Motherhood Mondays: ‘I Had a Stillborn Baby.’

Kate Suddes lives in Portland with her husband Jimmy and daughter June. She gave birth to a stillborn baby boy named Paul a year ago today, and she was kind enough to share her moving story with us…


Nice Baby Boy
By Kate Suddes

We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them. —Kahlil Gibran

There are not many things I can stand to remember about that day. I can relive all the moments after he was born. But the hours before and between, 36 to be exact, feel too big to bear. Except this: I can hear the doctor say, “I can confirm there is no heartbeat,” and then I remember seeing a painting on the wall to my left. It was entitled “Mother and Son.”

Paul Thomas Hilliard was born on November 11, 2012, at 10:56pm on a cold, rainy Sunday night. He weighed six pounds, two ounces. He was beautiful. And he was gone. The Chicago Bears lost to the Houston Texans. Skyfall was the number-one movie in theaters. We were five days past the national election and I had been awake for the last two of them.

He had died the day before on November 10, 2012, sometime on Saturday morning. I was reading People magazine in bed. My cousin turned 29. I had pumpkin pie for breakfast. I often think like that now. I may be having a cup of coffee or taking a shower, but somewhere; it’s the worst moment in someone’s life.

His heart was beating and then it was not. I had two kids and then I had one. I was pregnant and then I was postpartum. There was a baby and then there was not. How do I explain that he died before he was born? How many times do I have to tell my daughter June that he’s not coming back? How many times do I have to tell myself? Now I make lists.

I fill out forms like this:
Number of pregnancies: 2
Number of live births: 1

I think in numbers:
1 out of 2
Batting .500
1-1 for the season
Half of my children
One alive, one dead

I keep track of people’s responses:
At least you’re not dead.
You can always have more kids.
I had a miscarriage.
Do you want to hold my baby?
You’ll figure it out.
You’ll move on.
My friend’s cousin had TWO stillborn babies.
At least you still have June.
You should eat.
You should sleep.

Certain questions are no longer straightforward. How many kids do you have? Is she your only one? Do you think you’ll have a second?

I had a dream that I walked into a room with many dead babies wrapped in blankets. He was there too and I was so happy to see him. I wanted to hold him so badly. Somehow his blanket came undone and he was covered—head to toe—in blue icing and sprinkles. You know me so well, baby Paul.

Was it all the Diet Coke I drank that summer? Is it because I wrote a short story about a stillborn baby in 9th grade? Was it the positive pregnancy test on April Fools’ Day? My fear of handling two kids? My joking about him being a neglected second child? Packing and moving four weeks before he was born? Was I overconfident about how well my first birth had gone? Did I have too much pizza? Watch too many sad movies? Eat too few vegetables? Was I ambivalent about having a son? Did he know something that I didn’t? If I write him letters, will he respond?

March 26, 2013
Dear Paul,
My body is heavy. And I’m being mean to it. Feeling sluggish, slow, and fat with grief. My tummy is full. I can’t quite figure out what’s in there. It’s not you. But you’re not out here either. I had no idea about this thing called grief. How all consuming it is. How slow and syrupy and invasive. Turning plain old regular moments into painful, sharp, little things. Out of the blue. June put drawings, make-believe cupcakes and donuts on your special table tonight. She said you needed cupcakes. Sometimes when I’m not quite asleep, not quite awake I imagine you here. What you would be doing. Sitting in a bouncy chair, squealing. Nursing. I miss nursing the most. And smelling you like a hound dog. Making out with you, newborn style. Instead I just walk around in a daze. Sometimes milk leaks. Sometimes I cry and I don’t know why.
It’s March. This is the month we made you. And it’s all coming back to me. The smell of the weather changing. The smell of clothes I’m finding from last year that remind me of being pregnant with you. I’m so used to missing you that I forget you were here. In my body. Moving around. Listening to my voice. I only ever felt you move. I never saw it from the outside of my body. I’m so sad, baby Paul. I’m so terribly, utterly sad.

I dreamt that I had a really nice talk with Gwyneth Paltrow. We met somewhere in Los Angeles. She was visiting from London and we talked about grief—the loss of her dad and the loss of my son. She was really sweet, gentle, and compassionate. She talked about how long it takes, how you feel disconnected from the real world. Or rather the real world is disconnected from you. Then she bought me a beautiful ceramic bowl.

I watch June sleep. I make sure she’s breathing. I look at her mouth and it reminds me of his. And I can’t remember which came first. Does her sleeping mouth look like his still one, or does his still one resemble hers? I read. I grocery shop. I try to pay attention to my marriage. I attempt to answer emails. I do laundry. I quit Facebook. I look at pictures. I check Twitter. I listen to the Dan Patrick Show. I watch Louis C.K. I bake. I count the days since and the days until.

