The following post deals with stillbirth, and contains images which may be distressing for some readers. For confidential, 24-hour support, please call the SANDS helpline on 1300 072 637.
Megan Baker is a proud mum like any other. The shelf in her lounge room has treasured photos of her son, Kai, moments after he was born. Cradled in her arms, he appears to be sleeping peacefully. Outside in the bushland setting of her home on the edge of Sydney, a dog runs around the garden, a place full of adventure ready for a young child to explore.
But these photos tell a different story on second look. With them is a teddy bear, carefully weighted to match Kai’s birth weight. And alongside that, a small white box containing his ashes.
Almost two years on, talking about losing her baby has become easier, but still immensely painful.
“It’s like living in a nightmare. I even went through labour, and now I’m on the other side, but there’s no baby. That’s not the order of things. You go through pregnancy and then you end up holding a baby and raising a child. There were even physical symptoms, so my arms ached, my heart ached. So it was complete loss, it was being completely lost.”
Megan’s pregnancy was a fairly typical one. Sometimes challenging, often joyful. When the time came to give birth, she went into hospital with a mixture of excitement and anticipation.
But she woke from her C-section to the news every parent dreads. Her son’s heart had stopped during labour, and he was stillborn.
Kai had caught an infection when Megan’s waters broke; despite the best efforts of medical staff, it proved too much for him.
Suddenly everything changed. A lifetime of hopes and dreams were now just a few precious moments together as a family. Those moments were caught on camera by a professional photographer. Brought in by an understanding midwife who knew the future value of such pictures, they’ve since helped to ground Megan’s son in reality.
“I’ve got some beautiful photos of me and Kai, and just Kai, and my partner, and all of us together. You can’t prepare for seeing your son lifeless. A lot of them are beautiful but some of the photos show the pain, show us crying, and you don’t usually see that in photos. But they are just precious.”
Warning: these images may be distressing.