“Amy- Maddy was never alive. Why celebrate a life that didn’t exist?”
“It has been 3 years. It’s time to move on.”
“You celebrating makes me feel uncomfortable.”
“You have a son and a daughter on earth now. Move on.”
…just a few of the things that my ‘critics’ have said to me over the past three years since my daughter, Madison, died when I was 38 weeks pregnant.”
Everyone that has lost a child grieves differently. Some parents choose to have birthdays. Some choose to celebrate their birthday in a different way. There is no right or wrong answer. I am writing this because I want parents to know that it is ok to celebrate a birthday of a dead baby! We want other parents that have experienced child loss to know that they are not alone. If you feel the desire to celebrate his/her life through a birthday celebration, do it. Don’t ever be held back because of the opinions of others! Here is our story…
Birthdays are usually an amazing day filled with lots of laughter and celebration. Unfortunately, on September 3rd of every year, the day is filled with tears and sadness. On September 2nd, we listened as the doctors told us every parent’s worst nightmare…”I’m so sorry but there is no heartbeat. Your baby has died.” On September 3, 2015, I delivered our stillborndaughter. Our lives as we had known it had completely changed…forever.
Birthdays bring so much joy to so many people…so many parents. Her birthday is different. We don’t get to watch her blow out her candles or watch her open presents…or even plan an elaborate birthday party. Maddy’s birthday is quite different. We have family and friends that are so supportive of us celebrating her birthday…and we have family and friends that…well…don’t. I would never expect my critics to fully ‘get it’…but we do expect them to respect how we choose to celebrate.
As hard as September 3rd is, we have made it our goal to celebrate her life…because just like any other child, she is deserving of a birthday celebration even though she isn’t here on earth with us. In just a few days, we will proudly celebrate what would have been her 3rd birthday. We celebrate her birthday in many ways! We are blessed to have a 5-year-old son and most recently, a 4-month-old rainbow baby daughter. Each year, we go to the local bakery and Brody picks out a birthday cake theme. He LOVES doing it…We have had a ‘beach’ themed cake, a ‘shark’ cake, and this year, a ‘unicorn’ cake. We invite our closest family and friends over for cake and ice cream…we sing happy birthday to Maddy…and we let our son blow out her candles. He is such a proud big brother! We buy a present for our son from her. It is such a special birthday party and it brings smiles and joy to what would otherwise be a terribly sad day. We also make donations to our hospitals bereavement foundation and to the organization that provided us with counseling after she had passed.
Doing everything that we do to celebrate her birthday and her precious little life is healing for us. There is nothing better than watching our son open his present ‘from’ Maddy and squeal in excitement saying, “how did Maddy know that I wanted this so bad? She must be listening from heaven!” We find it so rewarding to present checks to non-profit organizations on her birthday in memory of her life.
Pregnancy losses occur way more than one would ever think! One in four mothers lose a pregnancy. There are 24,000 stillborns delivered in the US each year. There are 2.6 million stillborns delivered across the world. There are hundreds uponthousands of parents each year that have to bury their baby. That have to grieve their loss for the rest of their lives. It is our mission is to make the tragedy of losing a child just a little easier. We are proud parents to our angel baby and to our two children here on earth. We could have never planned for this to be ‘our life’….but it is. We love all of our children with all of our hearts. We will ALWAYS celebrate Maddy’s birthday regardless of the time that has gone by…or the negative comments that we get about why we have choose to have abirthday party for her.
Happy happy birthday to our precious angel baby, Madison Kathryn! We love you and miss you every single day!