Difficult Conversations Podcast

Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician

Episode 117 | November 10, 2020

My Journey with Stillbirth

Debbie Haine Vijayvergiya

Author, Advocate and Speaker

Debbie Haine

Welcome to the Difficult Conversations with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Our special guest today is Debbie Haine. Her daughter, Autumn Joy, was born still in 2011. Somehow out of tragedy, she made it to through the darkest days and came out on other side. Since then she has been a dedicated and tireless advocate of stillbirth rights, promoting research at both state and national levels and working towards improving stillbirth outcomes and awareness. Debbie’s horrific experience regarding the care she received when her daughter was born still led her to push for state and national reform. As a result of her tireless efforts, Governor Chris Christie passed the Autumn Joy Stillborn Research and Dignity Act in 2014. Debbie also founded The 2 Degrees Foundation, a non-profit organization in New Jersey. In March 2020, Loretta Weinburg, Senate Majority Leader, introduced the Stillbirth Resource Center, to help fill many of the gaps related to stillbirth care. Dr. Orsini keeps his promise about two things, that you will be inspired, and you will learn communication techniques that will help you in your personal and professional life.

Debbie shares her story with us, starting from her second trimester checkup when the doctor couldn’t detect Autumn’s heartbeat. On July 8, 2011, she gave birth to Autumn and in her words “nothing can prepare you for the moment that you deliver your dead baby”. She tells us some things that happened in the hospital that did not go very well and the words and actions of people that made things worse. Find out why she felt like she was thrown into a deep, dark ditch and left to find her own way out. Dr. Orsini shares some advice when he teaches patient experience and mentions imagination and compassion. After experiencing the lack of support from the medical community and the uncaring way she felt treated, Debbie’s “Jersey” came out and she said “I’m going to fix this”. We find out what she does, and she explains the Autumn Joy Stillbirth Research and Dignity Act. She tells us that if there was a way to break the stigma associated with stillbirth and make it a safe conversation, women would feel more comfortable. Dr. Orsini shares the all too common story about parents having twins and one is stillbirth and how people often pretend that the other one didn’t really exist. He gives some great advice on what you should say and do in this situation. Debbie tells us all about The 2 Degrees Foundation, how we can help, how to get involved, and where to donate. We end with some incredible words of wisdom from Debbie to healthcare professionals and mothers. If you loved this episode, please hit the subscribe button to find out more about what we do and how we teach communication. Go ahead and download this episode now!

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