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"He never cried out for me, and he never opened his eyes."

Kristie Tatton. (By Lumsdaine Photography for Heartfelt. Permission is granted to use them for this story. Heartfelt can be found at heartfelt.org.au.)

By Kristie Tatton

Avery was born on July 14, 2011.  He was my second born, and first son. He was 4009 grams and 59cm long.  And he never took a breath.  He never cried out for me and he never opened his eyes.  Avery was born silently.  Avery was born still.

The overwhelming grief is like nothing you can imagine.  I could physically feel my heart breaking.  I touched his powdery soft skin and smoothed his downy hair.  I traced his fingers with mine, trying to commit them to memory.  I inhaled his scent and kissed his forehead.  We took photos, we took video.  We introduced him to music, to dance, to absolute unconditional love.

And on our final night in hospital, the realisation that it was my last ever night with him struck to the depths of my soul and I collapsed in the midwives arms, raw unabated grief echoed through the room and pain ricochetted through every nerve in my body.  My baby was never coming back.  Was never coming home.  I was never going to hold him again.

The social work team, the tireless angels that they are, put me in contact with SIDS and Kids NSW and Victoria.  What would they be able to do for me? My baby did not die of SIDS. But as I came to learn, they are more than just for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

I walk up the historic steps in the ageing building.  My hands are sweaty and I’m unconsciously shaking.  I can feel the tears burning deep behind my eyes.  “Not yet” I think to myself.  I am welcomed with a warm smile and I am ushered into the waiting room.  “She won’t be a moment” I am told.  I look at the beautiful dragonflies dancing across the walls, the fish silently opening and closing their mouths. Just breathe.

Soon I am shown into a small room, with a couple of chairs and box of tissues.  I always make note of where the tissues are. Instinctively I take two and start twisting them into knots.  The counsellor and I are facing one another, cups of tea between us. Then the words start falling out.

“I miss him! It is not fair! Why did this happen? People don’t understand! Am I grieving the right way? Is there a right way? I want him back! Why did this happen to me? WHY DID MY BABY DIE?”

Kristie Tatton and Avery. (By Lumsdaine Photography for Heartfelt. Permission is granted to use them for this story. Heartfelt can be found at heartfelt.org.au.)

For an hour I gasp and sob through my feelings, tears cascading down my face.  My eyes swell and my heart is aching so much I fear it will stop working altogether.  Helen is steadfast and strong, helping me navigate the emotions that suffocate me.

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Her words of comfort, of understanding and advice flow easily.  Helen knows just the right thing to say to my grieving heart.  When the hour is over, we organise to meet again in a month.  The tears are gone, and the odd piece of laughter escapes my lips.  A touch of normalcy in this surreal world of stillbirth and constant crying.  I feel lighter when I leave.  A little piece of me does not feel so broken, so hopeless.

As I walk down those ageing stairs I reflect on how blessed we are to have bereavement counsellors. Slowly I learn that SIDS and Kids and Red Nose Day goes far beyond the red paraphernalia and cute button badges I used to wear on my school uniform.  Each donation in the campaign helps fund that hour of counselling, the free bereavement hotline, SIDS and Stillbirth research, safe sleeping campaigns, books, education for health professionals. group therapy and specialised child workshops.

So please, go out and buy a Red Nose on Friday 27th June.  Remember the babies who are not here.  Who never made it home or who never woke up.

Buy a Red Nose and remember my boy.  His name is Avery.

Kristie Tatton is a mother to Tara, Avery and Caelan, a blogger, writer, illustrator and campaigner for bereavement causes close to her heart.  You can read more about Avery’s story at hesperasgarden.com (where she has not blogged for a long time!).

This year the Red Nose Day campaign – on Friday 27th June – has an Australian theme ‘Say G’day the Red Nose Way’ and SIDS and Kids is introducing new merchandise – a plush koala (Kevin), kangaroo (Rooby) and snake (Charlie).  There will also be an exciting collaboration with four of Australia and New Zealand’s top fashion designers – Manning Cartell, Trelise Cooper, Nicola Finetti and LIFEwithBIRD.  Each designer has created an exclusive, limited edition t-shirt available to purchase online for $39.95 including delivery.

Supporters can get involved by purchasing a red nose, any Red Nose Day product or participate in the new Dare to Care project.  Dare to Care is a unique fundraising experience calling for people to take on a personal challenge while raising funds for Red Nose Day.  It could be bungy jumping, taking on a fun run or even going to work in your undies – anything to raise money for this great cause!

SIDS and Kids helps save thousands of babies’ lives through providing crucial education and community awareness programs and Red Nose Day has been an integral part of the charity’s fundraising calendar since 1988.

By supporting Red Nose Day you will help fund:

  • Bereavement support for Australian families
  • Further research into areas such as stillbirth and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy
  • Community education to reduce the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy

Please share this post for Avery. 

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