Friday, 28 July 2017

My Story of Pregnancy Loss by Danielle

Danielle wrote a book dedicated to women who have experienced miscarriage called Little Big Love.  This is her story written specifically for Sands

Written four days after Danielle lost her baby

Until four days ago the word ‘miscarriage’ meant losing a pregnancy in its early stages. It was a sad concept and I felt some sense of emotion for those who had experienced one, but how bad could it be? The baby was not even really a baby yet, just a foetus, right? Wrong. There couldn’t really be an attachment between mother and child at such an early stage, right? Wrong. It was just a matter of trying again wasn’t it? No it wasn’t.

 Until four days ago I had no idea how many women had experienced a miscarriage and how many women still carry the deep emotional scar from that experience. Now I know because I am one of those women. Now I know because as a woman who fortunately for me wears my heart on my sleeve I have grieved on the shoulders and in the ears of all sorts of women in the last few days, from medical staff at the hospital, to close friends, complete strangers and everything in between. Women really are incredible beings full of strength, beauty and nurture. Having always been a woman who has preferred to hang out with the boys because they are easier, less bitchy and drink as much as me, I never had an appreciation of this until now.

 I am a 38-year-old woman with one son. Although I’m a later bloomer in the kids department this was never my plan. I remember when I was in my late teens mapping out my life. I would become a top-notch corporate lawyer and make loads of cash. I would have my first child at 23 and my second at 25. However my life went in directions I would never have foreseen. I did become a lawyer but I didn’t make loads of cash. I ended up working for a string of legal aid type services which were at times personally rewarding, but paid less than the average 'tradies' wage. I passed the age of 23 not having met Mr Right. I passed the age of 30 not having met him either. When I got to the age of 35 and Mr Right was still nowhere in sight, I began to seriously wonder whether he existed at all and whether it was my destiny to be single and childless. My mother has an aunt who has never married or had children and she seems to have a wow of a life, travelling here, there and everywhere.  So I kept this groovy aunt in my sights and started to get used to the unplanned direction my life had taken when, pop, out of the blue, he appeared. My neighbour across the street named Matthew was the most handsome man I had ever met and his conversation equally stimulated my mind.

Fast-forward a little while and Matthew moved over from across the road to live with me and we were expecting our first child. Jago Jack was born on 12 September 2010, when I was 37 years old. He was the first child for both of us and he still is the most incredible thing that has ever happened to me. Having never had a child in my twenties or early thirties I am absolutely making assumptions here, but I think that my energy levels would have been very different having a child then as opposed to now. It’s hard work! Whilst I have always had the utmost respect and admiration for my nana who had 8 living children, now I think she should be made a saint! I love every day of motherhood though like I have never loved anything and I wouldn’t trade it for a trillion dollars.

 So when I found out I was pregnant for the second time 3 months ago I was over the moon.  Matt and I began making plans for the next 9 months and beyond. From neighbours to complete nuclear family in a few years. What a whirlwind! A huge lesson that no matter what I might have planned, life has its own agenda.

 I did a pregnancy test a few days after I missed my period so I found out about the pregnancy very early on in the peace. This made the first trimester seem to go on forever, but when I made it to 11 weeks I thought I was on the home stretch, out of danger. I hadn’t had any major hiccups with my first pregnancy and so I guess I thought it was all going to be the same this time. However, I had also been going through a lot of stress at the time because my grandfather was dying from cancer.

 I went to the toilet on Sunday night and looked down at the paper to see a couple of little red brown marks. I froze. I felt nauseas. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I steadied myself and called for Matt. I showed him and he tried to reassure me by reasoning that ‘the same thing had happened last time’. ‘No it hadn’t. Not a drop’ was my swift reply. A woman’s instinct is very strong, regardless of how desperately she wants to consciously or sub consciously ignore it. In my heart I knew this was bad. I called my midwife and she did her best to reassure me, telling me to go to bed and get some rest unless the bleeding got worse, in which case to go into the hospital. I did as suggested and not much changed overnight, giving me a chance to muster up some false hope that all was well.

