Berlin Marathon 2018

The 45th BMW BERLIN-MARATHON will be held on the 30th September 2018…and we have secured spots for five lucky runners to represent #TeamStillbirth!

Why should you sign up:

  • This race is famous for its fast pavement and draws top athletes and amateur runners each year.
  • Numerous world best performances and world records have been set here in the past few years.
  • The atmosphere in Berlin is world-class with runners lifted by the musical support along the attractive city course – with about 80 bands putting on their own ‘music marathon’.

It is an unforgettable experience for every marathon fan!

If you can fundraise $10,000, we have your ticket waiting for you to join #TeamStillbirth

Apply now for one of five limited positions by sending an email to office@stillbirthfoundation.org.au

The Porcelain Urn Company

The Porcelain Urn Company create simple and elegant urns to act as a focus for the love and grief experienced after the death of a loved one.

The urns are crafted by ceramic potter Deb Taylor who has 25 years experience and are influenced by her volunteer experience with Social Workers at The Royal Womens’ Hospital in Randwick. This involved firing ceramic tiles with foot and hand impressions of tiny infants who had died preterm, or who were stillborn.

Describing her inspiration for this work Deb says “In early 2010 I received an enquiry from a woman whose husband had died under tragic circumstances. She was aware of my ceramic pieces I was already making and asked me if I would make some customised urns for her husband’s ashes that she was able to put her choice of wording around. At the time it was a confronting process for us both for very different reasons however there was also much tenderness as we talked about ideas about how the urns should look and feel.

It’s an honour for me to be asked to contribute artistically at what is very often an impossibly difficult time for people.”

Visit their website to learn more The Porcelain Urn Company

Born Sleeping

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Shared with generous permission of Laura Sheehan @ thewholemummy.com

I held you in my arms, I kissed your soft, pink lips, I nuzzled your cheeks, your nose, your tiny perfect ears. I breathed in every inch of you. So hard, to let you go.

. . .Beau, born sleeping the 19/06/14.

We’d just celebrated our Hurricane’s first birthday, a typical sweltering hot first week of January in Australia. Summer in Oz is always a time for swimming, the beach, flip flops, hats, sun tans, ice cream, friends, family and always safe, sunshine fun. Three months earlier, we had taken the nonchalant approach to not actively trying for another baby but at the same time not taking or making any preventative measures to falling pregnant. The old “we’ll just see what happens” approach. Low and behold I was a day late, nothing, normally, to be excited over but a part of me just knew, call it what you will, a mother’s knowing, women’s intuition, whatever it may be but I knew he was there. My baby, my son.

I think most women know, whether we acknowledge it or not, something inside us sparks, connects and we know deep, down within that we are carrying a special cargo, a perfect, beating little force, entwined with our being, well before the conscious thought to check the calendar or buy a test.

With this subtle feeling that, just maybe, we were pregnant, even only a day late, I checked. There it was, that blurry miracle, the hazy, soft, positive, blue line. We were having another baby. Instantly, that surge of overwhelming, engulfing feeling, immediate joy and soaring happiness, gratitude, thanks, humbleness, worry and apprehension, and floating in amongst it there was a faint fragility that landed, buried and was pushed aside, taken over by all encompassing, all embodying love.

Excited to say the least, the Big Man and I were over the moon, the gap between the baby and the Hurricane somewhat daunting and smaller than what we had anticipated but we embraced and welcomed the idea of a bigger, noisier and ever more chaotic family.

Having nearly lost the Hurricane to Meningococcal B Meningitis, having lived it, having survived it together as a couple, as a family, we had in many ways developed a naive confidence in our way of thinking, a belief that we had been through our tough time, climbed our hurdle, overcome our challenge. Maybe it wasn’t naive to think that way, but, more so, isn’t also normal? Normal to be excited for this new life, another baby, to have that blissful happiness? It’s what parents hold on to, no matter the journey so far. In truth I don’t believe we could ever be prepared for what was to come.

With the news of our new baby came the even more life changing news for our family, we would be uprooting and leaving Australia, leaving our home, and moving to the South of France for the opportunity and adventure of a lifetime for our little family, and one final rugby contract for the Big Man. It scared me, that’s the truth. I don’t like change at the best of times and leaving my family, my friends and everything I love about home, especially with the little one on the way, rocked the foundation beneath my feet. Outside of that fear though was a burning desire to soar, to navigate, to experience, to be a part of a culture, a community entirely new. It fascinated me and I wanted to give our Hurricane and our little one to come, the most fruitful opportunity to explore everything the world has to offer.