April 11, 2013
Dear Paul,
Today is the 11th. The 11th comes every month. And with it, a little knot in my stomach. An avocado pit. A lemon. A key lime. Not unlike the fruits used to compare growing babies in the womb. I think about what you would be doing. How my day would inevitably be different. You would be 5 months. People keep saying things like “I hope it’s getting better” or “I hope that you’re adjusting more and more each day.” As if this were a straight line. As if the day you were born was the absolute worst and each day gets incrementally more tolerable. But I can name dozens of days that have been worse. Sometimes I’ll be doing something, anything. In a pretty emotionally neutral place. And then this deep sadness just stabs me. Somewhere in my chest. And I remember all over again that you’re gone. That I carried you all the way until your death. That your life was 9 months long and from there I birthed you out of my body. It’s not a straight line. There’s no beginning and no end. Today you would be 5 months. And then you would be 1 year. 2 years. 3, 5, 10, 16, 21, 35. When I’m crying, usually late at night, all I can think to say over and over is “I’m just so, so sad. I just want him to come back.” And Papa says, “I know. But he’s not coming back.”
Give a girl a sign,

There is one question that feels useless to me. Why? Others ask it. But why? What did they find? What went wrong? Are there medical explanations? I didn’t even know stillborn babies happen anymore? My midwife Catherine says, “He didn’t give us any warning. Like a child running out into the street.” But I was lulled into thinking he was a sure thing. Sometimes I think I can still negotiate his death. I fantasize about a time where his presence doesn’t feel absurd, audacious, cocky.

At my 20-week ultrasound we found out he was a boy. I knew it. Technology confirmed it. June was three years old. We said “June, it’s a boy. You’re going to have a brother. What do you think we should name him?” She replied, “Nice baby boy.” It feels strangely prophetic now. Like an idea or a wish. Like “maybe someday we’ll get a nice baby boy.”


Q&A with Kate

Today is Paul’s one-year anniversary. I was honored to ask Kate a few questions about her experience over the past year. Thank you so much for sharing, Kate.

How has your grief felt over the past year?
Surprising. I remember thinking, ‘Okay, so the day he was born and died will be the worst, and then it will get progressively better.’ It just didn’t happen that way. Physically and hormonally, I had that post-birth high that mothers get for the first few weeks. When the doctor put him in my arms, I remember seeing him and thinking, Oh, he’s so beautiful; and it sounds dumb, but there were a few seconds where I forgot that he was gone. I remember looking up toward the end of the bed and seeing my midwife, a nurse, my husband Jimmy, all these people, and they were all looking at me and crying, and I remember thinking, oh, right. It was like being told all over again.

What was it like after you went home?
Those six weeks after he was born, I was doing okay. I was functioning. I was writing thank-you notes. People were really present. We were still getting meals and flowers and cards. It wasn’t until a couple months later—January or February—that things got really bad. I started mourning and grieving in a way that I hadn’t fully done until that time. I wasn’t sleeping, I was staying up all night crying, I didn’t want to leave the house. The rest of the world has this unspoken expectation that you should get better and move on; I felt like I was nowhere near that. It was still so recent—I kept thinking, Now I would have had a three-month-old, a four-month-old, a five-month-old…I was still scratching the surface understanding what this loss meant for me as a mother, for our daughter June, in my relationship with my husband.

What was helpful for friends and relatives to say?
The most shocking thing was when some people in our lives pretended nothing happened. I think a lot people truly did not know what to do and I often get the feeling that they didn’t want to bring it up and “remind” me which, from my perspective just feels so absurd.

People just remaining interested, present, thoughtful and curious is so important to me. I’m always so touched when people say things like, I think of you all so often, I think of Paul, I’m so terribly sorry, etc. I want people to ask about Paul, about how he’s doing, how we’re doing, how June is doing…

I wanted them to ask the questions they would have asked if I had had a baby who was healthy and lived—where did the name come from? What was the birth like? Who did he look like? But people must have thought, ‘Don’t remind her.’ Nobody asked all those “normal” questions that come with having a baby. That felt like a huge loss for me. I wanted to talk about that. For me, when people ask questions, I feel comforted. It makes me feel more connected to him, as well.

He is so present in every moment for us, but I fear sometimes that he has just disappeared for a lot of people. I still feel him around. It’s hard to describe but I feel like I’m still parenting him from far away.

What do you think Paul was like?
He was really different from our daughter June. I knew that right away. He had a very different personality—I think he was a lot like Jimmy, my husband. Curious, stubborn, quiet, very witty with a dry sense of humor, but coming across as kind of serious. He was an old soul. That is how I “felt” Paul. Jimmy was born in the year of the dragon; Paul is also the year of the dragon; my brother is also the year of the dragon. The three men who I’m closest to in my life happen to be dragon babies.

His death was a loss of potential, too. I think about all the things I know about June that I never could have predicted. How much she loves olives and hot peppers—all the tiny things that make us who we are. That loss feels really big and sad to me, too. Not knowing his quirks, the words he would use, the things he would like.

Where did the name Paul come from?
Right after we had the ultrasound and found out for sure that he was a boy, we thought we should get June an anatomically correct boy babydoll. So we got a doll named Paul from the French company Corolle; he even had a little “Paul” T-shirt. We got so used to saying Baby Paul that the name stuck.

Today is his birthday. What are you going to do?
We are going make him a birthday cake; I know for sure that we will do that. My husband Jimmy took the day off. People keep asking, what else are you going to do that day? I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. I thought about maybe going back to the hospital room. I feel nervous about the day.