 In the morning when I got up I went to the toilet and passed a couple of clots. No longer was it just spotting I was dealing with. My midwife called and I told her what had happened. She suggested I go and get it checked out. It seemed to settle again, going back to just spotting but I left my partner and 16 month old bub at home and drove to hospital. I was taken into the emergency ward very quickly which was a relief, but then I lay there on a hospital bed for hours, being checked on intermittently by a lovely nurse until I was seen by an intern doctor who gave me a few different options for what might be going on. She wanted to conduct an internal examination, which I declined. I just wanted to see my baby’s heart beat and asked for an ultrasound. The doctor said she would arrange it and within an hour I was being escorted to the x-ray department.

 I lay on the bed staring at the screen, desperately looking for the reassurance I was seeking. Instead the ultra sonographer said ‘I’m sorry but this doesn’t look good’.  ‘I can’t see a heartbeat and the baby is too small’. I just started bawling. What I had known in my heart but desperately not wanted to hear was true. My baby had died.

I didn’t want my little boy to see me like this and so I declined the hospital staff’s offer to call my partner and ask him to come in. My mum was away in Adelaide seeing her terminally ill father and I felt I couldn’t call my dad because when I had told him about that pregnancy he responded by telling me he thought I was stupid because I was too old. I thought he would just tell me I’d lost the baby because I was old. My closest friends live in other states. There was no one else I could think of that I could call to come and sit with me. So I just sat there in the ultrasound room, sobbing uncontrollably. Then in desperation for someone to hold me, comfort me, take away some of the excruciating pain I asked the woman who had done the ultrasound to go and find a woman who I don’t know well but is lovely and works in the emergency department.  My mum works in the x-ray department and so they know me in there. Word must have travelled and within a few minutes both the woman I had asked for and a work colleague of mums had come into the room. There in the arms of relative strangers I howled for the loss of my unborn baby. The pain was so intense. I had not anticipated it, which made it so much more overwhelming. All I could think about was that my baby was dead inside of me. Here I was this professional woman in her late thirties and I didn’t even know that could happen, let alone happen to me.

 The two women were absolutely fantastic. I can’t recall what they said because I was in another world, but they were of great comfort as I clung to them, drenching them with my tears. Eventually they convinced me to go back to the emergency department. After another period of waiting the obstetric and gynaecological doctor came to see me. She confirmed that my baby had no heartbeat and had died about 2 weeks earlier. She offered me three options. 1. I go into day surgery and have a d&c, where they remove the baby and placenta by surgical means. 2. I take a tablet which makes my uterus contract and causes the baby and placenta to come out. 3. I go home and wait for the baby to pass out of me naturally. She told me about the statistical success rates, pros and cons of all three options and without much hesitation I said I wanted to go home and wait for it happen naturally. I try to avoid medical intervention whenever possible anyway but there was also the mothering part of me that was still trying to protect my baby. Maybe it wasn’t dead I rationalised. Maybe they just missed the heartbeat. Maybe there was a chance it would be ok. I wanted to let nature take its course and give the baby that chance. If it was meant to come out it would, on its terms. The doctor told me it was important I watched for the ‘products’ to pass. It was important that the products came out otherwise I risked infection. In ignorance I asked what colour these products of pregnancy would be. ‘Flesh coloured’ she responded. Astounded, I asked ‘are you talking about my baby?’ ‘Yes’ was her answer, with no further explanation.

 Once I had calmed down I called my partner and told him what had happened. I asked him to come in with our son. It was much better having them with me. While we were waiting for the ok to go home my neighbour happened to walk past and see us. She looked into my eyes and all I said was ‘the baby is gone’. She knew what I was saying because she had been there too, unbeknownst to me until now. She hugged me and began to cry, telling me she knew how painful it was. I believed her. She offered to do anything she could to help, make us dinner, or look after our boy. We thanked her and said we’d be ok. She’s a beautiful woman and the third of many who were to give me the strength to get through the days to come.

We went home and I put all my mental energy into asking my baby to come away naturally, if that was meant to be. My partner went out with my son that evening to give me some space to let things happen. Acting on instinct I ran a bath and climbed in. Within a few minutes whilst squatting down my baby came out into the water. I scooped it up into my hand and couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I was holding a beautiful, tiny baby. My baby. She had eyes, tiny holes where the ears were forming, arms, legs and I could see the formation of internal organs. Even though it was too early to tell I felt like she was a little girl. She was so much more than a ‘product’ and I felt so honoured that I had the opportunity to hold her, to bond with her just for a small time. To say goodbye to her. When I was ready I put her into a little ring box nestled on cotton wool. I put her on my dresser and that night we all slept in our bedroom. My partner, my son, my tiny baby and I were together for the first and last time.

