We were so excited about life with our twins, but it wasn’t to happen.
At our 25-week scan, the sonographer left the room. At this moment, we knew something was wrong. A doctor and grief counsellor accompanied the sonographer on their return.
Our daughter had no heartbeat.
We found out we were going to have one live baby and one stillborn baby. We were on edge to find out when the birth would be.
Due to a pre-existing condition of ovarian cysts, when the pregnancy was determined to be twins, it was flagged as high risk, but stillbirth was never part of the conversation. We don’t know if knowing would have made a difference, but the shock wouldn’t have been so encompassing.
Just three days after being told that Aria had no heartbeat, Aria’s water broke. Though Noah’s waters stayed intact, my and Noah’s health was compromised.
A horrendous number of weeks followed and I was ordered bed rest. Sadly, Adrian wasn’t allowed to stay with his me in the hospital, and no allowances were made. There was no support for his mental or physical wellbeing in the hospital. Though I faced unique challenges, the lack of support for fathers at the hospital pre and post-birth was horrendous. I was able to go to the mother-baby psychiatric unit with Noah, but once again, this meant separation from Adrian.
Adrian and I were introduced to Red Nose and SANDS. We did speak to a couple of peer support workers. The team at Red Nose even arranged for them to speak with parents who had suffered a similar loss as ourselves.
Advice for other parents hearing similar news
I would say that the news they have just received is almost unbearable and utterly heartbreaking. You will feel like your heart has shattered, that your legs cannot carry you. You will feel frustrated that the rest of the world continues as normal while yours implodes, and it’s ok to feel like that.
Hold on to each other even though you may grieve or process the loss differently. Make time for yourselves and when you can, find something or somewhere to help your soul heal.
On friendships and the future
People who haven’t had your experience will say the wrong things all the time, just because they legitimately do not know what to say. It’s ok to feel angry at that.
No one ever wants to join this community of bereaved parents, but we are proud survivors of unspeakable trauma like many others. Yet, we have unity and strength in this community of ours. We would also say that while time may heal, you won’t ever get over your loss, and that is ok too.
Things that need to be improved
We cannot stop all stillbirths but the support families receive when experiencing one can make a huge difference. There was so much focus on my wellbeing as I was the mother. There was little support or focus on the mental or physical wellbeing of Adrian as the father. Fathers or other partners who are suffering the loss albeit differently, need help too. Adrian was expected, by society, to get on with his life and his job, whilst also supporting me in my grief and my pregnancy. It was often forgotten that he was processing his own grief.
Songs for Aria
We have become supporters of Red Nose and SANDS. Adrian, a professional opera singer, even performed when Red Nose and SANDS announced their partnership, so we feel very connected to the journey of the organisations.
To help process our grief and support Red Nose we organised a concert ‘Songs for Aria.’
We used music and song to express our love and loss. We created a loving and positive space during the concert where infant loss was celebrated and mourned with respect and beauty.
The concert raised awareness, opened discussions and legitimised the grief and pain of pregnancy loss.
Through the concert we celebrated the lives of babies that never got the chance to live, but whose little lives have had such an enormous impact on our lives.