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I laid on my back in a dimly lit room. It was dead silent in the room except for the odd clicking and tapping sound coming from the computer next to me. My stomach was cold from the jelly that was spread on it, and my bladder felt as though it was about to burst, but I didn't care.

This was the day I had been waiting for since I saw those two pink lines appear. The day I had thought of when I fell to the floor in my bathroom, crying tears of joy at the thought of becoming a mother. This was it.

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I kept sneaking glances at the ultrasound technician. She was in her mid-40s if I had to guess, with short dark hair and some pretty stylish glasses. She didn't have a smile on her face though; in fact, she looked like she was frowning at the screen in front of her.

"Don't go there," I told myself. "That's probably just her face. It has nothing to do with you or the baby. Relax."

But I couldn't relax. The tech scrunched up her face, almost as if she couldn't believe what she was seeing on her screen. She kept letting out little sighs that were so far from comforting that my eyes began to well up.

"Is everything okay?" I finally asked her.

"I'm just the tech dear, I'm not a doctor. I'm not allowed to disclose any information to you during this appointment."

"Oh, of course. No problem," I said with a slight note of panic.

The appointment ended and she wiped the goo from my swollen belly. The belly that I had for 20 weeks. The belly that I was now, without a doubt, worried for.

The next morning I woke up with the panic from the previous day's appointment having slowly subsided after a night's rest. As I made my coffee, mentally preparing to start my day, my phone rang. I looked down and saw it was my OBGYN calling and instantly I knew; I knew deep down in my bones that something was wrong.

The doctor wanted me to come in right away for an emergency appointment. She told me that my baby was sick and we needed to discuss it in person. I didn't have a husband or a boyfriend to drive me to the appointment; up until then, this had never bothered me.

I got into my car in an almost catatonic state and drove. I drove for what felt like hours yet mere seconds all at the same time. My mind was a mixture of blank and turmoil, alternating between denial and panic.

I sat in the chair in her office. The walls filled with posters of babies and happy moms, the color underneath a comforting shade of purple. There was a plant in the corner of the room—a fern maybe? I had never been good with houseplants; ironically, I could never keep them alive.

"MacKenzie, the baby is very sick," she said to me. "The ultrasound showed multiple large cysts on the kidneys and almost no amniotic fluid in your belly. Are you with me so far?"

I nodded my head, putting on my bravest face.

"Without amniotic fluid in your belly, the baby's lungs aren't able to develop properly. As I'm sure you know, without properly developed lungs, the baby's chances of making it past birth are extremely slim."

I didn't say anything for a few minutes. I just sat there, taking it all in. At this point, there wasn't much for me to say, or do for that matter. There was a woman in front of me telling me my baby was going to die. What can you say to that?

"We're going to send you in the next few days to talk to a genetic counselor and get further testing done. They'll be able to give you further information that we simply can't. I'm so sorry."

I didn't do anything in the days leading up to my trip to the hospital. I sat in my baby's room; it was gender-neutral since the tech couldn't see the gender on the ultrasound I waited five months to get. I touched little baby socks and held little baby blankets. There wasn't much in this room, but there was enough to remind me that my baby wouldn't be coming home.

The doctors at the hospital issued me an ID card that had my name, date of birth, health card number, and a little sticker on it that read "high-risk pregnancy." They might as well have slapped me in the face; it would have hurt less.

I was subjected to another ultrasound. They told me this one would determine the most accurate state of the baby's health. It took about two hours; enough time for me to let my imagination and anxiety run wild with possible outcomes. Maybe they have this all wrong. Maybe they got my ultrasound mixed up with another woman's? Maybe it's not as severe as they all think? Or maybe, my brain said quietly, the hard truth is you won't be bringing your baby home with you.

Another doctor's office, another doctor, another devastating blow. They told me that I needed to be induced tomorrow and to prepare for a stillbirth. I tried to repeat the words back to him for clarity, but they felt fuzzy on my tongue. Those words were never meant to be said.

I laid on my back on a hotel bed. The baby inside me was kicking and moving around considerably. My eyes weren't holding back the tears anymore but I didn't care. I just let them come now. Alone in the dark, I let my mind wander: What will tomorrow bring for us?