My older baby’s placenta had been sitting in our freezer since we bought it home after he was born. I had always planned to bury it under a tree but had not gotten around to it. It was pretty weird at first seeing the package every time I went to get out a steak or some frozen veggies but after a while I just got used to it being there…as crazy as that sounds. I’m glad I left it there so long because the next day I took it out and buried my big baby’s placenta with my little baby in the back yard. It felt like it was meant to be. We had a goodbye ceremony and planted a tree on top of the grave. Now we can watch the cycle of life in action, returning from the dust, day by day in our own back yard.

 In the following days I discovered that there were women all around me who had been through a miscarriage, but I had never previously known. The compassion empathy and shared stories from these women was what got me through those hardest initial days.

 When sharing her own journey, a friend told me that just after she had miscarried; her husband bought home a stranger to stay with them. My friend got upset at first, wanting to grieve in the company of familiar people. However, this stranger ended up giving Jane the same gift she gave me. Comfort.  Jane told me that this woman was a yoga teacher. The woman told Jane that babies lost to miscarriage are little souls who have almost reached the end of the karma wheel, otherwise known as maya. These little souls are very close to enlightenment, but just needs to do one last journey into the human world, before reaching nirvana. Even though I am not sure about where we come from and where we go after this life, it gave me peace of mind and brought a calm to my heart to think that what I was going through might not be in vain. I may have helped that soul to get to where they needed to go. In my times of sadness over the coming months I often thought about that story, being instantly comforted by it.

 Although I will never know one way or the other and it may have also been a coincidence, I believe that the immense stress I was going through at the time, travelling to and from hospital to see my grandfather, contributed to my pregnancy loss. My ‘Papa’ and I were very close and watching him suffer and fade broke my heart and caused many a sleepless night on top of those already attributed to being the mother of a very active 1 year old.

 I will never forget the tiny angel that came into my life for a short but profound little while. She taught me that I am stronger than I think. She taught me to appreciate the people I have in my life. She taught me that life is not a given.

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

Danielle Loy

Danielle was born in Adelaide, South Australia, but moved with her family to Alice Springs, Northern Territory as a teenager. She has moved between Adelaide and Alice Springs ever since. Danielle began her career as a lawyer specialising in human and women’s rights. She then transitioned into film making and writing. She has made documentary films, written a feature film and written a published children’s book. Inspired to help others by her own experience of miscarriage, Danielle wrote a  book dedicated to women who have experienced miscarriage called Little Big Love. She currently maintains a Facebook page with the same name, devoted to supporting people through the experience of miscarriage and its aftermath.

You can purchase a copy of the book directly through the Facebook page, which also regularly has giveaways

Friday, 21 July 2017

A Time of Reflection by Therese

As I read the blogs from others who have suffered a miscarriage, I often wonder: “Am I really like these other parents?”  The answer of course is ‘yes’ because we have all suffered a major trauma, a major loss. How we cope with it is what makes us different and yet again the same.

I am so envious of those who have the support of this wonderful group and are able to speak out to help other mothers. Had I been the same and had this support 36 years ago, I wonder if I would have handled my grief better/differently to the way I did. I think it so brave that parents are able to speak about loss at a time when they are vulnerable and still living in a society that is not prepared to speak of death, at least not the deaths of these little ones. Death is expected at old age but not when we carry our little ones – I think this is part of the reason it is traumatic i.e. unexpected and sudden, the event itself needing to be dealt with before the grief process can begin, as it is a grief that endures.

Losing a baby through miscarriage is a heartbreaking situation, never to be forgotten even when other children come along, our rainbow babies, being able to go on and have other children; after all I planned to have four children living.  I can't begin to imagine what it would be like for parents who could never have a successful outcome, to hold that precious bundle in their arms.

