It’s been almost a month since the world saw and felt Chrissy Teigen’s pain as she said goodbye to her baby Jack. After taking a much-needed break from social media, save for a brief tweet, she has published a Medium essay that has us crying all over again. It’s an important read — if you can make it through the tears — because it explains why she decided to make her pregnancy-loss grief known to everyone in photos some found hard to look at.
“I had no idea when I would be ready to write this,” Teigen begins her essay, titled simply “Hi.” She writes that she has been gathering her notes and thoughts for weeks, and finally was able to put it together on a good morning after spending time with friends and fried chicken.
“I didn’t really know how I would start this, no matter the room or state I was in, but it feels right to begin with a thank you,” she continues. “For weeks, our floors have been covered in flowers of kindness. Notes have flooded in and have each been read with our own teary eyes.”
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We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn’t enough. . . We never decide on our babies’ names until the last possible moment after they’re born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever. . . To our Jack – I’m so sorry that the first few moments of your life were met with so many complications, that we couldn’t give you the home you needed to survive. We will always love you. . . Thank you to everyone who has been sending us positive energy, thoughts and prayers. We feel all of your love and truly appreciate you. . . We are so grateful for the life we have, for our wonderful babies Luna and Miles, for all the amazing things we’ve been able to experience. But everyday can’t be full of sunshine. On this darkest of days, we will grieve, we will cry our eyes out. But we will hug and love each other harder and get through it.
Teigen recounts the details of her complicated pregnancy with Jack, how she suffered from “partial placenta abruption,” which caused bleeding so heavy that during her month of bedrest, she became an expert on adult diapers. But in the end, her placenta never healed and the fetus didn’t have enough fluid to survive inside her. At 20 weeks, he was also too young to survive outside. This when the story gets tough.
“Late one night, I was told it would be time to let go in the morning. I cried a little at first, then went into full blown convulsions of snot and tears, my breath not able to catch up with my own incredibly deep sadness.”
At this point, Teigen said she asked her mother and husband John Legend to take photos of her.
“He hated it,” she says. “I could tell. It didn’t make sense to him at the time. But I knew I needed to know of this moment forever, the same way I needed to remember us kissing at the end of the aisle, the same way I needed to remember our tears of joy after Luna and Miles. And I absolutely knew I needed to share this story.”
That presence of mind is kind of astonishing. But then again, Teigen is a constant narrator of her own story, and she knows that her words and pictures have power. Many people grieve their pregnancy and infant loss in different ways.
When Teigen shared the photos of herself doubled over in sadness and holding the baby, and when her mother shared a photo of herself saying goodbye to Jack, there were plenty of critics. It is hard to see a dead baby — hard even to type those words. But pregnancy and infant loss are also something that people have been told to keep private for too long, and something many still fear sharing. Teigen processes much of her life by sharing it, so this would be no exception.
Phew I just had a full on panic attack of more tear snot just knowing anyone read this. I’ve missed you all terribly. pic.twitter.com/A38rDfyms3
“I cannot express how little I care that you hate the photos,” she writes, a biting, if delayed, rebuke to the critics. “How little I care that it’s something you wouldn’t have done. I lived it, I chose to do it, and more than anything, these photos aren’t for anyone but the people who have lived this or are curious enough to wonder what something like this is like. These photos are only for the people who need them. The thoughts of others do not matter to me.”
In the essay, Teigen goes on with the details of how she delivered Jack, a hollow echo of the birth stories we’re used to hearing from mothers. But then she describes her love for him in ways few have done when talking about infant loss, and she talks about feeling guilty for her moments of happiness since then.
Teigen wrote that she also feels bad that, because she shared the joy of her pregnancy with her fans, we’re all sad now too. But that has also meant that strangers have showered her with kindness, both in person and online.
“The worst part is knowing there are so many women that won’t get these quiet moments of joy from strangers,” she writes. “I beg you to please share your stories and to please be kind to those pouring their hearts out. Be kind in general, as some won’t pour them out at all.”
This is why we’re so grateful, again, that Teigen took the time to write this. No one else can speak to this loss but someone who has gone through it. And those who have gone through it may not want (nor do they deserve) the burden of reminding others not to make unhelpful comments about “God’s plan” and possible future pregnancies. Chrissy Teigen has taken on this burden, though. And we are here to listen.
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