The contract in France wouldn’t start immediately though and as luck would have it the Big Man was offered a short term contract in the UK. With the news of a new baby, the Hurricane already leaving destruction and chaos in his wake, we decided, as a family, that it would be better for the Big Man to go on without us for the UK leg of our journey while we carried on back in Aus for six months, giving us enough time to pack up and prepare for the next step. In the blink of an eye and a flurry of tears, the Big Man was gone.

There is an intimacy and a connection between a mother and her baby, from the moment of conception there is a bond unlike any other. It is a knowing, an understanding and a deep, natural sense of unspoken unity and relationship. For the Hurricane and, later, our Little Ray of Sunshine, there was a spark within me, a vibrancy, spirited life and active eagerness that is reflected in the children they are today. For my Beau, he was different, he connected with me wholly with an early awareness for one another. He was a quieter, softer soul and I felt it from the beginning, the image I held for him was that of a gentle, little old man, content and happiest nestled and cradled within me. This kindred kinship, however, projected something different for me that I had not experienced with my pregnancy with my Hurricane and later, inexplicably not with our Little Ray of Sunshine. There was an unfounded uncertainty, a feeling of worry and fragility. This sense of concern was so strongly embedded in me that at three different stages in the pregnancy I felt the need to have his heartbeat checked, twice in Australia and once in the UK while visiting family before our last leg to France.

My pregnancy for Beau was, by all accounts, as normal as it can be, second time around, constantly chasing a toddling toddler. On my own the fatigue was a constant battle, pulling on reserves when at times I felt I had nothing else to give, but I was lucky, my support network from family and friends was enormous and the cavalry, when called, was ready and willing to be there for our little family in any way they could. It was a special time, in fact, for my mum, my sister, my mother in law and my wonderful sister in law, she at the time was also pregnant six weeks ahead of us! These women, who in the absence of the Big Man became an integral part of my journey with Beau, stepping into the role, in many ways, as my surrogate husband, my confidant, my support and those living in Perth happily coming along to all the important moments, appointments and scans for our little man. It was at my 20 week scan, with my surrogate husbands, my mum and my sister, in tow, that we hit our first little bump in the road.

There he was, my big, roly poly baby, a white outline in a sea of black, rocking and rolling on the big screen. The sonographer gleefully guided me, explaining, identifying every perfect toe, leg, nose, ears, eyes, fingers, legs, tummy, bottom, everything that as parents, in those magical scan moments, absorb, there they are, your baby, your child. A pause, a hesitation, yet still positive, she asked if we could wait just a little longer for the senior sonographer to check and confirm the scan. My breath catches. Waiting in the hospital cafeteria worry is covered, masked and suppressed by small talk, food and tea. Being scanned once more, the senior sonographer, equally upbeat, examines and explains that they had noticed our baby possibly had a minor condition known as kidney reflux, a surprisingly common condition where by one of the valves in the kidney don’t close properly and urine refluxes back into the kidney. It was adamantly expressed not to be concerned, fear clearly written all over my face, that all it meant was that after birth our baby may need to be put on a course of antibiotics or worst case scenario have a small corrective surgery. Exhale, it was all going to be ok. Reassured and armed with a multitude of information, we hadn’t intended to find out the sex but and with many apologies from the sonographer, an invasive examination of the kidneys made it difficult not to see, and we were delighted and overjoyed to learn we were having a boy, another son and a little brother for the Hurricane.

A little hiccup, a tiny trip and stumble, but really nothing to warrant concern we carried on and before we knew it the time had come to say ‘see you soon’ to Australia and a big ‘bienvenue‘ to France. Through incredibly difficult goodbyes, difficult doesn’t begin to describe it, but through heartfelt, hormonal tears, bags packed, life packed, a bulging now 7 months pregnant belly in front of me and an excited little Hurricane hanging from my hand, we were off. Stretches of sea and an almost new world awaiting us, our new adventure was unfolding before us. First with the generous help of Nan, my mum, in a flurry and a hurry we visited family in the UK before the long awaited reunion with my Big Man.

