The online artwork is based on the Each Egg a World painting made by Adinda van ’t Klooster in 2017. It contains 44,061 dots that together create patterns of human female egg cells inside a larger egg shape. Each dot represents a stillbirth and all that that entails. In the online version of the artwork it is possible to select one of the dots and name it after a stillborn baby; this can be done by either the mother or the father of the baby or by both parents together. The participant(s) can then write a brief (up to 250 word) anonymous description of their experience of stillbirth and related emotions. A named dot will turn red and once the statement has been reviewed it will be readable online when hovering over the named dot. Anybody, including people who have not directly experienced stillbirth, can view the statements and give feedback on the artwork. It is hoped that the artwork will help to break the taboo on stillbirth and make people feel slightly better equipped with understanding when they come across a stillbirth in their own communities.
The definition of a stillbirth differs in different countries. The World Health Organisation recommends for international comparison that the definition is: a baby born with no signs of life at or after 28 weeks' gestation. However, the UK uses a cut off point of 24 weeks and in the United States the term stillbirth is used for the loss of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Stillbirth can be further classified as early (20-27 weeks), late (28-36 weeks) or term stillbirth (37 or more weeks of pregnancy). In this artwork, stillborn babies can be entered from 20 weeks of pregnancy.
In the online artwork there is a search function which allows the viewer to type in a word that they think might be one that will be repeatedly used (for example anger or sadness or love), and when they click the search icon all the dots where statements used this word will highlight. Once the artwork is more densely populated this will be a quick way to explore the range of emotions raised by a stillbirth.
This artwork hopes to create an inclusive picture of the impact that a stillbirth can have on people’s lives. It is common complaint of people who have experienced a stillbirth that the magnitude of their loss is ill understood by their wider community and that although they would like to talk about it, they feel pressure to stay quiet because it is such a difficult topic.
It will also be possible to visit the artwork in three physical venues in London, Manchester and Newcastle upon Tyne, see here.
An evaluation survey will go live in the fall, it will be used to evaluate if the artwork has helped to reduce some of the stigma experienced by those who suffered a stillbirth.
If you know anyone who has experienced a stillbirth please invite them to participate in the artwork, which is online at https://stillbornproject.org.uk/eacheggaworld/
If you would like to help us promote the Each Egg a World online artwork please download an information pack with a sample article and further information here.
A sample of responses gathered so far to the artwork –
I’ve found speaking to others in similar situations helpful.
Elke poging het taboe te doorbreken is welkom. 2 Weken na de doodgeboorte van onze Max beviel mijn jongste zusje van een zoontje. Vanaf die dag mocht er in mijn familie niet meer over ons verdriet en Max gesproken worden. Ook in de familie van mijn man was het onderwerp onbespreekbaar. Dit heeft geleid tot een totale breuk met de families. Door de fouten in het ziekenhuis tijdens/voor de bevalling heb ik een hersenbeschadiging opgelopen; mijn vertrouwen in de medische wereld heb ik daardoor onherstelbaar verloren. We geloven ook niet meer in communities, als puntje bij paaltje komt moet je het toch zelf zien te redden. : Each attempt to break the taboo is welcome. Two weeks after the stillbirth of our Max my youngest sister gave birth to a son. From that day onwards, nobody in my family was allowed to speak about our sadness and Max. Also in my husband’s family we couldn’t talk about this subject. It caused a total break with the families. Because of mistakes during the birth I incurred brain damage; this made me lose faith in the medical world irreversibly. We also don’t believe in communities anymore, when push comes to shove, you have to be able to fend for yourself.
It is a very healing experience to be connected to others who have experienced a similar experience to yourself because it truly is isolating. We are a community of people that can find comfort and hope in eachother.
It's not often you get to talk about your baby, and any platform to do so is helpful to processing your loss be it recent or past.
It is sad to see so many dots, but being part of the babyloss community, we all feel, and understand, the need to keep our babies memories alive.
Each comment, each like, each share gets bereaved parents talking. Our babies are all together on one perfect art work.
My mother has remembered her first baby for 60 years but not publicly. Stillbirth was taboo for many of these years.
I do feel artwork can bring together lots of people, wether they’ve experienced loss or not, and encourage them to talk about baby loss. Baby loss does come with this unnecessary taboo that it’s somehow not ok to talk about it. That it’s not ok to bring up the subject or mention people’s baby’s so not to upset them. Personally I found it more upsetting not having my baby mentioned or talked about. I think the artwork can also help people feel less alone, that they’re not shut out of the world because their baby died. It may be comforting to read about people’s experiences, maybe even to find common ground with others. To find comfort, hope, answers, knowledge and understanding.