The day finally came. The day where I got to give birth to a baby that I had been so anxiously waiting to meet. This was the day every mother dreamt of. Except, at the same time, it wasn't. This was the day my baby would be born and also die.

The labor was painless and for that I was thankful. They had drugged me up so much that I was seeing cats walking around and a monkey dancing in the corner of the room. I knew it wasn't real, but yet it was oddly comforting to know that I was in an altered state; reality had been so cruel to me lately.

At 12:40 pm, on June 16th, I gave birth to a little boy. He weighed 2 pounds, 3 ounces, and was 33 cm long. The doctor placed him in my arms. He looked so small wrapped up in all those blankets. His eyes were shut but I could see that he had long eyelashes.

Underneath the knitted yellow hat he was wearing he had dark hair, just like mine. He had all his fingers and toes and the softest baby skin I have ever felt. I named him Jackson and I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and despair hit me all at once.

We spent the night in the hospital, sleeping off the effects of labor drugs and exhaustion. They had taken him away for the night to let me have a full night's rest. I didn't see the point in this. I knew he wasn't going to wake me.

I woke up and reality sunk in. I'm being discharged today. I get to go home, but my son doesn't get to come with me. This is where we must say our final goodbyes, I thought.

The nurse brought him into my room and placed him in my arms. He still smelt like a baby. I put my hand to his cheek: a loving gesture. It was cold to the touch. He'd been gone almost 24 hours now, his body finally displaying the signs. You couldn't tell by looking at him though; he looked as if he was in a peaceful sleep. I like to think of him this way.

I told him I loved him, how I wished I could keep him.

I told him how I'll think of him daily.

I told him he was the sweetest boy I had ever laid my eyes upon.

I told him that I'll never forget.

The nurse came in again. I knew this was the moment I had to say goodbye and give him back. I handed him to her and instantly felt the hole forming in my heart. I didn't try and hold it together. I let the tears go and let my body shake uncontrollably.

"It's okay," I whispered to myself once I was alone.

I tried to remember that everything happens for a reason. I tried to remember that cliché saying of how it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. It just made me angry. The world had shattered me and for that, I thought I would never be whole again.

Fast forward 8 years. I'm a mom of the greatest little boy, with a new baby boy on the way. I have a fiancée who is my soulmate in every sense of the word, and we've just bought our first family home. I spent the better part of my 20s broken by the loss of my first baby. I never thought that I would experience happiness, love, or motherhood if I'm being perfectly honest.

Miscarriage and stillbirth stories are rarely told.

They are often kept "hush-hush" as they are not "nice" things to discuss. You're right, they're not. They're raw, vulnerable and heartbreaking. They are some of the darkest moments that we live through. With that being said, the most important thing you can do to heal is to talk about it. Talk to your friends, your family. Blog about it. Journal about it. Sit with the emotions and let them wash over you.

There are days that I think about my first baby and I feel at peace. Other days I hear his name and dissolve into tears. That's okay. One way or another, we find our way out of the darkness and into the light once again.

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With American officials now cautioning that Coronavirus outbreaks are highly likely within the 50 states, experts are also urging schools and businesses to prepare for disruptions. If it comes to this, the United States can follow Hong Kong's model—where protests through the fall shut down schools and then the threat of Coronavirus led classrooms to shutter again through the majority of winter.

With schools closed and the city effectively on lockdown as the threat of Coronavirus touched all aspects of public life, students around Hong Kong have been forced to adjust to virtual schooling, and that means mothers have been forced to adjust, too.

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"Extending the class suspension has been a difficult decision. Yet as the WHO [World Health Organization] predicted, the epidemic will last for a while and the Bureau thinks it is the safest decision to ensure the physical well-being of students," said Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung in a press statement this week, announcing the decision to push back opening schools until April 20.

For American mom Arcadia Kim and her family, this effectively put their lives in Hong Kong on standstill even though they were all healthy. Rather than wait it out in Hong Kong, the family decided to "self-quarantine" in Hawaii earlier at the beginning of February which they were able to do as American citizens. As the family hastily packed up their lives with just one hour of notice, they included their digital tablets and laptops—which have since become not only their lifelines to home, but also the children's method for schooling.

