Friday, 24 October 2014

What October Means To Me:

Larissa shares her thoughts about Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month:

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. I remember hearing about it in 2012 and it didn’t really sink in. I was pregnant with my first baby and honestly didn’t think too much about the significance of the month. I hadn’t experienced a loss and neither had any close friends or family, so the month passed without too much thought from me.

October 2013 was a very different story. It was nine months after the stillbirth of my daughter and I was six months pregnant with my second child.. In 2013 my life was consumed with grief and the need to physically and publically remember Ariella was strong. Throughout the month I took photos to participate in Carly Marie’s Capture Your Grief project and found it was so healing and meaningful to be able to share my thoughts about the topics. I was visiting some friends and family interstate for part of the month and that meant I missed the Sands walkathon and candle lighting ceremony, although I wanted to attend both. I didn’t feel too sad about missing them though, as I felt as if my entire life revolved around remembering Ariella.

This year, October was different again. I have a nine month old son who keeps me very busy, so while I still grieve the death of my daughter, my grief looks different now. I decided not to participate in the Capture Your Grief project this year; doing so would have meant focusing quite intently on my grief and sadness, which I didn’t feel like I needed to do. A number of people have told me lately that I’m looking a lot happier and “better” than I have for a long time and I have to agree with them. I do feel happier and I even feel like I’m getting better. I’ll always miss Ariella but that longing for her isn’t as all-consuming as it was last October. However, I feel as though I cannot remember Ariella physically and publically as often as I would sometimes like. So I decided to attend the Sands candle lighting ceremony. I left my son at home with my husband and headed off to focus solely on my little girl for the first time in a while. As I drove to the venue, songs starting coming to mind. Songs that provided so much comfort in the days, weeks and months after Ariella’s death, such as “”I Will Carry You” (Selah), “Glory Baby” (Watermark), and “Still” (Gerrit Hofsink). I hadn’t listened to them since my son was born but just thinking about them made me remember how much truth are in their words. I carried her while her heart beat, she has Heaven before I do, she was gone before she came… the memory of those songs brought tears to my eyes as I was able to focus on my daughter without also needing to care for my son at that moment. As the ceremony started and I lit Ariella’s candle, I was so thankful to have an hour to just think about her, all I had during those 39 weeks with her and all I lost when she died. One day later, on the International Day of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, my Facebook news feed was filled with photos of candles lit in honour of my baby girl. It made this grieving mama smile through her tears to know that other people were publically remembering my precious Ariella.

As I look back at three very different Octobers, I can’t help but wonder at what October 2015 will bring. What stage will I be at in my grief? Will I want spend the month focusing on it, or just a single day? Will it be a mixture of the past two or something else altogether? Who knows! But what I do know is this – I’m so grateful that there is a time set aside to remember and honour all of our precious babies, however we decide to do it.

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

Larissa Genat

Larissa is a wife to Marcus and a mother to two beautiful children – Ariella Jade in 

Heaven and Levi William in her arms. She loves spaghetti bolognaise and the smell of rain, but neither of them could make her smile when, after a textbook pregnancy, Ariella unexpectedly died at 39 weeks gestation. No reason was ever found for her death. Soon after Ariella’s death Larissa began writing. You can find her posts at 
Deeper Still (  and on Still Standing Magazine (

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Miscarriage, Infertility, and weight loss

A newcomer to Sands blog, Shanelle shares her experience of infertility, weight loss and a miscarriage...

In my trouble to conceive over four years it was put down to infertility due to hypothyroidism and obesity, it was a huge struggle for me, having conceived my son easily years earlier at 80kg but tipping the scales at 128kg, I had been trying to lose weight for years, exercising, trying every diet under the sun and even three cycles of Clomid with no success.

Low and behold we unexpectedly fell pregnant though ten weeks later we miscarried with doctors and nurses reassuring us that there was nothing I could have done and not to blame myself. Even the gynaecologist performing my D&C said not to blame myself, though my size could have contributed to the miscarriage but it was a fact I had try to accept and not beat myself up about it. After all, these things happened right? And I fully had faith in the wonderful nurses and doctors treating me throughout the whole deal.

Until, two weeks later when I had a follow up appointment with a new gynaecologist for review on an ovary cyst. Asking when it was safe to try conceiving again she replied that at 128kgs I be concentrating on losing weight and not even consider trying for another baby at my size, considering all the health implications like high blood pressure and diabetes. I was devastated; I couldn’t help but cry in front of her, to which she suggested counselling. Here was this lady whom I’d never before, without even asking my medical history (if she had, she would have known I had perfect blood pressure and sugar levels, along with a healthy lifestyle despite my size) judging me and making me feel like I didn’t have the right to have a baby based on my weight. The blame game hit with vengeance. 

I went home and attended I had a follow up scan with my GP for my cysts, and after speaking with him, he prescribed me Duromine to aid in weight loss while I fully recovered from my miscarriage, in hopes it would rally my spirits from what the Gynaecologist had said (all of which he disagreed with.)
Meanwhile I had my scan. It had been 6 weeks.  My world well apart all over again at seeing an empty uterus and a lifeless heart rate monitor, that I ended up taking the Gynaecologist advice and sought out a counsellor through the hospital, despite me being a trainee counsellor myself.  We spoke on the phone for an hour before she decided that what I was experiencing was typical grief and didn’t need to enrolled into their program but to call back, if needed. It made me feel alone, so alone that I alienated everyone and focused on exercising and eating right.

Another month passed and I had lost 5kgs, feeling hopeful at my final gynaecologist visit, I met with her assistant who, when asked when I could try conceiving again told me that she saw no harm in trying considering I was maintaining a healthy lifestyle but she had to ask the gynaecologist to be sure. She returned with the message I should lose at least 20 more kilograms before trying again. Devastated, self-loathing, I left.

It has been two months since that last visit and I feel through the experience judged and completely let down by the public health system, though I know they were only doing their jobs. But if nothing else this experience has made me determined.

Determined not to let my self-worth and confidence to be scarred by opinions, no matter how professional. And with the support my partner and my doctor I had added more and more healthy choices and exercise regimes to my Iifestyle while learning to accept myself for who I am, and better myself not for medical statistics but for myself, my family and my future family.

Shanelle Kay
If you require support please call Sands - 1300 0 SANDS

Shanelle Kay

Shanelle is a trainee counsellor and photographer based in Brisbane.
She believes the best sound in the world is her son's laughter and how he sings to himself when he wakes from a nap. She is also a proud mummy to an angel baby and through writing and various arts she is sharing her experience and finding herself, all over again. In her own words...

"I am all and I am nothing, but most importantly I am exactly who I need to
be in this moment... and that is sometimes the hardest thing we have to accept,
 openly and honestly.. Ourselves"