Thursday, 31 May 2018

Vicki Lee Dean by Tracy

My story is not just that of a grieving Mother of a Stillborn Baby born back in 1985, but that of parents who had the opportunity to be a part of the changes made to the National Code of Ethical Autopsy Practice.  By being a part of this, although the circumstances at first were quite distressing, it gave me and my husband a chance to represent our child, to have her existence acknowledged by others. 

On ANZAC Day 1985 at 7.10am Vicki Lee Dean was born sleeping at The Queen Victoria Hospital at 25 weeks gestation. After a routine appointment & follow up ultrasound it was confirmed my baby had passed. It was also our first wedding anniversary that week.  I was then induced, enduring a ten hour labour. She was whisked away from me and I walked out of the hospital with 2 polaroid photos of her. That week was such a blur as we were also moving into our new house.  Thankfully when I left hospital I walked into our new home after family had so very kindly moved all our belongings for us. At first I did not want to deal with a funeral but after a fortnight I decided I needed to lay her to rest. We had a small family graveside funeral at Centennial Park. 

We grieved like every parent does. We got on with life and were blessed with two healthy children in 1986 and 1988. They grew up knowing they had an older sister and every year we visited her grave on ANZAC Day. Back then though miscarriage & stillbirth weren’t discussed much and the only support available was from your Doctor or the wonderful people at SANDS. Back then we had only the telephone and the post as means of communication.

Then in early July 2001 we sat down to watch the evening news when the headlining news report was the finding of organs & tissue samples taken from stillborn babies born at The Queen Victoria Hospital in the 1980’s.  These samples had been found stored in the basement of the Adelaide Children’s Hospital after the closure of the QVH in 1995. We were mortified at the thought of this and immediately contacted the hotline number leaving our details.  Several days later we received a telephone call making an appointment at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital. 

We met with the Coroner and a Counsellor who confirmed with us that they did indeed have tissue samples belonging to our Vicki.  Twenty-six samples in total, twelve tissue blocks and fourteen slides.  We had many questions that were answered by the Coroner.  We had decided that if these samples were aiding in the research into stillbirths and other issues concerning the unborn then we would allow them to remain with the hospital.  I also asked for a copy of the autopsy report. I also raised my concerns about the approval required for not only the retention of these tissue samples but also the actual autopsy itself.  I had no recollection of signing a form giving my consent for Vicki’s autopsy.  My Husband told me that I was asked to sign the paperwork for this 3 hours after delivery whilst I was still under the effects of sedation.

I will never forget how I felt on the day we walked into the Hospital to meet with the Coroner.  This was my chance to represent my precious baby.  This was the one time I would be able to speak up for her and do something for her.  

In October 2001 I received a letter confirming our meeting with a copy of my Daughter’s Autopsy report.  On reading the report I felt some sort of closure.  I had been told by my Obstetrician that there was no definite reason for my baby dying in utero. The Autopsy report did however state that my baby’s overall development was not at the same stage as her lung development.  To me that meant there was a reason nature had taken it’s course.

In early 2002 I was contacted by the National Ethics and Privacy Policy unit and invited to participate, through consultation, to the changes being made to the National Code of Ethical Autopsy Practice. I met with the Policy Officer for several hours and we discussed my experiences and how they needed to be improved.  Some months later I received a letter thanking me for my input and a copy of the new National Code of Ethical Autopsy Practice.  It included both issues that I had raised in this Code of Conduct.

So now in 2018 I see so many changes in the way in which we deal with the bereavement and loss of a baby. We took part in the Inaugural Centennial Park Celebration on October 15 2017.  That was just so therapeutic. The taking of foot and hand prints, a small lock of hair are just simply wonderful.  For us we have just a couple of ageing polaroid photos. I get some sort of comfort from knowing that the loss  My Husband and I endured has played a small part in some of these changes both ethically and medically.  Our Daughter Vicki may not have lived but her existence has certainly made a footprint.

Tracy Dean 

If you require support after reading this blog, please contact Sands on 1300 072 637


Thursday, 24 May 2018

Now and Then by Bex

Before her, I took Motherhood for granted. I took everything for granted. That was when I lived in the ignorant, blissful “then” days. That’s all changed and I live in the “now”.