I believe that most women feel like they are alone in the loss. The society makes the mom feel like it is her fault but with this art the burden is lighter and you get to really feel that your baby matters.
The visual representation of each of these lost lives is captured so well in this artwork. When seen in its entirety, it is so powerful.
To not feel alone is important. To be a part of something bigger, a community will make you feel less stigmatised, different and lonely. Great and beautiful idea! thanks
I believe that this artwork will make our babies as real to world as they are to us.
It will (help break the taboo on stillbirth) as this is a subject not talked about. I talk about my little girl born sleeping all the time. She is one of our family too and always will be. I believe I have 7 children, not just 3 and that is what I tell people. It also helps them understand who I am as a person: kind, compassionate and caring.
Any way we can share our children’s stories helps us to heal, and it enables others to speak more freely about their pain.
People are scared to talk about something which they have no experience of and something which is beyond comprehension for many. In order to get people talking, then a project such as this will go a long way to opening up a dialogue with people. I love to talk about our angel and we mention his name everyday in our house so that my children know about their brother and so that our families and friends know that they too can mention his name.
I feel the medical professionals feel that stillbirth is a failure and they themselves don't know how to cope with it.
I think every attempt and every idea to break the taboo on stillbirth is much needed and necessary. A range of ideas and methods is needed to reach a range of people. Being able to remember and say my daughter’s name wherever I can is important to me, so marking a dot for her means a lot. It’s another way to continue to parent her even though she is gone. Thank you.
People generally think that talking about stillbirth upsets the parents but actually, it is the opposite. By seeing that we need the acknowledgement of our loss may help break this belief.
I’m not sure that an artwork will break the taboo - so my answer isn’t a black and white no - the sense of community and the conversations that this community will create I know are powerful tools - what may come out of feeling acceptance, non-isolation, a sense of true community and understanding, is what will hopefully give the right people comfort and confidence - and it’s these people we need to break the taboo!
Being able to talk about my loss helps me feel like my baby isn’t forgotten which is one of the hardest parts for me - that life goes on. Many times I have wanted to talk about my baby and have been shut down pretty quickly and people have changed the topic of conversation because it makes them feel uncomfortable. I wish people would understand that although a chat for them might be awkward - this is how we must feel for the rest of our lives. I also wish others would know how helpful the smallest of chats about our angel babies can be for grieving parents. It brings me comfort being able to read the similar stories of others who have experienced the same.
Today, 10 years after the stillbirth of my dear niece, I am reminded of the importance of breaking the taboo on this subject. I experience much love for her, even though I never got to see her alive in this life. I hope someday all people experiencing stillbirth will be able to share this great grief freely, and that they feel understood and supported. Thank you, dear sister, for speaking up!
I once worked closely with three young women who were all expecting their first child at roughly the same time. Two gave birth to a healthy baby, a son and daughter respectively. The third suffered a stillbirth. It was very difficult to know what to say in the circumstances - the joy of two women and the devastation of the third. She left the company, moved away and eventually had a healthy child. Life moved on. The need to say anything seemed to have been overtaken by events. I think through this artwork and the testimonies of others I now understand what she was going through and have a better idea of what I could have/should have said.
Stillbirth is still taboo. A lonely place to be because our community turns away and people don't want to talk about the fact that babies sometimes die.
So many people going through the same heartache.
It was very moving and made me realise the importance of breaking the taboo in order that people can share their experiences. I hope that Each Egg a World raises awareness and helps to bring support to those that have experienced this terrible loss.
It's beautiful to read how much love people feel for their babies but so sad they had to lose them. It's also made me aware of how important it is to let people talk about their baby and to actively ask questions about them rather than ignore the issue.
This is painful to get an insight to but important for everyone to understand. Thank you to everyone that shared their stories.
The artist should be proud to have provided a forum for such powerful human experiences, which still functions aesthetically. It will be intriguing to see the transformation in the work as statements accrue, with more and more detail at greater zoom levels. The art object here has true potential social impact.
The human spirit in the face of such great pain and loss is in powerful evidence throughout the contributed statements. No matter the distance in time, the memory cannot be escaped, and the artwork can only help a wider understanding of the grief and love of bereaved parents in a society which still suffers over and over again.
Tenemos que dar visibilidad. - We have to give visibility.