Why do I keep reflecting on this so many years later you may ask, it is because others I love have endured both miscarriage and stillbirth, from family to friends and could do very little to help at the time except be there. People deal with things differently from not talking about it or pretending it had no impact, or like me just wanted to talk to anyone who would listen, except when my miscarriage occurred there was no-one who would listen except one friend and that was because she had been through it too. My husband at the time emotionally shut off, so I was unable to share this grief with him, a grief that not only affected me emotionally but also physically because of the pain it caused.

Thank you again for reading this blog, my reflection and hope you find comfort in the following words I wrote last year.

We wonder what might have been.
These little Angels of ours.
Never to have held them or watch them grow Never to know them the hardest part.
They tell us that all will be okay
As we continue our journey this day.
They will be forever with us, A special place in our hearts.
Our little Angels above Take with you our love,
As we honour your memory On the wings of the dove.
Never to be forgotten.

(Taken from Little Angels by Therese 260716)

Therese Murphy 140717

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.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Things I Wish People Understood - Part Two by Suzanna

This is the second installment of an article I wrote. It discusses the things I have learnt – and wish others understood – about losing a child.

It is written in loving memory of our baby, Ella Rose Argyle (stillborn on 21 January 2017).

Death changes your relationships with the living
With every major loss I have endured, some relationships have developed or flourished, while others have perished.

In the weeks immediately following Ella’s death, I met a wise and compassionate mother who told me about losing her baby to SIDS. She spoke frankly of her experiences saying: People will surprise you, in both directions. You’ll experience amazing kindness, but you can also expect to lose some people from your life.

She was right. Despite the haze of my grief, some things have come sharply into focus. Grief strengthens and affirms some bonds. It destroys others. Sometimes, the parting of company has evoked fierce anger and bitter disappointment. At other times, it’s involved a gentle resignation and letting go.

You can’t humour people out of grief
It’s often said that ‘laughter is the best medicine’. Even in our darkest hour, it’s important to laugh – if only briefly and at the most absurd things. In saying that, you can’t humour people out of their grief. Several well-meaning friends have cracked jokes and offered cheerful, vapid remarks. They miss the mark – by a mile. They trivialise our loss, compound our suffering and demean our child. Sitting with us in our grief is the most powerful and generous thing you can do. Honour this moment; it is real and cannot be hurried.

It hurts to be excluded (when you have no living children)
A friend once observed that the hardest thing about being gay was the fact that he was excluded from the world’s largest club – the Married-With-Kids Club. While I can’t speak to being a persecuted minority, I certainly know about the pain which comes from loss and exclusion. Whenever my husband and I encounter a happy family, he says that ‘it feels like the whole world is having a party that we are not invited to.’

I haven’t forgotten
Sometimes, people avoid talking about children who have died because they don’t want to remind the parents. Let me tell you this: I forget all kinds of things, from where I left my keys to whether I’ve taken my vitamins. At my lowest, I shuffle from room to room, forgetting what I’m supposed to be doing. But I don’t ever forget my child. I think about Ella all the time – when I’m scanning my groceries, brushing my teeth, making small talk with the neighbours. Most parents love talking about their children because their children are the most special and amazing part of their lives. Bereaved parents are equally passionate about their kids. We want the chance to talk about them, albeit in an appropriate and supportive environment. 

It’s better to be awkward than absent
My husband and I feel sorry for people who encounter us. In fact, we often remark that ‘we wouldn’t know what to say to us’. Our culture offers no clear template for dealing with grief, or helping people through it. But here’s the thing: you don’t have to say anything amazingly profound or insightful. You just have to say you’re sorry for our loss and, if the relationship warrants it, offer your support. If there were ‘right words’ to offer the grieving, our poets and scholars and philosophers and clergymen would have found them by now. To my knowledge, they haven’t. For the record, I wrote the book on being socially awkward. I understand that there are few situations more uncomfortable than addressing a grieving parent. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. 

I recently saw an acquaintance who declared that she’d thought of me and prayed for me almost every day. All I could think was ‘that’s nice, but it doesn’t help me in any way’. If you don’t express your care, it does nothing for the person who’s suffering.  Sorrow tests our patience, but a bereaved parent will ultimately forgive a clumsy, awkward, ill-timed remark. They are less likely to forgive someone who is entirely absent in their darkest hour. 

