I have two beautiful children – Annabel and Esther- and am pregnant with another much-wanted baby. But there is someone missing. Our third child, Robert (‘Bob’) was stillborn at 21 weeks in June 2020. Stillbirth has changed mine and my families’ lives forever.
We found out Bob had passed away during a routine scan. It was a complete shock. I had no idea anything was wrong. Because of COVID, my husband and youngest daughter were waiting outside the room for me during the scan because they weren’t permitted to come in. No one told us our baby had died, but our GP appeared and told me we needed to drive to Newcastle (90 minutes’ drive away) for a specialist scan. I would have to go into the hospital on my own. I felt so numb. I wish now that I’d been able to advocate for my husband to be with me. Bob was born a couple of days later.
COVID restrictions continued to hurt – darkening our experience even further. I couldn’t see my parents or friends during the absolute worst period of my life because they were all in QLD, which had implemented a hard border with NSW. We’d only moved to Denman eighteen months beforehand, and we hadn’t really built a support network yet. I felt so distressed by all the stories in the media about people not being able to attend funerals or get medical care because they lived on the wrong side of a border. I was, of course, terrified about getting COVID and my baby dying, but I didn’t get COVID, and my baby died anyway.
In the regional town where I live, accessing medical or support services is harder than it should be. I work as a pharmacist in the area, and we constantly deal with distressed patients unable to see a GP because they have to wait 6 weeks for an appointment. I had a follow up appointment with my GP. I was devastated at the way he spoke to me. He told me he didn’t need to see me anymore because he only deals with pregnancy. That he didn’t see pregnancy loss as part of his scope still shocks and upsets me. So, for the next 6 weeks, until my follow up appointment at the hospital, I had no one check in on me at all. I thought someone would call me before then.
When I’d had my girls, the midwives visited me at home and there just seemed an abundance of support. I couldn’t understand how there could be nothing offered when your baby dies. In the midst of my grief, I hadn’t even realised I was supposed to arrange a funeral for Bob, so we didn’t get his body back for 5 weeks as the hospital didn’t follow up with us.
That’s why I’m supporting Red Nose Day, because I want to help raise money for more support in regional areas like mine. I feel that Red Nose could really fill the gap that I fell through, and provide much needed support and advice for families, especially for those who don’t have anyone else to turn to.
Stillbirth has changed my life forever, but it was still birth – my baby didn’t just disappear. Women deserve to be supported and treated compassionately in this utterly devastating but all too common situation. I hope that by supporting Red Nose Day we’ll be one step closer to this kind of care for all women who experience the loss of a pregnancy, baby, or child.