As newlyweds, we were very excited to be pregnant with our first child. We chose to work with a midwife and envisioned a homebirth, free from unnecessary medical intervention. The pregnancy was typical until at 35 weeks Kiley went into early labor. At the doctor’s office, Kiley discovered that our son, Norbert, had already passed away, and he was born still the next day, July 12, 2005. The cause of his death was a liver cyst that had grown rapidly in the third trimester. Not only was our vision of a natural, non-medical birth experience gone but losing our first child in this shocking and completely unexpected way shattered our lives.
We did have the opportunity to spend some time with our son at the hospital, however our experience with the medical professionals was appalling, the staff was wholly unprepared, and the resources were sparse. Since then, we have wanted to educate doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals about better ways to interact and care for their patients, so that those who experience this loss in the future have better treatment and support.
In 2014, Sean and Kiley made RETURN TO ZERO in the belief that as a film, it would help to shatter the stigma and silence associated with stillbirth. By sharing their personal tragedy, they wished that others would find healing and even hope for the future. RETURN TO ZERO became much more than they anticipated - the film launched as a grass roots movement that has reached across continents and language barriers and has galvanized a global community.
The success of the movie continues to help those who have experienced the heartbreak of stillbirth to feel as though they are not alone. It has created and inspired communities around the world that allow people to grieve a loss that has heretofore been silent in society, and its impact has been transcendent for people who have only known grief in solitude.
The Return to Zero Center for Healing developed organically and as a result of the film's positive impact. It helps women and their families find hope and healing after the death of their baby through outreach, education, and retreats.