“I am organising my wedding and my daughter’s funeral all at once.”

 

Jessica and Rohan lost their precious baby girl, Scout Sunflower Macpherson, on the 13th of May. Now, they’re planning their wedding. In this beautiful post, Jessica writes about how happiness and grief can sit side by side.

Content warning: this post deals with stillbirth and may be distressing for some readers. 

On May the 12th, something happened that would change at least two lives forever. I was 35 weeks and 4 days pregnant, my partner Rohan and I were going about our day as we normally would.

We had been at school, teaching our students, I had been getting ready to start maternity leave, we had been preparing to turn our family into a team of three.

At 4pm, I went to the doctor’s, expecting to be told to stop training at the gym, to begin to wind down, to get ready to bring our newborn home. Life had other plans, and instead of being an average appointment, it turned into our worst nightmare. Our doctor could not find our precious baby’s heartbeat.

happiness and grief
Jessica, Rohan and Scout. Image: Supplied.

Over the next couple of hours we would hear the torturous words that no parent ever wants to hear: “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.” On the 13th May, the very next day, our beautiful baby girl, Scout Sunflower Macpherson, was stillborn, she was perfect in every way, a head full of black hair, a cute button nose, she had ten fingers and ten toes.

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This week, Scout would have been nine weeks old. There is not a single moment that goes by that I don’t think about our daughter. I think about her cute little button nose, the personality she would have had, I think about how I would be navigating life as a new mum, I think of her gorgeous head full of hair, I dream about what colour her eyes would have been and of her beautiful soft skin.

I still wake in the middle of the night wishing our house wasn’t so heartbreakingly quiet, I dream of how my life would have looked with our little girl here, I still find this reality ridiculously hard to swallow. Some days my eyes still sting from the tears that fall, my heart is heavy and my hands still tremble.

happiness and grief
Rohan and Scout. These images were taken by a photographer for Heartfelt, a volunteer organisation dedicated to giving the gift of photographic memories to families that have experienced stillbirths, premature births, or have children with serious and terminal illnesses. You can contact Heartfelt on 1800 583 768.

Amongst all the grief we find moments to smile, we smile at the sunflowers that show up at random moments, we smile at the rainbows after the storms, we smile about the team Rohan and I have created, we smile about our family of three and we smile about our ability to get out of bed each day. Amongst all the tears and the pain, we treasure the fleeting moments of happy.

This week as part of Never Forgotten: Mamamia’s Pregnancy Loss Awareness Week we’re remembering the babies we’ve lost. Post continues below.

Last Monday morning Rohan told me he had some surprises planned for the next couple of nights, he decided we needed some light amongst all the heart break. Slowly he revealed that he was taking me away, he told me what I needed to pack, we then got in the car where I was blindfolded, when I was allowed to take it off it was revealed that Rohan had driven us to Jonahs at Whale Beach.

It was a beautiful afternoon, a perfect Scout sunset, he got down on one knee and I said yes!! Rohan is my family, he is the father of my daughter, my best friend, my biggest advocate, my greatest support and each day I face I know that because of him I am never alone. I am so thankful that I will get to spend every day of the rest of my life with my best friend.

When I think that I can no longer do it, that it all hurts too much, that my heart can’t take this pain any longer, I look into his bright blue eyes, and I know that he is right there with me, that he knows exactly how much it hurts and I remember that I can do it, that I can do it for him, for our family, for our future.

happiness and grief
Rohan, Jessica and Scout. Image: Supplied.

I am organising a wedding for December. This year we became a family, we want to end the year by making our family official. We want to celebrate our love, our friendship, our strength, our capacity, our courage, our bond, our team and all that Scout has already taught us about love and life.

Being engaged to my best friend makes me smile, it gives me happiness.

In saying that, it doesn’t take away the pain, it doesn’t make the heartbreak better and it doesn’t stop us from grieving. The thing I have learnt over the last couple of weeks is grief and happiness can exist in the same moment, in the same time, they can sit beside each other, sometimes they might even hold hands and work together.

I can feel sad and happy about our daughter all at once. I am sad she is not here, I am heartbroken I don’t get to watch her grow, I’m sad she will never say her first word or take her first step. At the very same time I am elated that I got to meet my daughter, I am so thankful that I got to bring her into this world and hold her in my arms, I am thankful that I got to touch her skin and see her button nose, I am happy that I am her mum and she is my daughter.

Life is better knowing that I am her mum, it is also worse having lost her. Grief and happiness don’t cancel one another out, they sit side by side. I can be happy that I will get married and still cry and allow myself to feel all the heartbreak of facing life without our daughter.

Our celebrant visited us last night to discuss Scout’s service. She will also marry us. She is another beautiful soul we have come to know thanks to Scout. When she walked in she said both: “I’m sorry for your loss and congratulations on your engagement.”

I am organising my wedding and my daughter’s funeral all at once. They sit side by side, they come with a roller-coaster of emotions and two very different head spaces. This is life, it is our world and it is one I am learning to navigate. I am learning to be ok with the fact that it is ok to feel happy and still be grieving, they don’t have to work in opposition, instead they can hold hands and negotiate the waves together.

Send Jessica and Rohan a message of support, below.

If you need support with stillbirth or miscarriage, contact SANDS.

For more, try these posts… 

“A letter to me, three years ago: I’m writing to tell you it gets better.”

What it feels like to lose a baby.

A father’s letter to his stillborn son.

Mamamia readers and writers have joined together to contribute their stories to Never Forgotten, compiled by Bec Sparrow and Mia Freedman and edited by Paula Ellery. The book is available as an E-book download or in print form [click here to order].

All the proceeds will go towards charities who help families who have suffered this very common yet widely misunderstood type of loss.

NF banner ad 2 She is perfect. Brave parents share photos of their beautiful stillborn daughter.

If this has post raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.

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