Why did you want to share your story?
A big part of me wants to write about Paul to keep him and his story alive, to keep him present in our family. But equally my desire to write about him stems from wanting to provide comfort and support to women who very suddenly find themselves in this situation. Almost immediately after he was born, I tore through every stillborn memoir and story I could find and it was SO COMFORTING. In ways I can’t even explain…it was like they were written in a secret language that only I could understand. And it was immensely soothing to know that I was not the only one, that there were all these perfectly healthy babies out there who were just gone. I know how lonely and isolating it was. And if I can put a book or even just this essay out in the world and one new mom can read it and feel even a tiny bit comforted, I feel lucky to provide that for someone.

Did you get to hold Paul?
We did get to hold Paul. I tried to memorize as much as I could, but it didn’t feel like enough. Jimmy, my mom and I were all able to hold him. June actually came to the hospital to meet him too. It’s actually one of my biggest regrets that I didn’t keep him longer. Of course I didn’t know at the time, but I read in some stories after that many women kept the babies and slept with them until the morning. Part of me wishes I had done that, but Jimmy felt ready to say goodbye. None of it would have felt like it was enough time, so I try not to beat myself up.

When did you find out that he had died?
One morning, three weeks before my due date, I didn’t feel him moving. I was with June in bed, reading books, and he was usually very active in the morning. But I didn’t feel him moving around. So I pushed against my belly and felt his arm or leg and pushed against it, and there was no resistance. That was the first moment that I had a twinge that something might be wrong.

I made some tea, and ate pumpkin pie for breakfast, and I called my midwife. She said, Drink your tea and lie down for thirty minutes. I lay down and waited for him to move, but he was still not moving. My midwife said at that point that I should go right into the hospital.

When we got there, the nurse looked for a heartbeat. I heard a really loud heartbeat and thought, There it is! But it was my heartbeat. She kept looking and looking. Finally, I said, “Look, you just need to tell me.” And she said, “I can’t confirm anything without the doctor, but I am having a hard time finding the heartbeat.” She left to get the doctor and I lost it.

When he came in, he said almost right away, “I can confirm that there is no heartbeat.”

Did you go through labor?
Yes, that’s something people don’t realize—that you still have to give birth. Jimmy said I could wait a few days, and my midwife and the doctors said I could take some time, but I wanted to do it right away. It’s funny, I thought it would go really quickly, like a few hours. I remember thinking, Okay, I’ll be home by midnight. But I was in labor for 36 hours.

You know that moment when you meet your beautiful baby for the first time? Well, realizing the beginning was also the end was heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking. And then regretting that I didn’t take 80 pictures instead of 75, or more photos from different angles, or that I forgot to take a piece of his hair…

This will never go away. He will always have his birthday. I had a child—a full-term, fully formed baby, with hair and fingernails—who was about to be born. Our son and June’s brother. He’s part of our family.


Kate, thank you so much for sharing your incredibly moving story. If you’d like to see photos of Kate, baby Paul and their family, click here. Kate is working on a book about motherhood, which would be so wonderful.

xoxoxo Lots of love to everyone today.

(Illustration by the wonderful Samantha Hahn for Cup of Jo)

  1. Fernanda Abreu says...

    I still think a lot about baby Paul and your family are in my heart and prayers. I have a baby girl (Maria Paula, after my Nanna name). Thank you so much for sharing. <3

  2. Reilly says...

    Thank you.

  3. Katherine says...

    This remains the best, post poignant post on COJ. Ever. Thank you for this, Kate.

  4. Thank you for sharing your words. It must be very hard for you to write something so heartbreaking.

  5. Lisa says...

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, your words, this space.
    On May 1st, 2019, I gave birth to
    Luna Astrid, at 39 weeks. 6lbs, 4 oz, 19 inches.
    Much gratitude for sharing with us.

  6. Alicia says...

    I feel like you wrote down my own thoughts. Word for word…… those were my thoughts, concerns and feelings. God bless you! This was beautifully written.

    Faith Saveon Williams 6/10/98 6:29 am. (39.5 weeks)

    Does it get easier they ask…….. no… becomes different. I still cry for her. I still miss her, and I know exactly how old she would be. I grieve terribly every June from the 9th (the day I found out her heart stopped beating)-12th (the day of her funeral), and I still wish that God would send her back to me, no matter how unrealistic it seems. I still look at her clothes, and touch her lock of hair. Her footprints are my screen saver, and I even have her picture up for all to see. I didn’t have it up for years, because stillborn babies look a little different, and I didn’t know if it was appropriate. I just decided one day that I didn’t care what anyone thought. Having her photo up is part of my grieving process.

    I tattooed her name on my rib cage, so that any time someone would see it, they would say her name or ask me about it. I just can’t tell you the joy of hearing someone call out her name, just as they should have been doing for the last 20 years. This is my opportunity to share her memory with people, because just like you said…… it feels like everyone has forgotten her. I made sure to keep her memory alive within my family. All my children know that she lived, that she is loved, and that I would give anything to have her here with us. My 7 year old son includes an angel in all his family portraits at school, because ” Mommy I can’t forget my sister”. Those family portraits are possibly the sweetest gifts that he could ever give me. A mother’s love never dies. I will grieve until I leave this life.

