Today we welcome Veronica Janus – Author of “ABUNDANTLY MORE”. Veronica’s interview offers many insights on how to support a grieving loved one that has experienced a stillborn loss.
Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences on how your friends and family have assisted you in restoring balance in your life after the loss of a loved one in the comment section below.
1. You gave birth to a stillborn daughter at 25 weeks. Could you briefly describe the situation and your emotions surrounding this?
“I gave birth to a 20-week old stillborn baby girl on July 10, 2004. We had known from week 12 that she had a fatal condition called hydrops and on the morning of July 9th, I could not find her heart beat. For 6 weeks I had checked her heart beat every day with a home doppler given to me by a nurse friend. I called my husband first and then my midwife. I was sad, but calm and felt peace. I knew the moment was coming.
That afternoon we went for an ultrasound to confirm Theresa’s death. They also performed an amnio which determined that Turner’s Syndrome was the ultimate cause of the hydrops. I was admitted to labor and delivery, given an epidural and pitocin to start labor. It was like any normal delivery except my baby had passed away.
During the 12 hour labor we had pastors, grief counselors, social workers, and chaplains visit. But our comfort came from our personal faith in God and our church community who offered tremendous support. We had praise music playing in the delivery room in the early morning and when Theresa was born there was an overwhelming sense of peace in the room. Everything was very quiet and still. We got to spend a couple of hours with Theresa holding her, taking pictures, and saying goodbye. After delivery I spent two days in the hospital like most new moms but left empty handed. That was difficult.”
2. What words brought you comfort as your pregnancy progressed and the diagnosis wasn’t improving?
The most comforting words to me were that when Theresa would pass away she would go and be with the best parent ever. She would be in Heaven straight from the womb. She would never know the pains of this world. Only love. That is all I wanted for my child. If she lived I wouldn’t be able to give her that. There would be sorrow and suffering in her life. Of course there would be joy too. But for her to only know love, wow, what a gift!
3. Since you knew that your baby was dying, did you consider an abortion?
I know this is a touchy issue, and that people make other choices. For my husband and I, we believe that all life is sacred and we do not decide who lives and who dies, only God. In hindsight, we also see that our experience with Theresa touched a lot of people along the way, especially in the delivery room. The way God helped us to deal with it was visible to many and my husband believes this was the purpose God had given for her life. She fulfilled that purpose and how could you ask for more than that?”
4. Did life ever feel “normal” during this difficult time?
Not really. I was carrying a dying child for a long time: eight weeks. Yes, I had to care for my one-year old, my husband, run a household, my job, church, friends and so forth but my dying child was always with me. While other pregnant friends talked about how they would decorate the nursery, I thought about how to prepare for my baby girl’s funeral.
5. Did you have any more children after Theresa?
Yes, after Theresa I had a baby girl in 2005, a miscarriage in 2006, and a baby boy in 2007. My baby boy was born with six congenital heart defects and spent nine weeks at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Today he is three and doing great!
6. Do you find that one person may be able to say something to you that would be inappropriate for another person to say?
Yes, there are people who are great listeners and those who need a little work. I find that those people who are good listeners and show genuine interest in you and your situation do not affect me if they say something inappropriate, even if they are a stranger. Whereas someone who has not bothered to find out about me, who I am, or my situation and says something inappropriate is harder to forgive, even if they are a friend or relative.
7. You have suffered a lot. Why is your book titled, “Abundantly More”?
There is a verse in the Bible, Ephesians 3:20, where these words are mentioned. This is where I got my title. The verse explains that only God is able to give you more than you ever imagined, and this is true in all situations, even the difficult ones. Through God much good can come out of a deep and dark place. Material things or loving words from people may give you comfort and joy but it’s only temporary. I believe only God can give you sustained comfort and joy that goes beyond your imagination.
Veronica Janus is a mother, writer, and the founder of Forever Moments, an organization that gives families with babies in the ICU hope and joy through photography (2009-2011). The author was born and raised in Sweden and moved to the United States to pursue undergraduate and graduate work. She holds an MA in Theater and Communications and a MEd in English. Veronica lives in Chicago with her husband and three young children.