"Online classes and virtual school look like 'ready player one,'" says Kim, who runs Infinite Screentime, which helps families strike a better balance with screens. "[It's like] some dystopian future where you are plugged into the matrix."

Although screen time is a stressful topic among many modern parents, Kim had a unique vantage point on the perks and pitfalls: A former chief operating officer for Electronic Arts, Los Angeles, she was closely involved in the development of some of the most popular video games in the world—and understands exactly how they were created to be addictive.

After being conscious of her children's screen time throughout their lives, it felt strange for her to encourage them to log hours upon hours on their computers in the name of school. "They are in front of their computers for nearly six hours a day," she says of her children's virtual schooling. "It looks crazy, but this is crazy."

Still, for being pushed into this new way of schooling that they didn't request, Kim was impressed by the way her children quickly adjusted. Whereas they could have lost one year of education, the Kim children now wake up across the ocean from their school, log on by 8 a.m. to receive their assignments and then get to work for the day—which looks like anything from the 13-year-old Skyping with a tutor who is a PhD candidate in microbiology, the 7-year-old assessing the symmetry of objects using a tablet, or the 10-year-old learning scratch programming.

To provide a counterbalance at the end of the screen time-rich school day, the family makes a point of getting out and exploring their new surroundings.

While the circumstances in Hong Kong may be unique, students, parents and educators from around the world are embracing online classrooms for a variety of reasons. According to a 2019 report from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), nearly 300,000 K-12 students in the United States were enrolled in full-time virtual schools.

However, experts from NEPC, a research organization based out of the University of Colorado at Boulder, expressed concern about the effectiveness of virtual schooling—which is still somewhat of an unregulated, "wild west" approach to education. Notably, the graduation rate from virtual schools is approximately 50 percent while the national average for public schools is 85%.

"Given the lack of understanding of what is actually happening in virtual education, policymakers should require that any virtual school operating in their jurisdiction be required to provide the necessary information to examine the effectiveness of the virtual education that is actually being provided," the authors suggested in the report.

Kim agrees the downsides to virtual schooling remain clear, especially because educators in Hong Kong had to scramble to offer this option on such short notice. "There are some things that seem better and more conducive to learning online than other things," she says. "Can a 7-year-old really understand the significance of the Day of Death by watching YouTube videos only? It would have been much cooler if they could have done the dress-up festival like the school had planned."

Yet Kim says her eyes truly have been opened to the possibilities that virtual schooling presents through this experience—even as she's looking forward to her children having the chance to go back to their normal classrooms. "This is going to be the future," she says. "[Online school] will force kids to be more self-reliant and motivated. Parents will need to be more flexible about what is to come."

News

As a dentist and a parent, I know getting kids pumped about dental care is not always easy. Especially when quality time with the toothbrush means an inevitable tantrum, as it does for some toddlers.

While the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a visit to the dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than your child's first birthday, establishing a few simple habits before your toddler's first dental appointment could be your best bet for an easier first time in the dentist chair.

Here are five easy ways parents can prepare their toddler prepare for the first dental visit.

Start brushing early

I know how important (but tough) it is to get kids into any sort of routine—let alone a dental one. We began our children's dental routine as infants by cleaning their mouths and gums regularly with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Between 12-18 months, we started a brushing routine with non-fluoridated toothpaste.

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The earlier children fit toothbrushing into their daily routine, the easier their first dental visit will be. Just like adults, children should brush their teeth twice daily for 2-3 minutes, ideally early in the morning and before going to bed.

Schedule your child's nighttime brushing before they get too tired. For example, if your child usually nods off at 8 pm, have them do their nightly brushing and flossing at 7:15 pm. We're all a bit more cooperative before the Sandman comes knocking.

Make it tasty

Finding a gently-flavored children's toothpaste your child likes to brush with can make brushing a lot more enjoyable—and may make that first dental visit go more smoothly, too. While mint flavored is a good go-to for adults, bubble gum or chocolate-flavored toothpaste may be more appealing for the little ones.

