Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Celebrating Christmas - Dominque

Merry Christmas to everyone and here’s to another year of hopes and dreams that we can witness and create.

This time of year can be quite bitter sweet for some. Though this is a time for gathering together with our loved ones and sharing fun times, laughter, gift giving and eating plenty of food, this is also a time of reflection for those that are no longer with us or didn’t get the chance to share the joy in the first place.

For those of us that have lost by miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death, our little angels didn’t get to experience the joy of Christmas nor did we get to experience it with them. I explain my feelings of this, that we were robbed of this opportunity to enjoy this with them. So each Christmas, I always take a moment to remember my darling angel Jethro James Morcombe and light his candle with my husband and my two sons. This gives us the chance for the 5 of us to be together and reflect on Jethro’s short life. It allows us to wish him a Merry Christmas and tell him we love him and wish he was here. My eldest son always has a chat with his brother when we light his candle for occasions; it’s very sweet and innocent.

Our families also acknowledge him at this time and include him in the Christmas spirit by hanging a bauble on their own Christmas tree. We all had baubles made with Jethro’s name on it and it’s an opportunity for everyone to have their moment with Jethro when putting up the tree.

There is no doubt that in this lifetime, we all have our fair share of pain or trauma. For me, though at the beginning my pain was huge, it was with time and effort that I began to see another side to this. Life is one big lesson. Each chapter that is thrown at us, good or bad, is something we can learn from. I refused to live morbidly and in a negative space, as to me I know that Jethro would not want that for me. I feel as his mother, that I must live the best possible life I can and teach my children that are here with me on this earth, that life if AMAZING!! Life is beautiful and love is the answer to everything. If you have a bad day, surrender to it, but then heal it with love. Jethro did not come on this earth to make me feel sad and to throw away the rest of my life. He came to SHOW me how to live. He came to show me just how awesome that living can actually be. The comfort I also have is that he lives on in us and he is always going to be in my heart. He IS the love that I share as well as my own!

It was also important to ensure that Jethro’s life was acknowledged by as many people as possible and learn about this beautiful angel who once graced this earth. I have achieved this in many ways including fundraising for the children’s hospital. This was a huge thing for me as we were not only doing a great thing to support the hospital, but it helped me to heal! It was a reminder that we were not alone. Many parents are going through similar circumstances, if not worse, so I think of their strength which gave me a great deal of strength in return. Proudly, we have to date, raised just over $80k since Jethro passed away in 2010. It feels amazing to give back to those that helped us in more ways than one.  It feels so good to be able to do this and I’m such a proud mummy each time the event arrives and on that day, it’s about all these people getting together in honour him!! I love to show him off and his existence.

It is easy to stay in darkness when we lose a child. The pain can be so great, that we can just switch off from everything else. But when you can poke a tiny pin hole of light into that darkness, it will only get brighter with each step you take with the courage inside to live the best life possible! Christmas is a celebration and so is life. So for those lives taken suddenly, let’s celebrate their lives and fill the world with love and joy in their honour.
“Sometimes love is for a moment, Sometimes love is for a lifetime, Sometimes a moment is a lifetime”

Merry Christmas everyone. Love and light to you all. xxx

If you require support after reading this blog please contact

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Monday, 19 December 2016

Christmas 2016 - Kristina

Today I awoke with a sense of blackness. That’s how it happens now.
I can be ok for weeks, sometimes months. I remember them every day. Yet some days like today it’s all I can think of.
It’s Christmas so I should be getting excited to spend the holidays with my two rainbow children. In some ways I am.
To see their faces when they open their presents and the look of wonder at Christmas lights.
Yet I’m always reminded there are 2 not here.
There are two I cannot watch as their faces light up to hear Christmas songs. They won’t be any extra feet running down the stairs to see what Santa left.
For 10 years Christmas has never been the same.
It’s also ten years without my mum. My mum who was Christmas in itself. She would cook the big English turkey dinner and have all the treats.
Without her and my babies, Christmas has become a mixture of sadness and some joy.
I have become an expert in hiding my pain not only from my two rainbows but also everyone.
Unless you have walked this path you could never begin to understand the sheer heartbreak that time does not heal nor simply goes away.
How could it? Whether you never met your baby or like me got to see and touch and smell them. They are a part of you. That instant love and joy you had for them never leaves.
The moment I knew I was pregnant I loved them. I talked to them, chose names, watched them on the ultrasound.
These memories and feelings don’t fade.
People have told me I need to move on and to be grateful for my two living children. What they could never understand is that I am fully aware of how lucky I am to have carried to term and brought these amazing souls home.
As I know what it’s like to carry a baby and feel it kick you, to give birth and then to bury them both.
But could they move on and forget if one of their children died?
I love all my children. I will always love all my children. I will never forget.
As I drove my daughter to school this morning all I really wanted to do was to go home and go to bed.
To sleep and to lay in my grief.
I can’t though. My youngest is home. He needs me to play lego and watch Christmas movies with him.
Somehow I will have to struggle through and wait till their dad is home or hope this blackness lifts.
Christmas for me is harder than their birthdays. I chose to celebrate their birthdays as a happy occasion. Don’t get me wrong, I still cry.
Christmas is supposed to be a joyful season of parties, carols, Santa photos, gift swapping and family.
Yet for us that have lost it’s not. It’s another yearly reminder that they are not here.
I try every year to find a new ornament to put on the tree in their honour. We have their feet and handprints on there too.
For me it’s a little sign they are here and we remember.
Honestly though I wish someone other than me would remember them. To write their name in a card or comment on the tree. In 10 years no one ever has.
Sometimes I wonder if I don’t mention them or wish them a happy birthday would anyone but me remember?
My husband very rarely mentions them.
That’s hard for me as I don’t want to upset him with my pain.
He holds me when I cry and tries so hard to comfort me but really I want him to know without me telling him.
Grief is at times so cruel. It can bring you to your knees with a smell, memory, name or a song.
When it hits me it hits hard and can take my breath away. I can’t say what it was today especially but all I know is it hurts.
So if you are reading this and know someone who has said goodbye to their baby or child, tell them you remember by saying their child’s name or expressing your awareness that this time of year is difficult for them.
Today I will be gentle on myself and try to put that brave smile on.
I hope if you are reading this, you realise you too are not alone and your baby or child are important.
We as their mothers remember them every day and those memories never fade.
I wish us all some love and gentleness this Christmas season. Xoxo

