She was forced to say her final goodbyes:
“As I stood over her and spent those last few minutes with her, blood was cascading down my legs and onto the floor. I didn’t care — my womb was crying. Everything about me was crying. Watching them wheel her away broke me. My life ended then and there. They wheeled me out of the hospital and I screamed the entire way.”
But fully immersed in the most potent form of misery she’d ever experienced, Natalie was able to bring forth the most powerful perspective on the beauty of child-rearing. Her raw advice has given mothers across the globe a reason to be thankful rather than bitter about those middle-of-the-night tantrums:
“But please just remember, while you’re awake at 3 [a.m.] because you have a baby in your arms keeping you up that late, I’m up at 3 [a.m.] because I don’t. And I would give anything in this world to have a baby spitting up on me, being colicky for all hours of the day and night, screaming, not letting me put her down, cracking my nipples from breastfeeding, keeping me up all night.
“…All I ask of you is when you have your dark moments with your baby — when you’re at your wits’ end and feel like you can’t go on anymore when you’re only getting an hour or two of sleep a night — instead of begging your child to go to sleep and being swallowed up in your frustration and exhaustion, find the tiniest bit of strength within you to keep going, and say a prayer of gratitude for your child, as difficult as it may be in that moment.”
Natalie says that what started as a small written expression of her struggle has exploded into a tidal wave of support from all around the world. Moms fed up with their crying babies have contacted her to thank her for shifting their perspective, and parents of stillborns have reached out with a shoulder to cry on.
“I’m not the first mother to have a stillbirth, so my story is not unique — but they’re so rarely talked about, and I had no idea how utterly traumatic and devastating of an experience it is,” she told TODAY Parents. “And, because stillbirths are so rarely talked about, I think there exists this vague notion — even if it’s only subconscious — that those babies never existed or never really mattered.”
Well, Natalie’s story has certainly proved that notion wrong. She even posted a precious moment of Eleanor in her womb to display the beautiful “life” that was inside of her.
Eleanor’s life did matter, and her brief life is now changing the lives of moms everywhere.
Natalie got a tattoo of forget-me-nots as a reminder that Eleanor will always be a part of her. Her sweet daughter will never be forgotten.
“I think it’s every parent’s fear that their stillborn child will be forgotten,” she said. “I want to reiterate that a stillborn child is still a child that lived. I know this to be true because I felt my daughter move. I felt her dance. I felt her live within me. She may never have taken a breath outside my body, but she was a person who existed, who mattered, and who was and is loved to heaven and back.”