When I lost the boys, I didn’t really know what to do.  I didn’t understand anything that was happening to me (and still don’t most of the time).  The doctors told me some stuff, my aunt (who lost a baby at 34 weeks) was a great comfort to me but mainly, I was left with the books I left the hospital with and the Internet.  The books were not my cup of tea.  They ranged from very religious to just very sad.  I would get bogged down in how MUCH sadness there was and then I would lose hope for ever being happy again.  Also, “general” books on grieving don’t do it for someone who has lost a child.  It’s a different type of loss – as is a miscarriage.  A miscarriage is not the same type of loss as for someone who has given birth to (and held) a baby who died.  It’s not worse and it’s not better, it’s just different and the two shouldn’t be lumped together (which many support groups and counseling books do).  It’s just not the same.

So, I was left with the Internet and in the selfish spirit of feeling better about what has happened to me – i.e. making this loss have some meaning – here are my suggestions if you or someone you love has lost their baby.

1. Don’t hide from her.  That has been one of the most painful things – feeling lonely and abandoned.  If you don’t know what to say, tell her that.  Most of the time, I just want company.  Being alone allows all of these negative thoughts to bounce around in my head and it’s hard to deal with.

2. Offer to make dinner, bring dinner, clean the house, answer emails, field phone calls, make a donation in the name of the baby, whatever but NO FLOWERS.  You drop off flowers and leave and the flowers are there as a constant reminder of her loss.  And then they die.  If you need to give a living thing, stick with a plant that will survive for a while.  I got a lovely Gardenia when I lost the second baby and even though it reminds me of what happened, the blooms are a pretty reminder.

3. Don’t say, “call me if you need me or you want to talk.”  She won’t.  I didn’t and I don’t.  I can’t see past my pain long enough to pick up the phone and call someone (the exception is my best friend, Michelle and my cousin, Jen).  I think about my boys from the minute I wake to the minute I go to bed.  I have a one track mind but I also don’t want to burden other people with my grief.  Unless you ask me, I will not talk about it.  And don’t say, “how are you doing?”  The answer will be “fine” every time.  Say, “are you okay?  How are you handling things?  Do you want to talk about the baby?”  She’ll tell you if she wants to talk but give her the option.  My friend Frankie said, “I’m going to call you to check on you.  If you want to answer and talk, that’s fine but I want you to know that I am here for you.”  Best thing anyone could have said to me.

4. Help with practical things because in those first few days, I can tell you, I did not function.  If she delivered the baby, her milk will come in.  If this is her first baby, she won’t know what to do because chances are, she didn’t get that far in the “What to Expect When Expecting” book.  Get her cabbage leaves, an ace bandage, ice pack and Tylenol.  Just go to the store and get it for her.  I HATED sending my husband out for that stuff (although he would never complain).  Just save her the pain and take care of your fellow sister.  Also, if you can, go get her something to wear that is not maternity clothes.  My regular clothes didn’t fit but I felt like I was lying if I wore maternity clothes.  Not rational but if you ask anybody in this situation and they will agree.  I didn’t want to shop because there were babies everywhere…or if you do take her shopping, go somewhere with no baby department.  My mother took me to Marshall’s and then stopped at the baby department and started to cry.  Not a good day.

5. Do not send her pictures of your newborn baby – especially if the baby was born around the time her baby was supposed to be born.  As much as I don’t want to admit it, I was angry and jealous and sad and pictures were painful to look at.  If that makes me a bad person, well, so be it but it’s the truth.  Send her an email announcement with no picture, she will be happy for you later.  On that note, if you have a baby and you want to visit with someone who has recently lost their baby, leave the baby at home.  It was a good 4 months before I saw two of my friends’ babies because they didn’t want to cause me pain.  It’s easier once the baby is out of the newborn stage.  You have to remember, the only image I have of my baby was as a tiny newborn and that is a very recent memory.  I don’t want your baby but I don’t need to be reminded of the one I lost either.

