This morning, I learned the heartbreaking news that Chrissy Teigen and John Legend have lost their baby boy Jack due to pregnancy complications. My heart is aching for their loss and pain.
My husband and John shared some classes when they were both attending the University of Pennsylvania. Back in August, when Chrissy announced the couple was expecting their third child, we were excited for them. According to Chrissy, this pregnancy came as a surprise and had been extra special because the baby was naturally conceived.
Chrissy and John have been very open about sharing their struggles with infertility. They had their two older children through in vitro fertilization (IVF). When announcing this pregnancy, Chrissy called it “a prayer answered,” and she and John were overwhelmed with joy.
Then we learned through Chrissy’s social media posts that she had experienced some complications, as she was about halfway through her pregnancy, around the 20th week. Chrissy had to be hospitalized and had received several rounds of blood transfusions. Chrissy didn’t elaborate on the complications, but they sounded serious.
We prayed for the health of both the mom and the baby, and a medical miracle. Unfortunately, the miracle didn’t happen.
Chrissy wrote on her Instagram just after midnight Oct. 1, “We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before.” She also wrote to her son, “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.” Chrissy’s heartfelt words would make a stone cry.
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) October 1, 2020
Things Everyone Needs to Know about Losing a Baby
We are saddened by Chrissy and John’s loss. Losing a child is the worst tragedy in life. Words are inadequate to describe the pain and grief parents feel at losing a child. The journey of healing is long, and sometimes it lasts a lifetime: no parent would ever forget his or her child, no matter how little time they had spent together. The bond between parents and a child is unbreakable.
Women who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss tend to blame themselves. Such self-blame and a constant feeling of guilt are big obstacles to a mother’s healing. Therefore, I want Chrissy to know that she has done nothing wrong and her body didn’t fail her. She is a good mother and did everything she could to save Jack.
Chrissy and John should know that they have already taken significant steps on their journey of healing. One, they gave their baby a name, Jack. Many parents who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss told me that naming their baby, saying their baby’s name, is crucial for their healing.
By naming the baby, and sharing the baby’s name to the rest of the world, Chrissy and John let all of us know that Jack was a person. He existed. He lived. His life, no matter how brief it was, matters to his parents and his siblings.
As Chrissy said, Jack is forever a member of her family, and he will always be loved and remembered. For those who love Chrissy and John, please say Jack’s name. For grieving parents, nothing is more comforting than hearing other people say their baby’s name and keeping his memory alive.
Another thing Chrissy and John did right was to take photos of tender moments with Jack and share these photos with us. Photos such as these will help them memorialize and honor Jack, and validate Chrissy and John’s parental experience with him.
Gina Harris, the CEO of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that offers free professional remembrance portraits for parents who have lost their babies, explained to me in an interview why having these portraits is so important: “These photos document the existence of our babies and validate their lives. They are a powerful gift of healing and hope.”
Chrissy and John have a long journey of healing ahead. I hope they know that they are surrounded by love and prayers.
Resources for People Who Have Lost Babies
The pregnancy and infant loss community is made up of incredibly kind and thoughtful people. Organizations such as Star Legacy Foundation provide tremendous support and resources to families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss, including parents, grandparents, and siblings. National Share supports families who experienced pregnancy and infant losses through support group meetings, memorial events, and online counseling. It has more than 75 chapters in 29 states.
There are some good books that parents who lost children highly recommend. One is “Grieving the Child I Never Knew,” by Kathe Wunnenberg, who experienced three miscarriages and the death of one infant. The book contains 31 devotions divided into six parts. Each devotion includes a scripture passage, a prayer, some discussion questions, and space for journaling. Reading and working through this book feels like having a thoughtful companion by one’s bedside to lift one up during the darkest days and moments.
Another good book is “Three Minus One.” After losing a child, it is easy to sink into an isolation state, thinking no one understands how you feel. This book is a collection of close to 100 testimonials from parents who have experienced pregnancy loss or the death of an infant. These parents’ pain, anger, and heartbreak will resonate with any soul, especially to other parents who experienced similar losses. You will also find these parents’ love and devotion for their precious children inspiring.
October is infant loss awareness month. October 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Pregnancy and infant loss, caused by miscarriage, stillbirth, birth defects, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and other causes, happen more often to American women than most people realize.
Here’s a shocking statistic: one in four U.S. pregnancies ends in miscarriage and one in 160 deliveries ends in stillbirth. Yet such loss can be a taboo subject. We often don’t know how to talk about it or how to comfort grieving families.
I admire Chrissy and John’s courage for being so open and honest about sharing their pain. I hope their courage and Jack’s life will bring more awareness and thus more compassion from all of us to families who have suffered similar losses.
Last, I want to share a poem by Claudette T. Allen, which has brought comfort to so many parents:
Daddy, please don’t look so sad, Mama, please don’t cry–
‘Cause I am in the arms of Jesus and He sings me lullabies.
Please, try not to question God, don’t think He is unkind.
Don’t think He sent me to you, and then He changed his mind.
You see, I am a special child, and I’m needed up above.
I’m the special gift you gave Him, the product of your love.
I’ll always be there with you and watch the sky at night,
Find the brightest star that’s gleaming, That’s my halo’s brilliant light.
You’ll see me in the morning frost, that mists your window pane.
That’s me in the summer showers, I’ll be dancing in the rain.
When you feel a little breeze, from a gentle wind that blows,
That’s me, I’ll be there, planting a kiss on your nose.
When you see a child playing, and your heart feels a little tug,
That’s me, I’ll be there, giving your heart a hug.
So Daddy, please don’t look so sad, Mama, don’t you cry.
I’m in the arms of Jesus and He sings me lullabies.
May God bring peace and comfort to Chrissy, John, Luna, Miles, and so many American families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss.