell by the silence in the room that something was very wrong. Her twin baby girl had passed, thought to be the result of a placenta abruption during her C-section.
Tobias is alive and healthy, though, and reminds the parents just how blessed they are. The parents have just a few photos and memories of their baby girl, but Tobias keeps her memory alive always, since a little piece of his twin sister is always with him.
Sources: Buzzfeed.com, Cosmopolitan.com, DailyMail.co.uk, DailyRecord.co.uk, DailyStar.co.uk, Express.co.uk, LifeNews.com, ManchesterEveningNews.co.uk, Mirror.co.uk, MotherMag.com, MumCentral.com.au, NYTimes.com, NowToLove.com.au, People.com, ThatsLife.com