Rachel Whalen will never forget the heartbreak of delivering her stillborn baby girl. But she also won’t ever forget the one, simple question a compassionate nurse asked that meant so much: “Do you want to talk about her?”
Most women love their babies from the moment they learn they are pregnant. And that’s why a miscarriage or stillbirth is so devastating. These hurting parents have lost a child. And yet, to the world at large, it’s like the baby never existed.
A woman named Rachel Whalen knows this agony all too well.
Mom’s Heartache After Delivering Stillborn Baby
When Rachel decided to become a mom, she had no way to know how painful and difficult the road ahead would be. But after suffering two first-trimester miscarriages, things finally seemed to be turning around.
Rachel found out she was pregnant with her daughter, Dorothy. And the pregnancy was going smoothly up until 28 weeks. That’s when doctors diagnosed her with severe preeclampsia.
Rachel spent a week on bedrest, hoping Dorothy would be ok. But then a placental abruption occurred. Rachel wound up delivering a stillborn baby.
“Losing your baby makes you feel as if you've lost your sense of self,” Rachel said. “How do you move forward after such heartbreak? How do you make sense amidst the devastation?”
The sad reality of this world is how dark times can get at any given moment. God could easily leave us to suffer alone in this broken world.
But He doesn’t. In times of tragedy, He makes beauty from the ashes.
Compassion Nurses Change Everything
In the middle of this terrible loss, Rachel found herself surrounded by love. Not just from friends and family. But from her nurses.
Though they were relative strangers, the nurses became Jesus’ hands and feet. The compassion they showed Rachel went far beyond medical attention.
“Thank you for saving me,” Rachel said in an open letter to these special angels. “Your skills and your knowledge saved me from following my daughter into death, but it was your compassion that guided me back towards life. The humanity you demonstrated is what brought me back into life; you made it possible to think about living after death.”
One of the toughest things about a miscarriage or delivering a stillborn baby is the stigma that seems to exist in society. For so long, talking about this kind of loss has been seen as taboo.
But to ignore this precious child’s life is just as painful as losing it.
And that’s why Rachel will never forget one question a nurse asked her about Dorothy — a question that meant so much.
“Thank you for knowing how important it was for her to be real even though she was gone,” Rachel recalled. “I will never forget the way you leaned in, just like we were friends, and asked: ‘Do you want to tell me about her?’"
Overcoming Grief To Inspire Others
This mom’s heart will always carry the scar of her miscarriages and stillbirth. But talking about the child she lost helps Rachel move forward. It helps her heal.
And that’s why Rachel started her blog, An Unexpected Family Outing. There, she shares her journey to encourage others, to heal, and to leave behind Dorothy’s legacy.
As Rachel points out there, losing a baby gets easier but never stops being hard.
Several months after delivering her stillborn baby girl, Rachel found out she was pregnant again. Her previous losses made it tough to stay positive. But blogging helped her work through the anxiety until she gave birth to Dorothy’s little sister.
“Frances Michele Whalen was born and I learned just how much love a heart can hold,” Rachel said.
Since then, Rachel continues to speak out about the pain of miscarriage.
Rachel Whalen hopes to encourage others while dispelling the miscarriage stigma that keeps so many women quiet. And this real-life overcomer is an incredible example of how God can make beauty out of ashes!
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
Featured Image Credit: Facebook/An Unexpected Family Outing
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