Guest Column

My healthy, full-term baby was stillborn. Life is a miracle we shouldn’t take for granted.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this guest post are solely those of the guest author. Minor edits have been made for clarity.

Hi, my name is Jessica. I am the wife of Nick and the mother of two children – Asher, who is almost three, and Rhea, who was unfortunately stillborn at full term. We live in South Carolina.

Both of my pregnancies went without any problems. Our son Asher was born unmedicated with the help of a midwife, and we planned the same for Rhea. 

We were ecstatic to know that we were having a GIRL! Everything had been going smooth and normal, and I knew that as long as my baby was moving she was fine. One day I noticed that I hadn’t felt her move since that morning, but all babies have slower days, right? Wrong.

By the time I went to my midwife to have her check the heart-tones she was already gone. Just two days prior I had my last checkup and everything looked good.

Two days later, I watched the midwife search for a heartbeat, first using a fetoscope and then her doppler. Usually she would place the scope on the same spot and get heart-tones on the spot. When I saw her searching around my stomach and not being able to listen, I knew that my worst fear had come true. I knew that she was probably already gone, but having it confirmed now made it real.

I was 40+3 [40 weeks, three days], and I knew babies were always suppose to be moving but I had no clue what to do if they slowed down or stopped. A healthy baby doesn’t just die, or so everyone thinks. Well, unfortunately, they do (and no, I did not get any kind of COVID shot). There wasn’t actually anything wrong with my daughter — something went wrong with the placenta. That can be the risk with going past your due date.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of 175 babies born will be a stillbirth; that is 21,000 stillbirths in the United States each year.

Birth is the hardest thing a woman will physically go through, and having to go through labor for a deceased baby sounded like an absolute nightmare.

After those silent ultrasounds officially confirmed my daughter no longer had a heartbeat, we got started on the induction process. 

I wanted out so badly. I went through labor scared, but I knew the Lord would be with me every step of the way.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Duplantis

I had gotten an epidural and the induction process went smoothly. My active labor was a little over an hour and I delivered my sweet girl. I was excited to at least see what she looked like, but so incredibly devastated at the same time.

It was devastating to see our sweet girl start to decay right before our eyes, to smell the stench of death on her, and to see her lifeless limp body laying there. It is an absolute tragedy.

I didn’t choose this. I am very pro-life, it’s angering and heartbreaking. She was so beautiful — long eye lashes, dark curly hair, a dainty little nose, sweet little hands, and the tiniest feet I’ve ever seen. What a princess.

We will never see her grow up in this life and we won’t get to experience the legacy that she would have continued on this earth.

Photo courtesy of Jessica DuplantisHer big brother Asher was so excited to play Hot Wheels and “gogo’s” (monster trucks) with her. Anytime we mention her, he still says he wants to play with her. Her name is Rhea Dawn (pronounced RAY-UH). Her name means “friend of God” and she was born at dawn. 

We are heartbroken to have said our farewells so soon. The Lord has been so near to us and has given us so much comfort and hope during this time. Rhea’s short life has impacted over 4,000 lives thus far. We miss her dearly, and we have full confidence that she is in the best of care along with all the other babies and children who have left this earth too soon.

While I know this reality, in my heart I still have to experience and feel the emotions that we do on this earth as we go through the grieving process.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Duplantis

There were a lot of hard moments about Rhea’s death — one of them being on the third day, when her body was moved to the funeral home. I had thought she would be in the nice viewing room, but her body was too delicate at this point so instead they had placed her in the back room where they make the deceased persons look nice.

She was on a table with a white sheet covering her body from the neck down, but her face was discoloring so badly at this point and we couldn’t touch her because her skin was ripping.

Take this from someone who has seen their dead lifeless baby lying there: it is something you NEVER want to experience. Rhea was practically here, full-term and ready to be born.

I hope everyone reading this will see what a miracle it is to not only conceive a baby — but to carry one to full term, everything must go perfectly. Life is a gift.

The Lord is faithful and he helps us to overcome life’s trials. I pray that you realize how precious every life is. For those who are considering ending the life of your unborn child, my desire is that you recognize the beautiful life you are carrying. For those who have children, please do not miss the little moments to show your love and affection.

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