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Tuesday 10 May 2011

Stillbirth: Angela's story

In writing the piece on stillbirth and miscarriage (click here for that piece) I turned to a friend who I know has experienced a stillbirth.

My friend Angela, a old school buddy, recounted her experience, in her own words. It moved me so much, I felt it needed a seperate blog post. Here's what Angela said:

"We lost our beautiful baby girl at 33 weeks gestation (approximately seven months). Erin's passing is officially "an unexplained stillbirth" meaning there was no obvious reason for why she died. I had experienced one day where there was little movement the month before but scans showed she was fine. A month later another day of no movement. A scan in our OB's room showed her to be alive and her heart was beating. We were asked to go to the hospital for a CTG, it was there that we learned she had passed away.

"I was watching the monitor and I couldn't see her heart beating and after a few more looks around our OB formally advised us our daughter had died. I was already crying before he said it but I just started sobbing and hyperventilating. I managed to pull myself together to say I wanted to go home and I would come back in the next day to deliver her. I chose c-section because I didn't want to wait for nature to take its course.

"I remember asking, as soon I came to, "was it true?" I was hoping for some sort of miracle but it wasn't to be. I had lots of cuddles before I had to say goodbye. To say I was devastated was an understatement. My world changed forever that day. As a mother you should never have to walk out of hospital without your baby. As a parent you should not bury a child.

"Life went on around me, pretty soon after the funeral people stopped asking if I was okay and if I didn't have Alex I am not sure what I would have done. He was my sunshine and my reason to keep living, to keep getting up every day.

"Nearly three and a half years on and I think of her every day. I am not the same person I was before Erin died.

"I still have days where I have a cry and wish she was here with us. I know I am extremely lucky to have my two boys, but I will live my life always feeling like I am missing something. It really is hard to explain what it's like. I just take each day as it comes."

Angela's pain is palpable, and has understandably not subsided. Not having experienced a stillbirth myself (although my mother has, and I have cried buckets for her) I can only imagine how she feels.

With the Small Miracles Foundation launching the first National Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month, bringing hope to thousands of Australian families affected every year by infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and infant loss, they have released some alarming stats:

• In Australia today, one in four pregnancies ends in a loss.
• Each year in Australia over 70,000 babies die from miscarriage, stillbirth or complications resulting from premature birth.
• One in every 10 babies is born prematurely with over half of these babies ending up in intensive care.
• A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before the baby has reached 20 weeks of development (this figure may vary in some countries between 20-24 weeks), at which it’s considered life outside the womb is possible.
• A still birth is the loss of a baby born after 20 weeks gestation – the baby is said to be born ‘still’, with no sign of life.
• It is estimated that 2-5 per cent of couples trying to conceive will experience recurrent pregnancy loss, defined by three or more consecutive losses. Unfortunately a treatable cause can only be identified in about 30 per cent of the cases. In spite of this, 75 per cent of couples with a history of recurrent loss will experience a successful subsequent pregnancy.

Comparative statistics are equally alarming:
- Australian road fatalities = 1400 per year
- Babies lost through stillbirth each year = 2000 per year

- Total of all cancer deaths = 36,000 per year
- Total of all deaths due to miscarriage and stillbirth = over 70,000 per year

- Sudden Infant Deaths = 71 in 2007 1 in 10 babies are born prematurely (approx. 17,500 each year)

All of the Foundation’s services are provided free of charge to families across Australia, and the Foundation also counsels and supports 17,000 families each year.

For more information, see: http://www.lightacandle.org.au/ or see http://www.smfoundation.org.au/
(Image taken from: http://www.lightacandle.org.au/)


  1. Josie

    Kate and I, as you know, have lost 6 pregnancy's on our 5 year IVF journey so this story really rang a chord with us.

    We are now involved with TLC - Teddy Love Club where Kate is the Western Australia State Coordinator.

    TLC seeks to provide support to those who lose a child during pregnancy or still birth. As well as resources we provide a Teddy Bear as a rememberance of the lost little one. Something for parents to hold on to instead of leaving hospital with empty arms.

    We came to be involved as we lost our first baby at 7 weeks. We went for our first ultra sound and we were show the baby and told that there was no heart beat. We were then taken to a windowless room and left for 45 minutes. We were then told that there was nothing to be done and that Kate should make an appointment for a D&C.

    The whole thing was heartless and incredibly painful for both of us. We did not where to turn or what to do.

    It was very shortly after this that we decided that no one should ever have be alone and go through what we went through and that is why we are involved with TLC.

    To Angela, both Kate and I say that we are so sorry for your loss. But remember that you are never alone. There are others just like you out there that have also felt your pain but who are more than willing to be a shoulder to lean on for support.

    Like you we never knew our little ones and we still feel the pain everyday. We think of them everyday.

    Kate and I will say a special word in our prays for you and for Erin.

    Stay strong and know you are not alone

    John & Kate De'Laney (jdecu@iinet.net.au)

  2. Thanks for sharing this story, it's very touching.

    In my counseling course, we watched a beautiful documentary, "Losing Layla" which you and your friends may also find worth watching...


    The one thing I learned personally in my own experience in becoming a mother is that it is never as easy or as straightforward as we may have once thought. The statistics are actually quite staggering in terms of what can go wrong and it tends to be one of those taboo topics that people don't really know how to talk about, so simply don't... when quite often that is when we need support the most.

    Kudos to you all for opening up and sharing on the topic, and indeed - you are not alone.

    All the best,