Last month, a grieving mother reached out through social media to share an important message with parents around the world. Hundreds of thousands have shared the emotional Facebook post made by Natalie Morgan just days after she delivered a stillborn baby girl.
Morgan addressed friends with babies of their own in her tear-jerking post saying, “This is my plea to you… there will be sleepless nights, multiple diaper changes in a matter of minutes, spit up in your hair…. Every time that happens, every time you feel frustrated and want to run away, please remember my story.”
Though her daughter was active in the womb the night before, “kicking away”, Morgan intuitively knew something was wrong when she woke up and the baby was no longer moving.
“I knew. I just knew. I didn’t want to know,” Morgan wrote. “I wanted to be mistaken, but I knew.”
She went to the hospital after finding no heartbeat with her home Doppler. Nurses used an ultrasound with high hopes of finding signs of life, but a doctor confirmed what Morgan knew all along, saying, “I’m sorry… there’s nothing there.”
Morgan was induced later that day, choosing to deliver with no epidural.
“I couldn’t do it. I needed to own it. I needed the pain, the agony, and misery to mirror what I felt in my heart,” she recalled.
After hours of a painful labor, her daughter was born.
“She was placed on my chest – gorgeous, but lifeless,” said Morgan. “There was no reason to expect that first little cry from her. Instead, it was me who sobbed.”
A photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a nonprofit organization that takes free professional portraits for families with stillborn or at risk newborns, took hundreds of photos over the next six hours.
Gina Harris, CEO of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, told CBS News the photographs aid the healing process for families.
Harris knows from experience, after losing two baby boys at birth. Her children, David and Ethan, were born less than a year apart. She has cherished photos of David, but none of Ethan.
“When you lose a baby, that time in a hospital goes by so very quickly,” said Harris. “It would have been difficult for us to remember exactly what he looks like.”
Harris explained that when babies are stillborn, there is no birth certificate issued. Parents get a death certificate.
“There isn’t a proof of existence – having a photo shows they were real,” said Harris.
Morgan added in a follow-up post on Facebook, “They are not gruesome, they are not offensive, they are not graphic, nor are they violent. They are real life, in all its beauty and agony.”
Harris thanked Morgan for being brave enough to share her heartbreaking story and photos, and she believes others should do the same.
“You don’t hear about it until it happens to you,” Harris said. “It’s a tough subject, babies aren’t supposed to die, but it’s something people are finally talking about.”
After retelling the chilling details of her story, Morgan concluded with an important message for parents, and finally, she asked them to remember her sweet baby, Eleanor Josephine.
“All I ask of you is when you have your dark moments with your baby – when you’re at your wits’ end and feel like you can’t go on anymore when you’re only getting an hour or two of sleep a night – instead of begging your child to go to sleep and being swallowed up in your frustration and exhaustion, find the tiniest bit of strength within you to keep going, and say a prayer of gratitude for your child, as difficult as it may be in that moment,” Morgan wrote.