Time can be a funny concept, as it skips by, days blur and mesh into weeks, you can often find the passing seamless. It is only in that moment of reconciliation that the enormity of distance sharpens into reality and the weight of having been apart fully press upon you. Watching the Hurricane, now eighteen months old, having only taken his first steps when he left, to now run, in full recognition, excitement and love into the arms of his dad, crumbling around him, was beautiful beyond compare. Physically you could not mistake the time between us, carrying large and heavily, the pride of the belly of his waddling swollen wife, was met with a long coming relief, we were home, together as a family, reunited again.

Arriving in France I guess you could say I was somewhat perplexed, my impression of France, as we tend to stereotype most countries, was that of a provincial, Parisian type, quaint and artisanal. Anyone who has lived in the South of France will know that ‘le Sud‘ is structurally, culturally and personably different, a community unto its own. It’s hot, stiflingly hot, the people are all gloriously dark and tanned with a thick twangy southern French accent and the arid, Mediterranean landscape is bafflingly breathtaking. It completely throws your expectations but there is something very special and unique about the South of France. The Big Man, having been here for some time now organizing life for us here in France, revelled in the opportunity to play tour guide and to show us all what our new home, Narbonne, had to offer. Proudly he whisked us off to see the sites, magical days at Carcassonne Castle, blissfully lazy afternoons swimming in the Mediterranean Sea and our favourite, breakfast and grocery shopping at the local indoor market, Les Halles, where he confidently practised and used his French to introduce us to all the local butchers, ‘fruitiers’, restaurateurs he had come to know and in an inviting, welcoming familiarity, these new faces later became our close friends. Everything was going smoothly. It was a wonderfully fulfilling time of reconnection and new connection.

Once the eagerness and excitement of our arrival settled and toward the end of our first week here, practicalities of establishing our new life here came into play and little things that made a home a home were beginning to need attention, so on the Friday we made plans to make the most dreaded of trips to IKEA. I say this with tongue and cheek but we as a family, as I think many families do, brace ourselves for a day at IKEA! Arguments are always almost a certainty, the misplacing of a child a possibility, and the buying of unnecessary quirky kitchen utensils a guarantee. We came, we saw, we conquered (just barely) and on the long drive home, IKEA being in the next major city, Montpellier, an hour from our little village, the Hurricane, exhausted, now sleeping slumped in the back seat, amongst a sea of efficiently packed Swedish boxes, I sat tired and contented with my arms wrapped around my belly feeling the gentle stirrings of my Beau rolling and rocking within me. In the whirlwind of arriving I really hadn’t found time to sit and just be with my baby, all mothers will know what I mean, those quiet, silent moments when it’s just the two of you, the noise of the rest of the world softens for just a short time and you are bound, completely in touch with this remarkable little being, it’s just you and your baby. He stirred so much for that drive and for most of the night, lively, vibrant, almost innocently playful, playing with his mummy, as though he was smiling, happy. That time, in truth was the last time I definitively and with strength felt him move.

With no major plans for our Saturday we made our way to the beach for more time as a family, the Big Man would be starting intense pre-season training soon so we wanted to make the most of the summer and our time together. Caught up in the fun of the day, it wasn’t really until we made our way home, the Hurricane now wiped out and ready for an afternoon nap and me finally with my feet up on the couch, cup of tea in hand, taking a moment in the quiet, that I made the conscious time to sit and feel my little one wriggle. Silence. Not a slight shift in position making himself comfortable or a fluttering, twitching kick. Silence. I thought to myself he must just be sleeping, it had been a big active day of external rocking and rolling the peaceful quiet is just as relaxing, restful for him. Initially having no movement, alarm bells soft, muffled they didn’t ring, he was always quiet my gentle little soul. I had become accustomed to the slower pace he lived by compared to the constant whirlwind of his big brother.

Hours passed and I began to become more aware that I still had not felt any strong purposeful movements, no solid kick or shifting shoulders, no tucking elbow against my ribs or rushing, pedalling feet. Still subduing my worry I made deliberate attempts to get him wriggling, a big cold glass of water, the rush of the chilled freshness always encouraged a flutter, nothing, a jiggle and tickle of my tummy, normally prompted a mischievous ‘stop it’ kick, nothing. Drawing myself a nice, warm bath, this will do it, he loved the water, the lovely, stretching slow movements of a calm, contented baby, nothing. He was quiet. He was still.

