When my husband and I found out we were having a boy, we were ecstatic. We could not stop smiling and grinning that day, and we excitedly shared the news with the rest of the family. It was a perfect, beautiful, happy, joyful day. But a few days shy of my third trimester, our world came crashing down on August 12, when we were told our beautiful boy’s heart had stopped beating. I still remember seeing the still and lifeless form of my son on that ultrasound machine, who only a few days ago was an active little boy who was moving, squirming, kicking and having hiccups. Shocked, and filled with so much grief, we had to quickly make decisions no parents should have to make: when do we want to deliver? Do we want to see him? Hold him? Do we want an autopsy? Do we want a cremation or a burial?
We saw and held our sweet boy, Rowan Charles, for the first and last time on August 13, 2014. He looked so much like his big sister when she was born. He had his daddy’s wavy hair. In our eyes, he was beautiful and perfect in every way. Our heart ached as we wanted so much to spend a lifetime with him, but all we had were a few precious hours. How do you say goodbye to your child, more so when you’ve barely said hello?
Not a day goes by that we don’t think of him, miss him, and ache for him. Each year in the United States, 26,000 babies are born still. That is 10 times more than the number of SIDS death. Most of these babies are near full term and are often otherwise healthy. And yet, an estimated nearly two-thirds of these deaths remain unexplained. The stillbirth rate in the U.S. has barely budged in the last few decades.
This fundraising hike is our response to “it happens” with “it doesn’t have to happen”. There is so much more than can be done to break the silence and stigma around stillbirth discussion, to support research, to promote education and awareness, and to provide support to bereaved families. There is hope to prevent many stillbirths in the U.S. and around the world, but only if we take action now and be the advocate for these babies.
This hike is lovingly dedicated to Rowan and other babies born still.