Merry Christmas Charlie and Neve 

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.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Christmas is fast approaching - Barry

Following on from my previous entry:  life had started to get back to some degree of normality. Life will never be the same again, but Sarah and I had started to come to terms as best we can and we both were back at work. Some days were still too much, however we start to spend more time at work and less time away. I start to feel useful at work once more not just showing up.

Then I started to think about Christmas. Phoenix was due in early January, so if everything had gone to plan he may have come early,  or if not Sarah would have been heavily pregnant during Christmas celebrations. Either way he would have been a part of our celebrations and I am sure he would have got lots of presents.

Unfortunately Phoenix will not make it with us to Christmas in person, we will remember him and think of him in spirit. One night I was thinking about this and feeling down: I took some time to grieve and thought I had processed it by the next morning.  Sarah suggested we take the day off anyway just to be sure, but I think if I take a day off work every time I am feeling a bit blue I will never be at work. So off I went to work, thinking everything was good and dealt with last night.

As I prepared for my day as a school teacher, all is going well until the first bell for home group and I feel the grief rising but it is too late to deal with. I go in thinking I only have 20 minutes to deal with then I have a free lesson and can manage my grief then.  As I enter the class it must have been written on my face a student asks me “Are you OK?” I believe in being honest with my students and I shake my head but I don’t have the words and that’s it - I break down.

Luckily there is an office to the side of my classroom filled with teachers and I take refuge in there and a teacher kindly offers to take over. I spend most of the home group time in there to compose myself and worry what will happen when I have to show myself to my students. However I realise I have some important information to relay to my students and decide to face the music. The students don’t say a word about what has happened and take the information in as normal as I take over the class for the remaining 5 minutes. Some students even come up to me throughout the day to check that I am ok. It’s funny, I teach in a pretty rough school but the students constantly surprise you with kindness and compassion, I think some may relate to grief and loss.  I take my free lesson to compose myself and continue to teach for the rest of the day. It certainly was not the most successful day, I still feel raw all day but I manage to get through. After a stressful day I decide to take the next day off to recover. 

I recover and go back to work for another week and all is well until again the thought of Christmas surfaces in the car on the way to work and I think the 25th of December will be the 4 month anniversary of Phoenix’s short time on this earth.   The grief starts to swell again but I think I have it under control again. Unbeknownst to me it is just building and biding its time. I manage to get through homegroup, however in the grief and confusion I have confused my days and planned a lesson for a different class. I get to my actual class after a short detour to tomorrow’s class and start to madly think of what I can do with this science class that was supposed to be PE.

I stand in front of the class (most of whom are socialising waiting for me to call their attention), and I realise the grief is about to explode once more in front of a class.
I try deep breathing to calm myself however another kind and thoughtful student asks again “Are you ok?” and it breaks me once more. I rush out of the class luckily again another teacher is nearby to relieve me for a few moments.  I compose myself again and retake my class a short while later. On this day I have no free lessons to calm myself just recess and lunch. Again it is not the best day but I get through. I notice myself being snappy with the students and I have to apologise on more than one occasion. My students know my story and they are mostly kind and compassionate.

I decide I need to take action to try and prevent future outbursts in class. I call Dorothy from Red Nose and we discuss some strategies around preempting those bad days and using music to bring the grief on early before work. We discuss using a phrase like “thank you for asking” as a shield if someone asks “Are you OK?”. I also discuss with my partner Sarah and she tells me she talks to Phoenix every morning and that helps her.

