Thursday, 29 January 2015

Farewell to precious Manaia.

Fiona is a new comer to the Sands blog. She shares with us her precious Manaia on the day he died.

It was the 5th of November and as the clock ticked closer to 5.30pm I knew it was nearing the time to say goodbye to Manaia. 

We had just finished weighing and measuring him, trying not to notice his purple arms and legs as he lay there silently on the scales. His face was unscathed, perfect and flawless, we kept telling ourselves 'he just looks like he's sleeping, he'll wake up'. 

His final measurements were 3295 grams and 50 centimetres long at the age of 128 days old. 

We quickly redressed him in his clothes and I put on his final name tags, the tags I never ever wanted to put on our son. 

Baby of Fiona, ID number: 7784039. 

He looked perfect, the most beautiful I had ever seen him. I had never noticed how gorgeous he was until it was too late. 

But then again I was never able to see his face free of all the tubes, cords and wires. In all of his 128 days on earth I had only ever seen his face this clear on one other occasion and that was the day he was born.  It was only fitting that the second occasion would be when he had passed away. 

Not a breath he would take nor a sound he'd make again, this was well and truly it. Manaia did graduate from NICU but instead of going home like most of the other bubs in NICU he graduated straight to heaven. 

I asked the nurse if I was able to carry him down stairs and so I did. 

Walking out of our private room and into a corridor, everyone must've known by the look on our faces, my red swollen eyes and our body language that this was the end of the road for us. 

We left the unit with Manaia in my arms and out into the open corridors we went, walking past a window with the sun shining oh so brightly, it was at that moment that I realised Manaia had never seen the sun because his bed was on the opposite side of the windows. He would never ever see how big, bright and beautiful it could be, nor would he ever feel the warmth of it. 

We got into an elevator with Charlie (my partner), Jan (the counsellor) and the sweetest nurse Amy and down into unfamiliar territory of level 1 we went. 

I remember feeling the weight of Manaia, he felt so much heavier than he was yet in reality he was far from it, he was tiny even for a preemie. This was the hardest walk I would ever have to take in my life and at the same time it was one I didn't want to end. We got off the elevator and walked around a corner and there it was, the morgue. I saw the entrance and realised I'd have to let Manaia go, I had no other choice. 

In less than 24 hours from finding out Manaia was sick, he was gone. And as quickly as Manaias life had ended a new, much more scarier life had begun, life as a bereaved mother.                                                                Fiona

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

Fiona Mataafa

My name is Fiona and I am a 23 year old first time mother who lost my only child, my 4 month old son Manaia, after 128 days in NICU. I reside in Victoria with my partner Charlie. I hope by sharing my experiences as a bereaved parent that I'm able to, in some way, bring peace and comfort to others going through the heartbreak of child loss.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Trying Again

In this blog, Rashida shares here experience of finding the right time to embark on another pregnancy....

When I share my story with someone who hasn't experienced the loss of a child, the most common response that I usually get is:  I couldn't imagine!
“That’s true,” I say. “Neither could I.”

No one can imagine the loss of a child unless it happens to them and even then it is still hard to.

The second most common response that I get when I share my story and people see that I've had another child is: I don’t think I would have wanted to try again!

While I get why people who haven’t experienced loss would think that, to them I would simply say, you’re wrong.

The truth is, as scary as it is to even entertain the thought of trying again, after a loss there is nothing you want more than to try again.

Why? Because the moment that pregnancy test reads positive is when your life changes, not the birth. When the sperm meets the egg, being a parent literally becomes a part of your DNA. You begin to imagine what this child look like, whose personality traits they’ll have, and wonder how you will ever pick the perfect name for your tiny human. You will smile at babies in passing for no reason and unconsciously pat your belly in anticipation of one day soon being the parent holding the little one who is loved even by strangers.

Then in a moment it all changes, and the future you once dreamed about becomes the nightmare you can’t wake up from. 