    I fought to obtain a certificate of life for my daughter. The hospital sent me a death certificate, but told me that nothing would be sent to signify her birth. That’s completely absurd. How could she die, if she never lived? I cried even harder that day, even more than I ever had before. I carried my daughter for 9 months, I felt her kick, she had a heart beat, and we saw her on ultra-sound Alive….. I held her in my arms, counted her fingers and toes, she was given a name, she was born on June 10th, 1998, at 6:29 am. I kissed her face. I carried her in my womb for 39.5 weeks. Of-course she lived! In some countries, like china, the time a child spends in utero is included in their age (age reckoning).

    I have to live with giving birth to a deceased child, on a maternity ward full of healthy babies, where I could hear all the other babies crying, as I held my daughter’s lifeless body. I had to hand the undertaker my new born baby, knowing the next time I saw her would be my last. I went through labor and gave birth, like every other mother, and now you want to tell me as I stand here with empty arms, that my daughter didn’t live! Are you insane? She had a funeral, and she’s buried with a headstone. She had more people attend her funeral, than most people who spend 40 years on this earth. People attended her funeral, that I didn’t even know, because some times little people leave the biggest imprint on the hearts of others.

    In 2014, I was invited to the bureau of date statistics, and I was welcomed by a room full of people in tears, who wished to give me a certificate of life for my daughter. They said normally this wasn’t something they did, but I touched their hearts and they all wanted to be there to see me receive it. It was one of the few things that I could do for my daughter. Mother’s of stillborn children still long to be mother’s to our children, so when we can achieve something in their honor, it’s a really big deal.

    I made a promise to my daughter that I would make her proud. I would go out there, get my law degree and become a lawyer. She was the best motivation. I did it, I did it for her! There’s not much I could do for her after her passing, but this was a promise, and there was no way I was going to let her down.

    Faith: the subject of all things hoped for, but not yet seen.

    My joy will be greater, my love will be deeper, my life will be fuller, because I shared her moment. If I learned anything…… I learned what unconditional love was, and what it feels like. Thank you to my first love “Faith”, for blessing my heart and soul with this experience. My heart is broken, but I would never trade my nine moths of carrying you inside my womb, or the love my hearts feels for you. I accept that the hurt is part of the great love I feel. I learned that we can’t posses people, time is precious, nothing is promised, and we must love the people God blesses us with while they are here, appreciate the opportunity we had to share our lives and our love with them, and cherish and love their memory when they are gone. I know we’ll be together again….

    • alicia says...

      Please forgive the grammatical errors……

    • Ksmith says...

      Thank you for sharing your beautiful story and sharing Faith with us.

    • Cheryl says...

      Thinking of you and Faith today. I know deep in my heart you will meet again and oh, what a reunion!

  7. Katie says...

    I recently just lost a son on 8/14/18. I found out he died at 39 wks. After 3 miscarriages, my husband and I thought this one was finally going to happen. We were wrong. And this grieving process is brutal. Thank you for writing this blog. It has comforted me in the way that what I am feeling is “normal.” (Not that I would ever wish this upon anyone, but nice to know someone gets me.) And I too, have had to explain to my 7 year old daughter than she will not be getting a brother. Which is probably the hardest part because she was so excited. So for right now, I’m just taking it day by day.

  8. Tatianna says...

    I had a son named Nolan stillborn at 21 weeks and today is the year mark of him being gone and your story was the most comforting one ive ever read. I still walk around and cry out of the blue or look at his ashes and apologize for not being able to save him. I’m terrified to ever try and have another child because i remember the day that I was told my son had no heart beat and a piece of me died that day and I honestly don’t think I’ll ever get it back. My family tells me it’s going to okay or ill have another baby and forget about this not realizing i will never forget about my son . He is literally my entire heart. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It honestly helps so much .

  9. Cici says...

    This is so sad. So beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Christine S says...

    I lost my daughter this past march 8th, 2018, during labor. I was 41+5. I thought we were home free.

    Everything you’ve written resonates with me.

  11. Jackie says...

    I’m so thankful the weekend post led me here, to this beautiful and brave Mom and her precious, sweet son Paul. Yes, yes, yes, to so much in this post. My daughter, Leila, was stillborn at full term a year and a half ago. The ache for her is so, so deep. Forever changed us.

  12. Megan says...

    Thank you for writing about Paul. I lost my baby girl June 16th last year. I was 21 weeks pregnant; my body spontaneously went into labor way too early. She was born alive but was too premature to survive. Even though there was nothing I did, I feel tremendous helplessness and guilt that I couldn’t stop my body’s labor, couldn’t save her. I held her as she twitched and kicked and then was gone. ‘Incompetent cervix’, they call it, and there’s a good chance it may happen if I get pregnant again, just at the point of the pregnancy where everyone else is having gender reveal parties and you think you’re safe.
    She’s still with me, though, she’s still my only daughter, and I still love and celebrate her even if I’m the only one who knew her. We named her June for the month she was born; too soon.
    The only comfort I found– in my darkest hours over the summer after her birth and death, where I was very much alone, still leaking milk, and the sound of a baby crying would drive me into an absolute primal frenzy– the only comfort was in reading other women’s stories. No one wanted to talk about June. They thought talking about her would upset me. But pretending she never was– that’s what upset me most.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Megan, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. How devastating, there are no words. June is such a beautiful name, and she sounds like the sweetest person. What was she like? She must have loved to be held by you. I’ll be thinking of little June this weekend and holding you both close in my thoughts.