6. Do not clean out the baby clothes or furniture for her unless she asks you to.  I needed to go through everything and pack it away.  It was closure for me.  If you want to help her, that’s fine but don’t pack it up while she’s at the hospital.  It will only make her feel like you are erasing the baby and what happened.  Also, in my case, I already had a nursery for Baby B.  Husbands, sisters, mothers, whoever….go into the nursery with her and ask her what she wants to do.  I packed away the clothes but left the crib and changing table.  I just shut the door and I don’t go in there.  See, in my mind, I will need that crib sooner rather than later.

7. Acknowledge her due date.  Ask her if she’s planning something and can you be a part of it.  My biggest fear is that people will forget my boys.  I have no birth certificates and I was only allowed a death certificate for Baby B.  In my mind, the only people who know they existed are me and my husband.  Also, think about Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  My friend Kelly sent me a lovely email on Mother’s Day saying that she was thinking about me and the boys.  It was comforting.

8. If you get pregnant right after she loses her baby, don’t include her on that ecstatic email that you send out to everyone you have ever met.  She will be happy for you but she will be sad for herself.  I know it sounds selfish but you can’t understand this loss – I hope you never have to.  Just wait to tell her unless you think someone else will say something and then call her personally and tell her.  And don’t send her the ultrasound pictures.  For most of us, that is how we found out our babies were dead.  Try to imagine that for a minute and then multiply that pain times 10.  That’s what we see when we look at an ultrasound picture.

9. Take her out when she is ready.  If you take her for exercise, remember, just a little at first until the doctor okays her for more.  Sign up for a yoga class or take her for a walk.  If exercise is not your thing, take her for a pedicure, facial or a massage.  I felt like crap, I looked like crap and I had no motivation to do anything about it.  A good friend actually made an appointment for me to have acupuncture done and I so appreciated it.  A trip to lunch or to get a pedicure may be the only reason she has to get up that morning.  Believe me, I have been there.  It’s very hard to get up in the morning and face the day when you’ve lost your baby(ies).

10. Finally but equally important, don’t forget the dad.  Everyone has catered to me but several of my friends also called my husband separately.  He lost something just as much as I did but now, in his mind, he needs to care for me to.  I encouraged my husband to continue with his karate classes and not sit home with me.  He needed an outlet separate and apart from me.  His first reaction may be to not leave her alone so offer to take her for coffee or come over and sit and talk or go for a walk.  I know hubby calls me on the way to his class and on the way home so he knows that I am okay.

I’m not an “expert,” only someone who has had the crappiest year EVER.  In some ways, that may make me more of an expert than an “expert.”  I’m sorry for you if you are reading this because you lost your baby.  I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone, not my worst enemy.  If you want to talk, email me.  I lost Baby B a mere 4 and 1/2 months ago and I still wake up crying.  I can’t tell you when it will get better, I just can hope with you that it will.

33 Responses to “What to Do When Her Baby Died….”

  1. Rebekah Says:

    I’m so sorry you had to experience the pain and loss twice. Once is more than enough for a lifetime. I can relate to all of your statements- I wish sometimes that I could say all of those things to my friends but hate that they don’t think of them on their own.

  2. KB Says:

    This is SO good. I NEED to tell people what and how to help, but I don’t know how to strike up the conversation on this topic. Thank you.

  3. jaded Says:

    After reading this, i’m convinced that most of the people in my life are a bunch of a*sholes, especially my in-laws. They are top of the line, firstclass a*sholes.

    I feel better.

  4. iambrowneyedgirl Says:

    I’m so sorry for your losses. I can only imagine a tiny fraction of what you’ve gone through. I love the advice you give. We should be able to wear this around our necks or hand out little cards to everyone we meet so that they’ll know how to help us. Thanks for this.

  5. klboone212 Says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. I just delivered my sleeping angel on 12-30-08. (my son). This page is perfect. You hit everything!

  6. Samantha Says:

    My friend was pregnant with twins last year. and after i’d had 2 miscarrages I drifted away from her. Then one of her twiinss died.. She nearly lost the other but thankfully she survived. Apart of me wished I could understand. Then I got pregnant and Sophie Alice came too early. She died in my arms. Now I want to take the wish back. It feels like I died with her. how am I meant to cope? how did you keep from falling?

  7. Becca Clark Says:

    thanks for finding my blog and commenting, so that i could follow you over here. your reflections are powerful and right on the mark (although I have no problem with newborn pictures, but i think that’s because i didn’t have anything that looked like a baby to see. also i have a four year old, and she keeps a lot of the pain at bay, except when she asks if she can kiss my tummy, as she had been doing each morning). Blessings to you as you continue to survive.