The next morning I try many of these strategies. I feel I want to get back on the horse again immediately unlike last week when I took the day off. I think everything is working fine until I am about to leave and I realise everything is not fine. Now I know this will be a huge disruption and it will be difficult to cover my lessons but I feel I have no choice but to call in sick.  I apologise profusely and explain the circumstances of why I am calling in so late.

After another interaction at work I fall into a deep depression for most of the weekend. I was able to function:  I went Christmas shopping with Sarah but the usually joy I felt around Christmas and buying presents was not there. This felt different to the grief I had experienced up until that point. I decided I need to discuss this with a professional although admitting to potential mental health issues was not something I wanted to do. There is still a stigma attached to such an admission. However after talking to supportive friends and family I decided it is better to check it out rather than wait for it to get worse, so I set an appointment for early next week.

During the weekend however I talked about it more and discovered there are other things I could be doing for my mental health. By the end of the weekend I was feeling much better however I decide to keep my doctor’s appointment just to keep everything in check. We discuss the differences between grief and depression. I know I want to try and avoid at all costs some of the feelings of that weekend just gone. I want to be able to recognise if I am going to that place and to develop strategies to get out.

On a lighter note Sarah and I found out on Monday we are expecting twins. This delightful if slightly terrifying news has brightened our lives. As for Christmas I am sure there are ups and downs to come. We will take time to remember Phoenix on the day. Like Sarah I have been talking to him every day, and our family brought us a wonderful Christmas Tree Bauble to remember Phoenix. Next Christmas we will have two little ones to share Christmas with Sarah, Phoenix and me. One day when they grow older we will tell them the story of Phoenix on our tree. 

If you require support after reading this blog please contact

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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Remembering Precious Jethro James short life - Dominique

Whenever I get an opportunity to write about my angel, Jethro James Morcombe, it is not something I shy away from, but yet I embrace this time to breathe even more life into my son’s short lived life.

I shake my head in disbelief that soon we will celebrate what would have been his 7th birthday, my goodness me!

My sweet child was bought into this world on the 14th January 2010. This was also my father’s birthday and we were so delighted that we were going to give Poppy the best birthday present ever. However, quite the opposite happened, as on this very day, my world changed and was to never be the same again.

I had a beautiful pregnancy with Jethro. No morning sickness, no health issues, just a lovely pregnancy.

We were induced early upon request and all was fine to do so. Then commenced what was to be a 25hr labor and then it was time to push. I pushed and pushed but needed help. So in came the vacuum suction and few times without success and then the forceps. On the third attempt of the forceps Jethro became stuck. The look of horror came over the obstetrician’s face and next minute I’m rushed into to have an emergency caesarian. At this point I had no idea what was going on, I was just doing as I was told. My husband on the other hand, as he later told me, knew something wasn’t right.

Jethro was pulled out fairly quickly…but something was wrong. There was no cry, however there was lots of people in the room by this time. Doctors and nurses rushed to his aid, then a few minutes later the obstetrician came over to tell me that he was very sick and that he had lost a lot of oxygen during delivery: we later found out that this would cause his death. At this point, I just figured he would be fine and that he would recover. All the same my body went into shock and I could not stop myself from shaking. I was incredibly scared. He was later take to the Children’s Hospital. The next day I was bandaged up, catheter in and off I went to visit my son. As I walked into the ward, there was Jethro, the only child attached to all these machines and I just broke down and wept. I was heartbroken to say the least.

The day was just a blur and that pains me, as that day was 1 of only 2 days Jethro was alive and I felt like I’d missed out on an opportunity to hold my boy a little longer, to stroke his face, touch his skin, play with his little fingers and toes and talk to him and tell him how much I love him, but I had no idea that he was about to be taken as soon as he was.

That night my husband told me that the doctors had asked us to make a decision. Because Jethro was so sick we had the option to take him off life support and let him pass away peacefully. The next day we sat and spoke with the doctor and they had explained to us that he would never recover and that there was nothing more that they could do from him. He would be brain damaged forever and by letting him stay on life support meant that he could actually survive, but basically be a vegetable. There was no way we would do that to our son, it would have felt selfish. No one should ever have to live like this so of course we agreed to do the most humane thing possible and take him off life support. This was the hardest decision of our lives, but knew that it was the right one. After the family said their goodbyes, the doctors took Jethro of all the machines. He was then brought to us in a room at the hospital. And there he was, our gorgeous boy, no machines, just him. I kissed him and talked to him and held him. We understood that he would be gone in a few hours, but our strong little man stayed on for 9 hours. And then..I heard his last breath! A moment I will never forget. I saw my son be brought into this world and then I saw him go.

I believe that Jethro was brought to us for a reason and taken for a reason. He has enriched my life so much and has helped me open my eyes in a big way. He’s thought about every hour of every day and I love and miss my son so much.  


If you require support after reading this blog please contact  

Sands on 13 000 72637