Going to bed that night my body ached with the creeping, crawling angst of fear, of worry, of bitter yearning, “please just let me know you are ok”. That numbing, gnawing feeling and knowing that something just isn’t right. I think every woman at some point in their pregnancy has moments of need, a need from your little one to give you a reassuring nudge from within and that time, that consuming waiting, tingles and pulls, weighs down upon you, heavy, solid, suffocating. You can’t breathe, you can’t think, every sense armed and poised, waiting. I close my eyes, restlessly I fall asleep, sure that I will feel something, anything, ‘you’re over-thinking, he’s a quiet little soul, you’ve felt this way before, you’ve checked him, not once, but three times before and every time he’s been fine’.

Sunday, slowly I inch my way, sliding along the mattress as elegantly as all heavily pregnant women shuffle out of bed. As I stand I feel a slow, gentle roll forward from within, it didn’t feel right, limp, lifeless, not an exertion or a rocking shift. I put it out of mind, perhaps out of denial, perhaps based on hope but I made the effort to feel the movement as a reassurance, a mantra, he was ok. Deep down, in the depths of it all, I knew he wasn’t but the rational, fearful mind can and does strongly take over your knowing, motherly, intuition. Being a Sunday in France everything is closed, the bustle of the village is changed to a slow paced promenade of rest. Even with the rising panic we began to feel helpless not knowing who to contact or where to go with our concern. Morbidly I remember a raggedly, overwhelmed and emotionally strained conversation with my beautiful friend, my kindred mother, back home in Aus, worried and concerned she instructed me without a hesitation to just go to a doctor, even now I can see my text…I know that even if I went now, if I haven’t felt him moving, he’s already gone.

Monday morning, still riddled with uncertainty, the faint lifeless rolling confusing and clouding my reasoning, we decided to seek help and put my fears to rest. I just needed to hear his heartbeat. Meeting with the team’s coach that day, a fellow Australian, he contacted the team’s doctor who immediately made an appointment for us with an obstetrician at the local hospital. Quickly, hurriedly, we made our way to l’hopital de Narbonne. Once there we were confronted by a wall of language barrier, and a complicated system we didn’t understand, different to what we knew back home. Tensions rising, using limited, broken French we fumbled and mumbled as best we could, sent in every different direction, following flustered pointed gestures, trying desperately to read, to understand, foreign words and signage. Finally, late, at the peak of panicked frustration we found the correct department. Sitting in the waiting room, slowly calming, regaining control, we sat, together but in many ways alone, annoyed with each other for reasons really unknown to the other, a mix of emotions for a difficult situation made all the more complex with barriers we weren’t at all prepared for. I don’t think you fully appreciate or comprehend the ability to communicate until it’s taken from you.

Madame ‘SH’ ‘I’ ‘UNN’ (Sheehan), was that us? Are they calling us? Yes that must be for us…the poor nurse struggling to pronounce our name, a complexity of sounds rarely seen together in the French tongue; gathering a tired, bored Hurricane who, with a patience I hadn’t seen in him before, had been carted and carried from pillar to post with two parents immensely absorbed in the chaos, we made our way to the doctor’s office. Waiting to greet us was a genuinely warm, caring, gentle man, softly spoken with a comforting smile. No English but the concern was understood. Cautiously guiding me to the examination chair, he carefully prepared me for a sonogram. Holding the Hurricane in his arms I could see the eagerness on the Big Mans face, the realization struck me, this would be the first scan, the first time he would be seeing our baby, an undeniable excitement for all parents and I could see him fascinated peering at the screen. Slowly becoming clearer, there he was, our boy, our beautiful baby boy, the outline of his head, his face, his arms, his legs, his hands and feet, his big round belly, my eyes scanning quickly resting on his chest, the white light, the blinking flash of light, gone, no flicker, just still. Everything slowed around me, looking at my husband I could still see hopeful joy on his face, still just happy to finally see his boy, intrigued, with our Hurricane wriggling and wrestling in his arms, I feel a hand, soft, somber, delicate, take mine, looking, the doctors eyes, sad, meet mine and tapping on his chest I hear him say the words ‘non le coeur’ …no heartbeat.

