Thursday, 9 February 2017

Hearts That Were Broken, Hearts That Have Healed - Edwina

It’s almost eleven years since my son Teddy came, then left three days later. He was my much-longed-for third child, but from early on in my pregnancy with him, I knew something wasn’t right. One day on my morning walk I got a message loud and clear – “Don’t get too attached, this one won’t be with you long”. I was still in my first trimester, so I thought I was going to miscarry. I tried to shake the feeling, put it out of my mind as an unreasonable fear, but it persisted even as I carried him all the way to full term. A few days before he was born I had a nightmare, the last words I heard before waking were, “And the baby’s dead too.”

        As his birth approached though, I was filled with a deep sense of calm. I spent many hours in meditation, something I’d been able to do easily ever since his conception. When he finally arrived, born in water into my own arms, he was slow to come around, but my experienced midwife and I worked together and soon he was breathing and a healthy glowing pink. I was ecstatic, my beautiful boy was here at last. All my bad dreams and messages were just fears.

        But then that night in my bed at home I started to worry. Unlike my other babies who’d been voracious feeders, he was struggling to stay awake at my breast and not getting much milk. My midwife visited and checked him out and helped me to get him to feed. But another night passed without him feeding properly. I lay him on my knees facing me and asked him what was going on. I told him to make a decision – that I was here and would love him forever no matter what, but to please just eat.

        My midwife visited again and together we got him to have the best feed he’d yet been able to manage and lay him beside me on the bed. Not long after she left, I noticed that Teddy was lying very still beside me. That his lips looked blue. I picked him up and ran through the house calling for help, for God, for anyone, to please, please help me. My sister who was staying rang the midwife and got her to return, then called the ambulance as I began to resuscitate him. Together my midwife and I pumped his tiny heart and breathed for him until the ambulance arrived and took over. Cutting through his jumpsuit and attaching electrodes, shooting him full of adrenaline. Nothing worked. He’d made his decision. They say that every moment is perfect. The moment of your child’s death feels very, very far from that.

        Teddy was my third child and the third member of my family I’d lost in traumatic circumstances. My father had died after a long ugly battle with cancer when he was only 42. My younger brother killed himself to end the suffering of his mental illness when he was 20. Then came Teddy, my little three-day baby who died of a congenital heart defect. I thought I’d finished my dance with death and grieving. Teddy made me face all of it again.

        And I’ve learnt more in the years since he’s come and gone than I ever hope to learn again. Luckily, I had been practising yoga for many years when he died, so every day I got onto my mat and cried out my pain. I learned that it was better to cry a little bit every day than wait until I couldn’t hold it in anymore and explode in unrelenting sobs. I learned that by sending out love and comfort to all the other women in the world, both now and back through time who knew the same loss, that I too was somehow mysteriously comforted. I learned that if I wrote in my journal about my grief, about Teddy, about how angry I was, how awful it felt, how afraid I was of facing other people and their fat healthy babies, of the hate and rage and hopelessness, or if I drew out my pain using pens and paint, drew hearts that were broken and hearts that had mended, that if I let myself feel my grief and cry some more, I was helping myself to heal.

        I learned that in Bali, if a baby dies before it’s six months old, it’s buried in a special cemetery and revered as a god. That helped. When I think of Teddy now, I see him as a great white angel standing with me and with all the mothers who have lost their babies. He is standing with me now. Just as your babies are standing with you.

If you require support after reading this blog please contact 
Sands on 13 000 72637

Edwina Shaw

Edwina Shaw is a Queensland writer. Her first book Thrill Seekers, based on her brother’s adolescent battle with schizophrenia, was shortlisted for the 2012 NSW Premier’s Award for New Writing.  In the Dark of Night, her recently released children’s chapter book, is part of a nationwide library promotion – Summer Reading Club 2016/17. She has been widely published in Australian and international journals, including Best Australian Stories 2014. She writes regularly for UPLIFT Connect and published an article on The Gifts of Grief there
Edwina teaches yoga and writing at universities in Brisbane, and innovative workshops combining both. She also teaches specialised workshops combing yoga, writing and other creative arts to help ease the pain of loss.
She can be booked through SpeakersInk
You can also find her at her website

