Natalie Morgan’s baby girl was kicking her from the inside the night before she was born. At 40 weeks, Natalie and her husband Brian went to bed excited, nervous and full of anticipation for the arrival of their baby, as any expectant parents would. The next morning Natalie couldn’t find a heartbeat. Warning: some readers might find the images in this post confronting.
Bravely, Natalie has shared her experience on Facebook as a poignant plea to other mums that during their “exhausted, angry and fed up” moments with their own newborns, they stop and remember baby Eleanor.
Eleanor Josephine Morgan was born sleeping on September 11, 2015.
Natalie’s Facebook page shows photos of her proudly showing off her fit-to-burst bump only days before her due date. She spoke of the joy she felt when finding out she was having a daughter, a baby sister for Alfie.
At 38 weeks and three days, Natalie posted a mirror selfie with the caption: “Anyone want to venture a guess as to when New Baby will come, how much she’ll weigh and how long she’ll be?”. Reading it now brings tears to your eyes. Most of us will never be able to know what it’s like to lose a child, but the honesty in Natalie’s posts breaks your heart. Her happiness and excitement shown in the photo is not yet overtaken by the immense pain and sadness that is to come.
Sadly the same Facebook page that held the family’s hopes and dreams for their baby girl has now become a memorial for Eleanor, with tributes, a fundraising page and messages of support being posted from strangers around the world.
But Natalie’s decision to share her story and some pictures of her dead baby has also been criticised, with anonymous social media users reporting the photographs to Facebook for being offensive. “To whoever keeps reporting our daughter’s photos, please see your way kindly to hell (I would like to say more, but I am refraining),” Natalie writes.
The Florida couple did everything they could for their baby and went to hospital immediately on that fateful morning. After an ultrasound, a doctor told them there was no heartbeat. “I keep having flashbacks to that moment. It’s a crippling, all-consuming feeling of utter suffocation, and a memory that will haunt me for the rest of my life,” Natalie says.
“In that moment, I felt trapped as if the ceiling was literally crashing down on top of me. I couldn’t breathe, lashed out, I screamed, I threw things, I threw up…and then a piece of me died with her.”
Induced, Natalie gave birth to her baby. “There would be no happiness at the end of it to help me forget the pain. The pain, unlike my baby girl, would live on forever,” she says. “Then finally, after those hellish hours of labor, she was placed on my chest – gorgeous, but lifeless. There was no reason to expect that first little cry from her. Instead, it was me who sobbed. I begged her through my tears to wake up: ‘Please wake up, baby girl, please, wake up. Why won’t you cry for mommy? Please, please, please…just wake up’.”
Their beautiful girl was perfect in every way. “I love her so much, and the devastation I felt, and still feel, cannot even begin to be described. We got to spend six hours with her. We took hundreds of photos. A photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came by and took even more,” Natalie says. “We bathed her, we brushed her hair, we held her, kissed her, and told her how much we loved her. And I apologised over and over again for failing her. Oh, how I failed my beautiful baby girl.”
The purpose of Natalie sharing her story is simply to remind us to appreciate everything we have. “My womb, my heart, and my arms are empty. There are going to be so many of you who have babies who are going to cry…and inevitably you’re going to cry too, because you will feel so helpless and so frustrated and so clueless…people will tell you to just let them cry it out, that you’ll otherwise just be spoiling them, as if you can spoil a child with too much love. Feel free to slap those people for me.”
“Please just remember, while you’re awake at 3am because you have a baby in your arms keeping you up that late, I’m up at 3am because I don’t,” Natalie says. “Instead of begging your child to go to sleep and wallowing in your frustration and exhaustion, say a prayer of gratitude for your child, as difficult as it may be in that moment. And if you would, say a prayer for me and all the mothers whose children were taken from them too soon. Please. Do it for Eleanor. And do it for her mommy who loves her and misses her beyond measure.”
Six babies are stillborn every day in Australia. The Stillbirth Foundation Australia conducts research and provides education to prevent stillbirth. Beyond Blue can provide support for grief and loss.
(Images via Natalie Morgan’s Facebook page)