Screaming in utter disbelief I hear my husband’s voice cracking ‘No!’ crumbling, folding to his knees, the Hurricane, frightened by the emotion wrapping himself around me, I rock, back and forth, tears breaking, fallen, heaving, broken, my husband, now arms around me, crying, sobbing, words spoken, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, you knew, I should have listened, I’m sorry”. I will never forget that ‘No’ from his lips, the sound it made, the heartbroken gasp before he spoke, it split me, struck me to depths I’ll never be able to reach or remove it from. I can still see the doctor slowly moving around us, making arrangements and we, held together as one, our small family, together, cried, hearts splintering, together in each other’s pain.

Control now taken from us we were moved, nurses, eyes full of solace, condolence, an empathetic, unknown language spoken to us, gently guided us to the delivery wing where we were lead and left, alone in our grief, in a private room where I would stay for the coming days waiting to deliver our son. Perhaps now in a state of shock, I lay against the bed, fragile and quiet, soft tears still rolling down my cheeks. The Hurricane, for once calm, almost knowingly, playing contently alone with his cars on the floor. Picking up the phone I call home, the click of connection, my mum’s happy voice at the end of the line and in one howling breath I cry “he’s gone”. Raw and openly grieving now I fumble the phone to my husband unable to speak, unable to think, incapable of putting into words the pain, the loss. Months later my mum would remind me of the significance of what I’d said, consumed by the agony of the moment I hadn’t realized, but as she reminded me I hadn’t said ‘we’ve lost him’ but rather, in some knowing way, I’d said ‘he’s gone’ perhaps as I’d worried, I’d checked him repeatedly, I’d had a sense of fragility, in some small way a part of me knew he was always going. I’ll never know.

Operating almost robotically, the Big Man continued to call our family and friends back home, the same disbelief, the same hysteria muffled at the end of the line and each time I watched him break, hurting with every touch of the distance between the love and support we had, so far from us right now. It is remarkable how people, some almost strangers to us, can rally together, giving their help, their support, giving themselves in a time of need. Friends we had only just met swooping in and quite literally taking our Brody, our Hurricane, without question or hesitation, knowing that all we had was each other. I don’t think we can ever truly express the grateful thanks we will always have for them for making a hopeless situation just that little bit easier.

Doctors coming and going, some trying as best they can to explain timelines and procedures in broken English, others unable to, forced to speak simplified French to blank staring faces. Having delivered the Hurricane by c-section it was intended that Beau would be delivered the same way, but as it was expressed to us, perhaps frankly and unintentionally harsh, that here in France, they won’t scar the uterus for a baby that won’t be born living, I would be delivering him naturally. Dumbfounded my thoughts raced, I don’t know how to deliver a baby naturally, I didn’t with the Hurricane, I’ve never even been to a birthing class! From a darker more fearful, frightened place it struck me, how am I going to have the strength to push through the pain when I have nothing to push for? When I know my baby will never cry?

I am numb, the stale scratch of the white cotton sheets of my hospital bed grate across my skin. Alone in the quiet, in the dark of my room, the Big Man gone now for the night checking on our Hurricane, packing and preparing for a stay we hadn’t expected, unable to stay with me, I lay, cradling my swollen, lifeless belly, hand nestled against it, still connected to the physicality but disconnected from the life, the life and the soul you feel within you, it was gone. Here alone over the coming days is where my inner self, shattered, wandered darkly, lost in a sea of raw, brutal emotion. It is here that I want to be honest, from a place of truthful openness of feeling during this cold time of waiting. It may be confronting but to understand the depths of my grief, the feelings that etched within me, it needs to be.

I am a coffin. My body that once carried hopeful life, now carries helpless death. I move and I feel the lifeless, heavy body of my son clunk and tumble forward within me. It feels cripplingly different to the wonderful rolls and kicks of life. It is morbidly silent, still, unnatural. It eats away at you, knowing that all you have left is their body. You will never feel anything but the weight of them again. For two days I waited, I sat, holding, carrying, knowing that my child was dead and he was still inside me. Anger, heartbreak, pity, despair an unimaginable loathing and grief. It was here that subconsciously I built a wall around me, a disconnecting, unfeeling wall, as the reality of what I’d become was too great to bare. I wanted to be released from this tomb, released from the physical confines, to just be released so I could hold him, I could feel him in my arms and look upon him, to just hold my son, my baby, to tell him I’m sorry I couldn’t hold on, to tell him I loved him and I’m sorry that for reasons I will never understand, physically, we are apart. To no longer carry him, to cradle him as I’m meant to. To let go. To say goodbye.

