Not Really a Baby. Just to Make it Clear.

September 19, 2012

Today I picked up the boy’s death certificates.

Oddly, it was an afterthought on the way home from Bella’s play therapy. We go past it and I suddenly remembered Sam telling me they had called to say they were ready for us.

I told Bella we were grabbing papers, headed in for them, and explained to the receptionist what we were there for. Calmly. Matter of fact.

So as I stood waiting, I suddenly realized – this is it. This is the last thing I’m going to be able to really do for them. Ever. This signifies the end of their lives in a very real way, it’s proof they were here and now they’re gone.

And I started to cry.

How hard it is to sign that receipt knowing that I should be standing in Babies R Us signing one for more stuff to make life easier right now. To know the words “funeral home” and “death certificates” and fighting to prove they lived are things we should have never had to say or do. To think that $42 is the last amount of money that has anything to do with them in our lives – $42.

These papers stare at me. So formally they tell everyone what happened. “Mother went into premature labor at 20 weeks and delivered nonviable twin A (really abortus).” How I want to scream that IT WASN’T NONVIABLE TWIN A IT WAS MY BABY. Julian.

Was he married? No. Never. Age? 7 minutes.

Preston? 2 hours 27 minutes.

And then to really be clear, they put (really abortus) on Julian’s. Which means: “abortus /abor·tus/ (ah-bor´tus) a fetus weighing less than 500 g or having completed less than 20 weeks gestational age at the time of expulsion from the uterus, having no chance of survival.”  


“a·bor·tus n. The product or products of an abortion.

I understand it’s just medical. Not hateful or directed at me. But really? Did that need to be put?

My child, my baby. That’s what he’s considered. Abortus. Fetus. Product. Really. Not a baby. Not a person. Not to them – just to us. The fact we ever have these documents is a miracle in itself. And yet – abortus. No matter that he lived. That he moved. That they breathed and tried to cry. That their hearts beat and they struggled. No matter.

Just in case we weren’t clear. Not a baby. Not yet. Maybe a few weeks later – but not yet.




Screw that.



  • Sandy

    September 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I agree with Debbie C. God knows, you know, I know- they were you sons and it is good to remember. You will see them again in heaven.

  • Debbie C

    September 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Picking up their death certificates is not the last thing you and your family will do for your boys. You and your family will love your boys and keep them alive in your hearts forever. That’s the most IMPORTANT thing you will ever do for your boys. I am one of those people that have angel babies and have learned to let go of some of the grief because of your blog. Never stop writing and sharing

  • Kim

    September 21, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I am so very, very sorry . I think they are ignorant people to put that on there. Have some tact & compassion. Yes, screw that.

  • Amanda Z

    September 21, 2012 at 7:48 am

    I was just sent your blog by a friend. We lost our little one after I went into preterm labor and delivered at 23w. We had William for a week.

    So many of us who loose a child too soon (whether a miscarriage at 9 weeks or a still birth or preterm labor or – ever… no one should loose a child ever) hear hurtful words like what you describe. From doctors, from well-meaning friends, from a society so hopelessly uncomfortable with pain that it tries to downplay and ignore the significance of a lost life simply because it was too young or too small or too old or helpless.

    May God fill you today with His encouragement. May He speak loving words to you reminding you that your sweet littles are precious souls that He keeps close to Him. Blessings on you today.

  • Mare

    September 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    You are so right!!! Every heartbeat represents a BABY. A LIFE. A HUMAN life, not a frog, or a tomato, or a blob of tissue. Your boys are precious sons of God, on this earth, or in His hands, and I agree that the wording should be more respective of that. God bless you for sharing this.

  • Rhonda L

    September 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Diana, this is my 1st time reading your blog. I clicked the link from Pioneer Woman to get to you. After reading this post I am actually in tears & can’t tell you how much my heart is aching for you & your family. I have seen more death certificates than the average person will ever see. They have all been for elderly people & a few middle aged people. I work for an investment firm & dealing with elderly people passing away is part of it. I have never seen a DC for a child like the ones you picked up. They just sound so cold and callus & utterly so uncompasionate. I hope your family and close friends can help you through this difficult time in your life. My daughter is 25 & lives in New Orleans & I wish she was here so I could hug her & tell her how much I love her. If I knew you I would absolutely do the exact samething for you. My prayers will be with you through this difficult time in your life.

  • Barb

    September 20, 2012 at 7:39 am

    My heart aches for you. I know our words don’t change anything but no matter what that piece of paper says, they were here and did exist.

