The Unspoken Pain Of Having A Stillbirth: The Hospital Bills

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.

When Rebekka and Randy Hauskins lost their daughter Hayden to stillbirth in 2010, they were hit with unexpected financial pain on top of their emotional pain.

Every month for about a year, the Hauskins had to write out a $77 check to pay the approximately $1,000 hospital bill resulting from their daughter's stillbirth. It was a constant and painful reminder, Rebekka Hauskins told Today.

"It was something [Randy] had to consciously write a check for every month — no matter if it was a year later… He still was writing that check and it hurt every time," she said.

Their experience led the family to start a non-profit organization to help other families in similar situations. They named Hayden's Helping Hands after their daughter, and pledged to pay $1,000 toward other stillbirth hospital bills for families in Oregon and Washington. The organization launched in 2011 and has so far helped 43 families pay their bills.

"You just feel like there has to be something you can do to help after a loss," Hauskins told Today. "It wasn't until we had gotten our delivery bill that it struck me to take away that expense. After losing a child, there's nothing anybody can say to you that can make it better — there's nothing anybody can do to change the situation, but, the financial burden can be changed."

Like miscarriage, the financial cost of a stillbirth isn't often talked about. Those of us who've never been through it can guess at the emotional pain, but likely don't think about the hospital bills that still have to be paid, even when a family isn't able to bring their baby home.

For some families, those bills aren't just a reminder of their experience, but also a financial burden. According to a 2013 study looking at 533 stillbirths in Michigan over 10 years, the average cost of losing a baby was $7,495 (±7,015). That parenthetical is important. It means that for some people, the cost was more than $14,000, and the study found that hospital bills for people who had stillbirths were actually about $750 higher than for people who had live births.

But, for the Hauskins, helping to pay these bills is about so much more than easing a financial burden. It's about showing the families they help that they're not alone.

"I don't feel that I've done anything great for them — what we've done is very small in comparison to the loss that they've had," Hauskins told Today. "For us, it's about saying, 'I know you had a baby and I recognize your loss.' No one wants to acknowledge grief, but it's important."

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