After our stillbirth, my husband and I were sitting in the park on a beautiful spring morning. It was jarring how excellent the weather was, how there was joy to be had. It felt like we were the only ones with puffy eyes and headaches from crying. We saw a birthday party being set up and it gave us a chuckle to imagine our balloons if we set up our party that morning.

Why celebrate Sad Birthday?

“How much suffering there is to get through!” -Rainer Maria Rilke.

Parenthood. Loss. Life.
My personal experience with an unexplained stillbirth (two days before my due date) plunged me into an abyss of unexpected suffering.

Directly due to this experience I have learned the stories of so many who have lost their pregnancies and children. My eyes have been opened to the realities of life. How when we choose to become a parent we really are choosing to ride the fine line of life and death, admitting our position in this universe that we cannot control what happens to us.

There’s some mystical therapeutic effect that happens when I see my experiences visualized in a drawing. The act of putting a feeling to paper helps me to give presence to the voice that is screaming to be heard inside and also helps me to find the precious humor that carries me through the effects of trauma. 

Human life is steeped in universal shared experiences and every time I share a raw moment of comedy or tragedy- I find I’m met with solidarity in the form of laughs, hugs and tears. I hope that my drawings bring you perspective, empathy and hopefully a little spark of light amidst your day-to-day. Through my work I celebrate parenthood, the joy and the pain with you my Sisters and Brothers.

SAD BIRTHDAY is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

“What is the duty of humans? If gifts and responsibilities are one, then asking “What is our responsibility?” is the same as asking “What is our gift?” It is said that only humans have the capacity for gratitude. This is among our gifts.” -Robin Wall Kimmerer 

This form of expression is a way for me to show my gratitude for life.
If you join me on this journey, I will be sharing with you my honest exploration of the true stories of parenthood and loss in the form of comics and other visuals with a mix of writing, information, inspiration and amusements. I will even be illustrating the stories of pregnancy loss and parenthood shared by you, my readers.

It is my hope to serve as a communicator for the topic of pregnancy loss so that it may be brought to the light and allow for this horribly painful experience to be allowed to breath, liberating us from the shackles of isolation. Connection is the remedy I say.

Every time I meet another parent who has experienced loss, I feel a spark of connection. It is my wish that this platform will be more than a newsletter but also the formation of a genuine community for those of us who were dropped into the wilderness. I hope that the work I share with you is life-affirming and helps you to tell your own stories or at least feel understood.

What is my background?

In my other life I am a medical & scientific illustrator where use my work to educate the viewer about anatomical and scientific concepts. My work is extremely precise which exercises that wonderful left side of my brain - but that’s my day job (which I love). My right brain gets to thrive at night when I’m expressing feelings with these messy, liberating comics.

My book Uterus, a new perspective was written and illustrated to help explain female anatomy and the female reproductive experience in a compassionate, nuanced way. I will be carrying that intention through my work on this platform as well, hopefully giving insight and voice to those in their childbearing years in an entirely original way.

Stay connected

Each newsletter/comic will hopefully bring a little moment of empathetic breath to your day. Every new edition of the newsletter goes directly to your inbox. Subscription is free with optional payment of $5 per month. Your support directly allows me to create the content that I want to and to share with a free and supported heart. With all my love, I wish you well on your journey of healing and letting life in.

Please consider gifting a subscription if you know someone who is a new parent or has experienced a pregnancy/child loss.

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Parenthood & pregnancy loss comics which are not necessarily funny. By Jessica Mayer Koren


Medical/Scientific illustrator and Indie author, comic artist, mother, stillbirth survivor.