Trigger Warning: Infant Loss
A Note from the Editor: Last October 2016, Breastfeeding World supported families who experienced miscarriage, still birth, and Infant Loss.
Our goal- to “Break the Silence” and stigma surrounding their grief during
We are honored to feature mothers willing to commemorate their babies, gone too soon, by giving them a platform to share their experiences. So with that, we are so thankful to the Little Lionheart project for sharing their story of loss, determination, and coping with our Breastfeeding World Community. Please do not grieve alone.
My Journey Through Loss- The Little Lionheart Project
When my husband and I got engaged, only 3 months after we met – we knew we wanted to start a family as soon as possible. We could never have imagined how difficult, devastating and heartbreaking having children could be. We never knew there was a ‘club no one wants join’.
Our first, second and third pregnancies ended in an ectopic and two early miscarriages. Whilst devastating at the time, we knew that we had to keep trying.
We fell pregnant with fraternal twins in September 2012. When we made it past the 12 week ‘safe’ period, the milestone excited us beyond compare. Finally, it was our turn. And to have two babies – amazing! We planned, we painted, we shopped as any expecting parents would.
On the 20th November, whilst at work, my water broke early (a condition known as Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes or PPROM). We lost our first little boy, Junior.
I went straight into hospital and was placed on rest. I waited for a cervical suture to keep our second baby baking away. However, as wait on the operating table 9 days later, my second water broke. Our second twin Alex was born too early.
Diagnosed with an ‘Incompetent Cervix’, I underwent surgery 3 months later to put in a permanent stitch around my cervix. The goal of this is to keep it closed during pregnancy. The stitch is generally considered 95% successful, so when we fell pregnant again in August 2013, we knew our ‘miracle stitch’ was finally going to bring us a baby home.
Still, I felt something ‘wasn’t right’, but dismissed the feeling, thinking I just had some nerves. We went to our morphology scan on the 5th of December, I was 19 weeks pregnant. There, we realized that my cervix once again open, and my waters were ‘bulging’ through.
Our nightmare was beginning again.
Again, I went straight from scan to hospital on strict bed rest, but that very night, I PPROM’d again. The contractions came, but then stopped. Doctors said to expect that I would be delivering our baby boy, Ashley, within 48 hours. But our little man had other ideas.
Even though Ashley’s leg became caught through the stitch into my cervix, combined with having zero amniotic fluid, our little man survived for 4 more weeks. We nicknamed him our ‘little lionheart’. He became our lion heart for his sheer determination to stay with his parents. Parents who loved him beyond measure, parents desperate for him to live.
However our little boy arrived after only 23 weeks and 1 day- too early. He lived for 23 minutes.
Despair does not even cover the feelings we had. We had lost 6 babies in 5 pregnancies. Our miracle stitch had not worked – we had lost our little lionheart. How could this have happened again?
After Ashley’s birth, we used a CuddleCot to spend time with him. Unfortunately the hospital had only one of these vital machines to share between the four families who lost babies the same day. We decided that we would fundraise to purchase a second one for our hospital. It provided the only time we had to parent Ashley – to take photos, hand and foot casts and make memories.
We gave ourselves six months to raise the $4000 needed; but through the love and support of our family and friends, we raised it in 3 weeks. Donating the CuddleCot in Ashley’s name was therapeutic in a way, and gave us a way to channel our grief.
We then established “Little LionHeart”
Little Lionheart is a charity project to support the pregnancy and infant loss community. We fundraise to purchase more Cuddle Cots for hospitals, and we supply ‘memory boxes’ to four hospitals to give bereaved parents so they don’t leave hospital with ‘empty arms’.
So far we have fundraised $15,000 to purchase three Cuddle Cots, and about to fundraise for our 4th; and provided well over 200 memory boxes to families. We are also passionate on ‘breaking the silence’ of pregnancy and infant loss. Losing our babies should not be a taboo subject, nor is it something to hide. I will not move on from or get over the loss of our babies. Their deaths makes my family achingly incomplete. We feel their absences every day.
We hope that through projects like ours, and many other similar ones in Australia, we can continue to provide support and understanding to our very special community.
Read more about grieving, coping, and surviving the death of your baby from Dr. Deborah Davis:
Sources of bereaved parent support:
Experience the healing that comes from telling your story—or reading the stories of others:
Learn more about this series, a letter from the Breastfeeding World Team
Join us in Breaking The Silence
Be sure to join us in our social media accounts to be up to date with the progress of our project!
And… Don’t forget to share your brelfies using our HT #BreastfeedingWorld
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