Content note: This post contains images and discusses themes of pregnancy loss that some readers may find distressing.
Brisbane’s Brooke Campbell has shared a photo of herself and her son Darcy with the rest of Australia. But the look on Campbell’s face as she cuddles her son is not one of joy. It’s one of unimaginable sadness.
Darcy died 36 weeks into Campbell’s pregnancy, following a placental abruption.
Up until that point, the pregnancy had been smooth and uneventful. But in the early hours of August 28, Campbell began haemorrhaging, losing more than 1.7 litres of blood.
“I nearly died from blood loss,” she tells Mamamia.
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She was rushed to hospital, along with her husband Elliot. While Elliot was bringing the bags out of the ambulance, Campell’s obstetrician did an ultrasound. A horrified look appeared on the obstetrician’s face. Campbell knew then that her unborn baby had no heartbeat.
“It was too late, as he was already gone,” she says.
Campbell says it was a “cruel thing” to have to go through labour and delivery when she knew Darcy would be gone when he came out. But she chose not to have an “unnecessary” C-section.
When Darcy was born, he was placed on Campbell’s chest. She says he looked “just so healthy and beautiful”. She wanted him to gasp and take a breath, but she knew he wouldn’t.
“I kept saying, ‘Why? Why? Why? How can this happen to my baby?’” she remembers.
Darcy looked “perfect”. He was 53cm long and weighed 3.3kg – the same as his older brother Noah at birth.
“He had very similar features to Noah. It was sad because there was not one thing wrong with him. Everything was formed and he was just too beautiful.”
Campbell held her baby son to her chest all night, “just cuddling, kissing him and silently crying”.
The hospital told Campbell and her husband they could spend as long as they wanted with Darcy.
Two-year-old Noah got to meet his little brother and give him a kiss.
“Darcy was and will always be Noah's little brother,” Campbell says. “We wanted him to meet him and have a little bit of special time with him because I knew that we would regret it if we didn’t.”
Late on the afternoon of the day after the birth, Campbell decided it was time to go.
“Elliot and I decided to leave then and not torment ourselves any longer, as the longer we stayed with Darcy, the more we would emotionally attach ourselves to him,” she explains. “The worst part of this whole journey was leaving him at the hospital.”
Another child who had passed away was wheeled out in his bassinet moments before Darcy.
“I just ended up collapsing on the bed, heartbroken, devastated, and my heart exploded with unimaginable sadness as Darcy and the other little boy were wheeled down the hospital corridor. We thought of it as they were going to ‘cool care’ together, and we were glad he wasn’t going to be alone.”
Campbell says she and her husband are lucky they’ve had Noah to distract them and get them up each morning. She says Noah is still too young to understand about Darcy.
“But he frowns and gets a bit sad about babies he sees now, and wants to look at all of them,” she adds.
“We show him pictures of Darcy and he says ‘Darcy baby’ so he knows it’s our baby. But he doesn’t understand why he isn’t with us anymore and why he didn’t move.”
Campbell and her husband are planning to have another baby. She says her way of grieving is to get pregnant again.
“Don't listen to people saying, ‘Oh, you should grieve first and wait,’ because it is what you want to do, physically and mentally,” she believes.
Campbell’s sister Cara has set up a fundraising page, in Darcy’s name, for the charity Bears Of Hope Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support. It has already raised more than $6000.
If you or a loved one is struggling after pregnancy loss, Mamamia urges you to contact SANDS for support.