Here in Newfoundland, new families are entitled to a parental child benefit (better known here as Danny’s Baby Bonus). I discovered a few weeks after Everlee was born that despite her having been born stillborn that I would still be eligible to receive this money. Although $1000 could never help heal any of the burden in my heart, that money can go a long way towards covering the expenses of burying her tiny little body and ensuring her headstone was fit for the princess that she was.
Filling out those forms weren’t easy. Ticking that checkbox to let the folks on the other side of those government offices know that my baby was still born was hard. What was harder was realizing that because she was stillborn I wouldn’t have any birth certificate to send them, just the tear stains on the page to let them know that she was here and she was loved.
Fast forward a few months, and yesterday I received a letter in the mail from the department of finance. They had received my application, but were unable to process it because of the lack of birth certificate. A birth certificate the same government didn’t feel my daughter was worthy of. I called the contact on the letter in tears explaining my situation. She was very apologetic and told me to get in contact with Government services and that they would sort me out. After a very brief phone call I was quickly informed my daughter was not eligible for a birth or death certificate and that I would have to go there in person and explain to them what had happened so they could write a letter indicating what had happened, adding insult to injury.
In the eyes of my government, my baby never existed. I have nothing official to say she was ever here, and when history books are written, she will be left out.
That’s not good enough for me. So I have written the following letter to the Minister of Service NL, Hon Nick McGrath (and copied a number of his staff, as well as the hosts of the provinces two political radio call in shows) to see if something can be done to address this problem. I may be one person, but I am a mom first. And my daughter deserves to be recognized.
Here’s my letter:
Hon MInister McGrath,
I am writing you this letter because of a situation I recently encountered. I dearly hope that this is the first and last letter you receive on this subject, but I know it may very well not be.
On February 13th of this year at 34 weeks pregnant I gave birth to my first child, Everlee Rose. Having suffered from infertility for a number of years, her arrival was much anticipated and greatly longed for. Unfortunately, my hopes and dreams came crashing down around me when the doctor told me just hours before on February 12th that she would be stillborn. I was induced at the Health Sciences Centre, and went through 16 hours of labour before I delivered my beautiful sleeping daughter. As a parent, I was devastated at the loss of my beautiful little girl. Not 24 hours before I had heard her little heart beating at 154bpm. She was 5lbs1oz when she was born. She had my lips and my husbands nose. She was perfect.
In the weeks and months since I have struggled every single day with the pain of this loss. I lived every single day for 8 and a half months with her living inside of me, only to give birth to her after she had passed. I have received nothing but the best care from the doctors, and nurses at Eastern Health. However, it is the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador where I have found my biggest stumbling block. You see although I spent 16 hours in labour, and although I held that beautiful little girl in my arms, to the province she has never existed. She is not eligible to hold a birth certificate. She is not eligible to hold a death certificate. In the eyes of my home, she never existed. Now in order to get her affairs in order I have to go through the excruciating process of contacting vital statistics to confirm that my child did, in fact, exist. Each time opening a very painful emotional wound, and further hurting my already defeated family.
I recognize that this is not something that happens everyday, and that this is not an insurmountable task in the eyes of the Government. But to those that have to live through the nightmare that has become my life, this one simple gesture can mean the world. My daughter may have never cried to be fed during the night, smiled her first smile, or ever learned to walk or talk, and she may have been stillborn, but Minister, she was still born. I’m asking you, please, to consider one of two things to help bring just a little peace to families like mine that have to endure the worst pain that any parent could ever feel:
- Acknowledge the life of a stillborn child (<20 weeks gestation) with a birth and a death certificate.
- Acknowledge the life of a stillborn child (<20 weeks gestation) with a stillbirth certificate (as those in Saskatchewan, and Ontario for example)
I’ve not just lost a baby: I’ve lost a toddler, a school girl, a teenager and an adult daughter. A whole potential life has gone. The only tangible reminders I have left are pictures, as well as her footprints and hospital bracelet. I don’t even have a birth certificate to acknowledge that she was here, and that she mattered.
Minister, I respectfully ask that you consider what I have said, and make the right choice to move forward to giving families like mine the peace and the acknowledgement these little lives deserve.
“Each new life, no matter how brief, forever changes the world.”
If you require any further information, or would like to speak to me further on the matter, I ask you to please contact me at (709)6*******. I look forward to your acknowledgement and thoughts on this matter.
Marietta McGrath, Executive Assistant to the Minister
Donna Kelland, Assistant Deputy Minister (Government Services)
Vanessa Colman-Sadd, Director of Communications (Service NL)
Bill Rowe, VOCM Openline
Paddy Daly, VOCM Backtalk
That was perfect.
this was heartbreaking just reading it. I certainly hope it works out for u, your daughter deserves to be reconized. So sorry for your loss, please keep us updated .God bless u & your family.
oh Rhonda, this is heart breaking… you said this well though, i am hoping something positive comes from this
So eloquent and heartfelt Rhonda – hopefully you are paving the way for other families that will encounter this obstacle. No one can take away your pain but the fact that you are willing to open yourself up to this time and again to make it right is amazing in itself. Hopefully change will come.
