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?”
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.