Catherine, the mother of triplets Theodore, Louis, and Oscar, shares her story of losing her second-born triplet, Louis. And discovering that she can be happy once again while carrying grief on her shoulders and her baby in her heart.
The beginning of a journey
Louis is our second-born triplet. He is survived by his brothers, Theodore and Oscar.
When Louis was born still, the grief completely consumed me. I wondered how I would ever survive it.
Many around me didn’t even want to mention his name, for fear they would upset me. But Louis isn’t an awkward or taboo topic. He is my son.
The best thing you can do to help a bereaved parent through life without their child is to remind them that you acknowledge that their baby existed and is remembered. The way to do this is by saying their name. Speak it freely, without hesitation.
You aren’t reminding them that their child died. Trust me, they remember every day. You’re reminding them that their child’s brief life mattered.
Like any other parent, we are so proud of our children whether they are with us or not. We want to shout their names from the rooftops.
As a mother, my heart breaks knowing that more than nine Australian children still die suddenly and unexpectedly every single day.
Of those nine little lives stolen each day, six of those babies never even got to take their first breath – and we still don’t know why.
Research is the only way we can unlock the answers we desperately need to save little lives. And with your help today, we can fund the desperately needed research that could save so much heartache in the future.
Please make a generous gift today. Your much-needed donation can allow more research to be funded to help save as many little lives as possible.
Please, dig deep to make the biggest impact you can. Click here to donate >
It was a healthy pregnancy, until…
Due to Louis being part of a triplet pregnancy, we were fortunate enough to be able to see him very regularly through scans and visually watch him grow into the beautiful boy he was.
Louis was definitely our most active of the three boys and he was always bouncing around.
My specialist even told me not to drink coffee on the days I had scans so that Louis could stay still long enough for important measurements to be recorded. He was always such a wriggler!
At night, when Louis was most active, his dad Julian would often poke him and he would move in return. We knew that he was one cheeky little boy!
My pregnancy was what doctors called a TCTA pregnancy – the lowest risk triplet pregnancy (with three separate placentas and three separate sacks).
At 29 weeks, we had attended the hospital birthing unit to check on the babies as there was less movement than usual. They found three heartbeats. But the following week at a routine scan (at 30 weeks gestation) we learned that Louis had no heartbeat. We were devastated.
The specialists were as shocked as we were when Louis passed and told us that out of all their patients, we were the ones they were least worried about.
After discussing and weighing up the risks of both delivery and remaining pregnant, we made the uncertain and difficult decision to continue carrying Louis alongside his two brothers.
For a month, Louis remained warm and hugged tightly in my tummy, until spontaneous labour started.
Losing a child is one of the most traumatic experiences a parent can go through. I’m sure you share my heartbreak when thinking of the thousands of families that will face the loss of their baby or child this year.
No family should experience the devastation of being told that they will never hear their precious little one cry, or get to see their first smile.
When our triplets were born, two of our boys cried, but Louis was silent. I love that he was born in between his two brothers. It’s as if it was some kind of symbol of solidarity.
The nurses brought Louis to us in the operating theatre. He was so tiny and precious, wrapped warmly in a blanket.
We had already bonded so much throughout this journey. And yet, instantly, it was love at first sight.
Louis was a perfectly formed baby, with the most beautiful face. He looked so peaceful. He had fingernails just like Theodore’s, and a cleft chin just like Oscar’s. His little button nose was something that stood out to me.
Due to surgical complications, I wasn’t able to have any more time with Louis or the opportunity to hold him.
However, Julian had the privilege of spending a considerable amount of time with Louis, which he will treasure for the rest of his life. I love hearing all the details about him and about the precious time they spent together.
It absolutely breaks my heart that we won’t have the chance to watch Louis grow up with his brothers, something we were all looking forward to.
It’s devastating to think that we will never know why our beautiful Louis died – and we are not alone. In Australia, over 2,100 babies are born still each year. A statistic that hasn’t dropped in over two decades.