If you require support after reading this blog please contact 

Sands on 13 000 72637

Suzi Maxwell-Wright

My name is Suzi. My husband, Ted, and I are trying to heal after losing our baby Ella Rose Argyle (21 January 2017). Ella was stillborn at 34 weeks, after what appeared to be a healthy pregnancy. As we declared on her headstone, Ella is ‘beautiful, longed for and eternally loved’. She is, and always will be, a part of us. My hope is that this blog will honour her precious life and help other bereaved parents feel less alone as they navigate their grief.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Things I Wish People Understood - Part One by Suzanna

At 36, I’ve lost a parent, a friend and a child. There is nothing on Earth more harrowing than burying a child, even if you never had the privilege of knowing them. My husband, Ted, and I lost our beautiful baby Ella in January of this year. She was stillborn at 34 weeks. She was, and always will be, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t bring myself to talk about the magic, and joy and horror of our experience. I can’t bring myself to share the details which are personal, and raw and sacred.

What I can do, is tell you about our grief and the things I’ve learnt.

There is abundant kindness in the world
It’s important to savour the great kindness that is apparent in times of despair. Since losing Ella, we have been touched by people’s tenderness and humanity. We have been shown support through flowers, plants, cards, texts, gifts, keepsakes, meals, phone calls, long distance visits and all manner of thoughtful gestures. Often, this kindness has come from the most unexpected places. We are grateful beyond words.

We are tortured by things which ought to bring us joy
Babies are a source of collective joy, especially among women. But for my husband and me, they are a form of torture – an excruciating reminder of our loss. I can’t see a pram or a pregnant woman without wincing. Sadly, babies seem to evoke in me a kind of emotional anaphylaxis – fear, paralysis, constricted breathing.  But babies are not like peanuts; they can’t be easily avoided. There isn’t a supermarket, shopping centre or cafĂ© on the planet which is baby-free.

Leaving the house is Hell
Any journey beyond the sanctuary of my home involves walking the gauntlet of prams and mothers’ groups. Given that I live in a small community, it also involves visiting places which evoke memories of being pregnant, excited and full of hope. Finally, there is the horror of bumping into a myriad of acquaintances who, upon noticing that I’m no longer pregnant, gleefully ask how motherhood is treating me. 

Greif has no end point
At Easter time, I had a chance encounter with a bereaved mother whose son had been dead for 15 years. She knelt at her child’s grave, literally howling in despair. It shook me to my core. It made me realise this: time does not heal all wounds. We never stop mourning the loss of our children, and there will frequently be ‘triggers’ that reignite or intensify our suffering. Typically, the things which bring joy to others are our greatest sources of pain – Christmases, birthdays, Mother’s Day. This seems particularly cruel. Unfortunately, bereaved parents mourn more than the loss of their children. They mourn every milestone that ought to have been enjoyed.

Children are not replaceable
Let’s be very clear: children are not disposable. They are not replaceable. In the wake of Ella’s death, the most hurtful remark I endured came from a man – with three adult children, no less - who laughed and replied ‘oh well, you can always make another one’. Comments of this nature show a disgusting and disturbing lack of humanity. A baby is no less loved than a toddler or a teenager or an adult child. Next time you think that my child’s life doesn’t matter, consider which of your children you’d willingly trade or discard. A brief life is still a special one.

The conversation gets awkward
Bereaved parents – especially those of us who are still adjusting to our circumstances – often don’t know what answers to offer people. Inquiries as to whether or not we have children are painful to navigate. I can’t bear to tell people that I don’t have any children. Denying Ella’s existence dishonours her and causes me great pain. In saying that, I don’t want to tell strangers that my baby has died. I’d like to declare that I have a child, without any obligation to flesh-out the miserable details. But it’s deceptive and probably unhealthy to mislead people into thinking that you are parenting a living child when you’re not.   


If you require support after reading this blog please contact 

Sands on 13 000 72637

Suzi Maxwell-Wright
My name is Suzi. My husband, Ted, and I are trying to heal after losing our baby Ella Rose Argyle (21 January 2017). Ella was stillborn at 34 weeks, after what appeared to be a healthy pregnancy. As we declared on her headstone, Ella is ‘beautiful, longed for and eternally loved’. She is, and always will be, a part of us. My hope is that this blog will honour her precious life and help other bereaved parents feel less alone as they navigate their grief. 