    • Anne says...

      Your sweet girl! Thinking of you both tonight.

    • My heart hurts for you. Thank you for sharing about June. I celebrate her with you, and celebrate your love for her as her mother.

    • Sasha says...

      My son Philip was stillborn on June 16 as well. It will be 3 years this year. My heart is with you.

  13. Jena says...

    My husband and I just lost our son, Preston, who was stillborn at 24 weeks on December 23rd. It’s a grief I never imagined, and it helps to know I’m not alone. I remembered this post and sought it out. My loved ones think they are sparing me by not engaging or asking questions, but in reality it hurts more to not openly acknowledge that I gave birth; that he was here and he mattered, if only for a short while. So thank you for sharing, Kate.

    • Kim says...

      Jena, I just reread this post and thought to check the comments and happened to see your recent post! I am so tremendously sorry for your loss. I hope you feel loved and supported now, and I wish you many future moments of getting to remember, love, celebrate, and grieve your son however you feels best to you in the moment — there is no right way to do any of this other than what is authentic for you. Sending a hug… – Kim

    • Megan says...

      Jena, I am so sorry for your loss. Preston — what a name! I just adore it. What a special boy.

  14. Morgan says...

    This has been a terribly hard week for my family. My sister in law unexpectedly lost her baby during childbirth. We are all devastated and there are moments when it all feels too big and too sad to bear. I remembered reading this essay a while back before my own daughter was born. At the time, I had to force myself to read it because the subject matter was so upsetting. Now I have no choice but to face the reality that healthy babies sometimes go away and someone that I love had to leave the hospital today without a baby in her arms.

    I’m so grateful for these words. I’m grateful that my sister in law will know she is not alone because Kate was able to share her story so beautifully.

  15. Amanda says...

    I lost my son 12 weeks ago at 40 weeks. Like you, I’ve scoured the internet for stories that in any way resembled mine.

    This. All of this.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I’m so, so sorry for your loss, Amanda. Sending so much love to you. What was his name? I’ll be thinking of him today.

    • Amanda says...

      Thanks so much, Joanna. His name was Theo.

  16. Nadia says...

    I’d just like to mention I feel this is the best post on this site. It’s heartbreakingly moving and made such a profound impression on me when it was first posted that I’ve never quite forgotten it since. I’m grateful to Kate for having shared her story, which has been a consolation for countless other grieving mothers and also helped me become a more aware, more considerate and more compassionate person.

  17. kathryn hudson says...

    We just lost our tiny baby boy at 18 weeks and our hearts are broken. Kate’s story brought me a little comfort that I am not alone. I am sending so much love to Kate.

  18. Cheryl says...

    I hate that anyone anywhere would have to endure this experience. I’m holding you with compassion from afar, Kate.

  19. April Latson Young says...

    I’m in tears Kate because your story sounds so much like mine. I lost my son Austin almost a year ago due to a placenta abruption, and I miss him everyday. Thanks for sharing your story.

  20. Claire M says...

    I too lost my son who was post-term. He would be about 4 months old today. His name is Ralph Charles.

    You post resonated with much of experiences thus far from social faux pas to mothering from far away.

    I welcome any wisdom on grieving both for myself and my boyfriend.

  21. Afsi says...

    Oh Kate – your experience and pain is palpable through the screen. How my heart hurts and painfully understands every word you shared. A friend told me about this blog post because I was having a particularly, and seeminlgy random, rough day about my sweet little first girl. I found out at my 36 week appointment that there was no heartbeat. That was Sept 14th. I was induced on Sept 15th and in labor for over 36 hours. She was born Sept 17th. And our first wedding anniversary was 2 days later, on Sept 19th. That’s the thing. Time makes the raw pain go away, but every once in a while, for some inexplicable reason, this emotional wave comes back and its you right in the gut, like a ton of rocks. Today was one of those days. My daughter’s name is Sprout – for the name we affectionately called her in the womb. We could not bare to change it, for it was how we knew her. When my friends threw me a baby shower, it was for Sprout. On her one year anniversary, they gifted me the secret present that they had made for me at her shower – pages with the letters of the alphabet with darling drawings by them. It was to be her very own personalized ABC alphabet book. I miss her so. I wish I had held her longer. I wish I had memorized her face better. I wish I wasn’t as drugged. I wish I had more time. So many woulda, coulda, shoulda’s…right? All my love to you and Paul, all the other babies gone to soon and my very sweet Sprout. <3

