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"It's a very personal heartbreak." 14 weeks after giving birth, Megan Gale lost her dad.

Content warning: This post deals with grief and miscarriage and might be triggering for some readers.

Megan Gale admits it’s fair to assume her life is glitzy, glamorous and impenetrable to the pain and struggles of ‘everyday people’.

Scroll through her Instagram and you’ll see images from the hundreds of magazine covers and fashion campaigns she’s fronted over the years, as well as her two beautiful children with her partner, 2019 Australian Survivor star and former AFL player Shaun Hampson.

But something you might not know about Gale, who now runs lifestyle brand Mindful Life, is she’s well-acquainted with a unique kind of heartbreak: the grief of mourning a parent with a newborn baby.

Side note – Robin Bailey discusses the grief of losing her father at a young age in the video below, post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia

“Pregnancy was definitely not what I’d always envisioned it to be…” the 44-year-old from Perth told Mamamia’s flagship parenting podcast This Glorious Mess in a raw and candid conversation about navigating grief and parenting.

In the months before and after the birth of their first child River, now five, Gale and Hampson lost both of their fathers. Hampson’s, to prostate cancer a month before River was born, and Gale’s, to lung cancer 14 weeks after.

Gale said she was told about her dad’s diagnosis when she was 12 weeks pregnant. 12 weeks into what was meant to be the happiest time of her life.

“I found out my dad had lung cancer when I was 12 weeks pregnant with River. That was particularly hard because my family were in Perth and I wanted to be with my dad as much as I could, but it got to a point when I couldn’t fly anymore,” she said.

“That didn’t sit well with me because I thought, what if he goes and I can’t get on a plane? To add to that, Sean’s dad passed away and we had that funeral. So, when we had River in May, 2014, on the one hand, it was an absolute blessing we had this new baby to bring some joy into both of our families, who weren’t in a good place.”

You can listen to Megan Gale’s full interview with This Glorious Mess: Little Kids below, post continues after audio.

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Gale’s father made it to Melbourne for River’s birth, despite being “sick and frail”. 14 weeks later, Gale found herself rushing onto a plane to Perth with her newborn when her family warned her dad didn’t have much time left.

“There was a point when my mum and my brothers said, ‘look, we don’t know how long he’s got’. So I packed up 14-week-old River and we got on a plane to Perth. Two days later, he was gone. It was obviously pretty devastating.”

“It’s never easy losing a parent or a loved one, but I’m thankful I got there in time. That was my biggest fear.”

In the interview with This Glorious Mess Little Kids co-hosts Leigh Campbell and Tegan Natoli, Gale also spoke about miscarrying in 2016 while juggling her job as a host on Australia’s Next Top Model (pictured below) and parenting her then-toddler.

“I was about nine weeks pregnant [with my second child] when I miscarried. It was one of those situations when I was filming a TV show and no one knew I was pregnant.”

 

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“It was a unique situation because I was filming Australia’s Next Top Model at the time and I was scheduled to go to Italy. I went to my obstetrician and said I was going overseas and I wanted to get my scan a week early because I’d miss it when I was away. I was scheduled to jump on a plane the next day, so [after learning of the miscarriage] I had to schedule a procedure that morning. I then had a few hours to recover and then I was off.

“My options were to pretend like it never happened or tell everyone I’d literally just had a miscarriage… to call production and say ‘I can’t go’, and they would’ve wanted a legitimate reason why their show was going to fall apart.”

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Having to front up to work and be ‘on’ for the cameras while hiding a deeply personal heartbreak was one of Gale’s biggest struggles, but she “accepted it as best [she] could”. Six months later, she and Hampson fell pregnant with their now-two-year-old daughter Rosie.

 

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Looking back on both of these periods of grief in her life, Gale said being pregnant was the “beautiful distraction” she needed to not fall apart.

“In hindsight, the pregnancy made me manage my stress levels and manage what otherwise would have been a really chaotic, emotionally turbulent time because I was constantly thinking, I have this baby to consider. The pregnancy kept me focused and present, I used it as a coping mechanism.”

“The same thing happened when River was born, there was something to channel that attention into so you’re not off thinking about whatever that horrible situation is. It’s something you can utilise as a tool to bring you back. Babies are just so precious, they’re that beautiful reminder of life. There was a lot of death around us, but new life at the same time.”

If this post has raised issues for you, please seek professional help and contact SANDS on 1300 072 637 or Lifeline on 13 11 14

Have you had a similar experience to Megan? You can share your story in the comments below.

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