Stillbirth: Milan’s Story
Karina experienced the devastating loss of her son, Milan, during pregnancy. She recounts his birth day and her passion to help other families avoid the pain her family endured.
My baby died inside my body. At first I wasn’t aware that Milan had died—it was too horrible of a thought to allow into my consciousness. The next day my midwife listened for his heartbeat. We knew something was wrong, but we still didn’t believe it. I had been healthy all through my pregnancy, and this was my second one after a flawless first pregnancy and successful natural childbirth. I had seen a doctor for all of my prenatal care. We had done all the normal testing and ultrasounds. Both the doctor and head midwife thought everything was fine, but neither had encouraged me to be aware of my baby’s movements. If I had been monitoring my baby’s movements daily, I’m confident I would have noticed a change and had a chance to save his life. Instead, when we couldn’t find the heartbeat, I went to the hospital, begging God the whole way there.
I was in a room with my two midwives, husband, a nurse, and an ultrasound technician. It was appallingly quiet as they looked for the heartbeat. They couldn’t find anything. My loved ones swooped in around me as I cried, saying “Oh my God” over and over. I was 39 weeks pregnant and I wasn’t going to keep my baby. I was scared, but I knew I had to deliver the baby or I risked my life as well.
The next day, I was induced and gave birth naturally. I was grateful to give birth at home with people who loved me and treated me with great kindness, midwives I trusted with my life, and a husband who told jokes and stories to distract me from painful contractions even as his own dead son was being born. My husband held me up while I pushed out our baby. When Milan came out, they had to unwind him because he was so tangled in the umbilical cord. The cord went from his belly, up to his neck, fully around his neck, down his back, up through his legs and around his soft middle. He had cut off his oxygen supply when he dropped to be born.
And there he was, so beautiful. Milan was seven pounds and one ounce. He felt warm from being inside of me and looked like he was sleeping. Would his eyes open? Everyone cried quietly as I cooed over him, adoring his fine features. The next day we buried him. Now, we have had another child, my rainbow baby named Phoenix, who gives me great joy. I also work with a stillbirth and infant death prevention organization to help parents avoid the same pain our family endured.
CDC would like to thank Karina for sharing her family’s story.