Content warning: The photos shared below are of a highly sensitive nature and may be considered disturbing for some. Please scroll with caution.
On September 10, 2007, I went into the hospital 38.5 weeks pregnant with what I had just learned was my dead son. After more than 18 horrific, emotional, heartbreaking hours of labor, I had to leave empty handed. These are some of the things I needed to say to my son.
Dear Logan James Macke,
On September 11, 2018, you would've been 11 years old. It would’ve been your golden birthday. So much healing has happened in those years and yet in one moment the pain can all flood back and seem like it happened just yesterday. Every day, I remember wondering how I would go on? Would I ever be able to get over this? The answer is no. But with the support such as I had from my family and friends, I did. The sun rises every day and I get stronger, better. Eleven years feels sudden, somehow. I have thought of you and longed to hold you in my arms just one more time every.single.day since I last saw you.
When we last parted, I had to hand you over forever to a stranger who I knew was taking you to the morgue. I knew I would never see you again as long as I'm living. Going home without you felt like I left a body part behind; it was the hardest thing I've ever done. I truly believe I will see you, hold you, and breathe in your sweet scent again someday. Until then, know that I will never stop thinking of you, never stop loving you, never stop being your mommy.
Rest in peace, my sweet Logan.
Photo via Heather Macke
This is my second time sharing these photos—the first time was on a closed Facebook group. Many who are close to me haven’t seen them either. But I feel like sharing these will not only help to honor LJM and his very brief time alive, but maybe someone who is also struggling will stumble upon them and know that they aren't alone. Yes, it's hard to see the pain on our faces, it's almost tangible, but I also know how far we've come now too. Stillbirth isn't spoken of much, many just don't know what to say. As the mother you feel like you are just supposed to go on, don't bring it up, because it actually makes others more uncomfortable than you are. To the mothers who've also suffered this loss... You WILL make it through another day. You CAN go on.
Talk about your child. Cry. Scream. Everyday will get just a little bit better if you let yourself. You have a guardian angel now. Do what you have to do to heal because of what your child would want for you. Go to a support group of suffering mothers and acknowledge that baby. Say his name. Hold that mother tightly and be there for her (the fathers too). Be patient and give them some grace. Your help and support is what helps so much to get us back to 'normal'. It will be a priceless gift; I can't thank my tribe enough.
Photo via Heather Macke
But the first few days are extremely hard. Once I was home from the hospital, I had a literal ache in my arms. Nothing helped it—not pain reliever, massages—nothing. It wasn’t until I realized they ached to hold my son that the pain actually dissipated.
Another traumatic blow that everyone forgot to mention was that even though I didn’t have a baby to feed, my milk would still come in. Feeling like I had a big bowl of jelly stomach was no longer valid since I didn’t have a baby to “excuse” it.
But no one was harder on me than myself.
I wracked my brain for anything and everything I could’ve done wrong that caused this to happen. But in the meantime, I blamed myself for everything. Even things I had done before ever pregnant—I thought it could be a higher power punishing me. In my pregnancy with my next son, I learned that I had something called PIA-1, which is a plasminogen-activating inhibitor. I was ordered to take one baby aspirin a day to thin my blood just a little after learning about it for my next pregnancy, which worked, as I delivered a healthy baby boy. And the truth is, it took me years to come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t anything I did to lose Logan.
When I was pregnant again, I barely acknowledged the baby inside me. I didn’t celebrate him. I was terrified & I couldn’t let myself think about it—and I didn’t even find out the sex. Until he was out safely, screaming in my arms—only then did I feel like I was a mother.
Then I felt terrible because I thought I didn’t love him enough; I really put myself through the wringer and I think put so much more emotional duress on myself than what I already had. Now when I look at these pictures of myself as a poor sobbing mother, my heart just shatters. I just want to hug her.
Five things you should know about stillbirth:
The emotional pain outlasts any physical pain.
The mothers endure so much more emotional turmoil and so much guilt. Please feel free to offer support, but keep your comments about "why" this happened to yourself.
Support is the way to better mental health. We need to share these stories and help each other.
You can't send a new mother home empty-handed and expect her to move on. Even if you give her all the information she needs at the hospital (regarding support groups or next steps), she won't hear you - not right away. Follow up and check in with her. Everyone's timeline is different.
Grief is not linear; it's a process. Even 11 years later, I'm still feeling the emotions flow from my heart.