Stillbirth: Grace’s Story
Stillbirth can happen in any family. Like many families, Kerry and Luke experienced much grief and heartache with the loss of their daughter, Grace, during pregnancy. Nevertheless, they cherish the beautiful gift of knowing Grace and describe how their love for Grace lives on.
After struggling with infertility, my husband, Luke, and I were so thrilled to learn we were pregnant with our first child. We did all the things expectant parents do: we read the books, we signed up for classes, we decorated the nursery, and we kept a journal with entries we wrote to our cherished first child throughout our pregnancy. I read and sang to the baby, and my husband, a music lover, played a variety of his favorite songs to my growing belly. My baby shower was planned and everyone was excited. The countdown was on.
When I was almost 32 weeks pregnant, Grace Biondi died from a placental infarction, which happens when there is an interruption in blood flow from mother to baby. Grace was born still on a rainy morning in 2003. Luke said that the world was crying for us. We held her and loved her as best we could. We tried to fit a lifetime of stories into a few short hours. She was baptized, and we kissed her goodbye for the last time. Our world changed forever.
After all this time, I think of her every day, and I am forever grateful that she came into our lives. I remain amazed at everything that Grace taught us even though she didn’t live to open her eyes or take her first breath. She taught us much about love and pain. These lessons were not always easy, but they have been profound and life changing nonetheless. Grace blessed us with many gifts. We were touched by the kindness of strangers and friends alike. We learned how to truly count our blessings, we inherently became aware of what was important in life, and we learned how to not take love for granted. We met some wonderful people and became closer to old friends. Yet I was drowning in grief and guilt. I was convinced that I did something wrong and that I didn’t deserve to be a mother. My work with Healthy Birth Dayexternal icon, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of stillbirth, helped me heal. Grace eventually blessed us with three healthy children. I know that she handpicked them just for us.
Grace changed me. Not in ways that I had asked for and not in ways that I expected. I think that she made me a better person. I wrote Grace a letter for her funeral. In it I stated that even though our grief was unbearable, I wouldn’t change a second of it. We were given the beautiful gift of knowing her, and even though our time together was much too short, the love in our hearts was worth every ounce of the pain. We are richer by far having held her a moment than never having held her at all. These words are still true.
CDC would like to thank Kerry for sharing her family’s story.