  22. Egle says...

    So so sorry for your loss, Kate, and other moms. I am sure, if someone have not experienced pregnancy and grieve of losing close people, it is difficult to understand what you are going through. I lost my mom from breast cancer, when she was just 38 and I was 13, after 15 years I lost my grandfather from (who was more like a father figure to me), and then after a few years I lost my beloved grandmother. It is not the same experience as losing a baby but it is still grieve. The worst thing for me was to see that the the birds were still singing, the sun was still shining and people were still drinking wine and celebrating life. I would have preferred to see dark sky, snow storm, closed roads and schools. I had no one to speak about my pain, friends and relatives were also thinking it is better not to discuss it and my pain will go away sooner or later. As result, or not, I separated from my husband (no serious reason, I was simply feeling emptiness and cold inside of my heart), started smoking, and simply doing things that normal myself would never have done. I think, it would have been (a bit) different, if I had a possibility to talk to someone. Even asked for a professional help. Now I am ok, even got married the same husband again, and have a beautiful son. But still feeling disabled, inside of me. And this will never change. The loss will never be forgotten, but you simply need to continue… living. You have a daughter, she really needs you, she will never have a possibility to have another mom, it is your responsibility , as a parent, to help her have a normal life, and you really need to be strong for her. I am not religious and I don’t go to church but when I was (am) feeling really bad, going to an empty church (catholic, orthodox, buddhist, doesn’t matter), sitting there alone and lightening a candle, soothed my pain. I don’t think it is a good idea to go back to hospital for your son’s anniversary, it is not healthy for your daughter and your husband too. You need to let him go, I am sure, it is difficult for his soul as well, to see you like this. And please, seek professional help, if you have not done so yet. Best wishes, Egle

  23. Lily says...

    Every time I read this it breaks my heart all over again. I am so sorry for your loss.

  24. Erica Hernandez says...

    Thanks for sharing your story, Kate. It gave me great comfort. We lost our son, Danny, when I was 37 weeks pregnant. He too will always have his birthday and be part of our family.

    Life is so fragile. Love is the glue.

  25. Stephanie H. says...

    Thank you so much for this post, Joanna. Just this morning my best friend of 23 years lost her nearly full-term baby girl, Lola. The news was so inconceivably tragic to me that I didn’t know what to do, and I found myself turning to Cup of Jo and a couple of the other blogs I read in a desperate search for someone who had been through this before. You were the only one who delivered. You cover the hard subjects, the big subjects and the subjects no one else wants to talk about. That’s important work, and I’m so grateful that you are doing it. I’m sure what you do isn’t always easy, but I want you to know that it makes a difference. And for me, today, it made a big difference. Thank you.

  26. Sasha says...

    I’ve come back and reread this many times since my baby died earlier this summer. thank you for beautifully articulating your pain, which unfortunately is often shared by others.

    Another beautiful essay on stillbirth was recently posted at
    It and Ariel Levy’s heartbreaking story in the New Yorker is worthwhile reading for anybody going through this.

  27. I am one of those women who has just given birth to a beautiful stillborn baby, a girl in my case, Leah Kathryn. It was four nights ago, just four nights, and I’ve been desperately searching for answers and solace, and your story brought some of that. I held her too, and I want to talk about her little fingernails and pretty lips, I have this awful fear of her being forgotten, of people ceasing to remember her. Thank you for letting me know that she will live on, that she will always be a part of our family and of our lives. Paul is very alive in this beautifully told story and in the hearts of those of us who never met him.

    • maureen says...

      I am reading this story and the following comments; almost three years since you lost your Leah Kathryn. And so I am thinking about her, and you. I am hoping that somehow and for some reason this this note is comforting to you. Sending love. That’s all, sending love.

    • K says...

      January 2019, and I’m thinking of Leah Kathryn as well. Thank you for sharing part of your story… She will never be forgotten. Sending you love and light!

    • Tara Hasenberg says...

      Oh, thank you SO much! Maureen & K, your words just brought tears to my eyes… the good kind. Thank you for caring. I still think about her every day of my life, and imagine what things would be like today with a four-year-old. Much love to you both!

  28. Anonymous says...

    I was trying to get to sleep but ended up again thinking of our little one who died at 40 weeks. This was 5 months ago. I cried and cried, feeling sad and angry, asking over and over again why it is so unfair and wondering how I would ever overcome these feelings. I want to be “normal” and happy to see my relatives, friends and work colleagues but many are now pregnant or have just had their newborns. It’s so overwhelming and I feel so alone whether or not I am present at these special occasions.

    I then read your piece, and cried even more! Your piece brought me tears of comfort, to know that I’m not absolutely alone with your story, thoughts and feelings. It’s reassuring to know I’m not slipping too far away from real time and space. Your piece brought me inspiration and I know I will get to a more peaceful inner self one day. Thank you.

  29. Thank you for sharing. I lost my son, Henry, in November 2014. He was stillborn. It does help to read other mama’s stories. We belong to a secret club that no one wants to talk about, and no one in it wants to be a part of.

  30. I am so very sorry you lost him. Paul is a beautiful name for a cherished boy. I will remember his story, and yours. He was very loved and that is clear.

  31. Thank you for sharing your story. My heart breaks for you. I can only imagine how you must feel. I did cry and hold my baby a little tighter tonight because of it. Paul was a beautiful, sweet baby boy. He is with the angels now as are all babies.

  32. I’m sorry for your loss, I had twins and they was beautiful, my son was stillborn and my daughter died a month after birth and it was the hardest thing ever and people just kept telling me you will get over it, it wasn’t meant to be, all thoughs things you don’t want to hear when you lost something so special. My heart goes out to you and to all the woman who have to go through that. Its very hard.