The night before delivery I was given two small white pills, these tiny fragments, in one moment, in one action would start the process of inducing labour, the final step. Such a surreal and numbing feeling, it was all such a physical concept to me by this stage, emotionally I had nothing left to give, not anger, nor sadness, no angst or apprehension, I had become programmed and technical, knowing I had to be strong, not just for the pain but knowing I couldn’t let myself concave completely, not yet, I had to get through tomorrow, I had to support the physical as I knew the emotional would break every inch of me once I took this final step in our journey, connected physically, together.

Morning, with my husband by my side, he was so quiet, changed, almost stripped bare, standing on unstable ground, robbed of a strength I had become so used to seeing in him through his work, here now he was weakened, withered, beaten, completely broken. Again, two more pills and our last time of waiting. After speaking with our great friend and Doctor back home, because it was too difficult at this point to try to understand any explanation in French, we knew that because we had been induced, once the contractions started, it would all happen relatively quickly.

Laying there together in a combined silence, my hand still gently stroking my swollen belly I felt the rippling, creeping tensions of my first contraction. So subtle at first, gradually becoming more intense. Moving slowly with my midwives, these women, these two remarkable women, filled with an understanding and a beautiful empathy for me, for us, even if they couldn’t express it in words, I honestly don’t believe I could have got through the delivery without them. Moving slowly with these two pillars of strength, we were transferred to the delivery room, hand in hand with my husband.

As the contractions became heavier, deeper, pulsating intensely through my body the anaesthetist arrived. In a situation such as ours all I expected was warmth, but here, in the height of pain and emotion was the only time I encountered someone cold. In a very detached, matter of fact way, she told me ‘c’est la vie’ quite brutally, ‘that’s life’. It washed over me like a bee sting, insurmountable compared to the pain of birth and the pain of grief I was already experiencing. Agreeing to an epidural, I was hurriedly crumpled forward bracing for the needle. In it went, the piercing sting of steel, she had missed, yet rather than remove the needle and try again she began to dig around, working and moving it in the space of my spine. Grabbing one hand each I could see the worried looks of my midwives, my husband, grey, in tears, was hurried out the room for fear of vomiting. I clenched my teeth, breathe. Satisfied she had succeeded, she was gone, as quickly and with an air of inconvenience as when she came.

As the pain continued to grow reflecting the vibrations of each reverberating contraction it became apparent to my midwives, to my husband and infinitely to me that my epidural hadn’t worked but the window of opportunity for drugs had now closed. Reflecting on it all now, in many ways, I’m glad it hadn’t worked, the pain in some primal, baser way helped me to connect to the whole experience. I was present to the pain, I could attach myself to it and attach the pain of my grief, the pain of my loss, my wretched bitterness and desperation, was attached, transformed and carried on the physical agony. The brief moments of calm between contractions I wallowed in it, exhausted, what only is a minute can stretch and feel like hours of long sleep. Here I rested with Beau, here we were together in white noise, together, lovingly holding each other’s hand, taking each gentle step forward together, as one.

Push, it was here, that surging, uncontrollable pressure, the fight over, that last ounce of strength pulled upon, pressure building again. Push, push, push…

I scream, I scream from pain, I scream from grief, I scream from anger, anguish a bitter, desperate why,? Why my boy, my baby boy, our son, our child, why? That moment of painful release and I let go, I let him go and physically for the final moment we are no longer locked as one. Our connected bodily journey over, and for a brief moment I am quiet, empty, hanging weightless in the air of it.

Over the haze I can hear my husband’s cracking, broken voice filter in ‘he’s here, he’s here’. Placed in my arms is the small, fragile and achingly lifeless body of my son. Beautifully and with love the midwives, these foreign speaking Angels had wrapped him and maternally placed a beanie on his head. I want to say I was there. I long to say I was present in it all but the truth, the sad lonely truth of it all is that I wasn’t, I had disconnected myself from it all. Whether as a protective mechanism or a primal, intimate knowledge, I couldn’t absorb the moment. I held him, I breathed him in, I kissed his head, his cheeks his lips, I felt the weight of him against my chest and his cradled curve in my arms, but I knew he was gone, that perfect soul I had been connected to, he had left me, I had lost him and he was gone.