  8. […] At Surviving Baby there’s an excellent list of practical to “do’s and don’ts” in the post What to do When Her Baby Dies. […]


  9. Thank you for offering these insights. I would have no idea what to do but wanting to help. Many blessings.

    • mkwewer Says:

      Angela:

      I will tell you what I told my friends, just please be there. Call, email, text..whatever. It feels very lonely when your baby dies because people don’t want to say something to hurt you so they don’t say anything at all. In the first couple of weeks, people surround you and that’s great but then everyone moves on but you are still stuck in your grief. Just be there. That’s my best advice.

  10. Tara Says:

    Hi

    I am sorry you lost both your baby boys that must be very hard. My baby boy was born on April.29,2009 at 1:09 am and died April.29,2009 at 8:40 pm He was alive for 19 hrs and 40 min I miss my son everyday wish he was here wish I had your advise for my friends and family a few weeks ago. But over all they help a lot.

  11. irishdad Says:

    Perfectly written.

    I particularly agree with your point about making phone calls.

    Just keep calling. If she doesn’t pick up just call another time. Don’t think that you’ve called and the missed call has been seen and she’ll return the call. She won’t. She didn’t pick up because she was not capable of talking to you at the time. But she needs you, so keep calling.

  12. m. h. Says:

    hi, i can’t read the other comments on my screen so i don’t know what they say. i’m sorry you had to write this. i’m sorry you had to go through this. i’m sorry i had to read this and go through this too. i have 4 living children. i have 4 dead ones. my “youngest” daughter died aug. 11, 2009. i was 33 weeks. you’d think it’d get easier. it doesn’t. i came home from the hospital 5 hrs. after giving birth to a houseful of noisy -very sad- kids and a husband who had just lost his job and was already struggling emotionally. in the middle of planning her funeral my husband got a job, it was hard to be happy, but we were. our lease was up so we had to find a place to move to. so off we went to househunt after the funeral- literally, still in our funeral clothes we were looking for a house. my milk was letting down, my organs were bouncing around and everywhere i looked someone had a cute cuddly baby! i sound bitter. i’m not. i know God has a plan- i know He knows everything and i can find a deep peace and rest in that. i’m still sad for me, what i lost. what i’ll never have until it is my turn to die. my life didn’t stop for me to grieve. i have a house to pack, kids to feed, a house to find and move into- i’m homeschooling my kids and they are big kids so it takes mental focus everyday. they are still sad, still crying, still missing her. we wanted her, loved her, needed her. all i want to do is stop. to grieve, to be alone- with my husband. but i can’t. life doesn’t stop. babies are everywhere. many of my friends have babies, no one knows what to say to me. everyone assumes, i guess, that i’ve moved on. that because my faith keeps me going that i am ok now. but that’s not so. i’m not ok. i’m sad, i miss my daughter and i feel horribly guilty for crying when i see you so happy with your baby. just because i have 4 others doesn’t mean i didn’t want this one too. and please don’t tell me how terrible it is to be up all night because your baby wouldn’t sleep. i’ll trade with you! don’t tell me your pregnancy is “inconvenient” and you want an abortion! i’ll take that “inconvenience” for you! and please, please,please remember my due date! go with me to the cemmetary, take my big kids for me so i can cry alone. it’s been 4 weeks and i’m putting one foot in front of the other not because i can but because i have to. because life doesn’t stop for me. some one please, just cry with me.

    thanks for having a place for me to ramble… i would never dare to say this to someone’s face. but i needed to say it. being sad doesn’t take away from my faith…. it just makes me human. and it’s ok. sometimes, i don’t want to be strong.

