Monday, July 22, 2013

Life, loss, and celebrations of love

I have written and re-written this post several times. I felt some drafts were too personal and others too impersonal. I have so many thoughts and emotions, but here are the ones that I would like to share:

Today is Julian’s birthday. The day, my nephew was stillborn. Today I honor the life that he lived in his mommy’s womb. Today I send love into the world in honor of him. His life and birth have changed me in ways that I still am struggling to comprehend. Today I have greater compassion for families who experience the loss of their precious little ones. Today I have greater understanding of the grieving process, though not intimately and daily tied to it as a parent would, I have experienced it in waves and ripples as an Auntie does.

Today I send prayers out into the Universe for all those who experience stillbirth or the loss of a child. Today I send love to Julian’s mommy K and daddy T. K is a public health professional and T, an Infectious Disease Fellow, and together, they are one of our closest couple-friends. We rely on them in good times and in bad. And we are honored that they rely on us as well. Our friendships have grown over the years and we now regard them as family; especially over this last year.

As I reflect 1 year after Julian’s birth, I remember rubbing K’s baby bump, hearing her tell us about his development, all of the parent discussions we had had while we and they were pregnant (such as how to choose a Doula, risks and benefits of circumcision, feeling like a milk-maiden while breastfeeding). I remember the pain and grief we experienced learning of Julian’s stillbirth. I remember not knowing what to say or do. I remember our first conversations when he was born. I remember our continued conversations after his birth.

So today I celebrate Julian’s birth. I still wish we could have held him. I still wish he could have breathed and been nurtured by T and K, but those months he lived in his mommy’s womb were filled with soo much love. As I celebrate Julian’s birthday my heart is filled with joy that T and K will be welcoming a new baby to the world this January. In many ancient spiritual traditions, there is the belief that those who are lost are always with us, that they watch over us, and that they return to us when they are ready. This belief comforts me and gives me strength. I know that this experience with loving and losing Julian has fortified my friendship with his parents, it has increased my compassion for those dealing with loss and has made me more loving and understanding. In this I celebrate Julian’s life, I grieve our loss, and I celebrate the love that we all have shared.


  1. Thank you for sharing your grieving and love in this beautiful post on Julian's birthday. Though somewhat of a different topic, something about your lovely post made me want to recommend a book to by Vicki Forman called This Lovely Life.

  2. What a beautiful post. You can feel the love through your words. Thanks for sharing precious baby Julian's story with us.

  3. Thank you for this post. I was recently a part of a c-section involving a still born. I couldn't help shedding tears but wondering if the parents preferred a stronger physician with more emotional control. Your post has helped me put a closure to that experience. Thank you.

  4. Beautiful post. I can't imagine experiencing this but you have described it with so much heart and soul.

  5. @buttonchops I am a pediatrician and often wondered the same thing about handling my emotions as a physician. My daughter was stillborn in January 2012. One of the greatest blessings to my husband and me on the day of her delivery was hearing our doctor cry as he and our nurse prepared her body for us to hold.

    This is a beautiful post. Thank you, Mommabee, for sharing.

  6. @buttonchops and Dr. Katie: I'm an anesthesiologist that had a similar experience several years back. I, too, was part of a c-section where the baby died. Trying to hold it together and remain a professional, supporting caregiver to the parents while their newborn was unsuccessfully resuscitated was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. As a parent myself, my heart was breaking for them. My tears were flowing and there was nothing I could do about it. Several years passed, and I was honored when that same couple allowed me to take care of them when they returned for the delivery of their next child. It was an emotional day, but very beautiful, remembering and celebrating the child that had passed. We cried that day too- but tears of happiness as well.

    Mommabee, thank you for posting. Hugs to you and your family for your loss.

  7. Thank you all for your comments. Thanks Doctor T for your recommendation. I am adding it to my "Humanism in Medicine" self reading list that includes books like: "Far From the Tree", "The Private Worlds of Dying Children", and "Bloom: finding beauty in the unexpected".

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