The thing you could never imagine happening to you just has.

And those thoughts of happiness that once occupied your mind becomes a heartache so deep that now seeing a baby in passing brings you to tears and for a while nothing is the same. 

I didn't want to celebrate my birthday that year because for me it just wasn't how it was supposed to be. My previous plan for that day only included me celebrating by blowing out the candles on a small cake at home with my husband and my newborn baby. 

Later that year, even a welcomed Vegas vacation that included an anticipated concert by Beyoncé who is my favorite artist of all-time was hard to enjoy because it didn't feel like we were meant to be there. If things had gone according to planned we wouldn't have been.

The thought of what “should” be consumed me, until one day a shift occurred and I begin thinking about what could be. 

So when people tell me that they don’t think they would want to try again, I respond with a resounding yes! Yes, you would want to try again, not to replace what was but because of a desire to experience what you know is your destiny: Motherhood. 

The next question I'm usually asked after that is, how did you know when to try again? And the answer is simple: You know you are ready when the day comes that your faith outweighs your fears. It’s the process of getting there through the pain and grief that’s the hard part. 

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

Rashida McKenzie

Rashida McKenzie is the Founder of High-Risk Helpers, a maternity concierge service for expectant mother's experiencing high-risk pregnancies that result in bed rest. She is also the mother of a baby girl named Maya (who was born after 22 weeks of bed rest) and an angel who inspired her to advocate for pregnancy loss awareness. To learn more about Rashida or High-Risk Helpers, visit

Saturday, 3 January 2015

What Happens Next????

Readers of the Sands blog will remember Jess's story of the birth of her daughter Emma.  This blog, as the title suggests, describes Jess's own brush with death in the weeks after Emma's birth. It is a salutary reminder that, even in the 21st century, birth can (albeit rarely)  be risky for mothers as well as babies. 

After the death of a child, I think at any age, your life is transformed completely. In our case she was never home with us, we never got to experience her personality, never got to complain about lack of sleep or the amount of nappies we were changing and yet I still occasionally walk into the nursery and expect her to be there.

Once you arrive home from the hospital, devastated and empty handed you realise life must resume and you need to find your new ‘normal’.

For me, my re-entry into the real world wasn’t as straight forward as trying to cope with our loss. In the days after Emma’s birth I became increasingly ill. My husband had been suffering a chest infection so coupled with my grief I assumed it was just that and attempted to press on.

One week after discovering our beautiful little girl’s heart had stopped beating I found myself unable to breathe, unable to even get out of bed! My husband somehow managed to get me up, into the car and straight to Emergency.

Grieving for our Emma had to very abruptly take a backseat that night and it wasn’t until weeks later that we were able to begin processing our loss again.

My memory of that time is fuzzy at best but I’m told that after I was admitted that night I was simply too tired to breathe on my own so was placed in an induced coma and intubated until they could figure out why I was fading before them.

Emma’s birth had been particularly traumatic and I had come away with an impressive number of stitches. To avoid infection they’d put me on antibiotics immediately. Because of this, when I was admitted, they were unable to detect exactly what was wrong because the antibiotics were killing every sample they took as soon as they had taken it.

Though it’s never been 100% confirmed, it’s suspected that the bug that took our little girls life almost took mine as well. As well as an extraordinary case of pneumonia.

For me it was a week of blissful nothingness until they finally figured out what the problem was and woke me up. For my husband it was days of doctors, nurses, specialists and for a time, trying to face the reality that he had lost his beautiful daughter and now might lose his wife too.

So a week after stumbling almost incoherently into ED, two weeks after losing our daughter, I woke up in ICU with little recollection of how I got there….then I got better.

I’m not sure if having that time of ‘distraction’ was a good thing or a bad thing for our grieving process but I do know one thing, while this has been the most horrifying experience of my life, I am so very fortunate to have such a rock solid partner in my hubby. He is my hero, the father of my 2 perfect children and my best friend.

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.