By MARY PHUTULLY
No parent should ever have to lose a child.
I was 20 weeks pregnant with my third baby when a routine ultrasound revealed a fatal problem.
Doctors told me that the placenta had failed and that the baby wasn’t getting enough oxygen to continue to develop and grow. He wouldn’t survive outside of the womb and would die in utero before my pregnancy reached full term. My baby was going to be stillborn.
How do you begin to comprehend the most heartbreaking news you’ll ever hear? Even more traumatic was that my husband, Giovanni, and I had to make a decision about when to terminate the pregnancy.
The hospital recommended speaking with a counsellor from SIDS and Kids to help us begin to process what was happening and what lay ahead.
Our counsellor, Kevin, encouraged us to talk about everything and reach out to our family and friends for support.
I had been in denial about what was happening and didn’t want to go through the birthing process; my rationalisation was that as long as I was still carrying the baby, he was still alive.
Kevin, a SIDS and Kids Counsellor, put me in touch with a woman who’d been through the exact same experience to help me prepare for the delivery, so that I knew and understood what to expect.
Kevin called every second day and also organised specially made, tiny outfits, for Leon so that we had something small enough to bury him in. He also helped Giovanni prepare for how to tell our children, Antoine and Giselle, why mummy was having a baby that we couldn’t bring home.
On January 14th 2011, at 7 1⁄2 months pregnant, I gave birth to our beautiful baby boy, Leon. I’ll never forget how the nurse cried as she handed him to me.
Monash Hospital was amazing; we were able to bathe and dress Leon, take some precious photos with him, and take our time to say our goodbyes.
It would have been so easy for us to just shut down, but counselling helped my husband and I to talk to one another about Leon and our experience, reassured that it was ok to feel the way we did.
I truly don’t know where I would be without the support of SIDS and Kids; they have been there for our family every step along the way, and still are. They send me cards for Mother’s Day, and sent Leon an angel poem to mark what would have been his first birthday. As a parent, it means so much that other people remember him too; that he’s not forgotten.