Queenie was like many first-time expecting mothers: eating all the right things to nourish the baby, preparing the baby’s room for her little bundle of joy and reading anything she could on the best things she could do as a mom. But then, the unthinkable happened: she lost her baby. She has since written a book, available here, that is helping other women navigate through the pain as well. In her own words, Queenie goes into detail about her feelings and how other mothers can get back on the road to healing.
I am a mother who has faced the unimaginable — something that no mother should have to face in her life. I am the mother of an angel. On Sept. 21, I went into labor at just 33 weeks. I knew something was wrong. I had 7 weeks left. I had planned to see my son in November. I didn’t have my diaper bag ready. I just wasn’t ready!
I drove to the hospital in panic, fear and confusion. I finally made it to the emergency room. As I walked in, I felt as if everything was moving in slow motion. As I was being wheeled into the labor and delivery, I kept thinking, when was the last time I felt my baby boy move? I couldn’t remember. I began to freak out, saying to myself, “Come on Queenie, use your head, think when was the last time you felt him.” I couldn’t come up with an answer.
The doctor came in and told me they would do an ultrasound to make sure my son was OK. The ultrasound tech came and went, leaving me with the worse news I’ve ever gotten. “Sorry, Ms. Chatman” were the words that were spoken to me. Right then and there, I felt defeated, I felt ashamed and I felt powerless.
Then, everything was moving so fast. The nurses started to prep me for a C-section, and I finally realized that my baby boy would soon join me.
At 11:47 p.m., Alexander was born. He was the most perfect little guy I’ve ever seen. He had all his toes and fingers. I was in love. I was blessed to spend some time with him, to hold and kiss him. I was able to sing and talk to him, but that time together was short-lived.
The time came when I had to leave my baby boy. I had to leave the hospital without him.
The feeling of going into the hospital to have your baby and to leave without your child is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. When I got home, I cried for weeks, I screamed, I couldn’t even eat.
Neonatal deaths and stillbirths happen more often than people think. My experience is not uncommon. Stillbirth occurs in 1 out of 160 pregnancies in the United States. The stillbirth rate has remained at about 26,000 each year, according to the National Institutes of Health. Neonatal deaths, when a baby dies within a month of being born, claim thousands. And, the Centers for Disease Control say that, for every 1,000 babies that are born in the United States, six die during their first year.
Yet, the experience is rarely discussed. Family and friends don’t know what to say, and resources for the parents of stillborn children or those who die as infants are few.
As other mothers in my position have, I’m going through my mourning process. I’ve searched and searched for resources for mothers who lose infants, but couldn’t find many. I wanted to find places where someone can tell me how to bear this pain. I want to find a community of mothers who can relate to me. I found a few, but not as many as I imagined.
Because of this, I am determined to spread the word, to let the world know that even though our babies aren’t here, they deserve to be celebrated.
My son Alexander is my motivation to help any other mothers who have been through this heartbreaking reality.
My advice: Condolences are welcome. It makes me feel like my son was present — even if it was just for a little while. Don’t leave…