Rhonda, you certainly have a way with words. I wish you and Darcy the easiest road on this journey, and I hope that those who need to cooperate do so.
Sorry for the loss of you daughter. This letter was very well written. I hope it makes the big change that is needed !
When we hit rock bottom, there is no where to go – but up. Heartfelt prayers from one mom to another.
Rhonda my heart continues to break for you and Darcy. This letter is perfect and you are one million percent right. I stand behind you and if there is anything I can do let me know. I hope you get the justice and recognitio your daughter deserve.
I have read your story Being Everlee’s Mom on many occasions. It is heart wrenching and my heart breaks for you.
Keep writing Rhonda, I will listen.
Today my daughter shared Recognize Her on her Facebook page. I wish you the best of luck in getting these acknowledgements recognized! You can get this changed!!!
My heart goes out to you, it’s so sad that the govt. doesn’t even recognize your beautiful baby girl as having existed, what is wrong with the heartless people who run our country? Had it been one of their own members of the family who experienced this, without a doubt there would have been a certificate issues. Is there any way to turn this amazing letter into a petition and post it on facebook, twitter, and/or any other types of social media? I’ll be the first one to sign it if you have a petition started up.
Wow Rhonda, How wonderfully written. I pray you get this resolved.
Love Aunt Mary
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 2013 22:03:15 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhonda you are so right, I have nothing on Nick.. not even a picture because they thought (Drs and Nurse)that it was so wrong to take a picture…your baby is not alive….Only Nick’s father knows what he looked like and he tells he was beauiful. But I will never know. See they were trying to protect me. ( from what I don’t know). my pain, well that never happen..I work with Service NL. So if you don’t mind I could check on it for you and ME….there got to be a record somewhere Nick was born. hugs to you and Darcy
Thank you Exie. I have no doubt that Nick was beautiful.
This is so sad that this person and others have to endure such pain. I as a mother cannot believe she has to go through such lengths to be heard .You go girl dont give up, let your voice be heard, your baby girl would be proud!!!!!!
Rhonda, we don’t know each other but what I know of you and this “journey”; I believe without a doubt that Everlee is so very proud of you; first and foremost for loving her with every fiber of your being and for fighting to have her and all baby angels (who have left too soon ) recognized. You are an incredible woman!!!
Pretty sure you used the wrong symbol before ’20 weeks’ in your letter, unless you were purposely talking about those that hardly developed yet.
I realized that after. Thank you. Google failed me on that one. Math is not my forte
As an expecting mother, this story is particularly heart breaking. My heart goes out to you and your loved ones. I hope something will come out of this.
That letter was very well written and ever so heartbreaking. I cannot even begin to imagine how you are feeling.. you are a very strong woman and a phenomenal mother. I hope you find the peace you seek.
You have a way with words. Your letter nearly left me in tears. I am very sorry for your loss. I hope that you get what you are looking for. Take care.
Heartbreaking – absolutely heartbreaking Rhonda. Jeff informed of the loss if your beautiful daughter a few months back and I think about you everyday. I wish I could take the pain that you are suffering right now. It is sickening that the government has made you endure this . Unreal. RIP Everlee
I’m just thankful that they’ve heard me. It takes someone to speak up before change can be made. Thank you very much for thinking of us.
I never realized how lucky I am to have a “Birth Resulting In Stillbirth” certificate for Caleb. It is the only paper that bares his name. All of the hospital records refer to him simply as “Baby Boy” and it always makes me sad. There is a tax credit here when you have a child, one I am not eligible for despite having bought everything necessary for an infant and acquiring the same hospital bills. Rhonda, you continue to amaze me with your strength. Everlee is with you and I know she is proud of everything you are doing. Sometimes it helps to remember how much our babies would want us to be happy. That’s what got me out of bed at all in the beginning-knowing Caleb would want me to at least get up and live a little. E-mail me if you need to talk. I am always here. 🙂
A friend sent me a link to your blog and I’m so glad she did. I’m a Newfoundlander living in Maine where they recently changed the law to provide Certificates of Birth resulting in Stillbirth. How lucky am I that my baby died in Maine? UGH. What a messed up life ours (yours and mine) has become after stillbirth. Keep fighting Rhonda. It takes heartbroken, angry Mamas to change these things and turning some of your grief into action so that other Mamas don’t have to fight for this acknowledgment of the lost life is well worth it. Someone did what you are doing and paved the road for me here. I thought it was hard hard enough calling to order the damn certificate and describe how many breaths my sweet Joe didn’t take and whether I want or need the document…I’m sending my strongest kick ass thoughts to you. Everlee is so lucky to have you for her Mama. Hugs to you and Darcy.