‘I whispered to myself, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ The silence in the room was deafening. I held my breath as the wand slid over my stomach.’

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“This is to the woman who wondered if sharing a photo of a dead baby was necessary on a Facebook feed.

Courtesy of Rachel Whalen

Yes. That photo of a dead baby was necessary because that dead baby is MY dead baby.

That dead baby, the one you ‘didn’t have time to look away from’, is my daughter. Her name is Dorothy and I wish I could see her face right now. But I can’t because as you so helpfully pointed out – she’s dead.

After having two miscarriages, Dorothy was supposed to be my chance to finally have the baby I so desperately wanted. I tried to be hopeful, but after two losses it was hard to connect with her. I worried so much that I would lose her too. The whole pregnancy, I felt like I was holding my breath and just waiting to hear the worst. But when I reached my 28th week of pregnancy, I figured we were safe. I felt like I could breathe again and I felt the excitement starting to creep in.

Courtesy of Rachel Whalen
Courtesy of Rachel Whalen

I began imagining what it would really be like to bring home a baby. I never imagined that just two weeks later, she would be stillborn.

Before you looked away from that photo, you only saw a dead baby. When I look at that photo, I see everything I’ve ever wanted and everything I am living without. I am reminded of that night in the hospital, holding my breath as the wand slid over my stomach. I can still hear the way my heart hammered in my ears as I whispered to myself, quite unconvincingly, ‘It’s going to be okay.’

Courtesy of Rachel Whalen

After being diagnosed with severe preeclampsia, I had been in the hospital for a week on bedrest. There was no safer place for me to be. I was being monitored regularly and I had a whole team dedicated to making sure my baby and I were well. Everything had to be okay. It wasn’t possible for this to end in heartbreak.

Everything was not okay and I knew it before the doctor said a word. The silence in the room was deafening. There was no heartbeat. The baby I had waited so long to meet had left and now there would only be goodbyes.

Courtesy of Rachel Whalen

I gave birth to a baby that was no longer living. Some might recoil at the idea of giving birth to a ‘corpse’ but it wasn’t like that at all. A stillbirth is still a birth. When my baby was born, she was placed in my arms and all I saw was my beautiful daughter. She was exactly as I had imagined her to be, except she was no longer living. I was so proud to have brought her into this world, I just only wish she could have stayed.

I miss her so much. Every day of my life I am left wondering what life would be like if she were here. Those who don’t understand might wonder why I can’t move on. Those who know this heartbreak understand that grief is not something you move on from, it’s something you carry with you. It is not a burden, it’s more like something that you build your life around. Much like I would have built my life around Dorothy if she had been living.

I grieve her death because her life meant so much to me. One of the ways I grieve her, and love her, is by sharing her photo. Her life was so brief, but it was not meaningless.

It was necessary to share her photo because she is one of the millions of babies who are stillborn every year. She is the face of a silent crisis that is impacting families worldwide. Stillbirth is real and it is scary, and sometimes it is necessary to talk about the real and scary things in life.

Your comment proved how necessary it is for me to continue sharing Dorothy’s photo.

I will keep sharing her photo, but not because your words hurt or because I need to change your mind. I will keep sharing it because I’m afraid another parent who has lost their baby will read your comment and it will scare them from sharing their own photos and memories. I will keep sharing my dead baby so that they know solidarity if they ever choose to share their story.

I’m nearly finished with this letter, and yet I’m debating whether it is necessary to share this. I read comments like yours daily and it is exhausting to give time to hurtful words like yours. According to you, I should probably just delete this.

However, it feels necessary to put this out there. You will probably never read this, but maybe someone else who makes comments like yours will. Maybe they will realize that those dead babies are the sons and daughters of grieving families.

You can go ahead and turn away from our dead babies. We cannot. And we will not. They are the loves of our life and their death is a reality that we face every day. Whether we share them or whether we keep them for ourselves, we are proud.

So, yes. I think it’s necessary to share a photo of my daughter on social media.

The only thing that seems unnecessary is your comment.”

Courtesy of Rachel Whalen

This story was submitted by Rachel Whalen of Unexpected Family Outing. You can follow her journey on Facebook here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more from strong women dealing with miscarriage:

‘She let out a deep, gut-wrenching wail. ‘I want my baby sister back!’ She cried. In that moment, they saw mama fall apart for the first time.’

‘It was midnight and everyone was asleep. I texted my friend, ‘Come quick! I need you. Lots of blood.’ I prayed she’d wake to the sound of her phone.’

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