Reporting Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s something people are pretty uncomfortable talking about — babies who are stillborn. It’s also something that became real to our WCCO-TV family last year.
Aaron Goodyear, whom we call “Goody,” is a photojournalist at WCCO-TV. Last December, he and his wife, Amber, lost their baby late in the pregnancy. Little Silas died in the womb after getting tangled in the umbilical cord. Amber said she didn’t even know what a stillbirth was until it happened to her. She wants more people to understand the loss and what they can do to help.
The first few pages of Silas’ baby book are full, the last few are empty. And that is how they will stay. As Amber turns the pages, she shakes her head.
“Those are all things that I’ll never be able to have with my son,” she said. “His first smile, first tooth, first bath.”
For the Goodyear family, a time that was supposed to be about firsts quickly turned into an occasion marked by lasts. Amber said they had him for about two hours.
“Kissing him goodbye, that was the last time I saw him,” she said.
After a healthy first two trimesters, what happened to Amber was an experience she’d never even contemplated.
“Stillborns are not talked about,” she said. “I didn’t know what a stillborn was.”
At 30 weeks in her womb, Silas got tangled in his umbilical cord.
“Having a cesarean and having him come out and not having any tears or sound was like the most deaf feeling,” she said.
The entire experience was tough on Amber’s other children.
“Sometimes I feel like a really bad mom,” she said, “because I feel like I can’t be as good a mom to [my 2-year-old] because I grieve Silas.”
Of this trying time, she says: “You feel like you’re walking a journey alone until you find someone who’s had a stillborn.”
And so on Saturday, she’s going to ask others to run beside her, as she hosts a 5K in Silas’ honor.
“There’s only so many things I’m gonna get every year of my life for people to remember my son, and if I don’t do an event, if I don’t do something, I’m so scared that they’re going to forget him,” Amber said.
It’s Kristi Reinertson’s mission to make sure Silas is not forgotten. She’s part of an organization called 11 Angels, and she goes into hospitals with blankets and advice on taking photos to help moms like Amber optimize the short time they have with their babies. She has an angel of her own; her Aidan died four years ago at full term.
“We were able to sleep with our son for 12 hours, and that’s the most amazing thing we were able to do,” she said.
Her group is teaming up with Silas’s run to raise money for a cause that can be a tough sell.
“Some people will turn you away and say, you know, ‘We’re not gonna give money to a cause for dead babies,’ so it is hard to raise money,” Reinertson said.
But on Saturday, that’s exactly what they plan to do.
“Everybody asks all the time,” Amber said, “’When are you going to go back to normal? When are you going to be the old Amber?’ Well, I will never be the same person in my entire life of who I was before Silas died. My mission, my goals is way bigger.”
This Saturday’s 5K will be at Purgatory Creek Conservation Area in Eden Prairie at 8 a.m. Here are the details.
For those who can’t make the run, you can donate here.