Thursday, 25 February 2016

Precious Angels by Kristina

When I look back at the old me, the me who laughed and smiled constantly and saw the world as an adventure to explore, the me before the storm hit, I remember thinking then that the world is a beautiful place and I'm lucky to be living in it so happy and carefree.
I call it a storm because that is exactly what hit us over an 11 month period. If I wrote my life story no one would ever believe it. Sadly, it is true.

In the world before the storm I always liked to think there were angels around us.  I thought wouldn't it be beautiful to think we have people watching over us and protecting us.  It was just a passing thought here and there. 

Now I search everyday for a sign that Charlie and Neve are here somehow.
Are they that creaky sound in the middle of the night?  When a butterfly flutters near, is it them?

When two rainbows appeared in our wedding photos, I so desperately wanted to believe it was them with us. I so needed to believe they just didn't stop breathing and that was all there was.

I ache constantly for a sign. It will be 10yrs since we last held Charlie in September and 9yrs in August since we held Neve.

I buy photos of butterflies drawn in the sand with their names, candles, birthday cards, Christmas decorations. I still feel I need to validate their lives.

When the storm hit, it hit fast and sudden. The carefree smiley me was gone, never to return. The person that replaced her was someone who pretends that she's ok, that I'm coping. I'm so emotional at everything.

I see the world as sad and unfair. I see an advert for huggies and my eyes tear up.
A friend says she pregnant and I'm a mess. I don't want anyone to feel the way I did and do.

Every pregnancy I had following Charlie was filled with dread and fear. Every cramp or twinge, I was convinced I was going in to labour.

Sadly Neve's pregnancy got to 41 weeks and in labour she stopped breathing. No, it could never happen again, everyone told me.

The world became a darker place, I became more obsessed with the need to believe they were still here in some way.

I spent many days in bed when my husband went back to work, crying and desperately searching for anything to say they were here.

Asking them or rather yelling at the ceiling, please just a sign. Something, anything.
As I gave birth to our second daughter, I remember asking my doctor as I gave birth: is she breathing, please is she?

He didn't need to answer, the sound of her tiny cry filled the room.
I thought she's alive, i should be so happy but I was filled with guilt for trying again and fear that she too would be taken. These feelings have never left. They have less impact now but the fear of losing her and our second son Zack is at times overwhelming.

My friends tell me now that they never got to hold Maya, that as a baby she was permanently in my arms. Looking back, she was. She had to be, I wasn't losing her.
When Maya was 9 months old she used to laugh and point at the stairs. Was she playing with her siblings?

No, babies just laugh right?

She would do this almost every day, just sit and laugh like someone was playing with her. At 18 months she told me a lady sits on her bed at night. She was a nice lady. Was that my mum?

At times over the years when I'm crying and missing them, I feel a warm tingle near my cheek or at night I feel like my hand is being held.

I don't know if it’s them or my need to believe, but for me it brings me comfort.
Has the world changed?  Honestly, I think I have changed more.  Although I don't laugh as much and I'm paranoid about my children and more than likely (compared to my friends) over protective of them.

The one positive change is that I love harder and stronger. I want my children to grow up knowing how much we fought for them and how much we love them. That to us, Charlie and Neve chose them and gave them to us.

My belief in angels is strong because to me they are the sunlight warming my face and they paint us the most beautiful rainbows after the storm. 

I need to believe in something, anything, just for me to keep walking this journey through the storm, otherwise I know I would stop trying to put one foot in front of the other. My heart would stop as the thought is too painful not to believe.
If you require support after reading this blog please contact
Sands on 13 000 72637

Kristina Riley

Kristina is a children's nurse and a counsellor.
She has four beautiful children.
Charlie and Neve are her two angels who are the  inspiration for raising more awareness about stillbirths and pregnancy loss.
Her two miracles Maya and Zack are the reason she keeps moving forward on this journey of grief.
Her husband Curt is also her inspiration to raise awareness for fathers and their grief.

There needs to be more awareness for us all.

Friday, 19 February 2016

The Start by Lauren

'I hope I find the strength to live life with zest like I use to and to not be afraid. I don’t know what this life now means for me but I’m willing to start the journey to find out.'
Lovingly lifted from Pinterest
Not really sure where I’m at, stuck somewhere between ok and completely falling apart. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming that it stops me in my tracks. I feel like my chest is caving in and I long for this nightmare to be over. I often feel like it’s just a dream and I will wake up and she will be in my tummy and we only have a couple more weeks to get through before she is here in my arms. Then I remember, I remember the look in Jonathan’s eyes, the face of the nurses and the words from my doctor and the nightmare starts again. I go through in my head all those moment and the heartbreaking week that followed. How is it possible I’m still standing, if I could have somehow disappeared, I think I would have. Instead I/we have had to face every day, with no choice but to live it and feel it. It’s not happy, it’s not enjoyable, it’s just empty. There is this huge chunk of my being and my heart missing, this space in my life and arms where my daughter should be. The lump in my throat hurts every time I think of her or I have to tell my story. I didn’t want this; I wanted my fairytale in which my perfect little family was happy and healthy. My amazing husband and gorgeous baby girl were going to be my focus and number one priority.

But what now? Who am I and what does it all mean? I want to believe and have to believe that this all happened for a reason because my faith in life, love and God can’t let this be ‘just one of those things.’ It must be a greater purpose that I just can’t see right now because otherwise it’s just cruel and unfair. I understand I have a privileged life and I may take it for granted sometimes but don’t worry, I now get the memo that I’m not immune from bad shit happening to me. I will try and be a good person and help others. I pray that my little girl looks over her dad, me and our families to keep us safe. I hope I find the strength to live life with zest like I use to and to not be afraid. I don’t know what this life now means for me but I’m willing to start the journey to find out.

Lauren x

If you require support after reading this blog please contact

Sands on 13 000 72637

Lauren Samuels

Lauren Samuels is a Melbourne based blogger. Through her own personal journey of losing her full term daughter to stillbirth it has been a huge test of character to keep moving and feel alive again. Blogging and sharing her personal experience has helped to make sense of the curve balls life has thrown and now she is all about enjoying the small things each and every day. Lauren is a wife to Jonathan, Mother to her angel Laylah and pregnant with bubba 2. You can follow her journey at or on instagram @enjoythe.smallthings

Sunday, 14 February 2016

An Evolving Love by Larissa

'She may have died, but my love for her did not'

Love. It was the first thing I felt as I caught Ariella and lifted her out of the water onto my chest. At that very moment, I didn’t care that she was stillborn – all I felt was love. A love so overwhelming that it actually felt like a physical wave hitting me. After the most tumultuous two days of my life, she was finally in my arms. A daughter. The most beautiful girl I had ever seen. And all I could think about was how much I loved her.

Soon enough, that overwhelming love manifesting itself in overwhelming grief. How could it not? Our beautiful girl would not grow up in our arms. It was quite a while before the grief began to seem less overwhelming and become bearable.

I still love Ariella just as much as I did three years ago at her birth but that love has evolved. It’s different, parenting a child in Heaven. I didn’t know how I could do it or what it would look like. But I’m learning. Instead of loving her toddle, first words or new skills, I love her impact on the world. I love her for the friends she has brought into my live and for the hearts her story has touched. I love how she changes the world each time someone donates in her memory or reaches out to a bereaved friend because of what her story taught them. My little girl is impacting the world despite not being here! How amazing, and what a privilege to be her mama.

What does my love for Ariella look like three years on from the initial rush of overwhelming love and then grief? It’s evolved into a more settled love. Of course, it expresses itself differently at various times of the year (for example, grief is the dominant expression on her Heaven Day) but it usually feels settled, just like my love for my living children. In the words of one of my favourite songs: “lost you before I found you, gone before you came. But I love you just the same.” She may have died but my love for her did not. Ariella Jade – always and forever my loved baby.


Larissa wrote her blog about the love she has for precious Ariella for Sands Australia.  This blog also appears on The Motherish website
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 (  and on Still Standing Magazine (

Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Darkside of Childbirth by Ischa

You will remember that Ischa shared with us precious son Matisse and how she found peace. In this blog, Ischa voices more of her emotions during her journey.

'Losing my boy has given me the much-needed permission to voice all the emotions I have been carrying around since becoming a mother.'

I have only been a mother for three years, and yet in this short time I have suffered one breakdown, exhaustion fuelled depression and most recently desolation after the heartbreaking loss of my second baby pre-term. For me, childbirth has been in many ways traumatic, and I am still deep in the process of coming to terms with it.

A few months ago, attending my first post-natal depression group it struck me how angry I am. There I was hiding out in therapy with other brave honest parents, sharing similar stories of confusion, guilt, anger and disappointment. Yet it was pretty clear to me that most of us were not classic post-natal depression stories, that of the mother who can’t feel love or care for her child.
We are something new. Parents whose pregnancy, delivery and first years’ experiences don’t match the sanitised version of childbirth that now dominates western middle class culture. We are parents living under a silent code that the so called dark stuff, the struggles are not to be shared in the mainstream but rather kept hidden out of harms way in the privacy of therapy.  Like we have something broken in us that needs to be sorted out before we can come back into society.

Yet it wasn’t so long ago that childbirth was well understood to be dangerous territory - brutal, bloody and unpredictable. It was a given that woman and babies often died during or shortly after birth and that there was very little control over the outcome.  In those days people understood that childbirth was a force of nature or god, more powerful than them, and most relied on faith and community to get them through. There were no illusions then as to what it took to have a baby, and the work involved in early care.

Modern medicine has radically changed all that. We now live in a time where mortality rates are greatly reduced, giving birth is safer, defects can be identified in the womb, and people whom previously had no chance can deliver healthy babies. Yet in all this progress we have unwittingly created a new type of story, the ultimate childbirth fairytale. In this version, pretty much everyone gets pregnant, pregnancy is a joyful experience, mothers have more control over their delivery than often is the case and babies don’t die. Heroes are those women who deliver naturally, abstain from painkillers, breastfeed and bask in the glow of their new arrival.

Its true medical advancements, research and material wealth have brought amazing changes. There remains however many unknowns that lead to difficult and sometimes tragic situations. To experience this in a society that is in denial about its impact isolates everyday people who are really going through everyday experiences. My own loss landed me flat bang in the middle of this hidden world of the unlucky. A land filled with loving, emotionally and mentally strong people struggling to come to terms with broken dreams. There are those who can’t get pregnant or are facing IVF, parents who suffered multiple miscarriages, lost babies at all stages, faced death during birth and then the very many of us who are just not coping like we imagined we would be or how our friends seem to be. This hidden land is so populated with versions of the same core story that it is obvious to me we are the mainstream, not a marginal group whose only place is in therapy.

Losing my boy has given me the much-needed permission to voice all the emotions I have been carrying around since becoming a mother. The feelings of guilt, of inadequacy, helplessness and disappointment, of being jealous of others who seemed to be coping so much better than me. Of comparing myself and in doing so judging my perceived imperfections. I was finally allowed under the guise of grief to be honest about how painful and scary it is to give birth, how traumatic it is to feel alone in the messiness of it all, to want so much for your child and to try so hard to deliver it, to become a parent and not fuck it all up.

So I am angry and I am sad for us all. Who are we serving by marginalising the darker side of childbirth in favour of the soap commercial? What good is there in pounding each other with judgement guised as knowledge and illusions of perfection and control? There is the yin and yang in everything. For every success story there is one of sadness and loss. In every fairytale there is struggle and it is time for the truth to come out. Childbirth and parenting is just as messy, painful and demanding as it is joyful, fluffy and inspiring. By not telling our whole story, we are forcing each other to live an illusion, to hide our fears behind bright smiles, gloss and can do attitudes. To find our only solace in small secret therapy groups, disguising natural healthy emotions as post-natal depression.

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

Ischa Roberts

I have many roles as a mother, wife and coach but my commitment is always to live my life in an authentic way. I am passionate about improving the human experience and helping people clarify their priorities and make conscious choices. I support relationships to create deeper experiences of intimacy and work to transform family life. Loss has been a powerful teacher of self-discovery, forgiveness, compassion and trust and I thank Matisse everyday for gifting me with this wisdom.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Thoughts from a Dad by Peter

The thrill of knowing you're having a child is the most overwhelming experience for both a woman and a man, especially your first. You spend hours talking to a growing abdomen, playing it music and just holding it. The excitement grows daily and your mind runs riot with a thousand different thoughts. Friends and family call daily, there is laughter, there is celebration, there is constant talk with your partner - there is so much love.

My son Charlie died. He died before I could look in his eyes and know he was my boy, before I could kick a football with him, before I could hold his hand while he looked up at me, before I could take him to school on his first day. Charlie died and the world around me fell silent. There were still calls from friends and family for a while, there was still drinking but not to celebrate, there was no more laughter, just tears - where could all that love disappear to.

How do you deal with all the feelings, the emotion, the loss? How is a man supposed to react? Isn't a man supposed to just move on? Where did my wife go? Where did my dreams go? Why is it so hard to drag myself out of bed each day?

Needless to say I didn't deal with the loss of my son Charlie, I still haven't dealt with the loss properly 13 years later. I have learnt however that men are allowed to feel the heart break of loss of a baby just the same as women and I now know that although it will always be painful it doesn't have to define you. Sands helped my wife a great deal, she dealt with her grief separately to me, I needed help too but didn't know how to get it even though it was right in front of me. I needed a hand to guide me but it never came, I think I needed another man to say it was alright. I can tell others now to seek help, find it, you really need it to help you heal.

Sands has a dedicated Men’s Support Line which is answered by male Volunteer Parent Supporters who understand the grief and confusion you may be experiencing, as they too have had a baby who has died Click here  ( to find out more

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Loss After You by Therese

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

About Therese 

Therese has worked in the field of counselling and community development for over 20 years. She has worked predominantly in the health and welfare field. She has worked in the primary school sector counselling children through a range of loss and grief and traumatic experiences.

Therese has also delivered a number of conference papers on the theme of children’s loss and grief and articles on stress management too. She also worked as a Sessional teacher in the TAFE system and the Private Sector in the Community Services area, including Mental Health Welfare for over 20 years. She is also an experienced Supervisor.

Therese has as a small business conducting Reiki, Inner Child Therapy, Meditation and similar therapies. She is also works as a Group Facilitator and teaches stress management and relaxation techniques within the local community as well as running workshops in the areas of trauma and loss and grief and related areas.

Therese is a published poet and has three children and four delightful grandsons. She enjoys nothing more than a good cup of coffee and the occasional glass of wine or bubbly. She is passionate about climate change and the environment, wanting a clean world for her grandchildren to grow up in and one where any type of violence is not tolerated.