‘We piled on the bed. Mike had his arm wrapped around our Dorothy bear. She’s always in our bedroom, but doesn’t always make it onto the bed with us. Tonight she did.’: Mother’s emotional tribute to stillborn daughter

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“Today was a long day. Sticky, hot, and rife with emotions. All of us are a bit on the edge and needing a lot more care than any one of us has the energy for.

So tonight, we piled on the bed and read a stack of books together. While we were laying there, I noticed Mike had his arm wrapped around our Dorothy bear. It’s the weighted keepsake bear that was made especially for our family and while she’s always in our bedroom, she doesn’t always make it onto the bed with us. But tonight, she did and so I took a picture.

Afterwards I was looking at the picture and thinking about how it’s so comforting when all of us can be represented in a photo. Anyone who knows our story would understand who that bear symbolizes.

But if you don’t know our family and you don’t that our first daughter was stillborn, then you might just see a family of three and a teddy bear. You might assume that bear belongs to my toddler daughter. You might give that bear little thought–never knowing how much that bear means and who she stands for.

It is such a privilege to have a photo of your family that so clearly represents your family. To have a photo with all of the people in your family must be the most amazing feeling. You could share that photo with anyone and have them see your family for exactly who they are. A photo without any keepsake bears tucked under arms or framed photos taking the place of the person who should be there. I can only imagine what that’s like.

I can only imagine what it’s like to say that I have two daughters and then be able to introduce both of them. To talk about my family without having to use words like ‘dead’ and ‘stillbirth.’ To say that we are a family of four and then share a photo showing four smiling faces.

All I will ever want is for my family to look the way I know us to be. I want the world to view us as a family of four without any explanations or justifications. What a privilege that would be.

But it is not my privilege–my privilege is different. I have the privilege to share a story of love and motherhood that is so devastatingly beautiful. A story filled with a love so great that it extends beyond anywhere that I can reach.

That is my privilege and I carry it proudly. But I would trade it all for a photograph of four smiling faces.”

Courtesy Rachel Whalen

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by of An Unexpected Family Outing. Follow Rachel on Instagram here.  The article originally appeared here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

Read more from Rachel here:

‘The first time I flushed was in the bathroom of my old apartment. Just 3 days before, I had been standing on that same linoleum floor staring at two blue lines.’

‘Do you want to tell me about her?’ I will never forget the way you leaned in, just like we were friends, and asked me about Dorothy.

‘The purple blanket isn’t yours. Even though it covered your car seat when you left the hospital. Even though you sleep with it every night. It’s not yours.’

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