I saw this link on my facebook feed. (*warning to the baby loss- photos of pregnancy and newborns*)
if you haven’t clicked, let me tell you: it’s a series of side by side photos with a woman very pregnant next to herself in the same clothes, standing the same way, holding her newborn at tummy level.
This was a link I would have clicked on easily in the before. My job as a midwife and my natural draw towards pregnancy and newborn photos would have made the link a good match for me.
Now, in the after, my facebook feed is pretty empty of kids, babies and bellies, thanks to my weeding out and unfollowing of friends who have such things. But I am also in the OB community and so some career related posts sometimes pop up.
I clicked on it.
I know what you’re thinking- I’m sure some of you babylost have your own idea. Perhaps I was a glutton for punishment. Like how even though I’ve blocked babies from my feed, I every now and then look at certain people’s pages. I make myself sad by doing it and perhaps that’s why I do it- I want to feel sad, on my own time, when I click, not when I’m surprised in my feed. Perhaps it’s training, recognizing that bellies and babies are a reality (an everyday reality in my working world), and forcing myself to look at these kinds of photos will help desensitize me so I can react in real life like a real human instead of the grief monster I have become.
But that’s not why I clicked this link.
I clicked because I honestly thought I would see some mothers empty handed.
Isn’t that crazy? Have I become too entangled in the babyloss world that my reality is blurred? Of course pictures of mothers with empty arms would not be called “heartwarming!” Maybe my facebook feed is so saturated with StillStanding Magazine and Down Syndrome Bereavement Support Group posts that I forget that there is anything else? Maybe I’ve become so open about my loss and have found so many of you out there to talk easily of our dead babies, that I expect the world to do the same?
I’m not sure why I thought they’d have empty-armed mothers there, but I think they should.
Perhaps this is a challenge. Could we come up with some of our own photos? Can you find a photo of yourself pregnant and restage it now? You can have empty arms or holding a photo of your child or a keepsake that reminds you of him/her.
Think about it.
If you do it, post it on your own blog and link it in the comments. If you don’t have your own blog but want to share, comment and I’ll email you for the photos to post on my blog.
What do think?
I didn’t have many photos of myself big and pregnant. It’s one of my bigger regrets. At the time I thought I wouldn’t want to be reminded later on, but now I cherish every pregnancy photo I have. Here I am November 2013 and present day.
I love this! I clicked on the link… maybe I’m a glutton for punishment too. Actually, my first thought was – these have to be retouched! How are these women so flat-stomached just after having birth? What is UP with that? I love your picture and your challenge. I am still so sad that i only have TWO pictures of myself looking pregnant – mainly because I didn’t really start showing until about two weeks before Ander was born. And both are in maternity clothes that I had borrowed and have since returned (I got rid of them ASAP because of the sadness…. but the woman from whom I borrowed them is now pregnant again with her second, so guess it’s good I gave them back before she needed them back, which would have only made me feel more depressed). So definitely can’t recreate the pictures exactly, but I like this idea so I’ll keep thinking about it!
I’m about 24 weeks in this photo. I have some ones of me bigger, but they are mostly in the hospital (and I”m not going back there again anytime soon!) and they were right either (in a me tossing a medicine ball kind of way). This was the only photo I had where I was “showing off” my belly- it was snapped by an in law and I”m fake smiling. I knew Mabel had Down Syndrome but didnt know yet about her low fluid (oh the innocence!) and I still felt weird about capturing my pregnancy on camera- what if I lost her, I would think. and here we are.
What a great idea. You’re so right…I guess the lack of baby loss pictures in these sorts of collections is symptomatic of the fact that the non-baby loss community doesn’t think about this outcome, or doesn’t like to think of it. Giving birth at 24 weeks means i don’t have many photos of me obviously pregnant, but I will do this too.
I’m still amazed that I thought there’d be babyloss photos. What a message that would be to have just one mixed in with all those moms with take home babies. Or how about a baby that looked different? I didnt see any babies with Down Syndrome or casts for clubbed feet, or oxygen tubing. And what an even more powerful image of a mom at her most pregnant- 24 weeks- next to the after shot. Not everyone gets the privilege of a 40 week stomach, right?
Oh, I didn’t even think about this. I wish they had included baby loss moms, but I wish even more they had included babies who look or are different. That is a mothering experience that I wish would be more normalized and welcomed.
I absolutely agree that it would be wonderful to have pics like this with babies that look different.
I’ve been thinking more and more about this. I get how no one likes to think of us with the empty arms, but there are plenty of babies that look different. I wish some photographer or compiler would include one baby that had a NG tube or a vent, or clubbed feet, or Down Syndrome! It cant be that hard to find babies that look different.
I love this! Can’t wait to get home from work so I can do it too. I haven’t been able to look at any of those photos before but always wondered if baby loss moms were included.
I”m glad you love it too! I know its a hard thing to do, but I would love for the greater community of babyloss to put something together- make our link happen. I now treasure my pregnancy photos so very much (is it wrong to say I bet I treasure them more than those with living children? maybe, but I wonder…)
I don’t think it’s wrong to say. Pregnancy was a large part of the time that we were alive together with our babies. I wish I had more pictures, too.
