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"We're not taking him home." Rory and Belinda Sloane open up about the loss of their son.

Content Warning: This post deals with stillbirth and might be triggering for some readers.

One year on from the loss of their son Leo, who was stillborn, Adelaide Crows co-captain Rory Sloane and his wife Belinda have opened up in an interview with charity Red Nose.

In commemoration of Leo’s first birthday, the couple have launched the ‘Lion Warrior’ program with Red Nose – a new national campaign with an aim of improving research and awareness into stillbirth.

Belinda, who is a presenter on television program SA Weekender, was 34 weeks pregnant when she realised she could no longer feel her son moving.

“We got home, had dinner, got into bed, I said to Rory ‘I don’t think this is right… I haven’t felt movement today’,” she said.

When she arrived at the hospital, nurses were unable to find a heartbeat.

“I said to her [the midwife] ‘there’s not a heartbeat is there’ and she just said ‘no, unfortunately there’s no heartbeat’,” she said. “And I can’t even really remember the moments that followed to be honest. I couldn’t cry, I was just in complete shock.”

After Leo was born, weighing in at just two-and-a-half kilograms, the couple had the chance to spend some time with their son.

“First thing happened I cut the cord, which was really nice of our obstetrician, Chris, to ask me to do, great moment to experience as a father,” Rory said.

 

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“I remember him just passing Leo straight into Belinda’s arms and again, probably the most emotional we’ve ever been, I think, at that period,” he continued.

“I remember looking across and Belinda holding her little son in her arms and him obviously being lifeless, but seeing the – it’s so hard to explain – but the joy on Belinda’s face, also matched with the sorrow, it was heartbreaking.”

The couple shared that they were able to spend a day and a half with their son, who was conceived by IVF.

“I’d describe Leo as perfection, his little face, he had a little button nose, cute little cupid’s bow, rosy cheeks, there was blonde hair there that had started to curl a little bit, so I reckon he would have had hair a bit like his daddy,” Belinda said in the video.

“I just remember holding him and thinking ‘you’re so perfect’ and saying that as well.

“I looked over at Rory and seeing him crying brought it back to reality that we’re not taking him home.”

Mamamia’s tribute to the babies we’ve lost and the significance of remembering their names. Post continues after video.

Rory also added that saying goodbye to Leo was one of the “most heartbreaking moments”.

“That moment was one of the most heartbreaking moments, just watching our son being taken away to a funeral home to be cremated before he’s had a real crack at life,” he said.

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Following Leo’s death, the pair began counselling sessions and have become active in raising awareness for stillborn children.

The pair first shared the news about their son to Instagram in the days following his birth, sharing a photograph of their hands holding the hand of Leo.

“Last week we said goodbye to our beautiful little man,” Belinda wrote on Instagram at the time.

“Leo Rory Sloane was born into the world still, but perfect.

“Thanks for making us the proudest parents and filling our hearts with love beyond measure, the moments we had with you are now beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.”

By sharing their story with charity Red Nose, the couple hope to raise awareness and funds to reduce stillbirth rates.

“Over the past year we have learnt so many valuable lessons from our gorgeous Leo,” Rory wrote on Instagram.

“He continues to shape the people we are today.”

To find out more about Rory and Belinda’s story, and to donate, visit their campaign here.

If you or a loved one had experienced stillbirth, newborn loss or pregnancy loss and would like some support, you can contact SANDS Australia on 1300 072 637 or visit the website.

You can download Never Forgotten: Stories of love, loss and healing after miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death for free here.

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