Our Stillborn and Still Born Daughters

Our Stillborn and Still Born Daughters

 


By Pat Montesano

We were all so excited!

Our eighth child was due on April 11th, and we had purchased all new clothing and necessities, including a beautiful new cradle. We had not previously been so financially prepared for our other children, and our family was energized by our new business that allowed us to provide more than everyday needs. We could happily afford extras for this baby.

Dinnertimes involved discussing names for our expected family member, when our three-year old son would excitedly jump up and down and insist that his new sibling would be a boy named, "JESUS! Let's name him Jesus!"

On the due date, we had friends to dinner, and celebrated the child we would accept into our lives any day. It was a wonderful Sunday that April 11th, as we attended Mass together, then visited and ate with our friends. It had been a good and healthy pregnancy, expected now to end with the birth of our new family member.

It wasn't until the following morning that I realized I hadn't felt any movement for 24 hours. The doctor agreed to see me to quiet my fears. When he couldn't detect a heartbeat, he sent me for x-rays to see if the placenta was preventing such detection. After arriving home, there was a call from the physician to my husband. I already suspected that the baby had died, but the obstetrician told my husband to keep me hopeful until the delivery. Due to my having had so many children, both physicians I was seeing decided I should carry the baby until birth occurred naturally. My husband decided to, as gently as possible, tell me that the baby had died and we would have to wait for the delivery. Labor could not be induced in any way, because that would endanger my life. I agreed to rest as much as possible, and wait.

As the days passed slowly, we did our best to prepare the children for the loss they too would suffer. They, however, wouldn't give up hope for eventually seeing their sibling. Finally, on the evening of Mother's Day, although I had been warned not to,I drank cod liver oil to induce labor. A month had been too long to carry this dead child. I felt emotionally drained and physically tired and unable to carry this baby any longer. It had been ten months.

On May 11th, (the month devoted to Mary) our daughter was stillborn, and named Mary Virginia, for a dear friend of ours. There was no apparent cause of death, and I was not given the opportunity to see her at all. I was taken to share a room with a mother who had just delivered her first child, a little boy. It was not comfortable for either of us as she felt guilty about showing her happiness, and I tried to conceal my sorrow. I lay awake at night, quietly praying the Rosary, prayerfully seeking comfort.

My husband carried the tiny box containing Mary Virginia to her burial place in the cemetery. A family friend and church representatives accompanied him. The evening before I was to go home, the nurse who had been present at the stillbirth brought some tea to share with me. As she sat to visit, she said, in her delightful Irish brogue, "What would you like to know?" I cautiously asked what I had been wondering: "What did she look like?" I braced myself for the answer, because people had suggested that the baby would be deformed and infectious, etc. As I took a sip from my teacup, the nurse quietly responded: "She didn't look like your other children. This one was different. You have always had beautiful babies, but this one absolutely looked like a perfect angel. Her hair was very curly, yes, little ringlets; different than the others. She had a very beautiful little face, with such round cheeks. She looked like an angel. I wish you could have seen her! So beautiful.so angelic.

Our family prayed together and packed away the baby clothes and cradle. We were grieving as best we could, but didn't seem able to recover from our loss, as a family, or as individuals. The doctors had warned me that I should never take the chance of pregnancy again; that my uterus would rupture, that no baby could survive nine months; and that I would probably not survive. We eventually had a Mass of the Angels in our home when our pastor celebrated with us the brief life of the family member we had never seen or held. The sadness, however, continued to hang over our home for many months.

Finally, I convinced my husband that I believed we were to have another child. We prayed and prayed about it, and it was the only thought that brought us a feeling of peace. We were a family that prayed the Rosary each evening, and believed in the prayerful intercession of Our Blessed Mother. We increased our prayers when we learned that I was pregnant. The baby would be born in November.

The physicians were disappointed, but committed themselves to helping me through the pregnancy. It was not a healthy time for me, and I spent most of the time bedridden. It was also a fearful time for all of us, but we prayed in faith for this child.

All of my children were born two or three weeks after their due dates. I knew that would be the most difficult time of this pregnancy. Even though the baby moved constantly, the fears were always present. We increased our prayerful requests for the Blessed Mother's intercession until three weeks before the due date when I began early labor and hemorrhaging. In the delivery room, I was told the baby had turned into breach position, and the birth would be extremely difficult. It was painful indeed, as our daughter was born into the world in a sitting position.

She was whisked away, crying, without me seeing her, but it wasn't long before a nurse returned to the room. As my husband stood beside me, the Irish nurse presented our ninth child to us. I could do nothing but stare, speechless, at this little girl who looked very different than all our other children. I saw the ringlets of her curly hair and the pretty tiny face with round cheeks.

"She looks like an angel!" my husband exclaimed.

As the nurse stood back, smiling, the doctor came into the room. "What do you think of this little angel?" he asked happily.

Everyone who came to see her called her an angel, and many said she looked like pictures of Renaissance angels. We named her Rosemary, because she had come to us early, on October 7th; the Feast of Our Lady of The Rosary.

About the author



Pat Montesano is the author of "Sing A New Song", the story of a boy with mental retardation seeking acceptance, and numerous other published articles and poems, as well as being a mom, grandma and great grandma. She is currently the spiritual companioning program director for elders with a local non-profit organization of Colorado Springs. You can read more of Pat's writings by visiting her website at http://singanewsong.50megs.com/

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