October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. This month we are sharing the stories of some very brave mums who sadly lost their little angels! Our goal in sharing their stories is to help increase the conversation and awareness around Pregnancy & Infant Loss, so that no one should have to feel like they go through this alone.
We would also like to ask a few things of you:
- When you see an ‘Angel Mums’ post during October – take the time to stop and read it. (This means more than you can know)!
- If you have your own story – We invite you to share a post, a pic or even a thought.
- On Sunday 15 October light a candle for at least 1 hour at 7pm in your local time. This creates a continuous wave of light right around the world. Let’s remember all the little lives that never got the chance to grow old.
We aren’t raising money during October but if you would like to contribute by donating we will link a few amazing Support Organisations below.
Ella’s Story …..
I have always been very ‘motherly’ so I think I have always known I wanted to have children, it was just a matter of finding the right person to have them with. When we first tried to fall pregnant it took us over a year and when it finally happened we ended up having a miscarriage around the 8-week mark. But then a few months later we fell pregnant again and after that each pregnancy I have had, didn’t take long once we decided to ‘try’.
I was quite sick with all of my pregnancies besides Ruby (my third baby). I had “morning sickness” which was actually more like all day sickness. There were some days I could barely get off the lounge! I have also always known I was pregnant really early on, I could just feel it! I would break out in pimples, my breasts would be sensitive and I always knew if my dogs didn’t jump on me when I would go out the back that I should buy the test and sure enough every time it was positive! I always loved being pregnant until we lost Ella, I still loved being pregnant with Ruby but I was an anxious mess just waiting for it to happen again, I couldn’t allow myself to be happy and just relax.
The day I knew Ella was gone it was Anzac Day and Dean had gone to the dawn service with his dad. I stayed home as I didn’t want to drag Ava, my almost 3 year old, out of bed so early in the morning. When Ava and I woke up we started to get ready as we were planning on taking her to the Hawkesbury show for the day but the whole time getting ready I just kept thinking something was not quite right. I was trying to rack my brain to remember exactly when the last time I felt Ella move was and I just felt sick with worry. I kept saying to Dean “I can’t feel her”, “She hasn’t moved”, “Something isn’t right”, “We need to go to the hospital” so off we went. Dean kept telling me everything was fine, she would be ok but I knew I had lost her, I just knew she was gone.
We got to the hospital and the midwife took me to an empty room. I lay on the bed waiting for her to put the Doppler on and I was praying I was wrong. She was trying for so long to find a heartbeat and then said I’ll just get the little ultrasound machine to check. I knew straight away she was getting it to confirm that there was in fact no heartbeat. She has got the ultrasound machine and BAM! Our worst nightmare was now our reality, our daughters image lifeless on the ultrasound screen, no little flicker on the screen to show her heartbeat, no legs kicking around, no hands waving just a lifeless image of my girl.
I don’t really remember if I cried straight away, I remember feeling like I couldn’t breathe. Like I hated myself for what had happened, I remember wanting to get her out straight away like some miracle would happen and she would start breathing again. I think that when waterworks began and to be honest they still haven’t stopped to this day.
We left the hospital a few hours later after being told about what needed to happen next. When we got home I just cried and cried and cried. I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t want to do anything. I remember just sitting on the shower floor balling my eyes out, holding my stomach realising I didn’t want to give birth to Ella because once I did, that was it. I would no longer have her with me.
But Monday rolled around as it always does and we set off for hospital to be induced. We were there early like they said but as things happen I didn’t end up being induced until 2pm. Labour was horrible purely because I knew that was the end. Everyone will probably think I’m crazy but I love giving birth. I stay calm and I just tell my body this needs to be done so just breathe and go with the flow. However, this one was different. This labour was so sad. The midwives kept offering me pain killers or the gas (which is lovely of them as they are only doing their job) but I just couldn’t do it. I brought my eldest daughter in to the world “drug free” and I felt I owed that to Ella as well. I needed to treat her birth exactly as I did my “living” children.
I think I got through it though because I put Ella’s needs above my own, just like any parent does & should. I told myself to do this for her. To be honest I was so scared about how I would feel seeing her lifeless body. I had never seen a stillborn baby before but as soon as she was born, all I wanted to do was hold her and kiss her and tell her how much I love her. The midwives put her straight on my chest and I cut her umbilical cord and pulled a blanket up on to us both. I just held her. I remember just wishing that by some miracle she would start breathing, wishing that they were all wrong but she just lay there in silence on my chest.
Ella was born at 11.30pm and I was exhausted after such a long and emotional day that I only spent about 30 mins holding her. I was so scared of falling asleep and dropping her. Unlike a living baby you can’t just put a stillborn baby in the cot next to you. The midwives had to take her from me and place her in the morgue to keep her little body cool. The next 2 days I got to have some more time with her but it was only little bits here and there. I organised Heartfelt Photography to come and take some photos of us on the Wednesday. That was the last time I got to hold her.
