Thursday, 23 February 2017

The Shock…and trying to look beyond the pain - Stevie

One of the incredibly hard things to deal with after a pre-term loss of a baby is the unexpected nature of it. We had plenty of time before the expected arrival of our bundle of joy and never in a million years did we think, just like that, it would change. The shock, the trauma, the trying to get our head around how yesterday/a week ago/a month ago I was pregnant but now I no longer am, but I should still be.  The “how did it happen?” and the “did it actually happen?” is almost too hard to digest.

My husband looked at his facebook account- there up the top was a post letting our friends and family know our beautiful baby was born but didn’t make it, and right under was the announcement of our pregnancy with him. A pregnancy announcement followed by a death announcement in a space of 10 days with nothing in between on his wall. That’s the shock of it- we were expecting, then suddenly we weren’t. The thing is though, something did happen in between. Our baby didn’t just disappear… we had him.  He was real, he existed and he mattered. We just didn’t get to take him home and live a life with him. Instead we will live a whole life without him… and it hurts.

Seeing our pregnancy announcement again after his passing cut through us, right to our core. Everywhere we turned there were things that taunted us in this quick change of life. A parcel of maternity clothes that arrived just two days before he was born was sitting on our couch waiting for us when we came home from hospital. It remained there for two weeks, unopened and now unneeded. I was too terrified to touch it, just as we didn’t touch the new pram we just bought that stared at us every time we went into the spare room. The week before I went through my wardrobe and packed away anything that wouldn’t see me out the second half of my pregnancy. So every day the simple task of getting clothes became almost traumatic. I still haven’t pulled out all the clothes I could wear now, as it seems too awful to wear something I shouldn’t be able to right now.

I deliberately chose not to look at photos of myself with my belly. And then one day I decided I wanted to. It hurt beyond words but as I stared at a photo of my staff members standing around me pointing at my belly with big grins on their faces, it surprisingly also made me smile. Because it was a photo of HIM. It was a photo of him alive and how we were already celebrating him, and that was wonderful. It was a photo of a time where I carried him, a time I feel honoured to have had, no matter how much I feel like it’s killing me inside. I decided then not to hide the photos anymore and have looked at them a fair bit since. I do however make sure I don’t look at them when I am too fragile to handle them.

And now although I don’t ever choose the clothes my other children wore in the pregnancy announcement, if they pick them out themselves I let them wear them. When they wear them I instantly think of the matching bodysuit to their tee shirts, the one that sits in his memory box that our angel will never wear. Although it saddens me greatly, it reaffirms to me that even though he is gone, they will always be his big brother and big sister, and that he is still very much a part of our family.

No matter what, the pain is always there. The pain can be crippling, consuming and devastating but I try my best to look beyond it to see the happiness and love behind. The happiness that was there in those moments, in those photos, and try to honour that. I need to try and hold onto the happy memories and the feeling of pride I have of him, how he just like every baby, is miraculous and wonderful, even though he didn’t get to stay. I need to revisit the joy and warmth and feel the love…because I simply can’t live if there’s only the pain. And I NEED to live. Not just for our other children but for him as well.


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

Stevie Vowles

Stevie Vowles has a 7 year old daughter, 4 year old son and a son who was born sleeping on 28/10/16.  Her journey led her to the upsetting discovery that there is often a great lack of understanding and awareness of pregnancy and infant loss. She has started an open and honest blog sharing her journey of Elliott's birth and the life that leads after for herself, her husband and her two other children, who also grieve greatly, as the first step in wanting to spread awareness and help other bereaved parents the blog can be found here

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Hearts That Were Broken, Hearts That Have Healed - Edwina

It’s almost eleven years since my son Teddy came, then left three days later. He was my much-longed-for third child, but from early on in my pregnancy with him, I knew something wasn’t right. One day on my morning walk I got a message loud and clear – “Don’t get too attached, this one won’t be with you long”. I was still in my first trimester, so I thought I was going to miscarry. I tried to shake the feeling, put it out of my mind as an unreasonable fear, but it persisted even as I carried him all the way to full term. A few days before he was born I had a nightmare, the last words I heard before waking were, “And the baby’s dead too.”

        As his birth approached though, I was filled with a deep sense of calm. I spent many hours in meditation, something I’d been able to do easily ever since his conception. When he finally arrived, born in water into my own arms, he was slow to come around, but my experienced midwife and I worked together and soon he was breathing and a healthy glowing pink. I was ecstatic, my beautiful boy was here at last. All my bad dreams and messages were just fears.

        But then that night in my bed at home I started to worry. Unlike my other babies who’d been voracious feeders, he was struggling to stay awake at my breast and not getting much milk. My midwife visited and checked him out and helped me to get him to feed. But another night passed without him feeding properly. I lay him on my knees facing me and asked him what was going on. I told him to make a decision – that I was here and would love him forever no matter what, but to please just eat.

        My midwife visited again and together we got him to have the best feed he’d yet been able to manage and lay him beside me on the bed. Not long after she left, I noticed that Teddy was lying very still beside me. That his lips looked blue. I picked him up and ran through the house calling for help, for God, for anyone, to please, please help me. My sister who was staying rang the midwife and got her to return, then called the ambulance as I began to resuscitate him. Together my midwife and I pumped his tiny heart and breathed for him until the ambulance arrived and took over. Cutting through his jumpsuit and attaching electrodes, shooting him full of adrenaline. Nothing worked. He’d made his decision. They say that every moment is perfect. The moment of your child’s death feels very, very far from that.

        Teddy was my third child and the third member of my family I’d lost in traumatic circumstances. My father had died after a long ugly battle with cancer when he was only 42. My younger brother killed himself to end the suffering of his mental illness when he was 20. Then came Teddy, my little three-day baby who died of a congenital heart defect. I thought I’d finished my dance with death and grieving. Teddy made me face all of it again.

        And I’ve learnt more in the years since he’s come and gone than I ever hope to learn again. Luckily, I had been practising yoga for many years when he died, so every day I got onto my mat and cried out my pain. I learned that it was better to cry a little bit every day than wait until I couldn’t hold it in anymore and explode in unrelenting sobs. I learned that by sending out love and comfort to all the other women in the world, both now and back through time who knew the same loss, that I too was somehow mysteriously comforted. I learned that if I wrote in my journal about my grief, about Teddy, about how angry I was, how awful it felt, how afraid I was of facing other people and their fat healthy babies, of the hate and rage and hopelessness, or if I drew out my pain using pens and paint, drew hearts that were broken and hearts that had mended, that if I let myself feel my grief and cry some more, I was helping myself to heal.

        I learned that in Bali, if a baby dies before it’s six months old, it’s buried in a special cemetery and revered as a god. That helped. When I think of Teddy now, I see him as a great white angel standing with me and with all the mothers who have lost their babies. He is standing with me now. Just as your babies are standing with you.

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

Edwina Shaw

Edwina Shaw is a Queensland writer. Her first book Thrill Seekers, based on her brother’s adolescent battle with schizophrenia, was shortlisted for the 2012 NSW Premier’s Award for New Writing.  In the Dark of Night, her recently released children’s chapter book, is part of a nationwide library promotion – Summer Reading Club 2016/17. She has been widely published in Australian and international journals, including Best Australian Stories 2014. She writes regularly for UPLIFT Connect and published an article on The Gifts of Grief there
Edwina teaches yoga and writing at universities in Brisbane, and innovative workshops combining both. She also teaches specialised workshops combing yoga, writing and other creative arts to help ease the pain of loss.
She can be booked through SpeakersInk
You can also find her at her website
On Twitter

And Facebook