Loss of Full-term Baby

Updated on April 27, 2012
M.L. asks from Tarpon Springs, FL
24 answers

Hi moms,
This week I found out that my cousin and his wife lost their first baby at 39 weeks. It is just so devastating for everyone. They had problems conceiving, then after 3 rounds of IVF, they found out they were pregnant. She had a very routine, smooth pregnancy so far. Then on Sunday night (from what I am told) she went to bed feeling the baby kick and woke up bleeding. My cousin rushed her to the hospital- she had a complete placental abruption and the baby had died by the time she got there.

What on earth do I say to them? They don't live in the same state as me, and I wanted to give them time to grieve before I sent a card or anything. My sister suggested we make a donation in the baby's name to the March of Dimes or some other organization. Has anyone been through this and can give me some tips? Anything I should include in the card? We are not particularly close, in that we don't call or anything and just see each other every couple of years as often as we can.

I just can't comprehend the devastation they are feeling. It has really shook all of us up and we just cry everyday for them.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

My sister lost her first baby at about the same time. They had a funeral and everything for him. He was so beautiful. She lost her next pregnancy too, it was twins and she was not large enough to carry them. They just sort of started falling out. This was 35-40 years ago so now they would be able to do more I believe but she was devastated.

The dad was a good ol' country boy and did not want to go through that again and she had a hard time getting him to want more children. They finally had a daughter that was full term. She went to the doc every week throughout the whole pregnancy. Every little blip was a crisis to her, who could blame her. She almost expected the baby to not be born and it was hard for her to get excited.

I think the best thing you can do, since you are not close, is to just be supportive of any decisions they make to get pregnant again, not get pregnant again, etc...they are going through the death of a child and won't be thinking clearly for some time.

Send them a nice card and if they have a service of any kind try to attend or at least treat it seriously like you would want if you lost a child.

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answers from Dover on

I had a co-worker whose grandson was lost the same way except it was less than a week from her due date. I would send a card now and include a note asking if there is anything you can do to help them. Since they live so far away, if you could connect with other family in the their area and maybe arrange for a few meals to be brought in (they aren't going to feel like cooking, shopping, or eating but are more likely to eat if there is food in front of them).

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answers from Washington DC on

Say you have no words but you are there if they need you. I'd find out from them or family if they want groceries delivered (you can do this from afar) or meals or flowers or a donation to a charity. Don't wait. You don't need to say a lot. Just let them know you care.

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answers from Houston on

Send the card, thinking of you flowers now... they don't need time to grieve before they get that kind of support... Just tell them how sorry you are and that their family will be in your prayers.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I lost a baby at 20 weeks and I was devastated for a long time. I'm sorry to hear about your cousin's loss. I agree with the post below, stick to I'm sorry for your loss. Its too soon for them to hear anything else because they are grieving. I in particular did not like hearing: reasons for why it happened, "it happened for a reason", calling my baby a miscarriage, you can try again, and when people brought it up later on when I was trying to "move-on" from it. Its been 7 years so now I can see the purpose from my loss but at the time I couldn't (like most hard times). People have good intentions for offerring comforting words but it will take a long time before your cousins can understand any of it. Bible quotes can be comforting.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

Call them in the morning and offer your condolences. Even something like I am so sorry, helps so much. Ask about funeral arrangements and send flowers -- not a plant. They will take the plant home and have to look at it every day and it will remind them of the loss.

The best thing you can do is call as soon as you can. When I lost my Mom in December so many people never called me or sent flowers, they waited until they saw me again to offer condolences. I felt empty and forgotten at her funeral -- that no one cared. Don't wait to call.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I am so sorry for your family's loss.
I would consult with your aunt/uncle about the best way to show emotional support for your cousin.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

One of my Mom friends (years ago) was 8 months pregnant when her car got rear ended.
The placenta detached and the baby died.
There was nothing anyone could do and everyone was devastated.
She did go on to later have 2 sons.
Stick with "I'm so sorry for your loss".
Many people say things that are meant to be comforting but many times it just comes out wrong and ends up causing more pain.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

What a sad story and a horrible thing for them, and your family, to have to go through. I am so sorry.
I have heard great things about the website www.facesofloss.com and I've heard it can be very helpful in helping people heal as they connect with others who can truly understand what they are going through.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Oh My Goodness, so heartbreaking for them..