  33. I had a stillbirth as well and reading through your blog tonight has really uplifted me. Your letters to your baby were beautiful, I write letters to my baby boy as well. I loved how you referred to other mother’s stories as a language only you could understand, I feel the same way, and many of your feelings that you shared were the exact things that race through my mind still daily today, and thoughts that no one else understands, not even my husband. So glad to read your story! Thank you for sharing it!

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  35. Thank you for sharing this. I realize that this is a while after this was written. I just lost my sweet baby girl, Emily, on Feb. 18th. She was born on Feb. 18th at only 21 weeks. But we found out at the 20 week ultrasound that there were so many problems. These last few weeks have been so very difficult. And I read your story and just felt so close. It is exactly how I feel so often. I have already started writing letters to her. I am searching for blogs, in hopes of sharing and validating my feelings. I cannot thank you enough for your story. It helps. It comforts me. Thank you.

  36. Thank you for sharing this. I realize that this is a while after this was written. I just lost my sweet baby girl, Emily, on Feb. 18th. She was born on Feb. 18th at only 21 weeks. But we found out at the 20 week ultrasound that there were so many problems. These last few weeks have been so very difficult. And I read your story and just felt so close. It is exactly how I feel so often. I have already started writing letters to her. I am searching for blogs, in hopes of sharing and validating my feelings. I cannot thank you enough for your story. It helps. It comforts me. Thank you.

  37. Thank you for sharing this. I realize that this is a while after this was written. I just lost my sweet baby girl, Emily, on Feb. 18th. She was born on Feb. 18th at only 21 weeks. But we found out at the 20 week ultrasound that there were so many problems. These last few weeks have been so very difficult. And I read your story and just felt so close. It is exactly how I feel so often. I have already started writing letters to her. I am searching for blogs, in hopes of sharing and validating my feelings. I cannot thank you enough for your story. It helps. It comforts me. Thank you.

  38. Just thought that your readers may like to know about an organization called “Now I lay me down to sleep.” They take photos of babies who have passed on. My SIL is a photographer and she does this free of charge at her local hospital.

  39. You said everything I could not say. November 2011 – one year earlier and as well three weeks before due date…She will always have a place in my heart.
    I was blessed with a second child the same day (twin pregnancy), and while it helped me to survive afterwards, I sometimes feel that I did not have the necessary time to mourn. Thank you for sharing, it brings back bittersweet memories.

  40. I could not read this the day you published because i was pregnant of my second baby… Now my baby is one month and i have been able to…
    I am crying, so sad story, so well told Kate. My best wishes for this new year to you and you family.

  41. Oh this is just so heartbreaking. There are some things that resonate with me here. I lost my brother and I was always so perplexed that no one would ask about him…they just wanted to sweep it under the rug and move forward. And I remember thinking about all of the lost potential. Even though he lived 21 years longer than Paul, I still think about who he would be today and what he would be like. Thank you so much for sharing. My heart is with Kate and her family.

  42. . . . and Paul, of course! xox

  43. So heartbreakingly beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

  44. So heartbreakingly beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

  45. I don’t know what to say – this is such an unfamiliar kind of sorrow that I can’t imagine what Kate and her family must have been going through. I truly hope that it will get better eventually. Thank you so much for sharing your story and take care.

  46. This was so beautifully written, you are such a loving mom to your two children. I’m so sorry Paul can’t be here with us, but he is one lucky little boy to have you for a mom. I looked at the photos you posted as well. He is a very beautiful baby. Thank you for sharing your family’s story with us.

  47. I am so sorry. I will never forget you story, you, your family, or Paul. Happy Birthday sweet boy! What a beautiful family!

  48. I am so sorry. I will never forget you story, you, your family, or Paul. Happy Birthday sweet boy! What a beautiful family!

  49. Hi Kate,

    My baby Harmony Rain was stillborn on July 24, 2008. It is tough everyday. I wish I had written it out in the first year, but I will after reading your story. All that you went through is a common experience to those who have been through it although uncommon for most.

    Peace and love,

  50. I am so incredibly moved, not only by Kate’s story but also by her brilliant ability to express her grief through details. I truly appreciate Kate’s willingness to share her story with us.

  51. wow, what a sad, moving, and enlightening story. stillborn births happen so often, yet it’s something that isn’t talked about much. thank you both for sharing.

  52. Grief is such a tribal experience, and just like you said, Kate, it’s totally like syrup. I know you’ll find your own way and may healing come in its time. There is no way to heal the hole that is created with the loss of a child, it’s out of sequence and blurring. I send love and grace to you and your family, Kate. Thank you Joanna for being a leader for moms and their hearts.

  53. I’m crying for your family, and the families who have gone through the same. I’m crying for my family who lost my brother at 24. My heart goes out to you, and thank you for sharing a beautifully written and moving piece. Thinking of you guys and sending love to your dear Paul.

