After 2 Miscarriages, Heartbroken Mom Shares What It's Like to 'Say Hello & Goodbye' to a Stillborn Baby

mom and stillborn baby
Elizabeth Comensky

TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains images and information about stillbirth and infant loss, which may be triggering to some.

Elizabeth Comensky isn't just a mom to a beautiful little girl; she is also a strong advocate for parents who've faced miscarriages and stillbirth. Although she quickly conceived her toddler, Gemma, and had an easy pregnancy, Comensky has since experienced heartbreak with three other pregnancies that resulted in two miscarriages and a recent stillbirth. At just 28 years old, this mom has endured more pain than some have in a lifetime, but she refuses to see herself as anything but one thing: a survivor. And she's using her voice and her experiences to raise awareness for other grieving parents after delivering her stillborn daughter, Stella.

  • Since trying to give Gemma a sibling, Elizabeth has learned firsthand the pain many others go through (and hide) in their journey to parenthood.

    stillborn baby and father
    Elizabeth Comensky

    Despite her own pain, Elizabeth hopes that sharing her personal experiences will change the assumptions people make about these tragedies.

    "I think a lot of people think of miscarriage and envision a woman who starts bleeding a few days or weeks after finding out she is pregnant. That couldn't be further away from my experiences with loss," she tells CafeMom. "Two of my three losses were missed second-trimester miscarriages, meaning that I was past the 'safe zone' and had absolutely no symptoms that I had lost the babies."

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  • Stella was born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck at 18 weeks' gestation.

    couple with stillborn baby
    Elizabeth Comensky

    "When I went to the doctor's office for my routine checkup at 18 weeks, I was blindsided when he couldn't find her heartbeat," Elizabeth says. "In that moment, I left my body and just kept screaming 'not again not again.'"

    Three days later, Elizabeth was induced and spent 18 hours in labor before meeting her daughter. "The nurses let my husband and I snuggle and nap with Stella for six unbelievable hours. It was the first time that I felt at peace since learning that we lost her," she explains. "There are no words to describe what it feels like to have to say hello and goodbye to your baby in the same day."

  • Prior to conceiving Stella, Elizabeth suffered two other losses.

    stillborn baby hand
    Elizabeth Comensky

    Weeks before Gemma's first birthday, Elizabeth was 15 weeks and three days pregnant when she miscarried her second baby and underwent a D&C (or dilation and curettage).

    "We were told that although this was a late miscarriage, it was most likely because of a chromosomal abnormality and that it shouldn't happen again," she says. Yet six months later, Elizabeth found herself undergoing another D&C after miscarrying again at just eight weeks.

    "Pregnancy after loss is extremely different than a normal pregnancy," Elizabeth reveals. "You anxiously wait for ultrasounds and the reassurance of a beating heart. Prior loss steals so much of the joy that a normal, naive pregnancy should have, but it adds so much appreciation and gratitude. You no longer care about whether or not you are having a boy or a girl. You care that you are having a baby."

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  • Since losing Stella, Elizabeth has been focused on just getting through each minute for her living child, as the grief comes in waves.

    man and woman with stillborn baby
    Elizabeth Comensky

    "I want people to know that having a miscarriage is extremely isolating. It feels like everyone else goes about their business like nothing happened but your world comes to a screeching halt," she tells us.

    Elizabeth also says she's learned how offensive the term "miscarriage" is, because it places blame on moms. She also hopes people think twice before using the term "pregnancy loss." "Yes, you have lost your pregnancy, but you also lose so much more than that. You lose your child. You lose the future you had planned for yourself," she says. "You lose all future experiences with your child. You lose faith. You lose trust in your body. You lose yourself."

  • Although some can't imagine sharing raw images like the ones Elizabeth was able to take with Stella, this mom knows her photos can help others.

    mom and stillborn
    Elizabeth Comensky

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    As Elizabeth continues to grieve, she is determined to incorporate Stella's memory into her family's new normal. "I think a beautiful way to help erase the shame and stigma surrounding miscarriage is by celebrating the life that was created, however brief it may have been. It was very therapeutic for my husband and I to have a memorial service for our first angel. We had her ashes blessed, read letters aloud that we wrote to her, and released balloons in her honor," she says. "Plant a tree in memory of your baby, get a tattoo, journal. Do whatever you need to do to grieve the loss."

miscarriage & loss complications