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I Know You Think My Baby Is Ugly, But Here’s What You Don’t Understand

November 1, 2018

I’m not stupid. Of course, I know my baby is ugly. I know from the way you sit uncomfortably in your seat when I show his picture. From the way you pause as you try to think of something nice to say…. maybe about how he has so much hair!

I know my baby is ugly which is why I never post pictures of him online, the way I do with my other kids. I know that in the anonymity of the internet, people won’t be as kind as you are. They’ll say what they really think: “OMG! What is wrong with him!” or “You sicko, why would you post pictures of THAT!” In real life, you have to pretend to be interested. Social niceties mean you at least have to pretend that my son is beautiful. No one ever does that online.

I have eyes, of course, so I know my son is ugly. Not sharing his picture with you, either in person or online, makes me sad. So very, very sad. Because even though my son is ugly, my heart is filled with love for him. I don’t love him more, or less, than my other children. But when I share the pictures of my other kids, it can feel that way. It feels like I have one son I am ashamed of. Even though I’m not.

The truth is that I can’t cope with your harsh words, or even your uncomfortable looks. I am scared that people will steal his image, use it for their own sick purposes. I’ve seen that before you know, galleries of freak shows and even so-called pro-life protesters, stealing pictures of boys like my son to protest in front of clinics to try and shame women into changing their minds.

He wasn’t ugly

Maybe the saddest part is that I know you weren’t really ugly. After all, I have your identical twin’s picture too, and no one says that about him. The only reason you looked different was because your trauma was different. You died first, so your skin had more time to fall off a bit. You were lower in my pelvis, causing blood to pool in your face. Your fingernails are the deep red of someone who went without oxygen for far too long, prompting people to ask me if I painted your nails. And you had two hemangiomas on your right eyelid, that probably would have been fixed with surgery had you lived.

But the nurses did their best with the photos while I was in shock and unable to process what was going on. They carefully placed your hand on your chest, to cover the worst of the skin slippage. They used knitted hats and strategically placed baby bunnies to hide things they knew would likely upset others. I never saw you without a diaper, an unnecessary accessory, except it meant that I only found out when I read the autopsy report that you had an undescended testicle. Just one more thing that set you apart from your otherwise identical brother.

So please try to see my son through a mother’s eyes. He may be ugly, but he is my precious baby boy. And he means the world to me.

  • Amanda

    Amanda Ross-White is the proud mother of four beautiful children, including her twin boys Nate and Sam, who were stillborn in 2007. She is eternally grateful to watch her rainbow children, daughter Rebecca and son Alex, grow around her. She is also the author of Joy at the End of the Rainbow: A Guide to Pregnancy After a Loss, which won second place in the American Journal of Nursing's Book of the Year Awards (Consumer Health).

    8 Comments

    • Catherine Ashe

      November 1, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      I struggled with this too – my son had trisomy 18, and while he was beautiful in every way, you could tell he had a chromosomal abnormality. I was so afraid people would think he was ugly or see his imperfections instead of how beautiful he was. I’m sorry you struggle with this momma. Your son was beautiful.

      1. Amy

        November 2, 2018 at 5:51 am

        Catherine my little boy was also born early with trisomy 18. He had a bilateral cleft lip and palate and clenched fists. why perfect and beautiful in my eyes i worry people will only see his imperfections and think he’s ugly. I only ever share photos of his feet. It’s sad to see how many of us struggle with this. Sending love and so sorry for your loss x

    • Jess

      November 1, 2018 at 1:55 pm

      I draw people’s lost babies so they have a softer, less stark image to show others. I’ve drawn hundreds. In the beginning, I was shocked by many of the babies’ appearances. They were startling because they were always dead and often deformed. Marks of their trauma were written all over their tiny broken bodies. As time went on, I grew used to the imagery. It’s stopped shocking me. I started to see love and beauty in their little faces. I found it interesting to recognise the features of their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters in their faces. Then I realised, angels don’t have shiny blonde hair, sparkly blue eyes and healthy pink cheeks. I get to draw angels every day.

    • Chantal Merrifield

      November 1, 2018 at 7:12 pm

      Struggled with this when my grandson was stillborn .. I had never seen a dead baby. He was perfect in every single way. He is missed and loved so very much.

    • Lacey

      November 1, 2018 at 7:26 pm

      It makes me so sad that an article like this was even written. If only people could have a more empathetic heart when it comes to child loss. Although my son was 3yrs old when he died I have a close friend & other angel mama friends who’ve had a stillborn baby or lost a baby shortly after birth. Your baby is just as precious as any other baby is. Maybe it’s bwcause I lost a child myself but I look at your son and still see a sweet, precious, beautiful baby!

    • Kara

      November 1, 2018 at 8:11 pm

      Before we lost our daughter (at 7 months), I remember recoiling whenever I’d see a news story or blog post showing a still born baby and wondering why on earth parents would take pictures with those babies and couldn’t fathom why they’d share those pictures online. Now I totally get it! And as a loss mom, I only see the beauty of what could have been in those pictures. There is so much love in those little babies. I feel badly that the author acknowledges that her baby is ugly. I don’t feel that way at all! The situation is beyond ugly, but he is so precious.

    • Anna

      November 2, 2018 at 3:40 pm

      This little boy could never be ugly. Ugliness comes from within and dare I say it, is most probably a trait of any person who could make such comments about a beautiful little boy. Please don’t let people like that stop you from celebrating your son xxx

    • Recording Every Second – Still Standing Magazine

      November 12, 2018 at 8:00 am

      […] Related: I Know You Think My Baby Is Ugly, But Here’s What You Don’t Understand […]

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