I wasn’t supposed to be able to have children, yet I found myself pregnant at 20. It was easy. My daughter was born, and life went on.
Twelve years later I met my soulmate, and fell pregnant. At 34 years old I was happy, it was smooth sailing. Still, it was a surprise just six months later, when I discovered I was pregnant again. There was a few overwhelming moments but we were excited. We started planning....
Just before our first scan I started spotting. Nothing major, I was reassured, and no one was overly concerned. This was only emphasised when we made it to the scan and saw our little bean happily bouncing about, her heart beating away. We were told after seeing the heartbeat we dropped down to 10% miscarriage risk. Relief.

A couple of weeks later the spotting returned, so I went back to my doctor. She sent me for another scan, and the sonographer was a lovely, older lady. The minutes ticked by as she rolled the Doppler over my belly. She said nothing, and I scanned her face for any sign of what she was feeling, or thinking. My anxious brain was screaming, “Please say something!!!” She didn’t.

The place where my baby was before was a black empty space. My baby had disappeared.

I felt instantly nauseous, like a million butterflies had settled in my chest, as she swapped to the internal Doppler. I looked at the screen and saw her. The saddest sight, our little girl, curled up into a ball in the deepest, darkest part of my womb. The sonographer apologised, and let us know she was gone, there was no heart beat.

I felt multiple emotions all at once. As fast as they came I locked them away. I asked the sonographer if she was ok, the look on her face was one of devastation and discomfort at having to tell us our baby had died. My husband squeezed my hand, poor thing what else could he do? We never imagined this could happen to us.

It seems our baby had died two days after our first scan. I carried her tiny body without a clue she had died . The next few days passed in a painful blur. When I left the hospital without her I felt lost and empty.
My life is now split into two...before we experienced baby loss, and the life we now have to lead without her. Now and then. Some days I hate living here in the now, and would give anything to go back to then.

♡ RIP Emmah Jae Lampe 10/3/2010

If you require support after reading this blog, please contact Sands on 1300 072 637

Bex Lampe

Bex lives on the surf coast in Victoria. She is wife to Gav and mum to four Earth side
babies. Emmah and Flynn are her two angels. Bex is also a first time Grandma! She recently achieved a Diploma of counselling and is hoping to complete her Diploma of Community Services this year. Currently a stay home mum with three little ones, she’s hoping to get back to the outside world next year. 

Bex has two rainbow babies born after her miscarriages. They were born with severe congenital conditions. Congenital Heart defects for her eldest son and Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia for her youngest. Both requiring birth into NICUs and major surgeries. 

Bex has worked as an AIN in Aged, Disability, and Dementia care, as a private disability nurse and also as an assistant to a prison chaplain with the Salvation Army. She has also been an artist and a poet. Bex loves to help people and hopes to help many bereaved parents with her experiences. 

Her dream is to be published again, and to one day write a book. 

Thursday, 10 May 2018

A Grandparents Perspective by Lee

Lexie's Garden

Three and a half years ago we said goodbye to our rainbow baby Lexie, my granddaughter.

Everyone finds their own path whilst grieving. Some are broken and struggle to continue, some keep to themselves and hide their feelings, some hit out their pain and hurt anyone and everyone around them, some move on quicker than others.

The father tries to comfort the mother, as well as deal with his own grief.

The mother is lost. Broken. Part of her is missing. She can’t function, she wants answers, and as her body is repairing itself, her heart continues to break.

Time, understanding and talking helps.

Lexie now has a sister and more recently, a brother. Both of these pregnancies were very stressful for everyone concerned. Ongoing scans and tests right up to delivery (remembering that everything was good with Lexie until 24hrs after her last scan).

My daughter insisted they delivered the babies early, which proved to be for the best.  All was good.

I have found that people don’t know how to talk about the loss of a baby.  People ask me how many grandchildren do I have.  I answer 6, with 1 in heaven.  Some people have suggested we should “let go” of Lexie.   How do you?

I think of her every day. Every day.  The worse times are her anniversary and Christmas, there is always lots of kids around, but one is, and always will be, missing….

It can only be so much worse for the parents. Having more babies helps, but it will never replace the little girl they lost. 

Grandmother Lee

If you require support after reading this blog, please contact Sands on 1300 072 637