But when a child is stillborn, women leave the hospital with only a few mementos and a death a certificate. Now, a group of mothers in Pennsylvania is urging lawmakers to pass a bill that they say will help them in their grieving.
They want a birth certificate.
"I felt him move, I felt him hiccup, we used to talk to him," said Nicole Jackson of Millersville, Pa. She, along with her husband Thomas, spent nine months planning for their son. He was to be named Thomas Maximus.
Sadly, when Nicole went into labor, doctors told her there the child had no heartbeat. The baby had gotten tangled in the umbilical cord and died at 39 weeks.
"I just kind of cried," Nicole said. "I kept apologizing."
Nicole still had to deliver Thomas as if he were alive.
"It was like a nightmare that you couldn't wake up from," said Thomas Jackson. "You just didn't believe it was happening."
The couple and their families held the baby and took pictures. But all the mementos Nicole has of the baby she carried for nine months are from after he died. Now she, and many other mothers, want more.
Instead of receiving a death certificate, they're pushing for a bill that would give them the option of getting a birth certificate called a 'certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth.'
The bill allowing that certificate passed in the state Senate, and now moves to the state House of Representatives. However, it's not guaranteed success: the bill has met opposition in the House before.
State Representative Babbette Josephs is not opposed to it, but explains the concern that it could impinge on abortion rights.
"People who don't want abortion to be legal keep using a variety of bills to push their point home. I didn't want this bill to be used for that," Rep. Josephs said.
The Jacksons say the certificate will help them find closure.
"I would like to have that piece of paper that says I did have my son, he was born," Thomas Jackson said. "I held him in my arms, he was there."
28 other states have passed similar bills, including New Jersey. The bill in Pennsylvania holds the record for the most failed attempts.