Mar 13, 2012
I’m subscribed to Dr. Joanne Cacciatore’s blog. She came to my attention after I read a book called Stillborn: The Invisible Death. The book is out of print now, but you can sometimes find it. I emailed the author of the study, Dr. John DeFrain, after I finished it back in 2007 or so, to tell him how much I needed his book.
In 2007, I didn’t know a single person who’d had a stillbirth. At least I didn’t think I did when it happened to me. I remember returning home from the hospital, and in the few days before the funeral, furiously scouring the internet for something…anything…that would help me not be so alone with a 39-week death. I don’t think I even knew I had a “stillbirth” at that point. (By the way, I still don’t love the word “stillbirth” or “stillborn,” but at least it’s a descriptor.)
So this book, this study, was done by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and was basically a survey of a few hundred families who’d suffered a stillbirth.
For me to find a few hundred people…read their words…know I wasn’t alone…know I wasn’t stupid or negligent…broke through like nothing else did at that time. I craved their stories and their experiences like a starving person craves food. I would sit with it and gorge myself until I purged, stuck in the horrible paradox of being without for so long and then not knowing when the next would come.
I don’t know where I’d be without those voices and stories. I needed them to teach me how to swim. There were a lot of people who came alongside and taught me. I would have drowned otherwise. Thanks be to God, I didn’t.
Oh, you grievers out there, how I pray that you have people teaching you how to swim.