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At 36 weeks, Cathy's daughter was stillborn. This is what she wants you to know.

This story deals with the loss of a child and may be triggering to some readers.

October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. To help bereaved parents feel less alone and to honour the little lives lost too soon, Mamamia spoke to mum Cathy who wanted to share her experience with daughter Sage who was born sleeping in November 2021. 

This is Cathy's story.

After some stress and worry about COVID lockdowns in the lead up to their 2020 wedding, podiatrist and yoga teacher Cathy and FIFO worker Jacob were delighted to quickly fall pregnant.

"We were thrilled to get a positive test so soon after we began trying," 28-year-old Cathy from WA tells Mamamia.

"My whole pregnancy was low risk and I continued to work and stay fairly active throughout. I experienced morning sickness and nausea, but it never got me down because it meant my baby was healthy."

Watch: Mamamia's tribute to the babies we've lost. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Cathy says that their baby daughter progressed well during the pregnancy, but just before 36 weeks, her growth began to slow. She had an ultrasound to see what was happening followed by a CTG scan which confirmed everything was perfectly fine.


"I was reassured that everything was okay and I continued to feel her move until two days later when I did not feel a thing. I went to the hospital that afternoon with Jacob and three midwives came to perform the CTG scan. After only finding my heartbeat, they called for the obstetrician.

"The whole time I am lying there thinking about stillbirth and pregnancy loss, but I never thought it would actually happen to me. After he arrived to have a look, he put his hand on my leg and said, 'I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat.'"

It was a huge shock for the couple and Cathy says she immediately dissociated from the moment to try and numb the pain.

"You can never prepare yourself for that and I think I dissociated because how can you stay in that scenario having just been told that your baby has died? 

"I just remember there was one tear that fell down my face at the time and then my mind went straight to what to do about that."

Cathy was induced and began 30 hours of labour, ending with Sage Azalea Wilson born asleep at 11.32pm on November 8, 2021.

"I waited for that first cry, hoping that maybe they were wrong, but the room was silent. I just felt this huge void."

Cathy pregnant with baby Sage. Image: Supplied


Cathy and Jacob stayed in hospital for five days after Sage’s birth thanks to a special crib called a 'cuddle cot' that contains a cooling mattress to stop the baby's body deteriorating as quickly.

"It was nice to have her there beside us for a few days. In the past, parents had to make bookings to go down to the cold room which would have been even more traumatic.


"But it doesn't ease the pain. Even leaving the hospital room to walk down the hallway, I'd hear other babies cry and that just sent me bawling because it's something that I really wanted to hear at the time. I just knew that I could never ever get to that stage with Sage."

Cathy says that while she was helped a little by her birthing hormones keeping her awake, husband Jacob was exhausted by the grief. 

"He had to give so much of his energy to me while I was in labour. He was so upset and sad, and said that he never knew how dehydrated you could be from crying."

Leaving the hospital was the first goodbye that Cathy said the couple were so desperate not to have, shortly followed by the goodbye at her funeral.

"We didn’t want to leave her behind, but we knew we had to go home. The devastation of getting into the car and seeing the empty carseat set up in the back was triggering. Going home to a quiet house that should have been filled with her cries and then seeing her empty nursery was incredibly hard.

"Losing a child at birth is so different to other forms of grief because there are just so many layers to it. Hormonally and having to go through the birth; I grieved for Sage, for my life, my body and all the milestones we would never reach."

Cathy, Jacob, and baby Sage. Image: Supplied.


The couple were first told about Red Nose Australia on the second day after Sage’s birth by one of the midwives. Once home, Cathy reached out for support to help them navigate this difficult time. 

"One of the hardest parts of our grief and loss has been being on the receiving end of such ignorant comments.

"When I eventually returned to work, people were so unwilling to sit with difficult emotions that when I explained what happened to me they would say things like, 'At least you are young' or, 'At least you can get pregnant' which takes away from my pain and tries instead to make me feel grateful. I had to step away from people who were not helping me, even family members. 


"As a mother who has lost a child, I was already blaming myself with all the 'what ifs' and any added shame or blame didn’t help and was completely unnecessary."

With a mix of journaling, rebuilding her physical strength, and connection with other parents who have experienced loss, Cathy is managing her ongoing grief. With Sage’s first birthday just three weeks away, it has been a particularly difficult time for the couple.

"There is no deadline on grief and while sometimes I might function well, it doesn’t mean I am not grieving. 

"In the last 12 months I have learnt so much and realised there are many different types of grief depending on your situation. In my case, as Sage was my first pregnancy, I also had to grieve the fact I will never again experience pregnancy without grief.

Listen: Rebecca Sparrow talks about stillbirth with Mia on No Filter. Post continues below.

"Grief is so unique, but I have been giving myself permission to feel sadness and also joy. I have this huge fear of forgetting her which is why journaling, writing to Sage, and talking about her is so important to me. It was also why when we were in hospital, we had plaster casts done of her hands and feet and photos taken with her to make as many memories of the moments we knew we could never have again."


Through Red Nose Australia and also by joining Facebook communities for bereaved parents online, Cathy has made some strong and lasting connections.

"Some people will luckily never experience these depths of grief, and so talking to other parents who have been through similar situations has helped us to feel less alone and that our feelings and ongoing grief is valid. It is not a nice club to be part of, but I am grateful to know and have these people in my life now.

"I want people to help me keep Sage’s memory alive, to ask me about her, and not just ignore what I went through. 

"Even if you don’t know what to say or do when someone has lost a child, a simple 'I'm sorry' with a little compassion and empathy can go a long way."

October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. 

Red Nose provides vital bereavement support for anyone affected by the death of a baby or child. 

Red Nose hosts a number of Walk to Remember events around Australia (including online ones) where families who have lost a baby come together to walk the steps their precious babies never had the chance to take. This includes families who have lost babies to miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death.

The Red Nose bereavement support line is available 24/7 on 1300 308 307.

Feature Image: Supplied.