Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Taken from the PILARI website:

International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (Oct 15th).
People from every country are invited to add their name to this petition.
Oct. 15th is already recognised annually as International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in other countries in the world, such as the USA and in parts of Canada.
PILARI has been lobbying Australian politicians to have this official Day declared since June 2008. So far there has been uncontested support from both sides of Parliament House, but the process continues.
This petition is being brought to the Australian federal government, asking for the official recognition (every year) of Oct 15th as International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day across Australia.
To sign the petition to have International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day officially recognised in Australia, click here.
Thank you.

Monday, August 30, 2010

You Were

Kathy writes: "I wrote a song with some friends using the words and ideas I heard in my work as a bereavement support nurse." 
I had a look on YouTube and was very moved by the beautiful lyrics and music. It is definitely worth having a listen, especially if you are a Babylost parent.
Thank you, Kathy, for sharing such a beautiful piece of musical art.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

PILARI Publication

PILARI (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness and Research Institute) recently published Sybella's Birth Story on their website.
This website has many amazing articles for bereaved parents. If you are one, take the time to have a look around. There are many pieces of writing to relate to.

Beauty In The Breakdown

Stephanie Paige Cole of The Sweet Pea Project has published my poem entitled 3 Months in her Beauty in the Breakdown Gallery.
There are some beautiful  and heart-stopping pieces of work from many bereaved parents in this online gallery. Take some time to have a look. You will be amazed.
Thank you Stephanie.


I am very honoured to have had my writing reproduced in so many esteemed publications so far.
Kimberly from Fertility Flower has published pieces of my writing on her blog Fertile Imagination, SANDS SA (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support, South Australia) has published some of my work also.
I am proud to share two more samples of my published work in the following two posts.

Sybella's Ashes

Sybella's body was cremated on the 6th of May 2010. The idea of cremation has the ability to be distressing, because of what cremation actually entails. But so does the thought of a little body decomposing somewhere. So we chose cremation.
The quintessential social and cultural belief is that ashes of a body should be scattered. Back when Sybella first died, I was bombarded by people about what "will be organised" and "what should be done" and "the proper way to do things." I didnt have the energy or strength to argue or fight it. I am happy with the way things went regarding Sybella's autopsy, viewings, funeral and memorial pieces. But lots of people had their own ideas about the way things should have been.
The cremation of Sybella's body seemed to be widely accepted, but I was met with surprise over what Kelvin and I decided to do with Sybella's ashes.
We kept them.
They sit on her shrine, with her photos and candles, a little white box with a silver nameplate on the top.

The normal expectation seems to be that ashes should be scattered. I think this goes hand in hand with the symbolism that the ashes should be "free" just like the spirit of the person who has died. It's a nice idea. I considered it at first, but only because I thought it was what I "should" do.

Then I got her ashes. All I could think of was that it was my baby in there. If I scattered her, the thought of her "blowing in the wind," in the middle of Winter appalled me. I didnt want her out in the cold, alone, away from us, her family. I wanted Sybella inside.

If she were alive, she would be at home, warm and snug, wrapped up. So that's where her ashes should be. At home, with her family, where she belongs. Warm. Safe. And that's where they are.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fertility Flower Pregnancy Loss Week 2010

This week (August 23-27) is Pregnancy Loss Week over at Fertility Flower's blog, Fertile Imagination.
Yesterday they published my post entitled Mothering After Loss and today Sybella's birth story was featured (click here to view original story).
Kimberly from Fertility Flower has constructed this blog carnival in a most respectful and wonderful way. She honours the mothers who have contributed stories as well as their babies. It is a lovely way to view the stories and perspectives of others who have lost children also.
If you are a Babylost Mother, I invite you to hop on over and check out some of the other posts...you will definitely find something to relate to.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Other People's Babies

Other people's babies dont bother me.
When Sybella first died, and even now, many many people were very concerned about how I would react when confronted with a newborn baby, especially a girl.
When I went to pick up Sybella's hand and feet mouldings, the owner was mortified that she was moulding another new baby's hands when I showed up. She apologised profusely and said she had tried to arrange it so I wouldnt have to see any newborns. I shrugged it off.
Quite a few babies were born shortly after Sybella...and they were girls too. I remained fairly non-responsive about this too. I found it difficult to offer my congratulations, and often waited a few days or even weeks after the birth to do so. But, and this is very important, it was NOT because I was upset about the birth of these babies and felt "jealous" or resentful. I took my time in responding because I didnt want the new parents to feel uncomfortable around me. These new parents had every right to be excited and happy about their new addition...although I wanted Sybella to be acknowledged, I DID NOT want the new parents to feel like they had to hide their baby or down play it's birth because they were worried about how it would affect me and Kelvin. So I let them have their time, and when the initial excitement had died down, I would email or text...it was the best I could do, as it was still a sensitive predicament. Kelvin was better than  me, he phoned personally. I would send my congrats along with him. Because of course, even though I never resented these babies or their parents, it still made me a little bit sad...I thought about what could have been and what should have been. I thought that it so easily could have been me with the new baby. But it wasnt. And yes, every news of a birth sent a pang through me, but at the end of the day, I really wasnt worried about it. Because of this:

