The stillness of stillbirth

by Juliette

As a midwife there are certain things you always associate with birth: for me it's the smell of toast. Someone is toasting bread - a baby must have been born! 

There are certain things we tend to all associate with birth - looks of pure love on parents' faces, the softness of a baby's skin, the instinctive curled-up movements the baby makes as they are being held - not yet realising they have been born. 

And with stillbirth all of that is there - those looks of pure love, the softest of skin, the curled up baby, all the things we associate with a baby being born....apart from there is no movement. As a midwife who has had the privilege of caring for parents whose baby has died before birth it feels to me that whilst no words can capture the enormity of what has happened the word 'stillbirth' somehow makes sense. 

Stillbirth is very still - achingly still. All the movement that should be there is missing. No stretching fingers, no wriggling toes, no squirmy still-in-the-womb faces - fingers, toes, a little face all beautifully there but without movement.

And time stands still too.

How could it continue?

How could time or indeed life move forward when this precious baby is not alive?

How is it possible to think about leaving this moment behind?

It just isn't.

And so it seems to me as I witness the journeys of parents who have embarked on another pregnancy after stillbirth - there is simply a carrying forward rather than a leaving behind, an embracing of those unbearably precious still moments and their beloved still baby with them into the days ahead. 

Sometimes we need completely still places to survive the ravages of life. And there seems to be a profoundly still place within all parents I know who have experienced the loss of a baby through stillbirth. 

Perhaps it is a place still enough to hold the magnitude of the loss. 

A place for someone precious beyond words.



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