Late Wednesday, Chrissy Teigen, the model, cookbook author and “Cravings” entrepreneur who is married to singer John Legend, shared startling news: After a month of bed rest, blood transfusions and heavy blood loss from her placenta, the couple lost their third child.
“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,” she wrote in an Instagram post. Her words were shared with a black and white photo of Teigen, undressed save for a hospital blanket, plastic cap and clinical nonslip tube socks.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”
Fans responded quickly, offering sympathy. The candor of a celebrity who shared her pain so openly deeply struck women. Many commented on her posts across social media that they too had suffered a similar loss and thanked her for helping destigmatize pregnancy loss.
Teigen said earlier in the week on Instagram that she was about halfway through her pregnancy. It’s unclear whether the baby was stillborn or died shortly after birth.
After the stillbirth of her son, Jesse, at 24 weeks 18 years ago, Slack started the foundation to help families heal and find hope again after the loss of a baby, including assisting in burials and cremations. Approximately 24,000 babies are stillborn each year in the United States, or about one in 160 births, she said.
“It’s a lifetime of lost hopes, plans and dreams for the baby you lost. We want our babies to be remembered. We want you to say their names. We want our baby’s life to be acknowledged just as any other loved one who has died,” Slack said.
Bernadith Russell, a New York City-based obstetrician-gynecologist, said such loss is often only associated with the early stages of pregnancy.
“Everything isn’t on the Internet. People aren’t really letting other people know that something like this occurs, so she should be commended for her openness,” Russell said. “It’s very traumatic to lose a child at any point, and it’s certainly more traumatic after you felt the baby move. … So the trauma associated with it is quite significant.”
Because of the vast silence that greeted their own private pain, some women have organized their own communities to support each other. Some felt that Teigen’s admission will make it easier for women to talk about their loss and know they are not alone.
“Chrissy’s voice helps others know that this tragic experience can affect anyone,” said Andrea Syrtash, who founded the site and podcast Pregnantish.
Mindy Webb said she did not see Teigen’s post but can relate to her loss. The 28-year old corrections officer for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety lives in Rockingham. On Feb. 2, 2011, she said, she lost her first son, Bentley Alexander Treadaway, at 23 weeks.
Just out of high school at 18, she said, she had an “easygoing pregnancy” initially. Then, one morning she woke up early for an exam and was bleeding profusely.
“It was like a murder scene; there were clots the size of softballs that came out of me,” she said.
She was rushed to the hospital and had an emergency Caesarean section before her 1-pound, 2-ounce baby was whisked away to a hospital farther away with her then-husband. Fourteen hours and 57 minutes later, he died. Webb said she had to beg the doctors to move her from the labor and delivery floor, where she could only hear the sound of crying babies.
At the end of 2012, she found out she was pregnant again. She discovered she had an “incompetent cervix” and was treated with progesterone. But in May 2013, when she was eight months pregnant, she noticed that the baby wasn’t moving.
When she got to the hospital that night and got an ultrasound, she could tell by her doctor’s face that there was a problem. She was told that the baby’s heart wasn’t beating.
“Please find my baby’s heartbeat,” Webb remembers pleading.
“She showed me every part of his body on the machine, and she never found a heartbeat,” Webb said. She was sent home and told to come back the next morning for another C-section because the hospital couldn’t manage it that night. She and her new husband lay with their hands on her belly the entire night, willing the child’s heart to beat. It did not. Isaiah Chandler Webb was delivered stillborn. They buried him on Dec. 22, 2013.
“Christmas has never been the same,” she said.
Webb now has an 8-year-old stepdaughter Kensley, and a 4-year-old son, Briceton Gaige. But she thinks about her two older boys, who would be almost 10 and 7.
“It’s been a long road. I wonder every day, why did God have to take my two babies?” Webb said. “But I have learned to live with many things in life. Something could have been desperately wrong with one of them that I couldn’t have dealt with, but at the same time, if it was what I had to do, then I would have done it.”
She now works with the Footprints on the Heart program, which helps families cope with the grief that comes with miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, stillbirths and newborn deaths.
She said talking about pregnancy and infant loss is important, if that’s what makes healing easier for you.
“I wake up every day looking at the negative with the positive,” she said. “I have two kids that have to take care of. So I have to be positive about everything for them.”