Despite my disconnection, when it came time to let him go, to let go of the final piece of him, my son, I ached. To let him leave my arms meant that last tangible touch would be gone forever. That physical distance between us becoming deeper and further as they carried him away. I can still now feel the weight of him, the density of his body upon me, I don’t believe a mother ever forgets how their children feel from the first moment they are placed in their arms. It is comforting with that knowledge that I can, at anytime, go back to that moment and to let myself connect, to allow myself to be present and to give myself just one more minute, one more moment with him in my arms.

Together, wrapped in the arms of my husband and the midwives, we wept, openly and together in an understood sadness and grief. I grieved, he and I together as one grieved in the most honestly raw, vulnerable and connected grief.

Laying back down upon my bed, exhausted, fragmented, shattered, it is difficult to describe the utterly broken splintering of yourself, the pulling of the physical and emotional crushing of exhaustion, I close my eyes. Bring myself to feel it, I cradle my now soft, empty belly and I weep, no screaming, no anger, just the billowing and flowing of gentle tears for my sadness, for my loss and for the aching distance I now feel between he and I, between Beau, my son. It is incredible the capacity a heart has and can take, to have in it all at once all encompassing love and longing despair. I was no longer in pain but I ached, I ached to have him next to me, to hear the soft, subtle rise and fall of the chest of peacefully sleeping newborn, the little grunting night noises they make, the twitching and the shifting as they dream, the hungry or I just need you rising cry, but there was nothing, just silence and I ached and I wept, alone in the silence, for the newborn noises, for the noises of my baby.

As I woke, for the first time in days, the sun shone brightly through the window. Unbelievably we had storms and rain for days but here today the sun broke through. Excitedly I was met but my beautiful Hurricane, suddenly so much older than I had ever seen him. They say that you never truly see your child for the age they are until you have a younger following them, and I found that to be true. The last time I saw him he was my baby and now before me was this vibrant, full of life toddler. Sadness still etched across my husband’s face I carefully dressed in the clothes I had worn while I still carried our baby boy. Face dropping he almost pitifully gasped, “your tummy – it’s just gone”. The physical changes and reality in many ways solidifying the days just past and again the weight of it grew heavier on both our shoulders. My Hurricane in one hand and my husband by my side, arm protectively wrapped around my waist, we began to make our way home, together as our little family, still fragile, shaken and with a long road ahead but I just wanted to be home, with my boys, together.

We were changed, weaker, weary and in many ways scarred, but in the same breath we were stronger, closer, not just as a couple but as a family. We were together. We had each other. For now, with the journey ahead, all we needed was the love and new found strength between us as we prepared to take, together, each day, just one step at a time…

For our Beau, born sleeping 19/06/2014, our child, our son, our perfect, beautiful baby boy, I love you, the pain I felt in losing you will never compare to love I feel and the love I carry for you. This was your story, it is not finished, every day you write a new chapter with me and not a day goes by that I don’t miss you, think of you, sometimes with a smile, sometimes with a tear. I love you but as I cannot hold your hand as we walk this life together, I will, forever carry your beautiful soul in my heart.

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The Mighty Quinn

john_denham_the_mighty_quinnAs written by John Denham, father of  Quinn and Freya:

Much to our delight, on May10th 2014, The Golden Cycling Club opened a new mountain bike trail in Golden, British Columbia called “The Mighty Quinn” in honour of our son Quinn. This showing of community support has provided us with unbelievable healing and has opened the conversation about the loss of a child.

This trail was built and conceived by Rick Seward and Brady Starr and championed by the club president at the time, Chad Jennings. It is Golden’s first machine-made trail and it is descent only. This is also significant because this trail is one of the best in Golden and has become a favourite. It has seriously become the trail on everyone’s lips. Local and visiting riders hear the story or often they ask about the teddy bear on the trail sign. As a result, the silence about stillbirth is broken.

The trail opening was attended by our adopted daughter, Freya. She was four days old at the time and we love that her first introduction to our community was in honour of her big brother. This year I rode the trail with Freya, and some friends. (Yes, we rode slowly and carefully and yes, it was healing)

I miss Quinn and I thought I would share this story of community healing and the breaking of silence on stillbirth with the Stillbirth Foundation of Australia.