  13. marie Says:

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Your words of advice to friends and family really hit the mark.
    I lost my baby on 14th December 2008, I was 38 weeks pregnant. He was our first child and I was so excited and scared when my waters broke.I had to have an emergency caesarian as I had a prolapsed umbilical cord.Baby Daniel was breathing but only for seconds.I held my dead baby in my arms and felt so much love for him ,so perfect . I felt as if I was in a daydream for months or should I say nightmare.Over 12 months on and everyday he fills my thoughts and I still don’t understand why it happened .Friends find it really hard to mention so mostly avoid the subject. Even my husband can’t talk to me about it anymore. I want to talk about Daniel as he was our son even if it was for a very short time.I feel like a different person who has a huge part of her missing.The thing that keeps me going is the thought that we may have a child one day please God make it soon. Sorry for rambling but it really helps. Bless you and you family.


  14. […] At Surviving Baby there’s an excellent list of practical to “do’s and don’ts” in the post What to do When Her Baby Dies. […]

  15. Sharon Bentley Says:

    I just wanted to tell you that i am sorry for your loss and i dont know how you feel but i do feel for you,I lost my daughter to trisomy 18 on november 4th 2009.She was stillborn she was alive when we got started with labor but she was gone before they got her out.It was the worst day of my life she now would be about 8 months old and it still bothers me every day it was me and my husbands first child. I have a 4 yearold girl from a previous relationship. Me and my husband have been torn apart by this tragic event and i feel so alone especially after we had her funeral and i felt like i had so much support then two weeks after she was gone it was like everone dissapeared and it bothers my husband so much that we have had lots of fights and i feel like he is really suffering too. When we found out she had a possibality of death all of it began and i feel like it has spiraled downward ever since. God is my life and my daughter as well he gave me lots of piece i need him now more than ever. God bless

  16. Janet Shaw Says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. My daughter is carrying a child that is not expected to survive. Our entire family is in disbelief and mourning and he has not even arrived yet. The grief and pain are unimaginable.

  17. Anon Says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this.
    My friend lost her baby just yesterday and myself and all our group of friends are paralysed for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Who can know what is right except someone who has lived through this terrible pain.
    Thank you. Few have been brave enough to do what you have done and it will help others.

    • mkwewer Says:

      I’m so sorry for your friend’s loss. I would also encourage you to check out http://www.glowinthewoods.com
      They have a similar list posted. Also, it will be a good resource for your friend when she needs to talk to others like her.
      Best thing you can do for her is just be there. Even if you have to say, “I don’t know what to say,” it’s better than saying nothing at all – I promise.
      Hugs.

  18. Evelien Says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I lost my boy during birth last January and the loneliness seems to hit me even harder now there is almost a year gone by. People seem to forget us as a family, seem to forget the pain that´s still here… And you´re so right: The hardest thing to do while grieving is pick up the phone, call a loved one and thell them you feel like crap. I only did that 1 time and it was the most uncomfortable thing ever!!

  19. Jess Says:

    Thanks for posting this. You are so incredibly accurate on your advice. We lost our little girl 4 months ago during labor, not sure what life looks like now. Still pretty sad.

  20. Eileen Says:

    I gave birth to my girls one week and a day ago. They were born at 23 weeks and were so small. They died in our arms. I don’t know what do with myself now. I’m just so sad all the time. It’s hard for me to think about anything else. It’s hard for me to do anything else. My husband keeps trying to find things for me to do around the house but I just don’t see the point. Nothing really takes my mind off of them. I miss them so much and it hurts every single day. I don’t think I can find meaning in any of this because I don’t think there was meaning. What could be the meaning of losing two beautiful little girls? I want to feel better so bad but I don’t know when that will happen. I’m just so tired of being so sad and not knowing what to do.

  21. Faiza Says:

    I also had to give birth to a stillborn baby girl. All of the above that you mentioned are true. I also felt like this. And the people around me did not know what to do to make it easier.

  22. Dawn Says:

    Your pain will never go it will just ease with time. You’ll never forget the baby you’ll just learn to live without them. My baby would have been 33 last week he died unexpectedly at 5 days old, I still love him so much even though I went on to have 4 more who are all healthy adults. Have just heard my nieces baby has died inside her at 38 weeks she is labouring at this moment. We all need a shoulder so be sure to offer yours if you know someone suffering x

  23. DevMom Says:

    I lost my baby boy (my third after a set of twin boys) 19 days ago. It was the WORST day of my life. I have been through every emotion in the world all at once. I feel guilty, like I have done something wrong. My husband and I separated during the pregnancy (we are still separated) and my parents blame HIM for the stress he put on me. I feel lonely and alone, as none of my close circle of friends can relate. I did find some associates, thanks to FB, who had experienced something like this. They were able to help me heal a little more everyday. All I can think of now is having another one before my biological clock stops ticking. And my husband doesn’t want to. I feel double the loss- losing my husband and losing my baby. The grief is deafening.

