Mother’s Day is a special day that for most of us means we look forward to spending time with our families. It’s an opportunity to show our appreciation to our mum by spoiling her and giving her a day off from cooking and other household chores.
Growing up as one of four children, I always knew that at some stage in my life I wanted to be a mum. On April 16, nineteen years ago, that day came as the result of a twisted turn of events in which our daughter, Kalin, was born at 24 weeks gestation. The experience was surreal. I could never have imagined this happening to me. Mother’s Day that year didn’t feel like a day to celebrate, instead, I felt a deep sadness that was coupled with the guilt I felt around not wanting to celebrate with my Mum.
You can download Never Forgotten: Stories of love, loss and healing after miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death for free here.
It was hard to pretend to be happy when I felt like my world had been turned upside down. Only weeks ago, I had given birth, held my beautiful tiny baby briefly, and then said goodbye. I remember feeling confused. I had been excited (and if I’m honest, apprehensive) about becoming a parent, but the whole experience and outcome was not what I had expected. Could I now say I was a mother? When people asked if I had children what would I say? I felt people only wanted to hear about any children I had, not about any I had lost.
For the next two years of my life when Mother’s Day came around, it was just another anniversary that reminded me of what could have been. My hope and dream of being a mother had become a reality for a brief moment in time, but then it was taken away. I had become a mother, but like so many others (as I came to realise) I was a mother without a living child. On Mother’s Day my beautiful husband would wish me happy Mother’s Day and I would cry.
International Bereaved Mother’s Day, which usually falls a week before Mother’s Day, was created to acknowledge and provide comfort for those women whose babies and children have died.
To mark this day, on Sunday 7 May, I will not only remember my daughter, but to do something else that I feel is important - to show understanding and compassion to women who are mothers even though their precious babies are not on this earth. I have been fortunate to go on to have two children with whom I celebrate Mother’s Day with. I understand (as only someone who has experienced loss can), that the experience of miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death is difficult and I feel it is important to recognise that it happens to so many people we know and love. This type of loss is an experience that shapes our life story. As we know not all stories of being a mother have a happy ending, but that does not mean we are not mothers.
What do you say to someone who's lost a child? Post continues after audio.
And don’t forget that Sands, who provide support to anyone affected by the loss of a baby, are available around for anyone needing support. I can’t tell you how good it was to speak to a Sands Parent Supporter when Kalin died. Finally, there was someone who really understood. They showed so much compassion and helped me validate myself as a mum. I want to return the support that I received and that’s why I trained to become a Sands Volunteer Parent Supporter.
An estimated one in four pregnancies (93,000) ends in miscarriage in Australia each year, while approximately 2,425 babies are either stillborn or die in the first 28 days after birth.
Sands is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support, information and hope to parents and families who experience the death of a baby. All Sands Parent Supporters understand the heartbreak and devastation that follows the death of a baby, as they too have experienced it. Sand also offers resources and education for healthcare professionals.
Anyone affected by the death of a baby can ring the 24/7 Sands support line 1300 0 72637 and talk to a Volunteer Parent Supporter or visit: www.sands.org.au. T: @SandsAustralia F: www.facebook.com/sands.australia