Friday, 19 May 2017

Things I Wish I'd Known - Ally

Never did we expect the outcome of our blissful pregnancy to end with the beautiful and short life of our only daughter. After a devastating six weeks of scans and tests, solemn news and flowing tears, at 24 weeks, you graced us at 1:08am on January 12 2017. It was surreal, the sound of an empty room after the midwife informed me that I was about to meet my daughter. I would never be prepared for what came next, the smallest, most fragile and precious baby that I would ever lay my eyes on. 

After an emotionally draining and exhausting 16 hour labour, you were wheeled away for more tests while I briefly slept, only to return wrapped in your angel gown, resting peacefully with your head on your hands, as if you were merely sleeping. 

Of course, was born asleep, and would stay that way, no crying, no feeding, no laughter. The hardest moment of all would be leaving her, walking away from that hospital room, a mother and father leaving the hospital, without the baby they came with. I still will never know how I put one foot in front of the other and was able to walk away from her. The hardest thing I'll ever do.
It was, but then I would never know that the grief of losing a baby never really leaves you. You just find ways of coping. But you'll never forget that you left the hospital, with an empty heart, that of a mother without a child. 

Looking back, my favourite pastime was listening to her speedy little heartbeat every morning and evening. I had hired a heartbeat monitor for peace of mind. I kept thinking while her heart was strong, surely she could overcome anything else. I would send positive thoughts, my steely determination pushing her to survive. But it wasn't enough, and she couldn't fight it. Knowing how sick she was now, I know she was incredibly strong to have survived that long.

I had to stop listening to the recordings to try to distance myself from those happy memories. I thought if I could busy myself, throwing myself into my work, I could get some distance from the pain. Distance from the hurt, from the emptiness. I would never know how it feels to be alone in this world, until the one person I had the closest possible human connection with, is gone. Only one person knows what my heartbeat sounds like from inside the womb. I frequently heard hers but she lived only ever hearing mine. 
What I would never know is that there is no distancing oneself. From the moment I could feel her, the moment that I knew of her existence, there would be no way of distancing myself. Especially after she's gone. Instead, I am left only with these regrets. 


I regret not listening to your little heartbeat until the very moment that your little heart stopped beating.

I regret not lying there absorbing your every movement so that I could look back and remember it as some of the best moments of my life. 

I regret not taking photos of myself, through every happy and terrifying moment of my pregnancy, proud of my pregnant belly and the gorgeous baby inside me.

I regret not filming myself while you twisted and turned, so that I could look back and try to recall that feeling.

I regret that I don't have a smell that reminds me of you. No new baby smell, no talcum powder or baby wipes. New mums would take this for granted I'm sure, all I want, is to hear you cry just once and smell a gorgeous newborn baby smell.

I regret that I don't have a song, which makes me happy, thinking of the joy you brought to our lives. 

I regret that I can't recall your warm body when you joined this world. My brief time with you, the one time I held you, I no longer remember. 

I regret that pain medication I took to try to make your birth easier, instead robbed me of my memories and time with you as I slept, exhausted from the morphine I had asked for.

Instead I can only recall my last moments with you, touching your cold skin as I said my last goodbye to your tiny, fragile body. It breaks my heart how small you were, only 320 grams at 5 months pregnant.

I regret that I was so tired after such a long day that my only memories are fading and it hurts my heart that I may only be left with photos of you, photos that do not do your beauty justice. Photos that cannot describe the honour I have of being your mummy.

There are fleeting memories and photos, sad songs and no smells. All that we are left with now is a tiny box of ashes, which fail to acknowledge to the world that she was born, and was a child of ours. 

We will love you endlessly, Edie Grace. You were and will be loved beyond measure. 
- -

Ally Downing, mother to Edie Grace Downing

If you require support after reading this blog please contact 

Sands on 13 000 72637

Ally Downing

Ally is a first time mother whose daughter Edie Grace was stillborn on January 12, 2017. Three months on, Ally and her husband Greg still have no medical diagnosis for Edie's death as they await genetic testing to shed some light on her illness.

