Monday, May 7, 2012

When Our Baby Died

When our baby died, we thought we were alone and that no one on earth had experienced the devastation we were feeling.  Over time, we learned that there are many families left behind by the dark side of midwifery.  Over time, we learned that our loss experiences were eerily similar. Over time, we came to realize the bizarre spell that midwifery had cast upon us, a spell that took hold of us for months following our baby's death.  

Below is a series of steps that outline how the grieving progression went for us over the first year since our baby's birth and death.  The purpose in sharing this is for other mothers and families to realize they aren't alone.  There are threads we all have in common, not only in loss, but in coming to grips with the experience of negligent care with midwives, and how it affects our lives afterward.   

(Traumatic birth - 3 months)  
1) We experienced Devastation; Shock; Nightmares; Difficulty Breathing

2) We desperately tried to protect the way our baby was remembered, including the fact that he was born at a birth center instead of a hospital. We felt determined to defend our midwives.

3) We tried to make sense of everything by telling ourselves that our midwife did everything she could, that babies die in hospitals too, etc. . . . but that didn’t seem right.

The following link has been copied and pasted from a former Oregon blog about midwifery and provides an analysis of the psychological relationship that takes place between mother and midwife after loss.  Reading this put into words what I have been trying to describe about the "spell" that it seems we were under in the days/months after our baby's death.  This post defines and explains the progression of how women react and why after losing a baby with her midwife.  

(Around 3 months postpartum) 
4) We started to realize that things didn't feel right. We felt deeply unsettled. Our midwife's explanation that "some babies aren't meant to live" never left me. It kept nagging at me to find out more about what actually happened.

5) We started to ask questions of our own midwives, then of other midwives and obstetricians, too.  We talked to the EMTs and doctors in the RNICU that tried to save our son’s life.  We started to read in detail what recent research said about our kind of birth. We asked for medical records.

6) We understood that our baby's death was preventable, that we were put into harm's way to advance an agenda, that our midwives lied to protect themselves, that our labor and delivery was grossly mismanaged, that we had been severely uninformed, and that what we had experienced was extreme negligence. 

(Around 6 months postpartum) 
7) We slowly started to realize there are other families who had experienced the same thing, both here in our very community (under the care of the same midwives, same birth center) as well as across the country. It began to feel like an epidemic to us.

8)  We learned that loss & injury in home birth is more common that most people think. We learned that most families don’t talk about it and, tragically, that the birth communities they held dear usually blame the parents.  We learned that midwives have contrived responses to loss.

Below is a link to the "10 centimeters" blog about common reasons given by midwives to loss moms.  It is insightful to say the least and helped me understand the dynamic I was personally experiencing as I tried to gain understanding of what had happened. 

 What We Say to Loss Moms (10 centimeters

9) We experienced other kinds of loss. Yes we lost our baby, but we also lost our faith, our trust in humanity, any feeling we formerly had of being protected in this world, and our confidence in our ability to make decisions.  We felt embarrassed, too - foolish for not having seen who our midwives were and for trusting their guidance.  I still feel like I’ll never be a good enough mother a) for not knowing something was wrong and b) not being able to see this coming.
(Around 6 months - present)
10) We learned there are no regulations, no reporting outcomes, no insurance requirements, and no accountability for midwives in Michigan.  We feel compelled to change that in an effort to protect other families. 

I hope that this post reaches other mothers out there who have struggled to understand loss with a midwife or loss under negligent circumstances.  The message intended in sharing our experience is that you are not alone.  I hope this post offers insight that, in some small way, resonates with your experience and further helps you move forward.  Please send us an email using the "contact" tab for further support.

(Another post coming soon that examines the relationship more closely between mother and midwife entitled, "Should my midwife be my friend?")  


  1. An excellent post, and I'm so sorry for the reason you had to learn these things.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I know all this information you've provided represents many, many heartbreaking tears and hours of searching, reading, struggling....I'm so sorry for your loss and hope that by providing information like this, which is so excellently laid out, it can lessen the senselessness of your baby's death.