Parents can begin brushing their children's teeth with a tiny pea-sized amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste as early as 18 months. Once your child learns how to spit (around 2 years old), switch to fluoride toothpaste to protect against dental decay.

Avoid surprises

Most kids don't particularly enjoy bad surprises—and who can blame them? Showing up to a strange, sterile place like a dentist's office, with loud, scary noises and "a big person" putting their hands in your mouth? No, thank you!

The best way to prepare a child for the dentist is to tell, show and do:

Tell: Start by spending some time telling your child about the dentist and why it's important to visit.

Show: Demonstrate for your child what the dentist does by reading a children's book (and explain why it's not scary!).

Do: Bring your child on a quick field trip to the dentist and let them see, touch and experience the office before their first visit.

Play pretend

Before the first visit, try play-acting "trip to the dentist" with a stuffed animal. Encourage your child to count and brush teeth, floss between their chompers and have fun taking turns in a pretend dentist chair.

Use praise + positive reinforcement

Visiting the dentist is a new and sometimes scary experience for children. While starting and prioritizing a brushing routine helps in the long run, no amount of prep can guarantee a perfect first time dental visit.

Praise and positive reinforcement helps kids become excited to care for their teeth. Rewarding healthy habits and your first dental visit with a trip to the park, smiley stickers and big hugs makes the process less frightening for kids—and less troublesome for parents.
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The grey days of winter are coming to an end and spring is in the air! ? The sidewalks will no longer be icy and soon flowers will start poking up. This month is a wonderful time to become a mother, and a pretty great month to be born, too.

Here's what science tells us about babies born in March:

1. They're likely to climb the corporate ladder

Babies born this month are the most likely to get that corner office when they grow up. Research indicates a higher percentage of CEOs are born in March than any other month.

One study of 375 CEOs found 12.5% of those holding the position were born in March. The link is thought to be related to school enrollment cutoffs which often see March babies on the older end of their class spectrum.

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2. They're less prone to myopia than their summer cousins

While those expecting in June or July might want to up their optometry coverage, March babies are more likely than their summer-born peers to pass an eye exam. A study of nearly 300,000 military applicants found summer babies have the highest rates of severe short-sightedness, while spring kids are less likely to have myopic eyes (winter-born kids have the best rates, though).

3. They're naturally optimistic

A 2014 study found March-born babies (and their April and May peers) are basically born optimists. They have high ratings on the hyperthymic scale as adults, which means they've got a positive outlook on life.

4. They're at lower risk for asthma

Dust mites are abundant at this time of year, and while it can be annoying for those with allergies, it's great for babies with March due dates. According to a 2015 study, kids born in the have lower rates of asthma because exposure to all those dust mites in infancy strengthens the immune response.

5. They'll probably be a night owl

One sleep study suggests children born in the spring and summer generally go to bed later than those born in the fall and winter, so your March baby is likely to want to stay up past their bedtime in a few short years.

6. They'll be a Pisces or an Aries

These two astrological signs are known for their determination and passion, respectively. Babies born between March 1 and March 20 are known as optimistic Pisces, while those born after March 20 are officially spring babies members of the Aries sign. Aries are known for being fiery and passionate, so you might want to start practicing for bedtime arguments with your future night owl right away.

[This post was originally published March 1, 2018]

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Irish baby names have been longtime favorites in the U.S., but historically, the ones that have been the most popular—such as Bridget and Caitlin, Connor and Kevin—are those that are intuitive in spelling and pronunciation.

Cut to 2020 where actress Saoirse Ronan is one of the biggest movie stars, Billie Eilish tops the music charts, and celebrity babies are getting previously unheard-of Irish names.

Milla Jovovich recently named her daughter Osian, a Welsh boy name that derived from the Irish Oisin. She and husband Paul W.S. Anderson are big fans of names with Gaelic roots—their older girls are named Ever Gabo and Dashiel Edan, but Osian is the most distinctive and complicated name of the bunch. (For those of you wondering, it's pronounced oh-SHAN).