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Watching the Calendar Tick Over - Stevie

Our second son Elliott was born sleeping on 28/10/16 at 21 weeks gestation. My membranes ruptured and I went into labour. Our perfectly healthy baby just wasn't strong or old enough to make it through. Now I find I'm in this huge space between his birth and his due date that feels like limbo. A space between the ‘was’ and the ‘might have been’. It’s a space filled with watching the calendar tick over, day after day towards what should have been a joyous time filled with exciting anticipation, waiting for our baby to arrive safety into the world. Instead the anticipation is rife with stress and sorrow. Although he has already been born, that date, his due date, hasn't gone away.

When I woke up on New Year’s Day I didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't want it to be a new year, I didn't want a reminder that time truly does go on. Days, weeks and months had passed and now a new year. I felt like he'll be forever left in 2016, never to grow up through the years. I felt like the new year reflected how I was further away from him yet closer towards the cruelty of what was meant to be. I was supposed to be big and waddling by now like I was with my other two by this stage. I was supposed to wear that maternity dress I bought on sale. Instead the night before I could have a few drinks because I wasn't carrying a baby safely inside and I could wear my pre-pregnancy jeans because he had already been born when we were just over half way there. Having a cocktail and wearing my jeans were things I looked forward to doing again, but now both just reminded me of what I no longer had. 

I never cared for dates and now they meant everything to me. Every Friday echoes the day he was born and died, the 28th of every month tells me how old he would have been if he survived. And that date, the date that he was meant to be born healthy and alive is looming. I won't ever happily prepare a birthday party for him like I do for my other two. Instead we prepare ourselves emotionally for certain dates which bring a gutting ache of milestones we'll never get to witness. I see photos of friends who were due within weeks of Elliott’s due date and know that was meant to be me. I can't let my husband put his hand on my belly when we cuddle because it reminds me how he would rub my belly feeling the baby kick. Now there's just emptiness when there shouldn't be and it feels taunting to have his hand on it.

I had a great week last week- I felt productive, useful, purposeful. Then I woke up one day and couldn’t get out of bed. For three days, I didn't get out of bed until late in the afternoon and when I got up I felt like I had absolutely nothing left. Out of nowhere my grief had smacked me right in my face. I couldn’t stop thinking that we would be counting down the weeks now, preparing for his arrival. That if he was born now, even this early, chances are he'd be fine. It feels like every week that passes closer to his due date intensifies the thought of our baby whom we should have taken home. I began looking for answers to my grief, to solve it, to let me pass over the thoughts of "if only". I tried to be positive and held back from crying. Then I came to the realisation, with help from friends including other bereaved mums, that there are no answers and no ‘solving’ my grief. That no matter which way you looked at it, it was cruel, terrible, awful and unfair. I broke down to my husband and told him the things I couldn't stop thinking about. I cried that mournful cry you can’t fake, I curled in a ball and clutched at my stomach. When I woke up the next morning it was easier to get out of bed.

I'm now trying to accept my grief as part of who I now am. I’m trying to understand, live with and around it. I'm accepting that the time between now and that date will likely have many terrible days where I am temporarily consumed by those "if" thoughts. I'm going to let myself have those days, so the next ones are easier. I'm accepting that sometimes its ok to not be ok and that its normal to be angry and upset, feeling that it’s all so unfair. Because you know what, it is unfair-completely and utterly unfair. At my worst times, I do my best to bring myself back to the moments where I held him and remember that warm feeling of protective love. I do something to celebrate him and his life, because he deserves to be celebrated like every other baby. I’ve decided that on his due date we'll fly kites for him and write on more stones to put around his tree we have for him, like we did on a day we held for him after he was born. I know I'll count down the days until his due date, and have no idea what will happen after that, but I know every day before and every day after I’ll love him.                                                                                        

If you require support after reading this blog please contact
Sands on 13 000 72637

Stevie Vowles

Stevie Vowles has a 7 year old daughter, 4 year old son and a son who was born sleeping on 28/10/16.  Her journey led her to the upsetting discovery that there is often a great lack of understanding and awareness of pregnancy and infant loss. She has started an open and honest blog sharing her journey of Elliott's birth and the life that leads after for herself, her husband and her two other children, who also grieve greatly, as the first step in wanting to spread awareness and help other bereaved parents the blog can be found here

Thursday, 12 January 2017

2016 Reflections - Genevieve

I'm not really ready to talk much, which is very unusual for me.   Almost wordless for the first fortnight. Just starting to think (and feel) now.