Ground-breaking research into stillbirth
Thanks to Red Nose Supporters, researchers are making some amazing progress. In fact, last year, research headed by Laureate Professor Roger Smith AM, has shown that many stillbirths are caused by an aging placenta — an organ of the baby — that slowly reduces the nutrients and oxygen a baby needs to survive.
His team were able to identify three biomarkers in the placentas of at-risk pregnant women. This is the exciting first step towards developing a blood test that could predict, and even prevent stillbirth!
That’s just one of the incredible Red Nose research projects that’s brought us another step closer to saving more of our babies’ lives. And it shows what can be possible thanks to the generosity of wonderful people like you.
It also tells us that the answers we need are out there, we just need to fund more research to find them.
Your generous donation is crucial in allowing us to fund more potential life-saving research projects like these. We know that the answers lie in ground-breaking research. But research can be expensive and without more funding, progress will remain slow.
Your support today could mean we can find the answers we so desperately need to spare families the heartbreak and pain of the death of their precious baby or child.
For Julian and I, our only hopes for our three boys were that they went through life being healthy and being kind. Nothing else mattered to us.
Despite having two boys here with us, they are not our twins, but our two triplets.
Louis remains part of our lives. We talk about him freely in our family and he is weaved into our conversations as naturally as we breathe.
He was included in the triplets’ 1st birthday celebrations and at Christmas. Theodore and Oscar won’t ever remember Louis being with them, so it’s up to us to give them memories of him being in their lives. They will grow up knowing that they are triplets despite the broader world viewing them as twins.
We are so sad watching his brothers grow up without him, but feel so blessed to be chosen to be the parents of three beautiful sons. Like any parent, we are so proud of our children whether they are with us or not.
And for those nine families that lose their baby or child every day, any donation you give, large or small, can fund vital bereavement support services, completely free of charge, for as long as they need it.
But I know the only way to stop this heartbreak from happening to other families is through funding more research.
You have the power to accelerate the next generation of research needed to unlock the answers that will save babies lives.
If you’re dealing with the pain of losing a baby, you’re not alone
Firstly, although it may feel like it now, you’re not broken beyond repair. There will be days when the pain rises up and engulfs you, and you feel like you just can’t go on.
Hold on tight, be kind to yourself, open the floodgates, and wait for the light of a new day to dawn. These days will get fewer and further between, and you will be ok.
Experiencing happiness whilst grieving is both possible and acceptable. Grief and loss can comfortably sit alongside each other as you continue journeying on through life.
Eventually, you will begin to enjoy life again and it won’t diminish your love for your child who died. It’s possible to be happy once again whilst always carrying grief on your shoulders and your baby in your heart.
Secondly, throw everything that you believe and read about grief out the window. Grief doesn’t come neatly in the 5 stages you read about on Google.
It’s messy, unpredictable, confusing, and individual. There’s no shame in seeking help to make sense of the many emotions, and learn how to navigate living with loss and a new version of yourself.
Lastly, grief can be a lonely journey, but you are not alone. The unfortunate reality is that there are many more people who are grieving the loss of a child than you could ever imagine.
Thankfully, there is also more formal support available than you’ve ever heard of. You will find these people, groups, and organisations, and they will be your tribe, your lifeline.
I’m so grateful to Red Nose for their support with bereavement counselling, online support groups and education. It has been nothing short of a lifeline for me.
Not many people are willing to squeeze into awkward places with you, allowing you to be vulnerable, and sit with you in your grief, in all its ugliness, and allow you to just be.
Through my Red Nose sessions, I’ve been given a safe space to express my grief, have my feelings normalised, and be supported through adapting to life without Louis. I’ve gained skills to understand the complex and painful emotions. And I developed healthy coping mechanisms that have enabled me to integrate grief into everyday life.
Although I will always carry the pain and grief of losing Louis to the end, it no longer defines or consumes me.
Red Nose has also provided me with education and resources that have helped me care for my babies safely. As a first-time parent, the evidence-based recommendations have helped guide safe sleeping practices, environment and products.
As well as supporting much-needed research, your generosity also helps fund ongoing Safe Sleep and Safer Pregnancy information, helping to keep babies safe.