So, I did my own before and after last night! Here it is:
❤ I love it. I love it. ❤
Your pictures are heartwarming. They show how much you love your baby girl.
thank you. she is my everything.
I’ll have to do some thinking about this. I think I might combust in sobbing agony to put on my maternity shirts now. By the way, you look incredible in both versions:)
Oh yes, putting on maternity clothes can be traumatizing (dont if you’re not ready!). I have to admit, I had to go into my attic and find the shirt in the box of maternity clothes I packed away. I first mistakenly opened a box labeled “baby” that my husband had packed up for me- the few baby supplies we had gotten (a borrowed home doppler, some gifted clothes, clothe diapers). there was pain there. and putting on the shirt (i used my non maternity jeans- I wouldnt go that far) I was reminded the last time I wore it, Mabel was with me, in me. It was sad, but for me I was strengthened by wanting to make my before and after photo to prove my point to the world too and I’m glad I did, if for no other reason that you guys could all see. But please dont go down a sobbing agony road unless you want to. i can understand how heartbreaking it could be.
and thank you 🙂
Good idea. I just need to summon my courage to do this. Thanks for sharing this!
only if you feel up to it. I think I’m a little selfish- I just want to see more of us in the media. get the recognition that we deserve- that what we do it invisible and hard work. Put a visual to the “before” and “after” we all have.
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Wow! What a great idea. I wish there were more things out there that put mums like us in the picture. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the photos you linked to, with living babies, but I have looked at your photos and pleromama’s link. Beautiful…
I’d like to join in, but will have to think about it, the only bit of clothing I can think of is really hard to even look at, I haven’t seen it since leaving the hospital without our son in December. It’s in the attic, in a black bin bag we refer to as the ‘black slug’ – it’s full of stuff we both wore as I laboured in hospital, knowing our baby had already died. I’ll think about it and keep checking back. It’s good to face things, and this would certainly give me a reason to tackle the ‘slug’!
Thanks Meghan x
Yes, I totally understand. I had to dig out my maternity clothes and it was an interesting mental exercise. For me, I was excited enough to do it that it muted my emotions, but for others it might not be the same. If nothing else, it’s something to think about 🙂
This is such a great idea. I havent clicked on the link but I get the idea. I have only a few photos of me pregnant and they are ones I took myself in front of a mirror, so i’m not sure if it would be any good for you. Right now i’m not sure I could put maternity clothes on either, but I’ll try and keep in touch about it.
I”m glad you like the idea. I had trouble picking a photo, because I didnt have many either and most of the ones I had weren’t right, so I settled on the 24 weeks one. It is an exercise in grief to put on maternity clothes, and it’s not right for everyone (I was thinking, it doesnt have to be the same clothes. who says, right?) but if you do decide to to snap an after photo- even if it’s in front of a mirror- I’d be honored to see it. thank you for reading!
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I did it!
I am really grateful that you shared this Meghan, thank you. x
I love your post in the way only a babylost could. I hate that you dont have your baby with you, but I love that you were able to share this with all of us here. His blanket in your arms….so powerful.
Thank you Meghan for the push to reflect on the before/after. And thank you and all of the other mamans who have shared their photos and experiences. xo
agreed. just thinking of the before and the after is an accomplishment in itself. so much greatness in the comments
I am humbled by all of you who contributed- my heart lights when I see someone else has posted their own before and after. I feel like we are standing up for ourselves, announcing that we are part of this mother-baby community!
I am also awed by all those of you who have commented and thought about the before and after. For those babylost, just simply taking the time to simply read is a triumph in itself.
And I am grateful for those who are not in the babyloss club, but are here to support us. Thank you for welcoming us and reading our stories. You help keep our babies alive.
Love your “before and after” and the beautiful pictures in the comments. You are all such a vital part of the mother-baby community. Thank you for sharing your stories!
They’re awesome, arent they?
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Hi Meghan, thanks for setting this challenge. My photos are in this post: http://headspace-perspective.com/2014/08/25/bump-to-baby-photos-an-alternative-image/
I love your photo! You look so strong in your after photo. And I dont use that word lightly (I dont like being called “strong” myself. I’m not strong. I”m just surviving). But you literally exude strength. like HUgo is holding you up 🙂
I really love this idea. I had a photographer friend take some full-term pictures taken with the idea of doing a “before-and-after” image. The same friend took pictures as we took my son off life support. I have all the pictures of my son, but haven’t even asked her about the pregnancy pics. I don’t know if I’m ready to do this yet, honestly — I will ask her about it, though. And maybe I can do an “8 months pregnant/8 months after”, or something. I will work on it 🙂
As hard as it was for many people to do this, I am so selfishly happy they did- i love looking at the photos people linked to. For me it wasnt that hard (I think the excitement behind the idea drove away thinking too hard about putting on a maternity top), but because it was relatively easy for me, I didnt think, until people started commenting, about how hard it could be to walk down that memory lane. So, please don’t do anything unless you are ready and willing. Love the idea of 8months in/8months out!
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