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My Son Was Stillborn

After losing her baby, she gained the strength to help mamas in need.

My Son Was Stillborn

My husband and I had been trying for 6 months before we got pregnant. The day before I found out I was pregnant, my husband asked, “Do you just feel comfortable with just our daughter?” Of course, I said. The next day, I took a pregnancy test, and it was positive.

My pregnancy felt pretty normal. I had a lot of nausea but it stopped around 15 or 16 weeks. There were no red flags. But around Week 19, I started developing flu-like symptoms. I didn’t think much of it – it’s common for pregnant women to feel sick. I spoke to my midwife and she suggested Tylenol to reduce the fever. I didn’t do anything anyone else wouldn’t do.

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But the fever elevated. I was having body aches and then started to lightly bleed when I used the bathroom. The pain got worse, and my uterus was getting hard. My midwife and I agreed I had to go the emergency room. I thought I was just getting sick, and that they would give me some antibiotics and send me home.

After my exam, the doctors were very concerned. They told me I had a rare infection in my uterus, and that the baby was very sick. Most likely, he was going to die, and I was indeed in labor. There was no way to stop it.

I had two choices: I could decide to wait this out, and I could lose my uterus and maybe my life. My baby would die, they said, since 19 weeks is not viable. Or they could induce me, which would save my uterus and my life, but my baby would be stillborn.

I screamed, I cried, I begged, “Please save my baby!” I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t want my son to die. After a lot of internal conflict, I decided to be induced because I didn’t want to leave my daughter behind, and I wanted the chance to get pregnant again.

Before they induced me, I asked to speak to a priest. They came in with paperwork to sign, and a death certificate. He was not even born yet and we had to prepare for his death.

We did the induction, and the contractions hit me like a runaway train. I felt like I was dying during each contraction. I had my doula there, reminding me to breathe. I ripped off my hospital gown and got on my hands and knees. I wanted to try to get through these contractions without any pain management. I wanted to feel everything. I wanted to remember. But after an hour of labor, I needed an epidural.

Finally, I felt pressure and pain. I gave a small push, and there he was. My husband lost it, and I was in a state of shock. I was touching him and thinking, “Baby, please still be alive. Try to move. I’m right here.”

The doctors and nurses rushed in, cut the umbilical cord, and forced the placenta out of me immediately. They did an ultrasound, found out my uterus was clear, then gave me antibiotics to heal my uterus.

I wanted to see my son, so they handed him to me. My body began to shake violently, and I started to feel cold. Everything getting dizzy and dark. I told my husband to take the baby, and I blacked out. When I finally came back, it was quiet. My husband was holding the baby in his arms. My body had gone into shock, and I had been asleep for more than an hour. I was so drugged up. I wanted to be focused enough to remember holding my son and looking at him.

I held him, talked to him, said that I was so sorry I couldn’t do the one job a mother was supposed to do: protect him. We took pictures and videos, and Baptized him…all within an hour. I did not want to let him go, but I knew I had to.

When they wheeled me away to my room, I could hear babies crying as I went past them, and I remember thinking: this is not fair.

When I was released from the hospital, I was extremely engorged. I couldn’t believe I was actually making milk! But my body didn’t know whether the baby was alive or not. I asked my husband how he would feel about me pumping my milk and donating it. There’s a high demand of donated breast milk. Why not spread the love and let something good come out of my experience? He said, as long as I’m comfortable, he would support me fully.

Pumping my breast milk gave me a sense of closure. It gave me a task. I was doing it in the name of my son. As a doula, I also knew lactating helped the mother emotionally and physically. I found moms who needed breast milk for their babies through social media or doula friends with clients in need. The only thing I asked for in return was a photo of the baby. I pumped for 3 months and donated 2,038 ounces of my breast milk to 6 babies.

One woman who went through a stillbirth told me recently: Remember, your body did not fail you, your pregnancy failed you. This whole time, I had always blamed myself. I thought I provoked my stillbirth. When she said that to me, it gave me a peace of mind.

People say things like, “You’re still young or you still have your daughter, you can always try again.” I know they mean well and they don’t know what to say. It bothers me, but I bite my tongue. Really, what I need is for people to be there. To listen and to support me unconditionally, not just to say words to fill the void.

If opening up about my stillbirth makes it normal, then it’s worth it. I want other women to understand they shouldn’t feel ashamed if it happens to them. And to know that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, even though walking through it is very difficult.

Written by Wendy Cruz, a Brooklyn mom and postpartum doula. After losing her son Killian, Wendy helped raise nearly $3,500 to buy a Cuddle Cot cooling device for parents experiencing stillbirth. Find out more and donate to her cause here.

[caption id="attachment_29159" align="alignleft" width="1024"] Wendy pumping her breast milk after the loss of her baby. Photography by Laura Vladimorova.

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I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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