Quinn would have been three years old in June 2015. For his birthday, his father John submitted a story of what the the Golden Cycling Club in Canada has done to break the silence on stillbirth.

top photo: John Denham, wife Kristy and daughter Freya

 

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Above: The group who attended the opening of the Mighty Quinn trail.

Below: John Denham, daughter Freya, friend Jan Kotyk with his son Asher.

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Golf Day 2015

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The Stillbirth Foundation Australia invites you and your company to join us for the Annual Stillbirth Foundation Charity Golf Day to be held at the magnificent Concord Golf Club on Thursday 25th June 2015.

Please find further information about the event including registration form and sponsorship opportunities here: Stillbirth Foundation Charity Golf Day

 

 

The MONT 24 Hour Race

The MONT is a classic weekend of mountain biking and possibly the best weekend of bike loving fun going. Whether you are a first timer or a hard core mountain biker, the MONT is a must-do event experience. The ride is defined by the following description:

“It’s catching up with mates you haven’t seen all year.  Trying to beat the team captain.   Cranking off the best night lap.  Stumbling amongst a sea of tents.  A great excuse to buy new bike bits.  Wondering why you do it at 3am in the morning.  Saying you are in it just for fun but seriously trying to beat the field.  The great mix of all types of riders that compete.  Wishing you remembered your pillow.  Looking for the best cappuccino fix.  The massages.  The local derby between friendly teams.  Eating as much food as you want all night long.  Discovering there is some sweet new single track.  Being more excited than a wolverine zipped up in a sleeping bag full of prairie dogs.  The mechanical that converts your bike into a scooter at the halfway mark.  Keeping up with a Pro rider for 5 corners before your legs give out.  Vowing it will be 6 when the next one shoots past.   Checking out the latest bikes.  Drinking Red Bull and Gu till your head spins.  Standing at transition wondering where the heck your next rider is. The bravado of claiming you were close to the 4 note 12 second fart.  Claiming 5 riders at each climb.  Coaxing your lights through the last 2km.  Slipping on someone else’s knicks just before your next lap.  Double flatting and realising one of your team took your pump to inflate their bed.  Half an hour after the event thinking it’s one of the best things you have done all year.  Putting your hand up to ride the last lap.  The questions raised at 3am and -5 degrees. Wok fried bacon at 6am.  Having great fun.  Taking the next day off work.  The beer at 24hrs and 10 seconds.  Packing up and agreeing to do it all again next year.”

Please find further information about the ride here: The Mont 24 Hour Race

You can join the Team Stillbirth here: The Mont 24 Hour Race – Team Stillbirth

Sports Power has designed riding jerseys for the Stillbirth Foundation, which are available for purchase:

Stillbirth Foundation Jerseys

Please contact our Team Leader for further information about the ride and the jerseys:

Aaron David
0408 739 312
adavid.lbs@gmail.com

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International survey

The International Stillbirth Alliance and Mater Research Institute – The University of Queensland are undertaking a study to reduce stillbirth and to improve care for families who experience this devastating event.
They have developed two surveys:

1. for parents who have had a stillborn baby
http://materresearch.checkboxonline.com/parents.survey

2. for general community members
http://materresearch.checkboxonline.com/community.survey

The surveys cover: Demographic information about the person completing the survey; Language and stigma around stillbirth; and Public awareness of stillbirth risk factors.

The survey of parents covers the above plus: Quality of care in pregnancy and around the time of stillbirth; Bereavement care and memory creation; The psychosocial impact and financial costs of stillbirth; and Investigations to determine cause of death.

The survey of parents will take 20-30 minutes and the survey of community members 10 minutes to complete.

The results of the surveys will be presented in The Lancet, as part of a follow-on series on Stillbirths to be launched in late 2015.

Thank you, Running Mums Australia

That’s a huge shout out to Running Mums Australia. Thank you so much for raising $5000 for the Stillbirth Foundation Australia.

Running Mums Australia is an Australian wide running community for mums. The running community welcomes any mum who loves to run, talk about running and fitness in general, diet and exercise.
Please visit their website for further information: Running Mums Australia

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Stillbirth in the Media

The birth of a baby who has died is a devastating and sad event that is life changing. The Stillbirth Foundation Australia feels it is important to share personal stillbirth experiences to demonstrate the reality of stillbirth and we recognise the courage of families who do so. We sincerely thank those families in the following stories for sharing their babies with others.

“This man is running for hope – please share to support his cause”