Empty swings on a playground | Ways child loss is different than other losses | Child Loss Grief Counseling | Infant and Pregnancy Loss | Evolve Counseling | Centennial CO 80112

The death of a baby is earth-shattering.  It doesn’t matter if you lose a baby before or after birth.  It hurts so deeply and is very different than any other loss.  As a society, we tend to avoid talking or thinking about babies who have died.  And who can blame us?  It’s uncomfortable.  But the reality is, people experience the death of a baby more often then we realize.

With the uncomfortableness of talking or thinking about babies dying, comes an inability to understand and support those who are suffering from the death of a baby.  When we don’t understand the pain and suffering, we can wind up saying or doing things which cause more pain without even realizing it.

Those in the baby loss community, or as I say the crappy baby loss club,  cannot escape thinking about it.  And since nobody else likes to think or talk about it, they often are misunderstood, resulting in feelings of isolation.  Leaving them to suffer in silence.

What people often don’t realize is the death of a baby is like no other loss.  Unless you are unfortunate enough to have suffered the death of a baby, you might not understand why.  Here are 5 ways the death of a baby is different than other losses.

1. When your baby dies, so does your hopes, dreams, plans, and future

From the moment the little line on the pregnancy test confirms you are pregnant, you start planning your new life.  You think of how life will be different.  You start planning.  Daydreaming about what your little boy or girl will be like.  The entire world shifts with the knowledge of being pregnant.  It doesn’t matter if the baby dies and is miscarried the next day.  Those dreams have already begun to form.  And with the loss of the baby goes the loss of the future with them.

2. There are little to no memories of them you can share with others

One way we typically grieve is to share memories about the person with other people who knew them.  It is healing to remember and to share that with people in our life.  When a baby dies, depending on when they died, there are little to no memories to share with other people.  The baby may have been miscarried or stillborn.   In this situation, the memories might include feeling them kick, finding out the gender, pregnancy cravings, etc.  These memories are hard to share with others.  And frankly, some people might question why they keep wanting to talk about their baby who died.  Well, it is still their baby and they miss them!  This leads to people not sharing these things, which can hinder the grieving process.

3. Every milestone they would’ve met is a constant reminder of what is missing

Sure we continue to miss all people that are important to us.  But when a baby dies, the losses keep coming year after year.  You miss out on every milestone they never lived to meet for the rest of your life.

4. You always wonder who they would have been

When a baby dies you lose the chance to see who they will become.  You constantly wonder what would they look like?  What would they have liked?  Who would they have become?

5. People don’t acknowledge it

It’s uncomfortable to talk about dead babies.  So people don’t.  This leaves the parents to suffer in silence and live in fear that the world has forgotten their child.

If you have a friend or family that is suffering from the death of a baby, don’t be afraid to mention it, they are already thinking about it.  Ask them what they need.  Just listen.  Hold space for the pain and let them be not okay.   Do not put a timeline on their sadness and grief.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

17 thoughts on “5 Ways The Death Of A Baby Is Different From Other Losses”

  1. Kristy says:

    This is a nice article and I believe has good intentions. However, the repeated sentence “dead babies.” Is cold and harsh, maybe you can exchange them for more considerate and compassionate words such as infant loss, etc. This coming from a mother who lost a baby, reading “dead babies” several times in this article made me cringe and incredibly sad, which takes away from the intended meaning/message of the article.

    1. Kelly Cote says:

      Kristy- thank you for your feedback. I am truly sorry if my choice of words caused you any pain-that was never my intention. I too lost a child and can empathize with your pain. I can see where the words can seem harsh and again I did not intend to cause harm. I chose those words in an attempt to call to attention the pain endured by those who have lost a child and not to sugar coat it. I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your precious child.