That other baby wasnt MY baby. I only wanted MY baby, Sybella. I didnt want just any baby, for the sake of it. I only wanted her. If I saw a friend's new baby, I was able to hold it without sadness and differentiate between it and Sybella. I guess that is healthy, well, I tell myself it is.

So no-one need worry about the effect of new babies (or any aged baby for that matter) on me. Because, as this is my supremely honest blog, I am being very truthful (no brave faces here!) about how seeing another baby affects me. Sybella is the only baby I want. And since that baby isnt Sybella, seeing a baby for me is a non-issue.

I am so proud to be Sybella's mother and I wouldnt replace her for the world. To me, she's very different and much more special (in fact, I feel that way about all angel babies). Sybella is my daughter. Wouldnt change that for anything.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Psychic

Yes, I saw a psychic.
As my friend Hayley would say...a bit "harmy-schwarmy" (love it!) but desperate times call for desperate measures. It was about six weeks after Sybella's birth that I contacted this man and booked a pure clairvoyance reading...one that doesnt use tarot cards, he just looks into my past and future and knows things. Well, some things.
I enjoyed myself, but I also took it with a grain of salt. Mainly, I wanted to know if Sybella was all right. Of course, I cant say with any absolution that this man knew the answer to that definitively, but I guess it was a comfort in some respects.
I arrived and was ushered into a small room filled with candles and tarot reading books. It was quite cosy.
The psychic looked at me and stated "you only want to know about your children." I nodded, as this was correct. I did. He then trod carefully around the next question. "Who has recently died?"
He would have had to think carefully about asking this...even if he DID know Sybella had died. Just in case he was wrong, he couldnt ask a woman he didnt know if she had a dead baby. That woman would freak right out.
I let out my breath and took my time in answering. "My daughter was stillborn 6 weeks ago." The psychic just nodded. "That's a big one," he said. "Wow."
He started at the beginning of my timeline and seemed to know most of my history adequately. He picked up the year in which I got married and when I had Jack. He was accurate on Kelvin's personality, but not Jack's. He started talking about Sybella. He thought that she might have had some lung problems. I dont know about that, as the autopsy was inconclusive. He said that Sybella wanted to be in our family, but it wasnt the right time for her to come. She was coming back to join us, he said. This time, when she came back, she would be healthy and whole and strong, which is what she wanted to do because she wanted to dance. It was all very nice to listen to, but I am not sure whether I believe it all that much. I wanted to...I wanted to think she'd come back to us, but I am a very logical person and have trouble getting my head around it. He spoke about this daughter of ours that would be born in the next two years...I had trouble believing I would have another daughter! I am 99.9% sure our next baby is a boy...if I ever have another girl, I will eat my hat! I think Sybella was my girl and that's what makes her extra special.
The psychic said that our next daughter would be incredibly feminine. Like a pixie. And she would never outgrow it. He said that he could see her at 21, sitting at a table and cutting out lovehearts and butterflies. That sounded cute to me. He said she would be delicate and tiny and a beautiful dancer. All of that made me smile, because it would be lovely to have.
According to him, Sybella was safe and happy and that is all that mattered. She was with a fair skinned, red-haired woman who I think is my great-grandmother. I liked it that she was being looked after. It comforted me immensly.
As for his predictions, time will tell. I'll keep you all posted!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day of Hope

Today, August 19, is Day of Hope. Click here to visit the Day of Hope website.
This endeavour was organised by Carly Dudley of The Grief Effect, as August 19 is the anniversary of the day Carly began writing names of babies in the sand.
Carly says it best herself: "On August 19th we want hospitals from all over the world to be flooded with memory boxes. We encourage all people to take part in this special event regardless of whether they have lost a child or not. By doing this, together we break down the barriers of child loss being a taboo subject in society."
I donated memory boxes, Bears of Hope and copies of Stephanie Paige Cole's book Still to the hospital where Sybella was born today. They were warmly received by the Social Work staff.
In each box, I had a hat, booties, one of Carly's infant loss sympathy cards, blanket, a peace candle, a keepsake "faith" angel, disposable camera, Bears of Hope pamphlet, a Bear of Hope (with Sybella's name and birthday on the little tag) and a copy of Still (with a dedication to Sybella on the inside cover, my email address and Born Still's web address). That way, the family knows that they are not alone...that someone else has endured the same thing that they have. 

