In this weeks blog Deb Saunders shares her story....
I am a wife to my gorgeous husband Dale, and mum to 5 amazing children, 2 I get to spend my days with, and 3 that I think of constantly, that are always in our hearts. I am a professional photographer with my own business, and I am a volunteer photographer for Heartfelt, an organisation that ‘gives the gift of photographic memories’ to families with stillborn, seriously ill, or terminally ill children. This is my story.
My husband and I had been together for 11, and married for 7 years when we felt ready to start a family. Without any difficulty at all, we were pregnant with our first child, and Kayn was born via c-section, due to placenta previa, 2 weeks before his due date. We were so in love with this amazing human, and life seemed perfect.
Fast forward a couple of years, and we wanted to add to our little family, and again became pregnant easily, but at 8 weeks, I had some heavy bleeding, and after a visit to the doctor, it was confirmed that we had lost our baby. We were devastated, and I was even more determined to try again, and after the all clear a number of months later, we did, and after a few months, were excited to be pregnant again. This time, we made it to 11 weeks, and again lost our precious baby. I felt like I was doing something wrong, and it was all my fault! Of course this wasn’t true, but I was so frustrated, and heartbroken, and didn't know if I could go through this again.
It wasn't long, but at the time seemed like an eternity, before we were pregnant again, and this time we made it through all the milestones, and I had a text book pregnancy. We found out we were having another boy, and Kayn was so happy to have a brother to play with soon!
But a week before Kayn’s 4th birthday, I had a terrible night, and couldn’t recall when the baby had last moved, and rang the hospital to let them know. They reassured me it was probably nothing to worry about, but to call back in the morning if I was still concerned, which I did, as I had a feeling that something wasn't right, but couldn't work out what it was. I was 37 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I went down to the hospital, with my Mum and child in tow, and after what seemed like hours, and a number of scans, I was given the earth shattering news that the baby had no heartbeat.
I felt so alone, and rang my husband to tell him what had happened, I felt like I was on the outside looking in at myself, and I really don’t remember much from that day apart from the feeling of complete and utter disbelief that this even happened, let alone to me. To us?
We went home for the evening, I’m not sure why, or how, but we made it through, and the next day went back to the hospital to have a c-section, as I couldn't be induced, and I wasn't prepared to wait to go into labour, as this may have taken weeks. I’ll never forget in the theatre when Kai was delivered, the silence, there was music playing, which I later found out was a cd by Jewel, but the silence, when there should have been a screaming baby, that was the moment I knew it was true, our baby was gone, and I would never get to hear him cry, and I didn't know how or if, I was going to get beyond this. Ever.
He was so perfect. 9lb 4oz, or 4.3kg, a big boy, looking just like his big brother did when he was born. We didn't get as many photos as I wish we did of Kai Thomas, I struggled to get out of bed, and was out of it on pain killers, and I guess others just didn't think of it, but I do have a few precious, irreplaceable photos of him, and all of us together.
This is my main reason for volunteering with heartfelt for the last few years, as I realise just how important it is to have those memories with your child. Helping to keep their memory alive is such a precious gift to be able to give.
Kai was born on a Wednesday, and I left the hospital on the Saturday morning to be at my other son’s 4th birthday, and to this day I have no idea how I managed to get there and keep going, but I know I wouldn’t have without Kayn, he really was my savior, that gorgeous little boy who loved me and needed me so much, and was the reason I got out of bed for so long when I just didn't want to.
Over the next 2 and a half years, we went on to lose a little boy Kody at 17 weeks, and a precious little princess, Kayla, at 20 weeks, and I’m still not sure how we kept trying, and failing, and trying again, but in 2009, we were so blessed to have Kapri, who is here thanks to some amazing doctors, and the wonders of modern medicine. She was born 6 weeks early, after 2 blood transfusions in utero, and was very sick when she was delivered, but she was such a little fighter, that after just 10 days in NICU, she was well enough to come home, and is now a gorgeous, happy and healthy 5 year old, who started school this year.
I spent my 30’s trying to have the children we so desperately wanted, 8 years of joy, heartbreak and devastation, and it was a tough journey, one that we will carry with us forever. I don’t think the pain ever goes away, we just learn to make the most of the moments presented to us in life for what they are, the good with the bad, but I always carry those precious souls in my heart, and they are never far from my thoughts. I do believe I am a better person for my journey’s challenges, and when times are really tough, I try to focus on my amazing children that did make it here with me, and spend some extra time just taking them in.
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My name is Deb, I am 43 years old, and have been married to the love of my life for almost 19 years. We have 2 amazing, wonderful children with us, and 3 more that watch over us and help keep us safe.
I am a photographer, and do a lot of work with families, which I just adore, and I love the stories I get to hear and be part of. I believe everyone has a story to tell, we just need to listen.
Through my experience, I found and now volunteer as a photographer for Heartfelt, an Australian organisation that gives the gift of photographic memories to families that have an ill or stillborn baby, or terminally ill child up to the age of 16. This in an organisation I am extremely proud to be a part of.
I am quite a social person, and enjoy nothing better than catch ups with friends over coffee, or wine, I love the beach, we are very lucky to live right on its doorstep, and I love craft of all kinds, and I am very good at starting lots of great things that I will finish one day!