  2. Amanda Rumer says:

    Hi I’m Amanda and I lost my daughter in 2015. I was 5 days from the due date. She was absolutely perfect. Was not sick in anyway, my pregnancy was perfect no problems except for how I felt, but that would all go away on a few days when she was born. I had been in active labor for probably 2 weeks but every concern or questions I had seemed to be brushed away because I was a first time mom. I was sent to labor and delivery several times from 35 weeks on because my high BP at my weekly appointments, always sent home. Well, this time I went in myself, I knew something was wrong, they hooked me up, no heartbeat. The nurses tried to calm me but I already knew my mom was trying to calm me down but again I already knew. The doctor came in with a small portable ultrasound machine and as soon as he put the Probe on my stomach I saw nothing but a lifeless baby. I watched as the doctor’s face changed from pink to pale as his lips also turned blue. And even though we already knew he still had to spit out the words that she was gone and he was sorry. My mom and I were absolutely inconsolable we screamed and cried and held each other for probably only a minute. Then simultaneously we both grabbed our cell phones and frantically started calling people although we don’t even remember those conversations to friends and family we called I’m sure they are forever haunted by our voices and our screams. We were moved to a different part of Labor and Delivery, a hallway,very big room that had a special marker on the door so nurses and people passing would know to keep it down tragedy had a family. I was induced and family & Friends began showing up. My labor was awful, not from pain but medical issues. I had strepB and even though she was already dead they said I need the antibiotics. As soon as that was administered I had a severe allergic reaction, which just caused more panic for my family who was watching me struggle. After the nurse got me stable enough to where I could breathe and the hives were going away I was allowed to see my family again, at that point it was so serious everyone had to leave the room except for my mom. Hours passed, they tried to make me sleep and give me drugs but nothing helped. Then came time for the epidural where everyone had to leave, I took it like a champ even though I vomited while it was being done after that my mom and some family members came back into the room. About 5 minutes after getting the epidural my blood pressure dropped extremely low 50/30, I was practically dying. I remember the nurse kicking it into high gear and her face getting scared but yet determined to save me. Her name was Samantha, although she had no bedside manner, I believe that’s what saved my life because she was serious about her job and the situation. An anesthesiologist and doctors rushed to my side to get me stable and they eventually did. Labor slowly progressed, but finally on November 1st 2015 I gave birth first thing in the morning to a perfect beautiful baby girl named Emberly ❤. When she was delivered the doctor said the cord had wrapped around her neck. For me it’s horrible irony because it’s the very thing that helped her grow, gave her life, but in the end took it. She was very active and it was a horrible accident. I had barely 8 hours with her, pictures were taken, people came and went and the next day I walked out of the hospital without even being discharged. It wasn’t fair to me to hear babies being born even though we were in a special part of L&D I could still hear the cries of happiness and newborns. It’s been a very rough journey, one I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. However, she made me a mother. I never experienced a love so deeply for someone. This year should be her 3rd birthday, but instead we will probably release balloons and reminisce. I wish I knew why this happened, I wish it was preventable and I didn’t live this life, but I’m told there’s a bigger plan and I’ll see her again someday, that’s all I have to give me hope until my time comes. Thank you for letting me share our story.

    1. Kelly Cote says:

      Amanda- thank you so much for sharing your story and memory of sweet Emberly with me. I am truly, truly sorry for your pain and that you are now on this difficult journey. We lost our first child as well. You are right, Emberly did make you a mother. You are her mother and you always will be. Sending healing thoughts to you and your family.

    2. Liz says:

      Amanda, your story sounds so similar to mine. My Csection was scheduled for Nov. 6th, 2017 and we lost our daughter Ashlynn on Nov. 3rd. On that day, I woke up, and got our son up, just like any other day. Of course, it was no ordinary day. It was the day our hearts shattered and our worlds flip-flopped. I had been awake for several hours and didn’t feel any movement from her, which was strange because she was always so active. Finally, in the afternoon, I called my husband at work and told him I needed him to come home and take me to L&D. We went, got registered, and put into a room. Two nurses tried finding her heartbeat. There was nothing, but the silence coming from my belly was deafening. A portable ultrasound machine was brought in, and the tech barely said anything to us during the scan. At this point, I knew. I told my husband “I don’t have a good feeling at all.” He said “I know.” I could hear the strain in his voice as he tried to hold back tears. I started bawling, and one of the nurses came in and asked if anyone had talked to us yet. We told her no, but we knew it wasn’t good. She confirmed our fears, our beautiful girl was gone. The staff at the hospital was in communication with my OB, because the two entities are near each other and it was early enough in the day that the clinic was still open. He told them to tell us I could have my Csection done the following morning at that hospital, with their doctor, or we could wait until my scheduled one with him on Monday. We went with option 2, because we already had a plan in place for her birth and how that first week would go after bringing her home. At first, I thought “how weird that he would give me the option to wait”, thinking of my body and my health. I had no reason not to trust him, though. I realized maybe a couple weeks later that I was glad we decided to wait, because that was another 3 days I got to keep her close to me. We also had a photographer, and all of our parents present. They all got to meet her, most of them held her. Our son got to meet her as well (he’s 3, so he doesn’t understand it much yet). In total, we got about 7 hours with her to just love her, create some sort of memory as a family of 4, and say our goodbyes.

      1. Liz says:

        Oh, also, to our knowledge she was completely healthy. I had my last routine OB checkup on Oct. 31st and her heartbeat sounded great. There was no reason to believe anything was going to happen. When he delivered her my OB said that her end of the cord was purple and swollen, most likely indicating that somehow the blood flow to her had been cut off. We never did an autopsy, because it was just before the holidays and we knew it would be at least a couple months before we could bring her home.