  54. Thank you for your story Kate.

  55. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so so sorry for your loss. It was heartbreaking to read so I can only imagine what it must be like for you. Your journey was very beautifully written and very moving. My heart is with you and your family. xx

  56. Thank you for sharing your story about your family of four. We said good bye to our second born, Alexis, before she was born almost two years ago. It is true that the grief will just hit you like a wave. I still feel it now and then. Where I work there are people who were expecting around the same time I was and they come in every once in awhile with their kids and I think to my self she would be that age now. That is what I would be doing with her now. And I hate that reminder, yet the rest of the time I am missing my new born not my toddler. My other daughter gets mad at me if someone asks how many I have and I say just one. She reminds me that is not true Mommy I have a sister, when all I was doing was trying to prevent the questions. It is true that unless you have lived this, you do not fully understand. Losing Alexis has opened up a whole new world for me, one that includes visits to a cemetery on Holidays, and trading stories with others who have shared this loss. Reading your story has helped me and I hope you can find help knowing that your story is reaching out to others.

    • Kate says...

      Kathleen, I love it when people get the count right: a family of four. Thank you! It’s so important. There is always a lot of innocent counting after you have kids and almost no one counts the missing baby. My first baby died in childbirth at 40 weeks and 3 days. He was healthy and perfect and wonderful. And we don’t know why he died. Luke. Sweet, wonderful, wise Luke. Now we are a family a five but outside everyone sees 4. It’s a deep ache to hear him erased so readily.

  57. Oh, man. I am a heap of tears right now. This is so beautifully written. Thank you.

  58. Oh, man. I am a heap of tears right now. This is so beautifully written. Thank you.

  59. I also lost my baby boy on November 11th but in 2009. His name was Kaelen and he was born still just like your little one. Your story was beautiful and I thank you for sharing it with us. He was a beautiful little boy and I’m glad you shared him with us.

  60. WOW, Joanna – what an incredible tribe of readers you have! We are absolutely blown away by the response. I can’t quite articulate how moved and touched I am – how beautifully and bravely you all shared. I’ve read every single comment and my heart breaks all over again for each of your losses. Thank you for sharing, for letting us know your children and all the ways you’ve experienced grief. I hold it all dearly in my heart.

    Joanna has shared with me that she’s gotten a lot of email responses as well. I’ve created an address associated with the Nice Baby Boy photo page and welcome your notes if you feel so moved –

    Thank you all so much. Sending lots of gratitude, love and peace. XO

  61. Beautiful Baby Boy and such a beautiful and strong story. I shed tears for you and your family.

  62. Beautiful Baby Boy and such a beautiful and strong story. I shed tears for you and your family.

  63. Thank you for sharing your story. It gives some insight for those of us who have not lost in that way, how to relate and talk to someone that has. Your story and family is beautiful.

  64. what a poignant writer you are… I want to hug you. I feel so in your experience.

  65. Paul was so so beautiful. Sitting here, holding my four month old baby boy, I ache trying to imagine the deep sorrow of such a loss. Thank you for sharing your story and those precious photos, it is a beautiful way to honor him.

  66. Oh Kate, what a brave strong beautiful Mama you are. Thank you for sharing your story and telling all us more about your sweet Paul. I went to your tumblr to see his pictures…what a gorgeous being! I wish you much love and peace and comfort.


  67. That you so very much for sharing your story. It has taken me a few days to fully process it and to be able to comment. I am not a mother, two of my close friends are currently pregnant, and I have also recently experienced a profound loss, of my younger brother. I could absolutely identify with every part of the grief you shared. While not the same, I am going through similar feelings. I also felt worried and scared for both of my friends, but through reading your story, and seeing you display the strength to be interviewed about your loss, I realized that God forbid, if this does happen to them, they will be okay. They will make it through, and I only know that is possible through you and your story. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I truly admire you. xoxo

  68. This is so beautifully written, it brings me right back into that murky place following my own loss, when I didn’t know if I could make it all the way down my block or if I would be pulled into the sidewalk and crushed there. Every word rings so true.

    I am so sorry and can only offer that as much as the wound is always there, it does eventually become a scar that fades a little bit more each day.

    I lost my daughter Nina over three years ago and I still miss her so much and so wish she could have lived with our family. I’ve written a lot about her, but only recently had something published, in Elle, about trying to decide whether we wanted to have another child.

    Much love to you and your family.

  69. Kate & Jo –
    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story.

  70. This was the most I’ve felt in the longest time. Your words describing grief are so perfect. Your children are absolutely beautiful.

  71. Crying with you and for your loss tonight as I read this in California. I can not believe that you had the strength to labor for 36 hours after learning you had lost Paul – you are an amazingly strong woman. Thank you for sharing your story.

  72. I am so sorry for your loss, I am crying and grieving with you tonight. God bless you and your family. Hugs. Armagan

  73. Thank you xx Your wee boy is just so beautiful.

  74. Kate – thank you for sharing the story of your beautiful son Paul with us. I wish happiness and healing to you, Jimmy, and June, and everyone else who loved Paul.

  75. L says...

    This really touched me friend, I can’t even imagine. Big hugs to all you precious mommies who have had to walk this difficult path! May I learn to love you ladies better <3

    Much Love!


  76. I lost my healthy baby boy on October 2. The cord was wrapped around the neck and he didn’t make it. I gave birth to him at 40 weeks and 6 days.

    I think Kate wrote this for herself, me and everyone out there in this awful club. Thank you, Kate.

  77. Oh this is heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing your story