A very sucessful day, all in all. As we work to promote Day of Hope, the coming years should bring about even more awareness.
Thank you all for your support. xx

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Incredibly Amazing

Okay, so this has nothing to do with stillbirth or neo-natal loss.


I had to share it. This video is one of the most moving, touching, amazing tributes I have ever seen.
Unfortunately, it was too large to embed right here on the post, so you'll have to follow the link to YouTube: Click: Surprise Military Reunions.
Please trust me...dont bypass this video. It is spectacular.

Warning: have tissues handy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Update #2

Just a quick update to let you know I am off to Coffs Harbour tomorrow, until Tuesday, so I wont get a chance to blog during that time.
I will be preparing many posts upon my return, though, so I will be catching up with you all then!
Have a lovely weekend. xx

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It Happens

I always seem to run into trouble when I am 34 weeks pregnant. 34 weeks was when Sybella died.
When I was 34 weeks pregnant with Jack, I started bleeding heavily and was admitted to hospital for monitoring. They never found out what caused the bleeding, but suspicions were that it was placental. With Jack being a breech baby, and me having an anterior placenta, the concensus was that he'd kicked it and bit had come away. This made even more sense when part of my placenta was retained after birth, despite a c-section...the retained bit was probably the bit he kicked away. Jack was oblivious to the whole deal, while I quietly had a heart attack daily.
I was allowed to go home at 35 weeks when the bleeding stopped. As soon as I got home, I panicked, because if something went wrong now, I wouldnt know about it, and I didnt have the reassurrance of the foetal heart monitor being put on me twice a day.
I had an antenatal appointment at 36 weeks and relayed my concerns to the doctor on duty. I asked him what the incidence of stillbirth was after bleeding late in pregnancy. I was worried that the bleeding meant something sinister (as they werent positive it was placental) and was some kind of warning sign that the baby was in distress. (This wasnt so unusual, as I have since learned, for things to come a cropper so quickly...Sybella never showed any kind of distress prior to her death. She just stopped. There was absolutely no warning.) This doctor was writing in my file as I spoke. He looked up and shrugged his shoulders non-commitally.

"Shit happens," he said.

SHIT HAPPENS? When my tyre goes flat, then shit happens. When the grocery bag breaks, then shit happens. When the washing machine overflows, then shit happens. But the death of a baby?
Back then, I hadnt experienced a stillbirth, and Jack was born two weeks after this comment, on February 10 2006, pink and screaming. I knew how inappropriate, cruel and downright heartless this doctor's comment was then. I knew that even though Jack was alive, there would be some poor woman who delivered a stillborn baby around that time. I hoped and wished that this wouldnt be the doctor on duty for her delivery.
After Sybella's death, I was lying in bed one night, and this memory came flying into my head. I sat bolt upright, heart pounding, at the memory from 4 years ago.
How in the world can a doctor of obstetrics refer to a stillbirth as "shit" happening? It is despicable, is what it is.
We all know what stillbirth is. Tragic, unfair, heart-wrenching, life-stopping.
It deserves a description of much more credence and weight than "shit happens."
I cant even write about it anymore.
So wrong.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

After Matilda

I met Maddie on Mamamia, which is social commentator Mia Freedman's blog.
Maddie's daughter Matilda died when she was only days old. Maddie writes about her daughter at After Matilda. I dont feel like I can give her story justice by telling it here...it is a story of devastation but also pure love and hope. It is beautiful. I encourage you to visit her blog and read for yourself.
Maddie has become somewhat of an idol for me. She manages her grief with such dignity and grace. She allows herself to feel her grief and doesnt apologise for it...and nor should she. But I know that I have been guilty of hiding mine, so as not to make others uncomfortable. Maddie has shown me that first and foremost, I need to be true to my feelings and to Sybella's memory. So I am putting other people's comfort aside and focusing on speaking about Sybella as much as I need to.
Maddie is expecting another baby in approximately nine weeks time. She recently went for an ultrasound and she have given me permission to show the picture of her "Mungbean" as she calls her little one.
Now when I first saw this picture, I got goosebumps. Because I can clearly see her new baby there, facing the camera. But on the right hand side, I am positive that there is a profile of a larger baby, giving the smaller baby a kiss. How can you not say that this is Matilda? It hit me right in the face as soon as I saw it. There is a second baby. And it is Matilda, kissing her sibling and showing her mum and dad that she is okay. The spiritual aspect of this picture is amazing. I have never seen anything like it. For me, this proves that there is a Heaven, a world beyond Earth, filled with peace and happiness. It also proves that these little ones watch over us and want us to be okay. Maddie, you have been an inspiration to me. You have set the path for me to follow in my darkest hour. Your children are magnificent and are lucky to have you as a mother. Thank you.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

