parent opinion

"Thank you, Chrissy Teigen, for showing why we need to document the ‘ugly’ milestones in life."

Last week Chrissy Teigen posted a personal essay to her Instagram about her decision to publicly document, in photos, the loss of her son, Jack, at 20 weeks gestation.

In the weeks prior Chrissy had posted frequently while she was in hospital on bed rest, sharing with her followers her experience with partial placental abruption, which affects the baby’s supply of nutrients and oxygen.

The essay detailed the moment the doctors told her her baby wouldn't survive, her request to her husband, John Legend, to take photos of the birth and how she’s been feeling in the weeks after.

Watch: A tribute to the babies we've lost. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

She posted the essay five days ago and I have found myself going back to read it several times since. 

At first I didn't know why I kept rereading it. Sure, it was because it’s so refreshing to get an insight into a celebrity’s experiences, first hand. It’s rare that us ‘normals’ get to feel exactly that - normal - because a famous person feels pain and loss, out of their control, just like we do. She showed us she is human and in turn made all of us feel human, too. 

But two things in particular struck me about what she wrote.

She asked both her husband and her mother to take photos of the experience, no matter how ‘uncomfortable’ the situation became. Her husband, John, was reluctant to do so until she explained to him that she needed the photos to remember this milestone in their lives.

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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.

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“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.”

I stopped at this paragraph. I read it over and over.

My father passed away from brain cancer six months ago. He died at home in palliative care. 

As the disease took over his body it changed him physically and mentally, each day making him less ‘him’ until it took him away completely. 

It’s impossible to pinpoint, but at some stage when you watch a loved one die in front of you, the experience reaches a precipice at which the memories will no longer be pleasant.

And yet I continued to document them. 

At one point my father would repeat a long number, over and over. The same seven digits. We didn't know why and still don't know what that number is. Over and over he would say it, as the cancers ate his brain and his sanity and his dignity.

I have these moments on video.

And until I read Chrissy’s essay I didn't know why. Why I filmed them. And although they are too painful to watch at the moment, why I have kept them.


What she wrote made me realise that it is just as important to document the ugly, awful, gruesome milestones in life as it is to make memories of the good ones.

Because these things happened. They’re pin drops in a life’s timeline that shape you. And in fact, it’s the painful parts that push and stretch you into a different version of yourself. They show you so much more about what matters, who you are and what life is about than the day you got engaged or your 40th birthday. 

I'll never post them. I don't even know when I'll be able to watch them. But they happened, and to respect that is important.

Chrissy also explained that she’s so happy. 

“People say an experience like this creates a hole in your heart. A hole was certainly made, but it was filled with the love of something I loved so much. It doesn’t feel empty, this space. It feels full. Maybe ‘too’ bursting full, actually. I find myself randomly crying, thinking about how happy I am to have two insanely wonderful little toddlers who fill this house with love,” she wrote. 

This is the second part that struck me. Because for the past six months I have been trying to work through my own feelings of being the saddest and also the happiest I've ever been, all at once.

Chrissy writing about this made me realise that it’s because I am so sad that I am so happy. Her losing her son made her appreciate her other children that little bit more. And losing my dad has made me so content with the little life I have. 

‘Before’, I cared more about going places and having ‘things’. Now all I care about is spending time with those who matter to me. I care so much less about ‘where’ or what I wear. 

Losing one of the most important things to me has made me hold all the other important things that much closer. 

I know what matters now.

So thank you, Chrissy, for showing us you’re human, for articulating so beautifully the shades of grey that are loss, and for helping me understand myself a little bit better.

This is a love letter to you. And also your son, Jack, and my dad, Ross.

Feature Image: Supplied.