Amy planned a photo shoot to honour her “little zombie boy.” What came next shocked her.

zombie photo shoot

When doctors pulled Amy Gebert’s son from her womb on Halloween in 2015 at only 36 weeks along, there was no sound or cry.

“The nurse called ‘he’s not breathing’, I saw a little purple foot and a swarm of doctors gathered around him. They started resuscitation, ‘one and two and three and breathe’, I heard it over and over again,” the Brisbane mother-of-two told Mamamia.

After 13 minutes of pumping away on baby Phoenix’s chest, her “little zombie boy” was brought back to life. In room 13 – Amy loved the spooky coincidence of it all.

To honour the story of how Phoenix came into the world, Amy and her fiance Gary Wilkinson decided to plan a zombie-themed photo shoot complete with fake blood and a brain cake, shot by the family’s photographer, Amanda Queen.

zombie photo shoot
Image: Amanda Queen Photography.
zombie photo shoot
Image: Amanda Queen Photography.
zombie photo shoot
Image: Amanda Queen Photography.

"I have always been a darker kind of person, I like horror films, I do special FX makeup as a job, and Halloween is my favourite day of the year. It seemed fitting that the costume I had planned, came to life - a zombie baby ripped through my stomach on Halloween," she said.

"What better way to showcase our tragedy turned miracle than have our little zombie boy smashing some brains on his first birthday cake smash. We knew it was odd compared to most cookie cutter cake smashes, but that's who we are as a family. We are extra, and we don't do things by halves."

The images which feature Phoenix dressed up as a zombie devouring 'bloody brains' immediately went viral online. But Amy didn't expect what she described as the tsunami of hate that followed.

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Rather than celebrate the significant meaning behind the fake blood and gore, commentators quickly made assumptions about Amy's parenting abilities and the welfare of her child.

"We knew it wouldn't be everyone cup of tea, but some of these comments were outrageous and then every one else jumped on the hate train and it got out of control."

"I got told people wished my son had died, I was accused of being mentally unstable, sick, evil and twisted. That I "had the devil inside me," that he was clearly not a child of God.

"People said the photos were disgusting, tasteless and obscene. I was removed from two popular mothers groups. Which kind of upset me because why can't I share my cool photos? Why did I have to be the same as everyone else?"

Amy with Phoenix just after his birth. Image: Supplied.

The photographer, Amanda, was also surprised by the negative feedback - although she thought their concept was out there, the story behind it made it such a memorable project to be a part of.

"I thought it was amazing, but when I originally posted the images I put Amy's story behind it because I thought there'd be some negative reactions," she told Mamamia.

"Opening it up opens it up to wider opinions, but I just think at the end of the day, to make assumptions and judgements about how their lives are and how that child is being raised from a photograph is ridiculous.

"If you knew Amy and the family, they're so wonderful and beautiful. They love their children and it does make me sad that people could look at the images and think otherwise."

For the couple who tried for 14 months to conceive and battled through pregnancy complications, hyperemesis gravidarum and the trauma of stillbirth, these photographs are a reminder of how lucky they are Phoenix took his first breath after those long 13 minutes.

"These photos hang PROUDLY on our living room wall and we love them to death. They came out absolutely amazing and were the perfect balance between eerie and cute. Yeah its different, but so is our story. We don't do basic."

Other mums are guilting each other into depression, and it's not alright. The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss below.

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