Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Power of Time

When we have experienced a great loss, we live in the realms of past, present, and future all at the same time.

"You will have the family you always wanted. You will have lots of healthy babies. I promise you that this is the worst thing you will ever have to go through, it will never happen again." These were the words whispered to me by my loving sister on the day we said goodbye to our daughter Isobel. In her comforting manner, my sister was doing her best to convince me that I was going to live the life I always wanted, and to not be afraid to try again. But the thought of trying again seemed unbearable, how could we survive this again, and how could we go through another pregnancy without knowing what fate has installed for us next. It seemed like torture, a whole 9 months of it. That was the moment I suddenly feared the future.

Rewind to a week earlier, and I was sitting in the same seat wondering when our baby was going to enter the world. She was due the next day, and I was anxiously thinking of how much our lives were about to change forever. I remember sending a text to my friend, telling her that for the first time during my pregnancy, I was over the waiting game and more than ready for my baby to arrive. I was a patient pregnant woman up until that weekend, I had nothing but unashamed bliss during the 9 months and I had no reason to be impatient. As I sat in my sisters arms, all I wanted was to be pregnant again, back when Isobel was healthy and safe.

The moment my contractions started every minute was crucial. I hadn't experienced any Braxton Hicks during the pregnancy, but even so I still couldn't be sure whether what I was feeling were real contractions. I got my timer out and started counting. I rang the hospital and they told me to patiently wait, and get some rest, nothing will happen for at least 12 hours. The contractions suddenly leaped from 10 minute apart to 4 minutes, and became much more painful. I could feel something was wrong, but I also lacked confidence with what was normal. Then it happened, in one second it all changed. The cord had come out. Suddenly the timing of contractions was no longer relevant. Counting the minutes of waiting for the ambulance, counting the 45 minutes of restricted oxygen she had by the time we reached the hospital, counting the 8 minutes it took for her to be delivered naturally, that was all we could focus on. The pain, the heartache, the fear, they all had to take a step back to make room for the hope that it would all be okay.

Every minute of every hour during Izzy's life was significant to the fate of ours, and I was far from the impatient pregnant girl sitting and waiting on the couch only days earlier. Now all I wanted was for time to slow down, for the seconds to be hours, the hours to be weeks, and the weeks to be years. The world outside those hospital walls no longer existed, it was like we were on a different planet all together. A planet where healthy babies are not guaranteed, where a pregnancy does not equal a living baby at the end. As an expecting parent, you simply can't understand how such a place could exist. Cancer can be cured, immunisations created to fight disease, antibiotics to fight almost anything, but nowhere in modern medicine is there a guarantee that your baby will live. We are living in 2014, but it feels more like the world our grandmothers and great grandmothers lived in.

It has been almost four months now, but it feels like that time has been lost forever. When I try and think back to yesterday, last week, or last month, it is mostly a hazy blur. We wake every morning and sleep every night, and in between we try and go about life. Our friends and family urge us to get out of the house, to attend their parties, join them for lunches and dinners, because they want to see us living life again. Each day has empowered us to heal, even if we didn't know it at the time. Every daunting kids birthday party, every anniversary of Isobel, every tear from the end of a hard day; they are all a step further out of darkness.

Even though it felt impossible at the beginning, we are surviving. The six days we had with Isobel are the memories that give us the energy to start and finish each day. The hope that our family and friends bestow upon us gives us the power to overcome fear of the future. The love that we have for each other is the essence of the family we so desperately want. On some days I imagine myself as a mother with a baby, instead of the lonely woman at the supermarket checkout. I think back to the care -free person I was four months ago, and I am full of hope that I will be that person again. That one day I will be a mother with a baby, and my husband will be a father with a son and daughter, maybe one or maybe five, but we will be a family.

