This series of personal stories from parents who have suffered pregnancy or baby loss holds space for talking about loss and grief.
In sharing their stories about pregnancy journeys, infertility, feelings and bereavement, these parents are beginning to exorcise the double demons of silence and ignorance that afflict so many conversations on baby loss.
Parents share their journeys and their advice, if any, on living after the death of their baby. They tell us how they have changed, who they have become, and what truly matters now.
Angel baby boy Leon
When I found out I was pregnant, I ran out of the bathroom and told my husband that it was positive. We both agreed not to get too excited, especially after having gone through two early miscarriages previously, the latest one happening only the month before.
While I didn’t want to get too excited, how could I not? I knew the excitement I previously held, even if a sense of terror and fear now surrounded it. We were both so happy and overjoyed, even though I was extremely nauseous the whole time.
For the most part, it was an extremely normal and straightforward pregnancy. But we soon found out that everything was not going to plan.
We both agreed not to get too excited, especially after having gone through two early miscarriages previously - the latest one happening only the month before.
We arrived at our ultrasound ready but worried. The technician stated that she was having a hard time getting measurements on my son's head because he was moving around so much. By this stage he appeared to have moved down into my lower abdomen, as if hiding from the probe.
More medical staff came into the room and resumed the scan, advising that they too were having trouble seeing what needed to be seen. We were then told that due to his movements, we would need to make a new appointment for another scan.
The hospital called and requested we make an appointment with the doctor due to a problem with the ultrasound. As the ultrasound began, I started hyperventilating and crying. John held my hand and whispered that he loved me.
As the ultrasound began, I started hyperventilating and crying. John held my hand and whispered that he loved me. [The procedure] ended with the words no one wants to hear: "I'm sorry."
The silence was broken when the technician said she needed to check with a doctor if any further images were required. The technician returned and took a few more photos. She then stated that she was done, followed by the words no one wants to hear - "I'm sorry."
Leon had acrania and labour needed to be induced as soon as possible. Apparently the condition was 'incompatible with life'. At that moment I felt my whole world fall apart.
I was in labour on and off again for 4 days due to the induction process that was chosen. I ended up having an epidural. The process was incredibly long and hard but I was eternally grateful to have my husband and my mum by my side ensuring what I wanted occurred.
When I finally held my son, it was a moment unlike any other. Leon was beautiful, tiny and perfect. I never knew I could love anyone as much as I loved him. It felt like the best and worst moment of my life.
When I finally held my son, it was a moment unlike any other. At the same time it was not at all what I expected. Leon was beautiful, tiny and perfect. He had his dad's hands and my feet. I never knew I could love anyone as much as I loved him.
The first second I saw him I didn't want to let go and I wanted to stay forever in that moment, looking at his beautiful nose. It was filled with so much love and heartbreak. It felt like the best and worst moment of my life.
The moment we lost Leon our lives changed forever. Some days felt like a giant black hole had swallowed me and I would never find myself again. I have been diagnosed with depression and PTSD, which I am slowly dealing with. It isn't easy and I am still grieving. I will miss Leon for the rest of my life.
I have been diagnosed with depression and PTSD, which I am slowly dealing with. It isn't easy and I am still grieving. I will miss Leon for the rest of my life.
I am forever changed and am no longer the same person I was. That's okay. My family has always been incredibly important to me and since losing Leon they have become even more so.
The main thing I wish I had had before losing Leon was any kind of birthing classes. I had no idea what to expect when giving birth as Leon is our first child. I didn't know what my pain relief options were, or anything about the process. Luckily I had my amazing husband, who asked every question possible when I couldn't think or process information.
I also wish I had known right at the start of our bereavement journey how much support is actually out there - for example in support groups. Our loss happened so quickly I had no idea where to start seeking support at first.
In terms of things I wish I had done, I wish I had more photos and had hand and foot casts done at the hospital.
To a recently bereaved parent I would say that I am sorry you are here. Although it might feel like your world is ending, you can keep going. It won't feel like this horrible black hole forever. We keep going in memory of our little boy and making sure he is remembered.
To a recently bereaved parent I would say that I am sorry you are here. This is not something any parent wants or should have to go through. Your baby will never be forgotten by those who matter. Although it might feel like your world is ending, you can keep going. It won't feel like this horrible black hole forever. We keep going in memory of our little boy and making sure he is remembered.
The grief and loss community has been incredibly helpful and supportive, as have our family and friends. There are so many amazing services out there like Bears of Hope and Red Nose/Sands, who provide group and individual support including 'Ways To Be Okay' forums. Most importantly, be kind to yourself.
We have found doing things to include Leon in our life has been incredibly helpful. Like celebrating his birthday, doing something new for him each year and donating Christmas and birthday presents that we would have liked to give to him.
It is almost indescribable how much our Possum Portrait meant to us. I cried so much when I received it the day before his 2nd birthday. Just being able to see it makes me feel so much closer to him.
It is almost indescribable how much our Possum Portrait meant to us. We have so few photos and mementos of Leon. I cried so much when I received it the day before his 2nd birthday. It is just so beautiful and it warms my heart how much care was taken to create it. To be able to have this beautiful portrait of our little boy we can hang in our home and share with our friends and family means so much. I want as much of Leon in our lives as possible. Just being able to see it makes me feel so much closer to him.
Loosing Leon made me realise how important those you love are and to cherish whatever time you get. We miss Leon every day. I keep going and living for him, to do the things he never got to do.
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