    3. Hester says:

      Samantha, I think you may have had pre-eclampsis or HELLP. Please research it! If you ever want to get pregnant again please find an MFM that knows about HELLP. The sense of doom, not feeling well for weeks and the hypertension are typical signs. I lost my boy because I got HELLP, but was lucky enough to have two healthy rainbows with good guidance. Good luck to you!

  3. Lauriella says:

    Oh Amanda, I am so sorry for your tragic loss and the incredible pain that comes with losing Emberly. Always remember your sweet, perfect girl – even though you only had 8 hours together she will be with you in heart and soul forever 💜💜💜

  4. Tara White says:

    Everything in the article spoke right to my heart. I had a son Jan.21,2014 his name was Taylor White. He was a premi I had to have an emergency C-Section I had a rare stage of Preeclampsia and I was dying. Me and my husband were scared of loosing our son and myself they rushed me and my husband into the room and preformed the emergency C-Section. So at 9:01 pm Taylor came into the world and quickly they rushed him to the incubator to get him on oxygen cause his lungs were not fully develop so me and my husband thought everything was going to be fine. Then 23 amazing days later everything went from amazing to horrible he started developing disease called Necro that’s the short term for it. He needed to have surgery on his intestines. Which the doctors told us there is 12% chance of him living through the surgery. Four hours later the doctors came out and told us that they had to remove 80% of his intestines cause they had turned to dust also put him of basically life support to see if his heart and blood pressure will go up. On Feb. 15, 2014 the doctors came in and told us we had two choices my heart dropped either we can take him off life support and we hold him till he passed away of keep him on life support till he was gone. My husband and I chose to hold him so Feb 15, 2014 at 9:00 pm our sweet angel was gone. It broke our hearts cause now I can’t have any children. My depression was all time high that pain I still feel it everyday and I will the rest of my life and the only things that get me through the day is my husband who is always there and know our sweet angel is with my dad in heaven and that one day I’ll get to see them again.

  5. Jeni says:

    I lost my 25 year old son to a fluke motorcycle accident. I feel ALL of these things!! So yes, the loss of a baby while different than the loss of a toddler , youth, young adult, teen or what ever age. It is the Same .. Child loss is the same horrible the rest of your life pain, the loss of dreams, my mother and son dance at his wedding, his wedding! A dsughter! Grand kids! College graduation, milestones, holidays, hopes and dreams, the same missing part of your heart. Loosing a baby is the dame as all child loss!! Please do not belittle my loss by saying ” he’s but your son was older”!
    Someone actally said that to me. A child to a mother, is forever her baby, her heart, her soul, her life!

    1. Kelly Cote says:

      Jeni, I am so sorry to hear about your son. You are absolutely right, it does not matter that he was older. You are still suffering the loss of your son and all the pain that comes with that. Thank you for sharing your story with me.

  6. Milena says:

    It is hard and awfull not to be able to share with anyone around you this pain… We have lost our baby boy two years ago – he would have been two on March 28th. He had only seven days, and he spent them in NICU, without us, cause it’s a NICU policy in my country. We only came to visit him once a day…

    I had a perfect pregnancy, no sickness, no pains, no nothing. Just a wonderfull time. I was working normally, felt just fine. And on my regular monthly checkup with dr in the hospital she said – I have to consult with my chief. The chief came, said something about percentiles and they packed me up in the room. Something was wrong with my baby and no one wasn’t explaining me what…
    From 2/20 till 3/28 2016 I was in and out of hospital, for the last time I spent there two weeks. They finally determined that a baby has IUGR (intrauterine growth regression I think is the translation…) – is alive but not growing due to malfunction of my blood vessels in uterus. I was given steroids for baby’s lungs, they promissed me they would do everything they can to save me and a baby.
    And on 3/28 I gave birth to a gorgeous boy Viktor, by c-secton. They transfered him to another hospital, children hospital who has the best NICU in my country, but they don’t allow skin-to-skin nor breastfeeding for those small premees. He had only 600gr in 28th week of gestation, and was developped as 24th.
    He was hooked up on respiratory system and was tube-fed, hopefully with human milk (they have a Bank of human milk there, an I donated there my milk for 4 months afterwards). Unfortunately, he passed away seven days later, due to some infection. (Streptococcus, was written in the report, the sort that can be picked up only in hospitals whitout perfect sterilisation. But, as I learned that, I said – his soul on theirs).

    We had a chance to burry him in public cementary, and I believe it helped us a lot with healing process.

    As to our families… Well.. My hubby’s family is like – ok, we are here for you whatever you need. But thry don’t talk. My family acts as if I never was pregnant, nor gave birth let down burried my own baby… And it’s devastating. It really is. Speciallu cause at the same time my brother found out he will have a baby, and my folks just turned out to them.. for they will have “a real baby” around.

