Layla Emerald Youngman was born on July 11, 2011.
“She was exquisite,” say her parents, Gillian Graham-Crowe and Gavin Youngman. “Though, she was without breath.”
The Sydney couple are sharing their daughter’s story as part of a Senate inquiry into stillbirth research and education.
Graham-Crowe says she fell pregnant quickly and naturally. The couple were told their baby was “small for dates”, and Graham-Crowe had monthly scans, but they were advised that all was normal, even at 39 weeks.
“We had put together baby’s cot and washed all of her newborn clothes,” they remember. “We expected, any day now, to bring home our newborn.”
By July ninth, Graham-Crowe was three days overdue.
“As I lay in bed, I remember feeling a soft kick around the time I drifted off to sleep. However, my baby’s movements in utero had evidently reduced. I did not know at the time that this is something I should have been concerned about. Indeed, a simple Google search will tell you (incorrectly) that babies tend to ‘slow down’ as birth approaches.”
The next morning, at 11am, Graham-Crowe realised she hadn’t felt any movement that day. She rang the hospital and was advised to drink a glass of cold water. Nothing.
They went to the hospital where the doctor tried to find a heartbeat.
“There was not one. He lowered his gaze, apologised, and then left us in the room to try to process what we’d been told. Our baby had died.”
Graham-Crowe was induced and, after labouring for almost 24 hours, gave birth to Layla Emerald.
“We spent two days with Layla in the hospital. The midwives brought her to us a couple of times a day, and we dressed her; cuddled her; talked to her; kissed her a million times over. We spent a very short time making a lifetime of memories. Each time, we had to send her back to the cold room before we were ready to let go. We tucked her little ears up in her knitted green and pink beanie, so they didn’t get cold. We wanted to be the best mum and dad we could be for her.