After a textbook pregnancy, Victoria and Danny welcomed Kiera Brady Liston into the world on 4 May 2020 at 4.37pm. But just a few hours later, Kiera was gone. This is Victoria’s story.
Born at 40 weeks and 6 days, Kiera was perfect and pink. She had chubby cheeks, long fingers and toes, and a full head of hair.
But over the next five hours, the unthinkable happened.
Kiera struggled to breathe and then deteriorated quickly as the doctors worked to figure out what was wrong with her.
She wasn’t responding to any of the treatments they were giving her for the symptoms she was presenting.
Tragically, she passed away at 9:47pm.
The post-mortem results show that she was highly infected with Group B Strep.
I had had the routine swab at 36 weeks and tested negative, so this news was shocking and traumatic.
Since then, we have learned that Group B Strep is transient – something we (and many we have spoken to) were never made aware of.
We learned that our Kiera is not the first baby to die this way. We learned that we were lucky to have even gotten the swab, some people aren’t even get offered the test.
In the early days, just getting out of bed was a challenge.
As we move forward, re-integrating into social circles, working, and normal everyday things are a challenge.
Every day and every interaction presents a new challenge. It is hard to find meaning and acceptance for what has happened.
I was recommended to contact Red Nose by a few other loss moms that I had connected with.
My husband and I attended a joint Red Nose and Sands event which talked about how a couple may grieve differently. We both found the session to be engaging and helpful.
Following that, we also connected with a grief counsellor for private sessions. I have been having a private session weekly and my husband has joined a few times as well.
Day to day we remember Kiera in many small ways.
We have her photos around the house.
We talk to her, write to her and talk about her to friends and family.
We light a candle for her each day.
We buy flowers weekly and have a yellow orchid which is hers.
We also got tattoos which have her ashes mixed in to the ink.
It is important to honour and remember those babies that are not here with us today. They exist and should be celebrated every day!
Amazingly, and very surprisingly, we raised over $33,000 through a GoFundMe we set up while planning Kiera’s funeral.
We had set it up for family and friends to donate in lieu of flowers, with the goal of donating all the funds to charity.
With this large amount of money, we knew that we wanted to make our contributions meaningful and so we put it towards a few special things;
- With the help of our social worker, Deb de Wilde (a real life superhero!), we were put in touch with a Professor/Obstetrician to fund a research study. The aim of our study is to prove the rate of infection in pregnant women in late pregnancy which would form the basis of a large scale clinical trial to evaluate the current screening methods and treatment to see whether it prevents newborn infection. The project kicked off in July and is anticipated to be complete within 12 months.
- Kiera was born at the Mater Hospital in Sydney. After she passed away, we were able to visit and spend time with her in the few days between her passing and her funeral. During these visits we were shown a quiet, relatively unused garden area where we could take Kiera outside, away from the hospital room. We were glad to have been able to take her outside in a quiet and safe place. Although the garden was relatively unused, there were still people walking around sometimes. We are now working with the Hospital CEO to fund a garden upgrade to this area and make it a dedicated grieving or reflection area for the hospital.
- The remaining funds were donated to the Stillbirth Foundation, Sands, Red Nose and Heartfelt to support all the important work they do for bereaved families.
We have also since set up a fund in Kiera’s honour called Kiera’s Contribution, a sub-fund of Sydney Community Foundation, in the hopes of continuing to raise money to raise awareness for newborn infections and support bereaved families.
I have found that those who have lost a baby are instantly bonded and generally very willing to talk about their experiences as well as ask you about yours.
To pregnant women - ask your doctor for more information about Group B Strep. Get tested more than once, especially if you test negative, as it may be positive at a future date.
To anyone who has lost a child or a baby – you are not alone. There are support groups, counselling, journaling, books, Instagram hashtags, and the list goes on.
It’s not a club that anyone knew about, or wanted to be a part of, but it is a strong community.
Visit the Grief and Loss website here or phone the 24/7 support line on 1300 308 307.
You can also donate here to help support grieving families.