Aria was my rainbow baby - the last living part of her dad, and I lost her.   I felt her move for the first time on the day her dad was cremated.   She was born two months to the day from his birthday (14th July) and died two months to the day from the day he died (15th July). Probably coincidental, but seems significant.

 Yes, we loved the names too.

Her dad and I had named her Aria - at conception actually. For three  reasons – we both loved music (aria is a musical term), it is similar to Amalie (both starting with “A” and three syllables), linking her to her sister and thirdly, because she was conceived in the Aria hotel!

Wanted to find a middle name that linked to Mark and thought about the   feminine forms of “Mark/Marc”.  Don’t like Marcy or Marcia, then it   came to me – Marcella.   “Marcella is an Italian given name, the feminine version of Marcello (Mark in English). Marcella means warlike, martial, and strong. “

 Was perfect for 4 reasons:

1)      Link to her Dad  – “Marc-”

2)      Link to her sister Amalie – “-ella”  (Amalie’s middle name was Ella)

3)      Link to her grandmother Noella – “-ella”

4)      Link to her Aunt (my sister-in-law)  Amy – her initials (Aria Marcella Yates) are AMY

If you require support after reading this blog please contact 
Sands on 13 000 72637

Genevieve Yates

Genevieve is a GP, medical educator, medical writer and musician from the Northern Rivers region of NSW. After a long and difficult road to motherhood, her beautiful daughter, Amalie Ella, was born in December, 2014.  Tragically, Amalie died of neonatal sepsis after only four days.
Through her clinical work, teaching and writing, she hopes to she can use her experiences to help support both patients and other doctors in managing the complex emotions surrounding fertility issues and perinatal loss, and also encourage more open discussion in the general community.

Her website can be found at:

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Another Birthday Missed - Therese

Thirty-seven years ago today(5/1/17) I should have been celebrating my child's birth. To not have this annual celebration as I do with my other children, still leaves a "what if" sort of question. I bless my other children every day and feel so sad for those that have not experienced the joy of a live birth.

I bought a rose bush a few years ago and had a ceremony with my  daughters, which I have discussed in a previous blog. I went and stood before it today  and saw that all the flowers on it had died off and was relatively bare. On a closer look, I saw a new bud forming and reflected that this is what it is like to give birth to a newborn, which I was lucky to experience.

I spent sometime today looking at the rose bush and also to a song of Enya's: So I Could Find My Way; if you have a chance please listen to it as it can be found on You Tube. It gave me the necessary leave to have a cry, something I often hide or keep inside of me. A lesson for me is that life goes on and it is all a learning experience. This is not to say that is all the experience is as already stated.

Therese Murphy 050117

If you require support after reading this blog please contact
Sands on 13 000 72637

About Therese 

Therese has worked in the field of counselling and community development for over 20 years. She has worked predominantly in the health and welfare field. She has worked in the primary school sector counselling children through a range of loss and grief and traumatic experiences.
Therese has also delivered a number of conference papers on the theme of children’s loss and grief and articles on stress management too. She also worked as a Sessional teacher in the TAFE system and the Private Sector in the Community Services area, including Mental Health Welfare for over 20 years. She is also an experienced Supervisor.
Therese has as a small business conducting Reiki, Inner Child Therapy, Meditation and similar therapies. She is also works as a Group Facilitator and teaches stress management and relaxation techniques within the local community as well as running workshops in the areas of trauma and loss and grief and related areas.
Therese is a published poet and has three children and four delightful grandsons. She enjoys nothing more than a good cup of coffee and the occasional glass of wine or bubbly. She is passionate about climate change and the environment, wanting a clean world for her grandchildren to grow up in and one where any type of violence is not tolerated.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Celebrating Christmas - Dominque

Merry Christmas to everyone and here’s to another year of hopes and dreams that we can witness and create.

