On the 29th March, 2016, it will be the 10th Anniversary of our first born daughter’s arrival into the world; a daughter named Stella Rose. Stella’s stillbirth was unforeseen, extremely devastating, surprisingly magical and unequivocally life-changing. Carrying her in utero for 26 weeks forever changed the course of my life, creating greater perspective on ‘la dolce vita’ and educating me in the ways of ‘good grief’.
Aside from a few weeks of chronic morning sickness my pregnancy was thankfully uneventful. Stella’s scans ticked all the ‘normal’ boxes and my husband and I were given no cause for concern about our baby’s wellbeing. When Stella gradually became quieter between 24 and 26 weeks gestation I saw my obstetrician for reassurance and to hear a perfect melodic little heartbeat. Deep down inside I already knew that our baby’s life had been lost; I wasn’t wrong. To then get my head around the prospect of birthing my baby vaginally was unimaginable. As a first time mother, I was completely ill prepared for the birthing experience which followed the next day however my husband and I were to be nursed through the darkest of days by staff at St Vincent’s Private Hospital who would help shape our mental health narrative for years to come.
Almost 10 years on from Stella’s birth experience, I can say with much clarity that the obstetric, midwifery and pastoral care shared with a bereaved patient in the time leading up to, during and after a pregnancy loss is critical. This care can have a direct impact on the ‘good grief’ experienced by a patient and certainly for our family ‘good grief’ post pregnancy loss began at St Vincent’s Private Hospital. Despite our heart-break, we knew great choices were needed including quality time spent with Stellaat St Vincent’s Private. We used that time tenderly to ponder her funeral and consider how we would begin traditions which marked our profound love for her. Our obstetrician and primary midwifery carers skilled us for life to come.
We experienced an early pregnancy loss almost one year after Stella’s arrival which proved equally devastating. A year later we welcomed our daughter Mimi Rose and almost two years thereafter the arrival of our son James Thomas. We are currently awaiting the birth of a baby prior to Christmas, 2015.
We will be forever grateful for our tiny 35cm, 704gram bundle of specialness. Thank you Stella Rose x
Thank you to Melissa Cahill for sharing her personal story. You can watch the story and learn more about Pregnancy Loss and ‘Good’ Grief, filmed by Ten News.