Guest Post by Heidi Faith, Founder of stillbirthday

rainbowdoulaBeing a mother who both rears and mourns has its own basket of challenges, very real and very personal, and the way you mother as both a rearer and mourner is going to look different than another mother carrying what may even seem to be a very similar looking basket.

Being pregnant after having experienced a struggle to conceive or pregnancy and infant loss offers us mothers an extraordinary threshold of opportunity, of awareness, of life. While we may feel a squeeze from the bereaved community that our living child(ren) may seem to minimize our rightful place within the community, we too can feel a sense of displacement among those who parent singly through rearing, that mourning can seem to be an inappropriate distraction from the joy we have and the living child(ren) we mother.

This collision of realms can show up as social anxiety in pregnancy, hyper sensitivity to feedback and opinions, and can be exhausting and lonely.

The truth is, we mothers stand on a precious threshold that, if we remain open, can create a doorway that opens communication, an exchange of ideas, resources and support, for all who are on either side of that doorway. When we dare to identify our own temptation to build up our own walls, and we dare to open our hearts even when it’s hard, we become the ambassadors for exponential love.

To do this well, we ourselves need to feel loved, and we need to be well supported.

There are resources to support you when you are pregnant after a struggle to conceive and/or having endured pregnancy and infant loss. One such resource is stillbirthday’s Birth & Bereavement Doulas. These are doulas who support the pregnant mother and family through pregnancy, labor, birth and the initial postpartum. They support families giving birth in any trimester, and in any outcome. You may have contacted one to support you while you experienced the earliest moments of your miscarriage or stillbirth. They are equally qualified to support you in your live, subsequent, “rainbow” birth. Hiring a Birth & Bereavement Doula means you have a personal mentor as you stand on that threshold.

Pregnancy after enduring loss becomes a state of knowing, even if it perpetuates into a more pervasive level of anxiety or fear. Being a pregnant mother in this state of knowing can be very uncomfortable as you make friends with other pregnant women, pregnant women who haven’t faced pregnancy and infant loss and who don’t really understand the magnitude of bereavement outside of theory. As conversation turns to birthing options, plans, and doulas, you sharing that your doula is a stillbirthday Birth & Bereavement Doula allows you to explain that your doula’s advanced qualifications are comparable to your neighborhood hospital having a NICU – it is there, ready to serve in such capacity, just in case. Not every baby needs the skills and care of the NICU, but, it stands ready, for any baby who does.

That is what your Birth & Bereavement Doula does for you – there to support, no matter what. And now, you have something to offer to others from outside of the bereavement community, and in a way that is gentle, informative, and resourceful. When we who are in the bereaved community long to have back in the earliest moments of our story someone, who would enter in with the difficult, the uncomfortable, the hard things, and to offer such presence with gentleness and love, that we wouldn’t have felt so thrust into such an impossible chasm – you, my beautiful, enduring, open, friend, who is mothering both through rearing and mourning – you are that threshold. You are in a precious place, that by your very being here, in this very moment, can transform the way mothers rear and mothers mourn, in generations to follow us. May you feel the love my heart conveys to you in this sacred sisterhood. It is the weaving of all of your maternal story, that makes this moment such, such a magnificently precious one. It is appropriate and good to build a circle around you who mirrors that back to you, especially in the moments you will forget how valuable you are, inherently.

Stillbirthday was created in a hot week of July, 2011. Based on a free platform, the website had only two objectives; one was to translate, as a mother and doula of nearly 10 years, everything I knew about live, third trimester birth, and to respectfully and lovingly compare and contrast these truths with birth in any trimester and in any outcome. Can a mother have personal, meaningful aspects woven into miscarriage? Can we reframe the language and perception our culture has regarding the divisions of names of birth methods and similarly, to the divisions of names of motherhood? The answer was an emphatic absolute yes, that we can honor the differences in motherhood journeys while celebrating the similarities between all of us. Free birth plans for every trimester and every outcome are available within the stillbirthday database, as well as ways to find a stillbirthday certified Birth & Bereavement Doula, and to become one yourself. But what makes this birth diversity so beautiful is the belief in the thresholds, belief in the open hearts that stand where the realms meet. You, divine threshold, are beautiful, and you are believed in, you are worthy, no matter what.

 Heidi Faith is the founder of stillbirthday. With a background in social work and counseling of abused and at-risk youth, Heidi became pregnant with her first child and felt her calling shift to clinical perinatal psycho-spiritual therapy and birth support work. Stillbirthday is the legacy of Heidi’s fourth child, born via natural miscarriage on April 19, 2011. You can read pieces of Heidi’s journey at stillbirthday.




Share this story!