Mysterious Stillbirths Baffle Doctors, Anguish Parents

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Rubens said doctors, nurses and midwives should talk more honestly with their patients about the possibility of stillbirth.

"We want [expectant] families to have a great experience, and it puts us in a position where we aren't informing our patients about complications," he said. "We need to change that. The nature of the modern generation is that information is everything and the more you know, the better prepared you are."

Kolarcik may not have been prepared for her stillborn son, but she took action to memorialize him and to help other mothers.

When Joseph died, she and her husband didn't have the money to pay for a funeral, so someone donated a burial plot and they were offered a payment plan for a $2,500 memorial service.

"During that time I decided to take my grief and my heartache and turn it into something positive," said Kolarcik.

She founded the Joseph Michael Kolarcik Foundation, whose mission is to provide financial assistance to families of stillborn children or infants who die of SIDS.

"The foundation is my way of keeping our son's memory alive while helping families in need," she said. "If you haven't had a stillborn you don't understand how painful it is."

Dr. Rubens said parents struggle to get over the loss of a child they never knew. "You don't get over it, and you don't replace one with another infant. It's like they had a baby in their arms right from the beginning.

"It's very difficult because these families are looking for reasons and sometimes we can't give them ones," he said. "There needs to be more research. We need to understand why babies are dying and find new ways to prevent it from happening in the first place."

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