For Friends and Family

Link to: For Friends and Family

I posted this link on my Facebook page for Born Still (you can "like" the Facebook page on the sidebar if you wish) because it struck a very strong chord with me.
Carly Marie Dudley of The Grief Effect has come up with a list of ways that friends and family can be of the most help during the aftermath of a baby's death.
Now, I have been amazed at the support and kindness I have received in the previous months. Most people have been invaluable in the way they approached me and my family in the aftermath of Sybella's death. I appreciated honesty and sincerity the most, and I really appreciated when people brought up Sybella without being prompted. Because it meant she really existed to them, as well as me.
So I am not posting this link as some underhanded way of telling people how to behave after a stillbirth or neo-natal death. Because most people already know, and I saw the proof of that after Sybella was born.
I am posting this because I think that Carly has so gently and eloquently articulated the most important ways that a baby can be remembered and honoured by people other than his or her parents and siblings.
Sometimes the hardest part of the grieving process is a few months after. Because for everyone else, life goes on. They forget...not through any fault of their own, but because it hasnt affected them personally. I understand that. Sometimes, though, people are surprised to hear that I am still grieving, three and a half months on. Because life has gone on for them, then it must be going on for me, too. And the daily, trivial tasks continue to appear, of course, but there is always a shadow of pain and loss, every single day, and there will be until the day I meet Sybella in Heaven myself. I dont always show it, but the pain is constantly there. There is always something missing.
So I posted this link, just so people know that there are some wonderful ways to keep honouring that baby that died, and to support your friend or family member.
Take some time to have a look. The information is invaluable.
Thank you, Carly.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I'm Different Now

I'm a different person now. Losing a child does something to a person. Priorities change. Different things matter. I am affected by things I wouldnt otherwise have been affected by a year ago.
Emotions run much closer to the surface. The News isnt just The News anymore. The News brings about tears from me, for the people that have had devastating things happen to them. Especially if it involves children. Last night, Kelvin and I went and spent a night at The Rydges in Cronulla. We wandered around looking for a place to have dinner and saw a family...a father and his three children. The father was walking quickly, holding the hands of his two younger children. The third child, the eldest, hung approximately five metres behind, struggling to keep up with the others. He struggled because he needed a walking frame to walk. The little boy was approximately four or five years old, so the same age as Jack. The father, without even turning his head, called sharply to his son to hurry up. The little boy sped up as fast as he could, while his dad kept walking at a swift pace, one his son would never catch up to, and what's more, he never turned his head to check how his son was doing. When the father started crossing the road without waiting for the little boy, my tears started to fall and an incredible urge came over me to scoop him up and take him home. And spend my life holding his hand as we crossed the road together.
You can make of that story whatever you like. Maybe I was too judgemental. I dont know what their family life is like. But all I saw was a little boy struggling to do what his father asked, despite a disability, and his father giving him no credence. The babylost mother in me just wanted to make it all okay for him.
So yes, children enduring hardship affects me more than ever. It always did...but now it is almost intolerable, the pain from seeing a child suffer.

I am a different person because I probably dont smile as much anymore. It takes a lot for me to really find something funny. People who knew me before Sybella's death may not understand my new demeanour. I have issues with trivial topics and find it hard to make smalltalk. I dont see the point in talking for the sake of it. I also have begun to dislike exclamation marks. Who knows why that is. I dont mind if they are used appropriately...if they are overused, I get frustrated. Perhaps that in itself is trivial?
Some of my changes as a person are not necessarily good. I am a lot less tolerant, I am beginning to lack the ability to give second chances. I may not answer phone calls or emails for ages, and I tend to get incredibly overwhelmed by very small things.
I try to stay mellow and easygoing. I am not always successful. I resent parents who are given healthy, beautiful children that they neglect or dont appreciate...and I have taught a few of those children. Children who (consistently) dont have lunch. Children in (consistently) dirty clothes. Children that (consistently) arent picked up from school until an hour after bell-time. I shouldnt resent these parents, because God has a reason for everything and it isnt my place to judge. But I am human, and not perfect.

