I don’t pay much attention to social media or celebrity news, but it was hard to avoid hearing that Chrissy Teigen had lost her precious baby boy, Jack. It seemed like everyone was talking about it in the loss community. Being the average human that I am, I of course couldn’t then resist going to Twitter and Instagram to read her story and was blindsided by the pictures she shared. Even more shocking, however, were some of the comments and reactions to those intimate pictures.
I think it’s safe to assume that anybody who criticized Chrissy Teigen for taking or sharing these pictures has never experienced such loss. You see, the pictures themselves didn’t bother me, nor the fact that she decided to share them. What bothered me most was the fact that so many women, myself included, never even get that chance to have those pictures of their own.
For too many of us, our losses were handled less than gracefully by medical professionals, the situation surrounding our loss didn’t lend itself to photographs, or we were simply too shocked to know how to proceed or what our options were. Had I known, at five months pregnant, the only time I would have seen my baby was in the bathroom where I delivered him I would have acted so, so differently. Had I known that the nurse would simply bring him to the lab and send his body out for testing without asking or telling us, or giving us the chance to say goodbye, I wouldn’t have left him with her. Had I known that bereavement photography was even a thing, I would have taken advantage of it.
Most people get a lifetime to take pictures with their children, and their phones are full of shots that they’ll probably never look at again. But too many parents have only a brief window of time, a matter of minutes or hours, to capture the love for and life of their precious babies.
When even that moment is stolen from us, it makes the grieving process that much harder. How I wish I could remember what his face looked like, and that I’d had the chance to plant kisses all over it. How I wish I could show the world how perfect his ten little fingers and ten little toes were, or even share the devastation on my face after losing him.
Because those pictures would tell the world that he was real, that he was here, that he was a deeply loved baby, and that the pain of losing him is unbearable. Instead, sweet James is forgotten by the world as if he never existed.
So I applaud Chrissy Teigen for her bravery in sharing such an intimate moment with the world. And at the same time, I am so, so jealous of those beautiful pictures and the precious gift of time that she had with her son. This year’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month feels especially hard. Now, all that I see are the beautiful pictures and mementos, such as handprints or locks of hair, that other loss families have. And what do we have? One lousy sonogram that’s too blurry to see anything because the doctor was in a rush.
It makes me mad, but above all it makes me sad. My baby deserved better, he deserves to be known and cherished and celebrated by the whole world. I’m glad the world gets to know about and mourn the loss of Jack, but I wish it knew about James too.
Chrissy is a loving wife to Shaun and mother to James, who went to heaven far too soon, and his little sister Madison. Although she is a history buff, it was purely coincidence that she named her children after the fourth U.S. president. She hails from Sacramento, CA where she works in politics and enjoys traveling, reading, running, and hiking in her spare time.