This time of year can be quite bitter sweet for some. Though this is a time for gathering together with our loved ones and sharing fun times, laughter, gift giving and eating plenty of food, this is also a time of reflection for those that are no longer with us or didn’t get the chance to share the joy in the first place.

For those of us that have lost by miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death, our little angels didn’t get to experience the joy of Christmas nor did we get to experience it with them. I explain my feelings of this, that we were robbed of this opportunity to enjoy this with them. So each Christmas, I always take a moment to remember my darling angel Jethro James Morcombe and light his candle with my husband and my two sons. This gives us the chance for the 5 of us to be together and reflect on Jethro’s short life. It allows us to wish him a Merry Christmas and tell him we love him and wish he was here. My eldest son always has a chat with his brother when we light his candle for occasions; it’s very sweet and innocent.

Our families also acknowledge him at this time and include him in the Christmas spirit by hanging a bauble on their own Christmas tree. We all had baubles made with Jethro’s name on it and it’s an opportunity for everyone to have their moment with Jethro when putting up the tree.

There is no doubt that in this lifetime, we all have our fair share of pain or trauma. For me, though at the beginning my pain was huge, it was with time and effort that I began to see another side to this. Life is one big lesson. Each chapter that is thrown at us, good or bad, is something we can learn from. I refused to live morbidly and in a negative space, as to me I know that Jethro would not want that for me. I feel as his mother, that I must live the best possible life I can and teach my children that are here with me on this earth, that life if AMAZING!! Life is beautiful and love is the answer to everything. If you have a bad day, surrender to it, but then heal it with love. Jethro did not come on this earth to make me feel sad and to throw away the rest of my life. He came to SHOW me how to live. He came to show me just how awesome that living can actually be. The comfort I also have is that he lives on in us and he is always going to be in my heart. He IS the love that I share as well as my own!

It was also important to ensure that Jethro’s life was acknowledged by as many people as possible and learn about this beautiful angel who once graced this earth. I have achieved this in many ways including fundraising for the children’s hospital. This was a huge thing for me as we were not only doing a great thing to support the hospital, but it helped me to heal! It was a reminder that we were not alone. Many parents are going through similar circumstances, if not worse, so I think of their strength which gave me a great deal of strength in return. Proudly, we have to date, raised just over $80k since Jethro passed away in 2010. It feels amazing to give back to those that helped us in more ways than one.  It feels so good to be able to do this and I’m such a proud mummy each time the event arrives and on that day, it’s about all these people getting together in honour him!! I love to show him off and his existence.

It is easy to stay in darkness when we lose a child. The pain can be so great, that we can just switch off from everything else. But when you can poke a tiny pin hole of light into that darkness, it will only get brighter with each step you take with the courage inside to live the best life possible! Christmas is a celebration and so is life. So for those lives taken suddenly, let’s celebrate their lives and fill the world with love and joy in their honour.
“Sometimes love is for a moment, Sometimes love is for a lifetime, Sometimes a moment is a lifetime”

