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 –
Any way that we can share about stillbirth is worthwhile to get the conversation going to hopefully get more funding into research. I found this artwork comforting to hear other stories and I loved being able to share my baby boy's story in another way. Our greatest fear as bereaved parents is our baby being forgotten and this type of thing helps us to share about them and a piece of them will always exist through this.
An artwork is another way in to the experience. Some people respond to words, pictures, etc and this is another angle in the experience. So powerful, seeing and reading all the stories and babies. Thank you
To see others suffering eases your own in a way I will never understand.
It is nice to feel part of a group and understand that we are not alone in this very bumpy journey.
Fellow sufferers understand you better than anyone ever.
I am always speaking out regarding the taboo.
By reading other people's experiences and realising the shared themes involved enables a validation of your own feelings and sense of community. However conversly, having a unique dot, and own words expressed, with differences in what we wish to express brings the importance of our individual babies memories.
It can be a lonely world after a stillbirth. I think this will help a lot of parents like us feel less alone.
I believe that this artwork will make our babies as real to world as they are to us.
Its let's people see that they are not alone, and that there are other people out there going through the same things.
It is very difficult to express yourself after such a loss. And hard for someone to try and comfort the parents of such a massive loss. I hope this artwork helps people to see the emotions parents feel after the loss of a child.
I have been blown away by the community and support I have discovered since losing Giorgia, but I feel there is still a way to go in raising awareness of stillbirth. Artwork like this can continue to help foster the community and keep the conversation going. If each person who names a dot shares the artwork that would make a significant statement.
Yes, if it is fully filled in from parents all over the world, we will see more clearly our 'club' that we did not wish to join, but from which we can draw strength. Thank you for this ingenious project.
I think it is beautiful and raising awareness remains so important - it should not be happening. Perhaps you should add a question - How did you find out about the project? I read about it in the i yesterday - excellent article! Thank you Adinda.
For far too many years stillbirth has been unspoken and the elephant in the room. By showing visually and telling every story may help the many to see that the pain and grief are widespread and also help those that are new in their grief to know they are not alone! Thank you!!
I think, especially if your experience is new, it is comforting to read and hear of other people having the same experience. You wish they didn't have that experience too but its comforting to not feel so alone. And to feel a sense of hope that in the future things might feel more bearable.
This will help to break the stigma of not talking about it.
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.
A sense of community can be achieved from taking part in this artwork by being able to share our own feelings as well as read others knowing they can read ours and seeing that we are not alone in this journey.
It is comforting to know I am not alone in my loss and that there are others out there who understand how I feel. It is also lovely to have anywhere that I can put my Nicole's name and know that maybe someone else will see it and just for a moment think of her.
It happens to all sorts of people
I can relate to the comments that I read having experience stillbirth five years ago with my baby Jonas. It's important that we can all be more open about stillbirth and support those families who are going through the trauma. It's essential that more research is done to help avoid little lives being lost. Thank you for your work Adinda in helping stillbirth be talked about and understood.
I was surprised at how common stillbirth is and reflected that it isn’t seen or spoken about as part of many people’s lives. It made me think about health inequalities and how women’s health is more broadly still taboo.
My first understanding of baby loss was when I was a child and my mum cried. She was 39 weeks pregnant and was told her babies heart had stopped beating. I remember sobbing for her, for her baby and for the big brother who would never never meet his younger sibling. Again, when I was in my 20s a colleague went on maternity leave, but without a baby to cradle in her arms and again I sobbed for her. Neither time did I speak to the women about this loss, I only projected my feelings onto them. Flash forward to my first pregnancy loss (at 14 weeks) and I felt a pain I didn’t know it was possible to live through…suddenly I had an idea and I remembered those women and I remembered weeping for them, and I knew my pain was not the same. This artwork is beautiful and perfect and important. Parents left with a gaping space in their arms and hearts deserves place to express that. Well done.
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.