Ella Rose was so beautiful. She had such big eyes and rosy red lips. She had my nose, just like her two sisters, and the softest skin. She made me so proud to be her mum and she still does. I was so happy yet so sad at the same time to be holding her. When they took her for the final time I could literally feel my heart break. I spent the rest of the week in the hospital just so I could feel close to her. When we left that hospital, empty handed, while every other parent was leaving with their babies, it was simply devastating.
After we left the hospital all I remember is trying to plan her funeral. I didn’t want to leave my bed ever again but I had Ava to look after. So, I got up and got things done but to look back now it’s all such a blur. After her funeral, I started to raise money for a Cuddle Cot for the hospital to hopefully ease the pain for other parents that will sadly go through what we did. I thought keeping busy would be good for me and in a way, it was but I would still break down in the shower every night so that I wouldn’t make my husband and daughter upset. I tried my best to hold it together for them, so I only let it all out when I was alone. I talk about her whenever I can and I never act like she doesn’t exist but I do keep the tears to myself so that I don’t have to make others cry too.
I have photos of Ella around the house, just like I do my other children. I have her hand and foot moulds framed, just as I do my other girls. I kept all of her hospital belongings and I mention her name whenever I can. My eldest always says she can see Ella when the stars come out. I encourage her to talk about her baby sister whenever she wants to. I gave my youngest daughter the middle name Rose, so that when she is older I can tell her why. I’ll tell her that it’s in memory of her sister Ella Rose. I want her to have that connection to Ella, as she does not have the same connection that my oldest daughter does.
To be honest my husband and I are not on the same page when it comes to Ella. It still hurts me that only a couple of family members met Ella. We went through a rough patch after we lost her. We both grieved in very different ways but we pulled through and I’m sure that is one of the toughest things life can throw at us!
My greatest wish is that our whole family had come to meet Ella. Just like they do with every other baby born in to the family. I think that would have helped me a lot. I just want her to be treated the same way all the living children in our families are treated. Hearing her name from others and not just myself would be music to my ears. I don’t think “the healing process” ever ends, it gets a bit easier with time to keep my emotions in check. Today, it still hurts me just as bad as it did then and I feel like no matter what I will always have a piece of me missing.
To me, it’s important to raise awareness about pregnancy & infant loss because these babies are still our babies. We do not want to raise awareness for sympathy. We want to raise awareness for our babies, so they are not forgotten. Because they deserve to be remembered. We remember and speak about loved ones who have passed after they have lived a long life. So why can we not remember and speak about our babies who sadly were taken from us? It should not be such a taboo subject. It happens whether we talk about it or not, so how about we talk about it and show those parents we care and are thinking about their beautiful babies.
Below is a letter that we wrote to our baby girl on the day of her funeral:
To our darling Ella,
This is the hardest letter I have ever had to write and the hardest thing is that I don’t even know what to write.
What I do know is that your father and I loved you from the moment we planned to have you.
We loved you when we found out you were growing inside of me.
We looked forward to every ultrasound, just so we could get a glimpse of your beauty and hear your heart beating. I loved every time you kicked me from within. We loved watching my belly grow because we knew it meant you were growing too.
We loved you then, we love you now and we will love you for eternity.
On the 25th of April my life fell apart, when the hospital confirmed what my “motherly instincts” had already told me.
On Monday the 27th of April our nightmare was now reality, I was induced and was going to be giving birth to my little girl, only my little girls heart would not be beating and she would never take her first breath.
The moment we laid eyes on you we thought you were so perfect and beautiful.
Your beautiful big eyes, little button nose and rosy red lips were absolutely stunning.
I gave birth to you, I cut your cord, I held you in my arms and kissed your little nose and trust me I never wanted to let you go.
Wednesday the 29th of April was the last time I got to hold you and I could literally feel my heart breaking knowing that I would never get to hold you in my arms again.
I hate knowing that I will never get to see you grow into the stunning young lady I know you would have been but I find some comfort in the fact that I was able to spend those few short days with you.
Even though I do not have you here with me you will forever be in my heart. No words can explain the amount of love we have for you but please know that we do love you. We will always love you and no matter how much time passes our love will never change and you, our darling Ella will never be forgotten.
I carried you every second of your life and we will love you for every second of our lives.
Rest in peace sweet angel.
Sadly there are 6 babies born sleeping every day in Australia & this rate has not reduced in two decades.
Below are donation links to a few of the amazing organisations that support families through this very sad time.
Sands provide valuable support for miscarriage, stillbirth & newborn deaths.
Bears of Hope: http://www.bearsofhope.org.au/a/101.html
Bears of Hope provide pregnancy & infant loss support, Cuddle Cots & Bears of Hope.
Heartfelt provide the invaluable gift of photographic memories.