    My heartfelt hugs

  • Katie

    September 20, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Reading this I’m just sobbing for you – they are both babies, babies in heaven, but babies. I pray today God wraps you in an extra dose of peace and grace.

  • Sue Diamond-Phillips

    September 20, 2012 at 5:11 am

    My heart breaks for you….they are, and always will be, your twin baby boys. From the two lines on the pregnancy test, until the first – and last – time you saw them here on earth. Your babies. I can’t pretend to understand. Hugs and prayers.

  • Rin

    September 19, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Let’s try agai . My phone is having a nervous breakdown.

    He made them and loves them and they are all probably having a wild ole time together right now.
    Forget the government. God knows so much better

  • Rin

    September 19, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    He made ten and l

  • Rin

    September 19, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    My heart goes out to you but you know the truth?
    Despite whatever the government says, God knit those dear little babies together in your womb Even though it wasn’t for as long as you expected.
    He l

  • Jessica

    September 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    I feel ya. No death certificates for either of my babies I lost in miscarriages, both died about 9 weeks. But still it hurts when people (who’ve never lost a baby) say, “Oh, well at least you didn’t lose them at 14 weeks or 6 months or whatever. It would be so much harder then.”

    I’m sure there’s differences, but I still had to watch my body expel my baby and be asked to come back to work the next day. I still lost a person. It frustrates me when people have this attitude that one baby further along in the womb is more of a person, more of a human than another.

    Your boys are babies. They are real.

    1. Marie Johnson

      September 20, 2012 at 11:29 am

      I completely agree, Jessica!
      even at only 6 weeks I was very attached to my baby and after I miscarried it was tough to grieve.

  • Dana K

    September 19, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Im so sorry. Medical terminology can be so cold. I can’t imagine what you are going through. They are your babies no matter what.

  • Lindsy

    September 19, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    How terribly dreadful! My heart aches for you! AndI am so furious about this insensitive document!!! That’s not something you should see. I hope and pray you find a beautiful way to remember them as Julian and Preston, your boys.

  • Katy Morgan

    September 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    I’m speechless. I know nothing better than to pray for your sweet family.

  • Cynthia Meents

    September 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I hate that for you. They were your babies. Your sons. Period.

  • Suz

    September 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    I’m so sorry. Those words just suck.

  • Lisa C.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I am so sorry for you. My husband and I faced the stillbirth of our daughter, Anna Claire, last July. She was 19 weeks and a few days, and because she was less than 20 weeks, they would not issue us a “Certificate of Stillbirth”. She was still considered a miscarriage to them. But we wanted to scream to “them” (the lawmakers, the Department of Vital Statistics, all the people who said “don’t worry, you can have another one or maybe it wasn’t meant to be”) that SHE WAS OUR BABY! She was already a part of our lives, she was a daughter and sister and granddaughter, we held her, took pictures of her . . . WE LOVED HER!! And we wanted to world to know that she had really existed, that she had really been here, and that she had made a mark eternally on our family! So we still try to do that. When someone asks us how many children we have, we include her in the number (even though it means we have to “shock” them with the news of her death). We celebrate her birth/death day, and we celebrate her short life and all that God has shown us along the way. We try not to see her life as “cut short”, but we remind ourselves that she lived the number of days God wanted her to live, and that her impact was HUGE on so many of our family and friends. And we have learned to be honest with ourselves, our family, and God. We have learned that we can be very, very angry with God, and that He can handle that anger. And we learned to stop putting a mask to our face and act like everything is okay WHEN IT IS NOT!! We’ve learned how to be real for the first time in our lives, and for that(along with so many other reasons) we will always be so grateful for her short life! Again, I am so, so sorry for your pain. I encourage you to read “I Will Carry You” by Angie Smith and “Dear Cheyenne” by JoAnna Cacciatore. These really helped me understand my feelings, and helped me in the grief process.

  • Tanya

    September 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    That’s just rotten. I have often seen the words “spontaneous abortion” used to describe the miscarriage of our baby at 16 weeks gestation. It makes it sound like I just decided on a whim to have an abortion. I KNOW what it means to them on the paper, but….
    On the other end of life, when I took my Grandpa to the Social Security office some years ago so that he could report the death of his wife, my Grandma, the woman took the death certificate and said “Ok, I’ll delete her.” That was almost 17 years ago and I can still remember how it stabbed me in the heart one more time. Delete her, like she was just a number on a page…. People can be really insensitive.
    Those are your sons, and there is triumph over death. You will still write their names, you will still speak of them, you will see them again someday. No piece of paper can take that away. Hang in there… I’m sorry you have to go through this!