Merry Christmas everyone. Love and light to you all. xxx

If you require support after reading this blog please contact

Sands on 13 000 72637

Monday, 19 December 2016

Christmas 2016 - Kristina

Today I awoke with a sense of blackness. That’s how it happens now.
I can be ok for weeks, sometimes months. I remember them every day. Yet some days like today it’s all I can think of.
It’s Christmas so I should be getting excited to spend the holidays with my two rainbow children. In some ways I am.
To see their faces when they open their presents and the look of wonder at Christmas lights.
Yet I’m always reminded there are 2 not here.
There are two I cannot watch as their faces light up to hear Christmas songs. They won’t be any extra feet running down the stairs to see what Santa left.
For 10 years Christmas has never been the same.
It’s also ten years without my mum. My mum who was Christmas in itself. She would cook the big English turkey dinner and have all the treats.
Without her and my babies, Christmas has become a mixture of sadness and some joy.
I have become an expert in hiding my pain not only from my two rainbows but also everyone.
Unless you have walked this path you could never begin to understand the sheer heartbreak that time does not heal nor simply goes away.
How could it? Whether you never met your baby or like me got to see and touch and smell them. They are a part of you. That instant love and joy you had for them never leaves.
The moment I knew I was pregnant I loved them. I talked to them, chose names, watched them on the ultrasound.
These memories and feelings don’t fade.
People have told me I need to move on and to be grateful for my two living children. What they could never understand is that I am fully aware of how lucky I am to have carried to term and brought these amazing souls home.
As I know what it’s like to carry a baby and feel it kick you, to give birth and then to bury them both.
But could they move on and forget if one of their children died?
I love all my children. I will always love all my children. I will never forget.
As I drove my daughter to school this morning all I really wanted to do was to go home and go to bed.
To sleep and to lay in my grief.
I can’t though. My youngest is home. He needs me to play lego and watch Christmas movies with him.
Somehow I will have to struggle through and wait till their dad is home or hope this blackness lifts.
Christmas for me is harder than their birthdays. I chose to celebrate their birthdays as a happy occasion. Don’t get me wrong, I still cry.
Christmas is supposed to be a joyful season of parties, carols, Santa photos, gift swapping and family.
Yet for us that have lost it’s not. It’s another yearly reminder that they are not here.
I try every year to find a new ornament to put on the tree in their honour. We have their feet and handprints on there too.
For me it’s a little sign they are here and we remember.
Honestly though I wish someone other than me would remember them. To write their name in a card or comment on the tree. In 10 years no one ever has.
Sometimes I wonder if I don’t mention them or wish them a happy birthday would anyone but me remember?
My husband very rarely mentions them.
That’s hard for me as I don’t want to upset him with my pain.
He holds me when I cry and tries so hard to comfort me but really I want him to know without me telling him.
Grief is at times so cruel. It can bring you to your knees with a smell, memory, name or a song.
When it hits me it hits hard and can take my breath away. I can’t say what it was today especially but all I know is it hurts.
So if you are reading this and know someone who has said goodbye to their baby or child, tell them you remember by saying their child’s name or expressing your awareness that this time of year is difficult for them.
Today I will be gentle on myself and try to put that brave smile on.
I hope if you are reading this, you realise you too are not alone and your baby or child are important.
We as their mothers remember them every day and those memories never fade.
I wish us all some love and gentleness this Christmas season. Xoxo

Merry Christmas Charlie and Neve 

If you require support after reading this blog please contact
Sands on 13 000 72637

Kristina Riley

Kristina is a children's nurse and a counsellor.
She has four beautiful children.
Charlie and Neve are her two angels who are the  inspiration for raising more awareness about stillbirths and pregnancy loss.
Her two miracles Maya and Zack are the reason she keeps moving forward on this journey of grief.
Her husband Curt is also her inspiration to raise awareness for fathers and their grief.

There needs to be more awareness for us all.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Christmas is fast approaching - Barry

Following on from my previous entry:  life had started to get back to some degree of normality. Life will never be the same again, but Sarah and I had started to come to terms as best we can and we both were back at work. Some days were still too much, however we start to spend more time at work and less time away. I start to feel useful at work once more not just showing up.

Then I started to think about Christmas. Phoenix was due in early January, so if everything had gone to plan he may have come early,  or if not Sarah would have been heavily pregnant during Christmas celebrations. Either way he would have been a part of our celebrations and I am sure he would have got lots of presents.

Unfortunately Phoenix will not make it with us to Christmas in person, we will remember him and think of him in spirit. One night I was thinking about this and feeling down: I took some time to grieve and thought I had processed it by the next morning.  Sarah suggested we take the day off anyway just to be sure, but I think if I take a day off work every time I am feeling a bit blue I will never be at work. So off I went to work, thinking everything was good and dealt with last night.

