When Birth and Death Collide

Trigger Warning: This blog talks about pregnancy loss and stillbirth.

Doulas get into this career because they love the ushering in of new life. It is a joyous occasion. A celebration. Somewhere in the back of our minds we know the horrible truth though. That eventually, it will not have a happy ending. With each birth it drifts further and further from our minds. Each happy ending just affirms the joyous way of the world.

Sometimes we work for years without a loss and we forget that it is even a possibility. Then it hits like a ton of bricks. It starts as a simple text. “I have not felt the baby move today. Going to get it checked.” No problem, this happens often in late pregnancy. We get these kinds of texts all the time. People are busy and often the small movements of a cramped baby are not noticed. ” I am sure baby is fine, but it never hurts to get checked out.”

But the baby is not fine.

This is the news that no family ever wants to get. It is heartbreaking and maddening at the same time. You hold out hope as they try to get a heartbeat with a different device. Maybe the batteries are dead, maybe they are mistaken. But then comes the news. The baby is gone.

It feels like a slap in the face. It takes your breath away. This family is so sweet, so deserving. It is not fair.

A doula’s job is to support. How do you support someone who’s life has been turned upside down? You do the best you can. You become their safe harbor in a storm of uncertainty. You hold space for them as they grieve. They become a part of you and you become a part of them. It is an awesome responsibility. Not to be taken lightly.

Part of our doula training prepairs us for berevement. You are never truly ready. What an honor it is to serve families not only in their moment of triumph, but also their darkest moments of despair.

I could not imagine doing anything else.

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