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These days parents are more willing to embrace a name that may pose a pronunciation challenge, and society, in turn, is more willing to learn how to pronounce them. We've got Saoirse and Eilish down pat, so what's next?

20 unique Irish baby names for boys and girls

Irish baby girl names

Ailbhe: A Top 100 name in Ireland, Ailbhe could easily make a name for itself in the U.S. It's pronounced like Alva, a rising biblical pick for boys.

Aoibhe: The Irish variation of Eva, with a very similar pronunciation. Parents looking to distinguish their daughter from the Eva/Evelyn/Everly crowd might opt for this Irish spelling.

Aoife: One of the more familiar names from Irish legend, Aoife appears in many tales as a warrior woman. It hasn't reached the U.S. Top 1000 yet, but Aoife has nearly doubled in use in the past five years.

Eilis: Perhaps best known as the name of the heroine from the book and movie Brooklyn, in which she announces her name "rhymes with Irish." Music sensation Billie Eilish may give the alternate spelling a boost as well.

Fiadh: Homophonous with Fia, an up-and-coming successor for Mia. Fiadh is the fastest rising name in Ireland.

Niamh: Niamh of the Golden Hair was an ancient Irish goddess, making Niamh an apt choice for a blonde baby girl. Neve is the phonetic spelling.

Oona: Oona is delightfully quirky—and comparably easy to pronounce—with its double O's. It's gentle meaning, "lamb," is a draw for a spring baby.

Orla: Uncommon in the U.S. yet very straightforward—Orla is easily recognizable as an Irish name. Orlaith is another common spelling in Ireland.

Roisin: The Irish variation of Rose, pronounced ro-SHEEN. It's an unexpected floral option, as well as musical—Róisín Dubh, meaning "dark little rose," is a 16th century Irish poem-turned-song.

Saoirse: Actress Saoirse Ronan made herself a household name, and now almost every household knows how to pronounce her name—she's known to tell people it rhymes with "inertia."

Siobhan: Siobhan, the Irish variation of Joan, is frequently used as a character name for books and television—J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyers have named characters Siobhan, and it's the name of Logan Roy's daughter on Succession. It briefly ranked in the U.S. Top 1000 in the 1980s.

Irish baby boy names

Cashel: Cashel seems destined for success in the U.S. thanks to its fashionable Cash element, shared by such trendy names as Cassius, Cassian and Cash itself.

Cian: Kian ranks in the US Top 500, but Cian, the more authentic spelling, doesn't make the list. As Kian continues to rise, we expect Cian will as well.

Cillian: The first syllable being "kill" gives Cillian a strong, very masculine edge. It fits in with other tough-guy international names, such as Gunnar and Bruno.

Eamon: Soft but masculine names have never been more stylish (think Liam, Owen, Asher) so might we suggest Eamon? It's technically the Irish variation of Edmund, but we like to think of it as an Aidan alternative.

Fionn: This Finn spelling alternative has seen a slight uptick in use in America and ranks higher than the four-letter spelling in Ireland. It's the name of Irish mythological hero Fionn MacCumhaill, anglicized as Finn McCool.

Keir: Short, punchy, and authentically Irish—what's not to love about Keir? For those searching for a short middle name for a son, Keir is a unique and worthy option.

Niall: Americans of a certain age will undoubtedly associate Niall with Niall Horan, former member of the boyband One Direction, but is that really such a bad thing? Zayn, Harry, Louis, and Liam have all risen in popularity since the band's debut—now we think it's Niall's time to shine.

Oisin: O names for boys are having a moment—Otto, Otis, Odin, and Oliver are all in vogue—so we'd like to add Oisin to the mix. It's pronounced o-SHEEN and is a Top 15 name in Ireland. With the Milla Jovovich birth announcement drawing more attention to the name, might we see more baby Oisins in the future?

Tadhg: Tadhg has the least intuitive pronunciation on our boys' list, but comes with the easiest mnemonic device—it's said like "tiger" without the R. It's often anglicized as Teague and could easily be co-opted as a girl name—a la Milla Jovovich—to use in place of the fast-rising Teagan.

Which Irish names do you want to immigrate to America?

This post by Sophie Kihm was originally published on Nameberry.

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