Six babies are delivered stillborn every day in Australia. And the loss of every single one of those precious children is keenly felt by their mothers, fathers and family.
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, and in honour of all the families who have ever experienced the devastation of a stillbirth, Mamamia brings you this beautiful post by ABC journalist, Lyndal Curtis.
As a journalist, I'm used to asking the questions. When I’m asked questions it’s usually part of a live cross when I have given some thought to what I’ll be asked.
But when I'm off air, there’s always one question I don’t answer easily. I pause and consider my answer, and sometimes I lie.
“How many children do you have?”
For most people, it’s an easy question to answer, there’s no hesitation, and a smile darts across the face as people remember the life they have outside work.
For the past nine years, since my second daughter was born, I’ve struggled with it. It wasn’t the easiest pregnancy, but the difficulties were niggling, annoying, nothing to cause concern, just some lost sleep and frustration.
But on February 19, 2001, when I was 38 weeks pregnant, I felt my daughter give an almighty kick as I rested in bed. I thought no more of it. I turned over and went back to sleep.
The next morning, February 20, when I woke up I realised I hadn’t felt her move all night. Not even a little bit. I told my husband and watched the panic I was beginning to feel being reflected on his face.
He got our daughter dressed and we headed to hospital.
My mind was racing and the next thing I remember was sitting in a large room in the maternity ward as a midwife strapped a foetal heart monitor around my waist and tried to find a heartbeat.
She moved it again, and again.
And still nothing.
My mother arrived and it took one look at her to know she had taken one look at my face and knew what was coming.
She took my daughter and we promised we’d call.
Then I was in a wheelchair being taken down to have an ultrasound.
I saw my baby on the monitor, but there was no heartbeat.
I remember wanting to walk back to the ward, and the nurse wanting me in the wheelchair. I don’t know how I got back.
What I remember next are snippets, little bits of time that stretched over hours.