    Thank God, we were given a secon chance and I gave birth to another boy last july, c-section again, and now I have a consolation in his smile and his hugs.. He looked just like his big brother when he was born. And now I wonder what they woud be together, I cry every time he does something cause I missed it with my first boy…
    It is hard. But we grow stronger for life that is ahead of us. We were determined to have a huge family. Now with 2 c-sections dr said we can only opt for one more baby and the rest is just huge risk. But… As God gives us we will handle the best we can.

    I forgot to write – after that birth, dr said we have to find out the reason why it happened and she sent me to do some blood and genetic testing. They found out I have trombophilia, a genetic disorder that causes blood cloth to form, lungh edema, stroke etc. And in pregnancy it causes blood vessels in uterus not to stretch accordingly which results in low nutrition flow towards a baby and it’s growth regression.
    So, ladies… We all have some sort of trombophilia. Some types can be handeled with folic acid. For some we hsve to tske drugs. But if you have a family history of heart problems (high pressure, strokes, etc.) ask your dr to do those genetic analysis. It might save your baby’s life. Fathers give this gene to their daughters, mothers can pass it to children, but not always. Learn. Be informed.

    (In second pregnancy, I was given folic acis pills of 5mg, and 2x a day fraxiparine 0.8 shots, and I carried it out till week 37).

    Thank you, for letting me write my story. Sorry if there are some spelling mistakes, english is not my birth language.
    My point is – we all know how awfull it is not to have support and understanding in the family or friends. But we all find our strength in our grieve… Love to all of you reading this. Don’t let anyone juge you for having feelings. and don’t be afraid or ashamed to talk about them. 💕

    1. Michelle says:

      I lost a baby girl at 20 weeks 10/5/07, and another 3/2/08, (not twins, separate pregnancies), for basically the same reason. Prothrombin Gene Mutation. When I became pregnant again in the summer of 2009, I had to start injecting Heparin 2x a day, every day. My rainbow baby will be 9 in March. 🖤💜❤🧡💛💚💙

      1. Kelly Cote says:

        Milena, I’m so sorry to hear about your the loss of your precious children. It’s such a difficult journey that no parent should have to face. I will send positive thoughts to you and your rainbow baby! Thanks for taking the time to read my article and share your story.

  7. Deanne Campbell says:

    I am so very grateful for the support available today to women regarding miscarriages, stillbirths and baby loss. When I was having children, this type of support didn’t exist. Myself, like many women, were forced to suffer in silence when we had a loss. It was even suggested to us to not discuss it with one another, which gave us no outlet for our own expression of pain, of grieving and lost dreams. I experienced 5 miscarriages. One of my miscarriages was a loss of twins, I was told. I wish I had had the blessing of support that women today have. I pray that you are able to help many women with their different kinds of loss feel heard and validated.

  8. Louise monaghan says:

    I had Olivia at 32 weeks as soon as she was born I asked if she would be ok the response I got was “maybe if she was normal” all scans throughout my pregnancy showed no abnomailities but these turned out to be innacurate so aswell as being 8 weeks early at 3lbs she was born with Cornelia de lange syndrome babies born with this have a generic look they also can have small hands legs & feet,head aswell as many other abnormalities she had a cleft pallet & an “s” shaped aorta I was told she probably won’t walk or talk or smile & could have learning difficulties from mild to severe she was fed by a tube down her nose she was kept in hospital & fed on a weight gaining liquid to get her build up her weight & strength at 5 1/2 months she was due to have an operation to put a permanent tube into her stomach as i kissed her goodnight she gave me one of her gummy smiles whilst kicking her legs. She came back from her operation & I was told all went well we stayed with her for a while but had to get back for my 3 year old son. At about 2am I got a phone call to say you better get to hospital asap Olivia won’t last the night!! In shock we jumped in the car & drove as fast as we could on arriving at hospital we were told that she had gone we were too late. We had loads of questions as they told us she was fine, eventually we were told that the doctor operating on Olivia had accidently cut her bowel in theatre but no one noticed so as we were saying goodnight she was slowly being poisoned & slowly dying we got an apology but I was a mess I couldn’t even get angry which to this day I regret as I didn’t feel like fought for her we didnt sue or anything like that because what good would that do could it wouldnt bring her back & i wanted her left alone but the fact that it could have been prevented is the hardest thing & all the questions in my head used to drive me mad like was the doctor overworked what if she had had a different doctor operating her but that eats you up inside it took me about 10 years not to get over it but to learn to live with it its been 15 years now & i think of her every day my unique little angel Olivia rose or dolly as her brother used to call her as her clothes were dolls clothes.❤

    1. Kelly Cote says:

      Louise, thank you for sharing your story and taking the time to read my article. I’m so sorry for your pain and suffering.

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