  • Diane

    September 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Diana – My heart aches for you as I read this. Words can hurt, even unintentionally. Such cold, harsh medical terms to describe LIFE. Those babies had life and you are not wrong to feel strongly about anyone or anything stating otherwise. So sorry for any additional pain you felt today. Hugs from afar!

  • Molly

    September 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Im so sorry, Diana. It’s just not fair that they call them that.

  • Kendra

    September 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I’m so sorry, Diana! You’re right, after the description they already listed did they really need to add that part in there?!?!?! Wishing for the right words to bring you comfort right now. Sending love your way…

  • Arnebya

    September 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    They are your babies forever. That paper trying to tell you differently means not a damn thing to what you know, what you feel, THEY WERE HERE, THEY EXISTED, THEY ARE. Medical jargon requirements blah blah blah shut up.

  • Beth Anne

    September 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Fuck. That.

    I remember when we got our bill for the miscarriage & it was labeled “abortion.” But it was my baby that had a heartbeat & a thumb to suck & I lost it & it wasn’t my choice.

  • Michelle

    September 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I am so sorry. Of course they were babies, they were YOUR babies and that is all that matters. Screw the piece of paper.

  • Kiara Buechler

    September 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    I is so upsetting to me that they don’t think about how the parents will read things like this. I loathe seeing any of the paperwork from my doctor after my miscarriage and surgery, since it was coded “Missed Abortion”. I did not choose to have my baby removed from my body, it was not an abortion!!! My heart is with you dear.

  • Virginia

    September 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    My heart still breaks.

  • Kristin

    September 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I am so sorry! That really is ridiculous that they put that on there at all… I really don’t think it is necessary for any possible reason 🙁

  • Theresa

    September 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Oh Diana! I am so very sorry! Screw them!!!! There is no difference between what happened to you and your sons, and what happened to me and my Cecilia… just a few mere weeks, that’s all. They were here! We loved them! We are their moms and they will forever be in our hearts! I wish there was more I could do for you as you have been such a great strength to me these past 3 and a half weeks. All my love to you and your darling sons!

  • Rebecca

    September 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I’m so sorry for the cruel words you faced today 🙁 many hugs and prayers from Michigan. Xoxo

  • Nini

    September 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I am so sorry, Diana. You love them. They still are a part of you and they were perfect tiny babies. They were created, they were carried by you, they were born, they lived and they died. They were tiny babies with short and tiny lives. I am so sorry your heart was broken again by bureacracy. By people that defined them even though they had no right to. I am so sorry.

  • Stephanie

    September 19, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Im so sorry. They were your babies. Your sons. I do know how much these words hurt but try to remember that’s all they are. Words. Your boys lived in you and were very real.

    I remember seeing the words ‘product of conception’ and I was confused. Oh, THAT defined my baby. Those 3 stupid words strung together made my heart hurt all over again. Hugs to you

  • melissa

    September 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    That’s unbelievable. Why would they even need to put that on there?!?! What a bunch of crap. Those boys touched more lives in their few minutes than whoever it was who decided that word was necessary to put on those papers. 🙁

  • Lindsay

    September 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    I’ve been reading for awhile but never comment, but this time I had to. I.cannot.imagine. They were your BABIES from the very moment you found out you were pregnant, it makes me cry (I’m literally tearing up) to think of how cold the description on their certificates are. I get that it’s matter-of-fact and medical, but it must have broken your heart to read it. I’m so sorry.

  • Jen

    September 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Oh my word, sweetie, that is awful! In absolutely NO way was Julian an abortus regardless of what that death certificate says. Nothing like a smack in the face to you and your hubby. I’m SO sorry they chose to insensitively record his premature death in that manner. *big hugs to you*

  • Good Girl Gone Green

    September 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Oh, Diana! All I can say is I am so sorry. Here is the biggest hug ever!

  • paige

    September 19, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    This makes me want to scream. Thank you for writing it – it’s good to be made to want to scream sometimes… it reminds me that we have this huge social divide when it comes to unborn children – and sometimes that divide threatens to tear grieving mama’s hearts in two.

  • nerdmommathfun

    September 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Oh honey. Screw them. SCREW THEM.

    He was real. They were real. Your feelings are real.

    All the hugs in the world.

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