Monday, January 5, 2015

I Labored Too

I've begun to notice something with stillbirth and fatal diagnoses; people tend to assume we don't labor. I'm not sure what it is or why people think that if your precious angel has died in the womb or has a small chance of survival, we as mamas don't have to go through labor. Many assume or forget and speak about labor as if you haven't experienced it or give advice for labor on a subsequent pregnancy.

Now I don't blame anyone whatsoever for this thought process because yes, it does seem cruel or horrific for a mother to go through the pains and hardships of labor when her precious baby has died or may die soon after birth. This is just a belief that would make sense and for someone who has never experienced the horror of losing a child or been close to someone who has, it's a comfortable thought. It makes things seem less messy. It makes things just a tiny bit 'easier' to believe. At one point, I read by another child-loss mama that people think it is a clean, surgical procedure. I'm here to tell you, it's anything but clean and easy. All of us who have experienced this can vouch for that and just like any other mom, we each had a very different birth, none of which were anywhere close to 'easy'.

My birth with Gianna lasted five days. Thankfully, the hospital staff was absolutely incredible and actually picked up shifts/worked doubles so the same ones could stay with us throughout our birth. Now THAT'S compassion! They honored my wishes to keep things as natural as possible through the whole process and let me labor in the shower, on the birthing ball, go take a walk, or keep the lights dimmed with relaxing music. Not to mention my wonderful doula teaching my eager husband how to apply counter pressure on my lower back during the worst of my contractions (I had dreadful back labor!). I could truly go on for hours about my birth experience with Gianna, but one thing is sure, once she was here, everything was ok in that moment.

She arrived quietly into the world, butt first, to the background piano music of Ave Maria, one of my favorite songs.

Even though I had an amazing support team (which not every mama is blessed with, unfortunately), it was the most grueling days of my life. Not because of the physical pains of labor, but the mental aspect. The first night, after the news of her passing, was the hardest emotionally. Even when we know our baby has a life-limiting condition, it doesn't make his or her passing any easier-not in the slightest.

I am birthing my dead baby.

That's the reality.

But you should remember that this is something you and your precious angel will conquer together. Another experience, a memory, you have as a mother and child. You can speak to your baby, even if he or she has already passed. Find comfort in knowing your angel can hear you from somewhere. I spoke with Gianna when I was alone laboring in the shower at the hospital after she already passed. It gave me so much peace to spend that quality time with my baby in my womb right before she was born.

And if you're blessed with precious time with your angel here on earth, cherish every moment. Even if it's just a few minutes.

Just know dear, sweet mama, that we understand the pains of labor you are about to endure when your child comes. We understand the agony of birthing your beautiful child who will pass shortly after birth, or a special angel who has passed warm in his or her mothers womb. I'm not here to tell you it'll be easy or clean or quick or simple. Unfortunately, it'll be anything but. Aside from all the hardship, we can embrace our birth journey. We can embrace every pain, every feeling. Above all else, we can embrace the time we get (which includes time that your darling baby is comfortable in your womb).

We gave birth, and it was grueling, painful, emotional, draining, and absolutely, positively, breathtakingly beautiful.

~ ~ ~

Christine Russo is a wife to an amazing, supportive husband, and a mommy to Angel Gianna Marie, her first child. She carried Gianna after receiving a fatal diagnosis halfway into her pregnancy. Through the love and spirit of their special daughter, who means the world to them, they wish to help support other families who have to say goodbye to a piece of their heart.


Anonymous said...

This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story. I think people tiptoe around the fact that we labored because they think it will make us sad to think about, but as you said, we gave birth and it was beautiful.

Shauna said...

When my doctor told me that I would have to go through the normal labor and delivery after I was told my precious angel baby had died--I was angry--it was so unfair! I got an epidural right away because I didn't want to feel anything--only problem is that epidural did nothing for the anguish in my heart. I sat there hour after hour just watching it rain outside my window. Then right before her birth a beautiful double rainbow appeared outside my window and my epidural wore off so I experienced all the pain of pushing and giving birth. I cried through all of it. Then when they put my precious little angel baby Janessa on my tummy I was instantly filled with peace. I am grateful I got to feel all the pain at the end because it helps me to remember her and that I did give birth to her even though she was born sleeping in the arms of God. <3

Sarah St. Onge said...

What a beautiful testament of your love for Gianna. <3

Unknown said...

Beautiful. Thank you. I was very perplexed by all of the pregnancy and labor advice with my rainbow from people who knew I had already birthed one child. What you said about people not wanting to believe

Unknown said...

Like mother, like daughter: so amazing and strong! You are such blessings to this world, XOXO

Sarah St. Onge said...

This was one item that I didn't have to deal with. I had a C-section.... I know that before my loss this just wasn't something that I even thought about. Now I do- this is such an important message to share. Thank you!

blessed said...

Oh my gosh, thank you so spoke the words I have been dying to tell people about the birth of my precious Abbey ♡
Thinkin g of you....I know your pain

Kellie said...

This is beautifully written and so daughter was also given a terminal diagnosis and she was born sleeping. I was induced and even though my "real" labor was not that long (at least not long compared to 44 hours with my son), the pushing stage was 6+ hours looooong! It was hard, and even though we didn't have monitors on, I knew when she passed. It was devastating but also it only made me more determined to push her out. Those six hours felt like minutes and I would have pushed for six more...I would have done anything for her. Every minute, every contraction, every tear and every second holding her was worth it. I miss her like crazy, but wouldn't trade her for anything.

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