As a publicist, she felt it was beneficial to share her story for other grieving mothers, to raise awareness about loss in pregnancy, particularly for first time parents. As the joys of motherhood still await Ally, in the meantime Ally and Greg are supporting each other, frequently speaking of their beautiful daughter they were so blessed to meet, to honor her memory

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Mother’s Day: Without My Baby And Without My Mum - Courtney

My mum passed away in 2004, from a rare condition called MSA. I was 18 years old. I thought that would be the hardest thing I would ever have to go through in my lifetime. But unfortunately it wasn’t.

At the end of 2014, my partner and I found out that we were expecting, we were so happy.

My pregnancy was straight forward, a bit of morning sickness early on but nothing serious. Our 13 week scan was great, as was our 20 week scan. We also had a number of blood tests that came back fine. We found out we were expecting a baby boy. Because I was relatively young, and everything seemed to be going well, our doctors didn’t see the need for any further scans or tests after 20 weeks. I made sure I was super healthy during my pregnancy. I did everything by the book. No alcohol, no coffee etc.

We gave birth, at 39 weeks, on July 14, 2015, a day before my birthday.
Cooper was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen.
And even straight after birth we were told he was fine.

Things took a turn for the worst later that day. Cooper was breathing heavily, and one of the nurses noticed, and took him to the nursery to be checked.

And so began the worst few days of our lives.

That night we were told there might be something wrong with Cooper’s heart, he would need to be transferred for further tests. He nearly didn’t survive the trip from the Gold Coast to Brisbane.

The following day, on my birthday, we were told that it wasn’t his heart. He had a rare condition, called Vein of Galen (genetic, but completely unrelated to what my mum passed away from). A rare condition, which affects approximately 1 in 3 million babies and is rarely detected during pregnancy unless you have a scan after 30 weeks. Some cases can be operated on but Cooper’s was too severe. He was immediately put on life support.

The next five days were a blur, we asked ourselves so many questions, how could this be happening? Why was this happening? Was it my fault? Would we be able to have another baby?

Cooper survived another night with us by his side. And passed away on the morning of July 19.  Our first born baby, the love of our lives, was gone. And there was nothing we could do.

For the next 6 months, everything hurt. The pain was emotional and physical.
As if the grief wasn’t hard enough, your body is also telling you that you should be looking after a baby. My milk came in and I had to take tablets to make it stop. My post baby body was a constant reminder that I had given birth, but had no baby. We had to pack up a beautiful nursery that we’d spent months setting up. We had to visit the funeral home. And of course we had to make sure all our friends and family knew what had happened.

It was a time when a girl really needed her mother, and I didn’t have her either.

I returned to work a few months later and everyday someone new asked me how my baby was going. I had to explain over and over, usually through tears. In saying that, going back to work was the best thing I could have done. I had somewhere to be everyday and my colleagues were unbelievably supportive.

But the main reason I kept going was thanks to my amazing husband and our families, for them I will be forever grateful.
And of course the thought that one day, we would hopefully have another baby.

We started trying again around 6 months after losing Cooper. The first few months that we didn’t fall pregnant were extremely hard. I wondered if I was ever going to get pregnant again. There were a lot of tears. But finally it happened.

Our second pregnancy was a lot more stressful than our first. We had extra scans and tests, and constantly worried that it was all going to happen again.

It was a long 9 months. But we made it.
On February 17, 2017 we welcomed our beautiful baby girl Zara, the light of our lives.

For a long time I wondered if we would truly ever be happy ever again. But I can now say we are getting there. It’s been tough, but one thing I’ve learnt is the road to motherhood is not easy for so many people. And sometimes it’s just not fair.

Last year Mother’s Day was terrible. How do you celebrate a day, when you don’t have your mum or your baby? I just cried and cried.

This year will be different though. This year I will celebrate Mother’s Day with my beautiful baby girl, and we will remember her amazing brother and my mum, who were both taken from us far too soon.

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

Courtney Zagel

Gold Coast Journalist.30 years old Wife to Leon. Mother of two, Cooper (passed away in 2015 at 5 days old) and Zara (now 10 weeks old)