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

Jess Schulz

Living in quiet beachside Adelaide, Jess is a fundraising officer for Motor Neurone Disease SA, freelance graphic designer, and social blogger. Married for 5 years (together for 12), Jess and her husband experienced the saddened loss of their first child in 2014 at 40 weeks. Their daughter Isobel Lola, passed away 6 days after she was born. A perfect pregnancy ended with a cord prolapse during labour, and now Jess and her husband are walking the road of grief while trying to survive each day without their Isobel. Love, hope and support are the essence of their survival, and Jess has chosen to share their story on Sands to hopefully support other bereaved parents walking this road too.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Grief is a complicated process.....

Shanelle writes again for Sands.  She talks about how grief is a complicated process and how she coped.... 

It can bring us together, tear us apart or alienate us, the later one, is the one that I identify with the most these past three and a half months since my loss.

I was surrounded by love and at first, many beautiful people in my life reached out to me with this own loss stories following my miscarriage, in fact, one lovely lady, my partners cousin was the only person to visit me in the hospital, aside from him, despite having suffered a recent loss of her own, to give us a small blue teddy bear so I had something to cuddle.

Many thoughts and prayers came to us through calls, messages and cards and all I could offer in return was tears and eventually I started withdrawing. Not because I didn’t like them, or I felt unwanted, judged or anything like that but simple because I did not know how I felt or how to react on my own let alone around others, for one moment all my dreams were coming true after four years of trying to conceive and completing our little family and the next was doctors and hospitals, needles and scans and eventually labour… with nothing to hold after hours of pain.

But I was a mummy already and I had to just get on with it because no parent wants their child to see them hurt and eventually the calls stopped, the visitors stopped coming, life just kept moving on but I just stopped. I stopped talking, with myself, my partner, my family… even to my sister, my sister who knew what losing a child was like, more than anyone else, having lost her beautiful daughter 8 years ago to SIDS at 6 weeks.. I could not bring myself to share my feelings with anyone, especially her because I felt shame and guilt for grieving so deeply for a loss when it could never compare to a loss of her baby. How could I be so selfish to cry over someone I never had the chance to see without scans and could barely feel while she suffered every day, for years, for the loss of her baby girl with perfect little fingers and toes, a head full of hair and tiny button nose?

And so I withdrew even more, weeks would go by without visitors, or even uttering anything concerning my loss except for follow up appointments that cemented my silent grief even further.

With my only outings being school drops, errands and exercise all my relationships suffered until last Friday. Last Friday was my nephew’s birthday and the 8th anniversary of my nieces passing and here I was leaving her alone to suffer because I felt bad because of my grief and how it couldn’t compare to hers? What a sister was I? So I messaged and asked her to come over and so she did and when she walked through my front door, we cried. We held each other and we didn’t need to say anything to share how we felt. We just took solace in each other’s company and cried for our own losses, for each other’s loss and in that moment I learned she didn’t care the differences in our losses, she hurt because I hurt, and I her.

So many women, parents, families suffer in silence for their miscarriages, thinking they don’t have the right to mourn, or are over reacting for a baby they never touched, often never felt and will never hear cry. I was one of these people, I hid it, but no more. I have a right to grieve for the life I lost for as long as that grief may last. 

My name is Shanelle and I lost my baby at 10 weeks and every day I grieve for that little life because that life touched mine, changed my life and I will forever cherish the time we had, though brief because I was… I am their mother, and I will not forget. I will not hide my tears, because they are proof that my baby was real and someone I am proud to share with you.
Shanelle Kay
If you require support after reading this blog please contact

Sands on 13 000 72637

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"

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Surviving Christmas when your baby died

Larissa shares with us a few things that were helpful to ensure she survived the festive season

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what day is coming up in a few weeks. The decorations have been in stores for months, jacaranda trees have lined the streets with glorious purple flowers, carols have started playing and the day itself arrives in just a few short weeks. Christmas.

For many people it’s a wonderful time of year, celebrating the birth of Jesus or simply a chance to get together with family and friends. I used to love Christmas, watching the carols on tv, giving gifts and spending time with my family. I thought it was a great time of year… until my baby died. Christmas 2012 was full of anticipation as I awaited her birth and Christmas 2013 was a non-event as I didn't feel like celebrating without her. But I made it through and you can too.