Just tell them you are so sorry for their loss.
Tell then that if there is anything they need help with you really are willing to help in any way.

Yes a donation to whichever charity they want is excellent.. But also I would write down the date, and next year, send them a "thinking of you card.. "

I do have a very good friend that was due any day.. One day she realized the baby had not moved, went to the doctor and the baby had died!.

There was nothing they could do. They sent her home so she could go into labor on her own.. It was about 5 days later, she went into labor.

Her husband has never gotten over this. It has been about 15 years.. He still goes to counseling every once in a while. she says he just breaks down remembering the whole thing.

They had some hard time dealing with this. It was his first child and her second. They of course wanted this baby so much.. All of the showers.. Their house was bursting with baby things.. Monogrammed gifts, the nursery.. everything..

They began trying again about 18 months later. She said she did not know if she could handle it, but they ended up with a son.

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answers from Redding on

All I can do is send thoughts and prayers to the family. That is pretty much all you can do as well.
I lost a later term pregnancy and went into shock and really didn't want to talk about it.
My friend had a baby who only survived a couple of hours after birth.
We never know why these things happen and really all you can do is say that you are so sorry for the loss and you are there for them in any way possible.

Maybe I'm different, but I just really didn't want a fuss made.

Be respectful. Send your condolences. Offer help. Wati for signals as to what she is comfortable with.

Best wishes.

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answers from Boise on

There are many quotes of hope in the Bible. Someone told you to say something like "I dont really have anything to say" ..... I think that would be a mistake to say.It would be painful to get a card that said that. Open a Bible and find a heart felt verse. People are very open to hearing about the love of God, especially when there is a death, because most people beleive there IS an afterlife in heaven.They hope to see their loved ones there.
There are also wonderful christian songs avalable that can be uplifting. You can find some on utube....a perhaps purchase one for them.One that comes to mind is "I will praise you in this storm." The song "It is well with my soul" is beautuful and was written by a man who had lost his wife and all his kids within a week of eachother.

"Surely God is my help, The Lord is the one who sustains me" Psalm 54:4

"You will call, and the Lord will answer, you will cry for help, and he will say 'here I am'.... Isaiah 58:9

' Find rest, O my soul, in God alone, my hope comes from Him' psalm 62:5

"the eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms' Deuteronomy 33:27

Math 11:28
Romans 15:4,
Lamentations 3:21-22
John 14:2-3
psalm 62:1
1 thes 5:9
Ephesians 3:16
Isaiah 40:29-31

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

What a terrible thing to go through! I am soo sorry for your loss! My sister in law is having a c-section tomorrow morning. I don't know anyone that has had a stillborn or lost a child right after birth but I know someone that lost their baby at 18 months due to heart complications.
I think the donation would mean a lot to them. My nephew was also born with a heart defect and the couple that lost their child were close friends of my boss. My work started to sell wristbands for donations and all proceeds were/are made to the childrens memorial hospital pediatric cardiology
You can also take a look at www.compassionatefriends.org
It has some pretty useful information for you
Your family will be in our prayers!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

That is just horrible! I feel your pain. My sister & her husband lost their first baby(full term) this past October.

She was induced at 40 weeks & he had a brain hemmorrage at birth & was officially pronounced brain dead at 6 days old. He never left the NICU, he never was awake. Looked as though he'd been sedated.

It was horrible! We were invited to the NICU before he was removed from life support & holding a (basically) dead baby is THE saddest thing I have ever done! It was important for them to have close family & friends there to meet him.

