Updated: Mar 1
This series of personal stories from parents who have suffered pregnancy or baby loss opens up a space for talking about loss and grief publicly.
In sharing their stories about pregnancy, infertility and the death of their babies, the parents whose personal accounts you can read on The Possum Blog are beginning to exorcise the demon of social taboo afflicting many conversations on perinatal loss. Parents share their journeys and their advice, if any, on living with loss. They share how they have changed, who they have become, and what truly matters now.
Angel baby girl Elisa
For my first two pregnancies I found out that I was pregnant at five and a half weeks. The first pregnancy was a twin pregnancy with separate sacs and a heart beat in each. At nine and a half weeks I miscarried one of the twins. It was touch and go for a while but I was very fortunate to end up with a healthy baby boy.
In my second pregnancy everything was fine until a huge bleed at fifteen weeks. I went on like this for eight weeks and was told that I had a separation of the placenta. At twenty three weeks I started experiencing contractions. I went to the hospital and was told they were only tightenings. I told the midwives that I had already had a baby, and knew that these were contractions. My doctor was contacted, but it was 4am and she said she would be in later. I was told that I was not allowed out of bed under any circumstances. I rang the buzzer as I needed to go to the toilet.
I told the midwives that I had already had a baby, and knew that these were contractions.
The nurse said she was very busy and to just get up and go. When I did this I passed an enormous clot. I called the nurse and her response was one of annoyance - now she had to get the clot out of the toilet. I was then told I’d be taken to the delivery suite to have my baby: a high white blood cell count and an antepartum haemorrhage had brought on labour. I said it was too early and to call my husband.
That afternoon my mum and sister were visiting. Nurses came to check the baby’s heartbeat. The nurse said that she couldn’t find one in front of them. Then she had a social worker talk to us about delivering a stillborn.
The nurse said that she couldn’t find a heartbeat in front of my mother and sister. Then she had a social worker talk to us about delivering a stillborn.
The social worker was very uncomfortable. She said that the diagnosis needed to be confirmed by ultrasound, which couldn’t happen until the next day.
My doctor came to visit me and said that I could get up for a shower. When I did I felt the baby’s head so I rang the buzzer for the nurse. She said that it was another clot, and I said that it wasn’t. When my doctor arrived she confirmed that what I had felt was indeed the baby’s head, and my daughter was delivered.
When I held my baby I felt totally devastated. I couldn’t believe it. Some hand and foot prints were taken. She was just tiny, and she was perfect. She was born sucking her thumb as we had seen in her previous ultrasounds. It was heartbreaking. We called her Elisa Jane.
Unfortunately the midwife who was attending to me said that she hadn’t been "to one of these before”. To add insult to injury she told us that there was a baby boy just born in the room next door at the same gestation, and that he was just being flown to another hospital. I didn’t need to hear that.
Unfortunately the midwife who was attending to me said that she hadn’t been "to one of these before”. She simply wheeled my daughter up the corridor and put her in between some filing cabinets.
She also said that she would take the baby out of the room, as the dinner was coming around and the smell of her would turn me off my dinner. Elisa didn’t smell, but I was in no state to say anything.
My husband came to visit and found that the midwife had simply wheeled my daughter up the corridor and put her in between some filing cabinets. He asked her to bring Elisa back to my room.
In terms of mementos I only have footprints and handprints, Elisa’s hospital tag and the tape they measured her with. I did have a midwife draw a portrait in normal skin tone, and I treasure that. To have a Possum Portrait made means the world, as Elisa is part of my family.
To have a Possum Portrait made means the world, as Elisa is part of my family.
My experience of baby loss was devastating. I don’t think anything can prepare you for it. It was very unfortunate that I initially had someone so inexperienced looking after me. Once I got home, I had a wonderful midwife who visited me regularly. She wanted me to put in a complaint and had told the ward manager what had happened. I didn’t feel strong enough to do it.
It was very unfortunate that I initially had someone so inexperienced looking after me. Once I got home, I had a wonderful midwife who visited me regularly.
I find that miscarriage and stillbirth are things a lot of people are not comfortable talking about. My loss was almost 26 years ago - now, there is a lot more support around. To parents recently bereaved, I would say to take each day as it comes. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Be kind to yourself and do whatever feels right for you. I was very lucky to have a supportive family, so reach out to whatever help you need.
As for the future, I hope miscarriage and stillbirth will be spoken about more frequently. I would also like to see the incidence of both reduce, and more research conducted in this area.
To parents recently bereaved, I would say to take each day as it comes. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
At the time of my loss, my son was two years old. We were honest with him and explained that his sister had gone to heaven and was the brightest star shining down on us at night. She is still up there, looking down on us.
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