Stillbirth: Harper’s Story

Kari was shocked to find out how common stillbirth is—about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States each year. Kari shares her daughter Harper’s story to help other families know they are not alone and to raise awareness of stillbirth.

Harper’s Story as told by her mother, Kari

I will never forget the day my husband, Marc, and I received the devastating news that would change our lives forever. I had a perfectly normal pregnancy for 39 weeks. But during a routine visit with my doctor at 39 ½ weeks, we found out our daughter, Harper, didn’t have a heartbeat. My due date was just three days away.

We were in complete shock—shattered and utterly heartbroken. Early the next morning, after a very long and sleepless night, we arrived at the hospital where I was induced into labor to give birth to a baby we could not bring home. Fourteen hours later, I delivered Harper Elizabeth. She was seven pounds and eight ounces with a head full of black hair. She had my lips and long fingers and her daddy’s cheeks and nose. We loved her so deeply. We were able to spend a few brief but precious days with her in the hospital before we had to say goodbye forever to our beautiful baby girl.

After that, we faced the incomprehensible task of returning home with empty arms to plan her funeral. During those dark months after losing Harper, I spent a lot of time looking on the internet for information about stillbirth. I was shocked with what I found! Each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States.1 The causes of many stillbirths are unknown. I felt so much anger and guilt that I couldn’t protect my baby. I wanted to do something to raise awareness and to help other people not go through what we had.

Shortly after we lost Harper, I made a YouTube tribute video for her, and I do work within my community to help raise awareness about stillbirth. Doing acts of service in her honor has helped me tremendously in my healing process.

Last year, my husband and I welcomed our next child, our rainbow baby, into our family. We named him Colton. Although our family will never be complete without Harper, I am grateful each and every day for the gift of our daughter. We think of her daily, and we will carry her in our hearts for the rest of our lives until we meet again.

CDC would like to thank Kari for sharing her family’s story.

References

  1. MacDorman MF, Gregory ECW. Fetal and perinatal mortality: United States, 2013. National vital statistics reports; vol 64 no 8. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_08.pdfpdf icon