The most helpful thing for me was to not have any expectations of myself. I didn't know what I would feel like on the day, and I certainly didn’t know if I would be up to attending the big family gathering. The thought of seeing too many people induced a lot of anxiety. And so my husband and I simply didn’t commit to anything. We agreed to see immediate family on Christmas Eve but didn't make any plans to see people for Christmas Day. It was the best thing we could have done! Not having any pressure to be a certain place at a particular time was very freeing. It meant I could allow myself to spend time with my grief without needing to put on a happy face for others.

In the lead up to Christmas, I became quite upset at the idea that Ariella may be left out. I wanted to see her name on cards; I wanted her to be included in any way that was possible. The only way to escape the fear of her exclusion was to not have any expectations of others. I desperately wished people would remember her and say her name, but I knew I needed to be ok if they didn't. I couldn't let their actions (or lack thereof) cause me added stress. I was very blessed in that she was remembered by quite a few people and I received some beautiful gifts for her and cards with her name included. But because I had decided not to expect it, those moments felt like an added bonus, not a necessity to surviving.

This might seem contradictory to the above point, but tell others what you need. One friend asked me whether to include Ariella’s name in the card and I didn't hesitate to tell her a resounding ‘yes’! I know of others who have written a brief Facebook status telling their family and friends to please include their children while others have told people face to face. It can be hard to be honest with people and sometimes I feel selfish doing so. But if you need to do it, don’t feel ashamed. It’s a hard time of year and it’s more than ok to do whatever you need to do to survive.
I've only experienced one Christmas without my daughter but it was the hardest Christmas of my life. I’m sure those who've had more than one Christmas without their child would have some more advice for you. If you do, please feel free to comment and share your wisdom. Together, we can get through this Christmas time. 


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 Larissa's posts at:
Deeper Still (www.loveisdeeperstill.blogspot.com)  and on Still Standing Magazine (http://stillstandingmag.com/author/larissa).

Thursday, 4 December 2014


Jessica has submitted her first blog to Sands and shares with us the emotions that arose when she discovered her baby had died...

It was a Wednesday, a normal Wednesday like any before it. Early that morning I sat in my kitchen, innocently and happily eating breakfast with my husband and son. After my first good night’s sleep in months, I barely noticed that the normally spirited life growing inside me for the past 38 weeks, was still. I called the hospital and they advised to come on over and get it checked out, just in case.

I’d had a similar experience with my son that had turned out to be simple
dehydration so I told my husband to go on to work “I’ll let you know how I go” I’d said. “You don’t think there could be something wrong do you?” He’d asked me. “No way, we’re in the home stretch. Plus we had a check-up yesterday and everything was fine.”

I will never forget the look on the doctor’s face when she told me my baby had no heartbeat. So empathetic, so heartbroken and so afraid. Afraid for me, for what I was about to face or afraid of me, of the way I would react I don’t know. It was the same look she gave me when she handed my perfect sleeping angel to me. “She’s so beautiful,” she’d said. We named her Emma.
She looked remarkably like her big brother did when he was first laid on my chest 19 months earlier. Only she was delicate and dainty and forever sleeping.

There are so many things I’ll never know. I’ll never know the colour of her eyes or the sound of her laugh. I’ll never be able to brush her hair or tell her to stop fighting with her brother but I’ll never forget the short time that I got to spend with her and how much love I felt when I looked into her beautiful sleeping face. 

3 months later that face is still in the forefront of my mind, every second of every day….

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

Jessica Lawless
Jessica lives in Victoria. She is the wife to Shane and a Mum to 2 beautiful kids - Adam, nearly 2 and Emma, born sleeping August 2014.
I like to practice yoga, cook, read and spend all my time being a SAHM with Adam. My family and friends are my whole world, there is barley a distinction between the two.
I hope by being so open and honest about my experiences I can help raise awareness and provide support for others.