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‘My mum helped me through Mother’s Days after my babies died’

Jess and her beautiful familyMother’s Day, a celebration of motherhood. Chocolates, flowers and breakfast in bed.

A day to look forward to being spoiled by your children.

But for so many mums across Australia, who have experienced the death of a baby, it is a stark and painful reminder of a motherhood lost and a future that is no longer.

Jessica, whose son Lincoln died, an hour after he was born, knows this pain too well.

“I was 22 weeks pregnant when I began to experience major abdominal pain. We went to the hospital where we were assured that the pain was just the result of urinary tract infection. They gave me a heat pack and told me to go home.

The pain got worse so we went to another hospital. I could hardly walk so my husband dropped me at the front door and I managed, somehow, to waddle in. We were seen to immediate, luckily because pretty quickly my waters broke.

It felt like the whole hospital went into chaos. I remember that I had around twenty doctors surrounding me. Next my blood pressure crashed and I became unconscious. Before I knew it I started to labour and Lincoln was born. The doctors and midwives tried to take my placenta out but I bled profusely and was rushed to surgery, where I haemorrhaged on the table.

During this time, Lincoln passed away. Roughly an hour after he was born.

Jess holds her stillborn baby boy Lincoln

At first, I went into auto mode, planning the funeral. I managed to get through the funeral without shedding many tears. Then it hit my like a tonne of bricks. Nothing could have prepared me for the days, weeks and months – the heartbreak, pain and devastation.

After being given the all clear to try again, we fell pregnant after months of trying again, but after 9 weeks, I didn’t feel right and had a scan. The scan confirmed there was no heartbeat. We went on to have 2 more early pregnancy losses. Today we have two beautiful children age 4 and 3.

Mother’s Day for any mum who has lost a baby is difficult, especially while that pain is raw and recent.

After Lincoln’s death and my other losses, Mother’s Day was a struggle. It was hard not to be jealous of other people, feel angry, sad and alone.

Fortunately, I worked as a chef back then, so it was a busy day and I didn’t have much time to focus on my losses on the day itself.

I’d always call my mum to say ‘Happy Mother’s Day’. She would say sorry and we’d both cry and then I would go back to work and think about the next meal to send out. My mother was my rock, she knew what I was thinking even when I could make sense of it.

My first Mother’s Day with my living children was spent in hospital with mastitis on a drip full of antibiotics. So I ended up feeling sorry for myself. It was a blessing in disguise, as I had a bit more time to get used to there being something to celebrate on Mother’s Day, instead of yet, another year of being jealous, angry, frustrated, sad and alone.

To anyone else in this devastating position this Mother’s Day, my message to you is be nice to yourself, do whatever you feel you need to do on that day. If that’s nothing or if it’s going for a drive to a vacant land to scream at the world, then that’s what you do.

If you feel up to it, bring your child into the day in some way; it can be lighting a candle, looking at ultrasound pics, writing a letter to you child or looking at clothes you’d bought in preparation.”

To family and friends, my advice is to just listen to the bereaved mum, don’t offer advice, don’t try to take the pain away (because you can’t unfortunately). Just been there for them, without judging them. Show them love and if you can make a meal then do it, don’t wait for an invitation or to be asked.”

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The Bub Hub is proud to support Sands

Every year in Australia, more than 96,000 families are faced with the devastating and heartbreaking tragedy of their baby dying during pregnancy or shortly after birth.

Sands is a not-for-profit organisation that provides emotional support and information to parents and families who experience the death of a baby, as well as offering resources and education to healthcare professionals. Sands Volunteer Parent Supporters offer a real sense of understanding and hope; they too have been through the devastating loss of a baby. Phone 1300 072 637 or visit www.sands.org.au

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