As I prepared for my day as a school teacher, all is going well until the first bell for home group and I feel the grief rising but it is too late to deal with. I go in thinking I only have 20 minutes to deal with then I have a free lesson and can manage my grief then.  As I enter the class it must have been written on my face a student asks me “Are you OK?” I believe in being honest with my students and I shake my head but I don’t have the words and that’s it - I break down.

Luckily there is an office to the side of my classroom filled with teachers and I take refuge in there and a teacher kindly offers to take over. I spend most of the home group time in there to compose myself and worry what will happen when I have to show myself to my students. However I realise I have some important information to relay to my students and decide to face the music. The students don’t say a word about what has happened and take the information in as normal as I take over the class for the remaining 5 minutes. Some students even come up to me throughout the day to check that I am ok. It’s funny, I teach in a pretty rough school but the students constantly surprise you with kindness and compassion, I think some may relate to grief and loss.  I take my free lesson to compose myself and continue to teach for the rest of the day. It certainly was not the most successful day, I still feel raw all day but I manage to get through. After a stressful day I decide to take the next day off to recover. 

I recover and go back to work for another week and all is well until again the thought of Christmas surfaces in the car on the way to work and I think the 25th of December will be the 4 month anniversary of Phoenix’s short time on this earth.   The grief starts to swell again but I think I have it under control again. Unbeknownst to me it is just building and biding its time. I manage to get through homegroup, however in the grief and confusion I have confused my days and planned a lesson for a different class. I get to my actual class after a short detour to tomorrow’s class and start to madly think of what I can do with this science class that was supposed to be PE.

I stand in front of the class (most of whom are socialising waiting for me to call their attention), and I realise the grief is about to explode once more in front of a class.
I try deep breathing to calm myself however another kind and thoughtful student asks again “Are you ok?” and it breaks me once more. I rush out of the class luckily again another teacher is nearby to relieve me for a few moments.  I compose myself again and retake my class a short while later. On this day I have no free lessons to calm myself just recess and lunch. Again it is not the best day but I get through. I notice myself being snappy with the students and I have to apologise on more than one occasion. My students know my story and they are mostly kind and compassionate.

I decide I need to take action to try and prevent future outbursts in class. I call Dorothy from Red Nose and we discuss some strategies around preempting those bad days and using music to bring the grief on early before work. We discuss using a phrase like “thank you for asking” as a shield if someone asks “Are you OK?”. I also discuss with my partner Sarah and she tells me she talks to Phoenix every morning and that helps her.

The next morning I try many of these strategies. I feel I want to get back on the horse again immediately unlike last week when I took the day off. I think everything is working fine until I am about to leave and I realise everything is not fine. Now I know this will be a huge disruption and it will be difficult to cover my lessons but I feel I have no choice but to call in sick.  I apologise profusely and explain the circumstances of why I am calling in so late.

After another interaction at work I fall into a deep depression for most of the weekend. I was able to function:  I went Christmas shopping with Sarah but the usually joy I felt around Christmas and buying presents was not there. This felt different to the grief I had experienced up until that point. I decided I need to discuss this with a professional although admitting to potential mental health issues was not something I wanted to do. There is still a stigma attached to such an admission. However after talking to supportive friends and family I decided it is better to check it out rather than wait for it to get worse, so I set an appointment for early next week.

During the weekend however I talked about it more and discovered there are other things I could be doing for my mental health. By the end of the weekend I was feeling much better however I decide to keep my doctor’s appointment just to keep everything in check. We discuss the differences between grief and depression. I know I want to try and avoid at all costs some of the feelings of that weekend just gone. I want to be able to recognise if I am going to that place and to develop strategies to get out.

On a lighter note Sarah and I found out on Monday we are expecting twins. This delightful if slightly terrifying news has brightened our lives. As for Christmas I am sure there are ups and downs to come. We will take time to remember Phoenix on the day. Like Sarah I have been talking to him every day, and our family brought us a wonderful Christmas Tree Bauble to remember Phoenix. Next Christmas we will have two little ones to share Christmas with Sarah, Phoenix and me. One day when they grow older we will tell them the story of Phoenix on our tree. 

If you require support after reading this blog please contact

Sands on 14 000 72637