This is a very honest post. And I own my changes as a person, and I am aware that they arent all positive. They are all the result of deep grief and I ask for understanding and patience. I may never go back to the "old" Steph. I dont know. I am just taking each day as it comes and riding the wave. Some days are harder than others. Just remember, if it takes me a while to get back to you, it is because of me, not you. It is because I feel vulnerable or overwhelmed. I have days like that.
And to those who stand by me during my darkest hour, those who understand that I am not myself and keep checking in anyway, who harbour patience with me...thank you. It means more that you know.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Just a quick update.
SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support) South Australia have published some of my writing in their August newsletter. I dont think there is an online version, so I cant hyperlink it, but they published my posts Eulogy for Sybella Eve and 3 Months.
I reall hope some babylost mamas read those words and find some comfort that they are not alone on their journey.

Mothering After Loss

This post was written for inclusion in the Pregnancy Loss Week Blog Carnival. Please join us at Fertility Flower for the week of August 23-27, 2010 where we will be featuring articles, posts and artwork about pregnancy loss.

I feel incredibly lucky that I have a living child. The only thing worse than experiencing the death of your child is experiencing the death of your ONLY child.
I remember the day after Sybella was born, and Jack came to visit us in hospital. My eyes welled with tears at the very sight of him. He was so happy to see us, and had no idea what had happened. His innocence was uplifting because for that short period that he visited, I could focus on my little boy bouncing on the bed and his cherubic smile. Telling us about the Wiggles concert he went to, and how he shook hands with Murray! True story, that.
In the days and weeks that followed, Jack was my reason for getting out of bed. He was my guiding light. Granted, sometimes I wanted to curl up in a ball and ignore the world. But for the most part, he gave me a focus and he kept me going. For this I am grateful. I am grateful to Jack. He was my strength.
I found myself fearless about most things after Sybella's death. I thought "the worst has happened to me. What else can happen that is worse than this?" The answer to that, of course, was something happening to Jack. For a time after Sybella died, I found myself checking Jack in his sleep, to make sure he was breathing. One night, he was in between breaths and I panicked, sat up and took his pulse. I kept him in our bed because I needed him in there...to make sure he was okay through the night. I amped up the swimming lessons so that he had increased swimming skills...my mind had gone back to Boxing Day 2009, while on holidays, he fell in the hotel pool. What if I'd lost him then? And then Sybella?
I dont think I could survive that.
My rationale was the opposite of many others. Most people I know live by "it wont happen to me." I live by "if it will happen to anyone, it will happen to me." I am the one who broke her back in a car accident. Luckily it was a minor fracture and it healed perfectly with no problems. I am the one who had a baby that was breech (and only 2% of babies are). I am the one who had a stillbirth.
I have pre-existing anxiety, so I am aware that many of my fears are perceived threats, not actual ones. But I still went out of my way to make sure Jack was safe at all times. I made sure he had someone to play with before I left him at Kindy. I went outside too if he went outside to play.
I began to appreciate him so much more. Of course, I always had appreciated him. I guess it became that much more an intense appreciation and gratitude. I started to relish in his physical beauty. I marvelled at his toes and fingers...they are my favourite part of him. I ached for him when he wasnt with me.
One of the most profound moments of love I had for him was the realisation that he was the main reason for wanting to have another baby. I want him to have a buddy. I want him to have a partner in crime. I cant wait to see those kids in action.
Mothering after loss is quite amazing. The "mama bear" comes out quite potently, because you know just how important your child's little life is and how responsible you are for their happiness and wellbeing. You are grateful for their life and presence. You feel they are extra special because they are yours. They help you keep seeing the wonderful things in life, when your days are otherwise crashing down around you. Their laugh will break through your pain, and their hugs will soften the grief.

I like to call these children "tinkerbells" because they bring light out of the darkness.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bears of Hope Drive

My 30th birthday is looming. On September 15th. I dont feel 30.
30 year olds are GROWN UPS. I still think passing wind is funny. Sorry about that.

Anyway, this year, the only thing I want is Sybella to be alive. Of course, that is not a gift that I will get. But there is nothing else I want, materially.

So, what I am asking my friends and family for, is to make a (tax deductible) donation to Bears of Hope in honour of Sybella. For every $25 raised, Bears of Hope will donate a teddy bear to a family that has been touched by miscarriage, stillbirth or neo-natal death. I have set up a fundraising drive at this web address:


All donations, big or small, are deeply appreciated. Feel free to visit the page, have a look, donate if you wish, and read about Bears of Hope and the wonderful work they do.