My advice, give your condolences. Allow them to talk about it when they are ready & listen. My sister says it hurts more for people to pretend nothing happened or change the subject because it makes them uncomfortable to hear about her son's death.

Congradulate them on the baby, if you feel it's appropriate. My sister said no one congradulated them on the birth of their son & just because he didn't survive isn't reason not to celebrate his birth.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I agree that you should not wait to send something. As someone who has suffered a major health crisis I can tell you that there is nothing more isolating than realizing that nobody is reaching out to you. There are no words for something like this and she knows this and will be lenient on her judgement on your "attempt". Its the thought that counts here.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I am so sorry for their loss, they have a rough road ahead of them. They are devastated, I lost twin girls at almost full term, and as another mama said, I too was in shock. I wanted to get past the services and grieve and not talk to anyone.

But I still remember the people who called and sent cards (I kept them) so do call your cousin and his wife or send a card in the morning. Extend your condolences, prayers for them and your love, ask if there is anything you can do for them, if there is anything they need, even though you are in different states.

I advise not to make a donation, unless they express the option. They may a receive a card acknowledging it...I was OK and would receive something in the mail and it would set my grief off again. This happened again just the other day when something came in the mail on behalf of a relative who made a donation in honor of my Dad who passed away in February, it tore my heart open and made me think of him and my daughters.

And if you send them, flowers ARE better than plants, we gave away most of ours so we didn't have to look at them, no way could we have looked at plants day in and day out.

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answers from Nashville on

This is a deep loss and sometimes the only thing that can heal the pain of a loss is time, prayer and faith. Keep being there for them, if it is even just to listen.

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answers from Bloomington on

I am so sorry all of you are going through this. This breaks my heart for them. So very tragic.

My cousin and his wife were older when they finally conceived, and were finally able to carry a baby to full term. During the delivery, the umblical cord sufficated the baby. It was more than all of us could stand. They ended up moving away, and were never able to conceive again. We were also going through infertility at the same time, and that was our biggest connection with them. I now felt guilty when I sent Christmas cards to them with pictures of our daughters, to the point now, where I only send a regular card to them. I think of them often with a broken heart.

My point is that this will affect them and the family forever. Be conscious of that if/when you are around them.

I would send a card immediately. You just have to say how sorry you are. Reach out to the other family members in the area and help with meals, etc.

My mom died when I was 29, and I really appreciated the cards. I wasn't able to really read them for several months later, and they gave me great comfort.

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answers from Beaumont on

Send a card and express yourself. For some things "there are no words to express myself" says it all. I am so sorry, what a tragic loss.


answers from Providence on

Oh this is the saddest thing to hear. Your heart just breaks for them, truly. I wouldn't wait. The best thing is to call and send a card letting them know that you are sorry, and let them know that you are there for them.

My MIL had a very close friend who lost her baby on her due date. She went to deliver, and sadly, they found no heart beat when the doctors came into check on her. The worst thing in the world is to deliver your child, and know that they have passed away. They are filled with grief right now, and will need support, prayers, and someone to talk to. Just be present in any way that you can. They have a very long road ahead.



answers from Savannah on

We lost a nephew at 37 weeks and I know it is tough to figure out what to say to the parents. I wrote a letter inside of a card to my inlaws, and I would suggest you so the same, but write it down on paper first, so you can be sure to say exactly what you want to. I don't think you necessarily need to give them too much time to grieve. I would send a card within a week. It will be a good thing for them to know you are thinking of them.

A little note- October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. We take that day to remember our nephew


answers from Philadelphia on

send a card or an email and speak from your heart. send flowers or something special as well...maybe a tree to plant , or a star named after their child?



answers from San Francisco on

Do not wait to send a message of condolence....say what is in your heart and let them know that even though you don't see them often, they are in your thoughts and prayers.

May God comfort your cousins in their time of great sorrow...May God comfort your entire family and give them the right words to say to this young couple.




answers from Houston on

Oh how terrible. I hope and pray for strength for your family in the coming days. I sent you a PM.

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