  24. Kassandra Says:

    I am terribly sorry for your losses. I am an angel mommy myself. I have had 2 miscarriages, a stillbirth, and more recently miscarriage of twins. The first 2 miscarriages were with my first husband and I didn’t know anywhere to turn to for support other than my family. With my now husband we lost our first son, Benjamin, in 2007 when he was born still. It’s so very important not to forget the dad. My husband was in just as much pain as I was. We still talk about Benjamin and have pictures of him. Our second son, our miracle baby, knows about his brother and talks about him. We miscarried our twin in March of this year. It was just as hard as loosing any of the others. The pain is real, and it’s forever. For me, it just doesn’t hurt constantly as the time goes on.

  25. tina Says:

    My best friend lost her baby three months ago- she died 10 days after she was born. We were pregnant together. Now I have a baby and she does not. I feel horrible. I want to help her heal, support her, but I have the baby to take care of and cannot get him watched very often. I don’t know what to do. I feel like a horrible best friend. I’ve watched people go in and bring her food and take her out, and she only wants to hang out with people without kids- understandable… but i have kids. I love her dearly and I loved the baby in her belly. What can I do to help her? What can i say?

    • mkwewer Says:

      Thanks for your comment. It’s important that your friend know that you are there for her but that you can’t be there with her all the time. And trust me, she doesn’t want to see that sweet little baby of yours. It will likely be some time before she spends anytime with your child. Just tell her that you are sorry, call her often – even if she doesn’t take your calls. When you can, stop by and spend time with her. Also, ask her if there are things that you can do to help her from your house. Other than that, just stay a part of her life. She doesn’t want to see you now but that will change.

  26. Diana Says:

    I just lost my twins babies 8 days ago. Thank you for your article is very helpful and true. After trying for 5 years to get pregnant 4 IVF cicles we finally got it we were so exited and looking forward to start our familly at 23.5 weeks I went into labor do to short cervix my baby Jacob die January 9 my baby Matthew die January 10. This is already been the worse year of my life the pain in so overwelming i feel my life have ended. I never want to try to get pregnant again I dont think I can go thru this again.

  27. Brenda Says:

    You are a champion!! I am deeply sorry for your loss. My friends are facing losing their baby in the hours to come due to a severe genetic disorder and so I went online to find out how to help them. I lost my daughter July 1, 2010, three weeks before she was to turn 14. She was undiagnosed with several severe special needs but the sunshine of our family. The loss of a child is devastating, world shattering and life altering. Thank you for your honest and genuine advice, you are so right with everything you advised. So many people in my life disappeared, and some that I wasnt overly close to were the ones who showed up day after day, week after week, month after month. The pain does not go away, nor does it ever diminsh, but somehow your mind and heart find a way to survive inspite of it. I cry regularly, and thats ok. Life does take on a new “normal”, and eventually there will be things you will find joy in, but it takes a long time and for me at least, the grief is always lurking just under the surface. My heart goes out to you and your husband, you have a tremendous amount of compassion to use your grief to help others support their loved ones thru their loss.

  28. Dianna Mupeti Says:

    I lost my twin boys 3 weeks and 1 day ago. I was 20 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I gave birth to them and held them in my arms for their brief moments of life. I don’t know what to do now. I feel like a different person. How is it possible to love someone so much that you only knew for 5 min??? I cry everyday. Ill never be the same. I wish someone would just take over my life and tell me what to do because I can’t do it anymore. I’ve never felt pain like this in my life.

  29. yvonne Says:

    Hi,
    Lost my baby at 34wks feb 22nd 2013 ..its getting harder with time.its a new kind of pain everyday the part abt the birth certificate in yo letter made me cry I see me going thru it all once more.I. Love to look at my first son’s birth certificate it means so much to me now.the baby I lost was baby son number 2.love him and miss him and no this pain won’t go away.I just thank God he made me strong to handle it hope I am handling it.xx


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