Our rainbow baby is April Cadence. April was born on March 8, 2019 - just three months shy of the three year anniversary of her brothers’ death. It took a lot longer for her to arrive than I had hoped and it honestly felt like the longest three years of my life. Now that she’s here, however, it feels like time is just flying! April is almost eight months old now.
Life is better again. April brings us all so much joy and is such a sweet, happy and delightful little girl. We love her to bits and are so grateful to have her in our family. I do feel like a lot of joy has returned to my life. I feel a certain sense of peace that was missing from my life for a long long time... and I feel like my faith in the world has been somewhat restored. But I wouldn’t say that life is back to normal or the way it was before we lost our darling boys. I still miss them terribly. I’m sure I always will.
We have two angel babies - our identical twin boys Gilbert and Spencer. I was 27 weeks pregnant when I noticed a lack of movement. It was a Tuesday and I was at work. I tried a number of things to make them move - lying down, drinking cold water, eating something sweet… nothing seemed to work. I called my doctor and he met me at the hospital that afternoon to do an ultrasound… I could tell as soon as I saw his face that my babies had died.
At the time I honestly didn’t think I was dealing with the grief very well. I withdrew a lot, found comfort in solitude. I couldn’t listen to music for months and felt very overwhelmed by even the smallest of things. Ordinary daily activities would stress me out. I couldn’t stand to see pregnant women or babies. I was full of despair… and rage and jealousy and sadness. It was a very dark and confusing time and there many moments when I honestly didn’t think I would get through it.
Looking back now, I do give myself more credit for how I managed to get through it. I was still functioning - looking after my then 3 year old daughter, getting myself to work, attending social engagements and seeing a psychologist. I was doing the best I could with the resources I had. No one teaches you how to deal with grief. It’s such a personal journey and you just have to ride the rollercoaster that it is.
Going to a support group was the best thing we ever did. We were very fortunate that the social worker at the hospital told us about a monthly support group that was run by an obstetric social worker named Deb De Wilde at the Mater Hospital in North Sydney. My husband spoke with Deb a few days after the boys were born and she invited us to attend the group, which we did a few weeks later.
I don’t believe i would have gotten through that horrible time without Deb De Wilde and Belinda Power - they are both simply amazing. The special space that they create so that grieving parents can come together for support is truly remarkable. It provides so much comfort, strength and light to so many families during a very dark time. It was a place where we could simply be ourselves, share our pain and express our rawness without feeling judged or misunderstood.
We made some beautiful friendships over that time. Debbie is one of those friends - we met her and her husband at our very first meeting and am I so grateful that we have remained close and that our rainbow babies are now able to grow up together.
I also found reading books about other people’s experiences of grief to be very helpful, especially those about stillbirth or losing babies. It helped me feel less isolated and make sense of the way I was feeling. Reading helped me to reconcile my experience and emotions as being ‘normal’.
We started trying again almost immediately - it’s hard to explain but I just had an intense desire to be pregnant again. Not so that I could replace my boys...I just wanted to feel life inside me again. I believed that having another baby would somehow make right the massive wrong that had occurred. Plus I was also worried about my fertility as I was approaching 40 and it had always taken us a long time to get pregnant.
We honour our angel babies in a number of special ways. We light a beeswax candle for the boys each night. It sits in front of their picture on our lounge room bookshelf and I say goodnight to them every night when I blow the candle out before going to bed.
We celebrate their birthday each year by going away somewhere new as a family. We had their ashes put inside two bereavement bears so we take them with us, buy or make them a birthday cake, light their special candles (that we had made for their funeral) and sing happy birthday to them. This year we went to a farm stay in Berry with our rainbow baby for the first time - it felt very special.
The boys also share Christmas with us - they each have a Christmas bauble on the Christmas tree and we attend a beautiful memorial service each December in North Sydney that is organised by Deb de Wilde and Belinda Power.
I am eternally grateful for the amount of love, compassion and support we received from so many people while grieving the loss of our babies. I discovered that I am stronger and more resilient than I ever thought possible. These days, if I am ever dealing with something stressful or challenging I just remind myself that if I could get through the death of my babies then I can handle anything life throws at me. It’s an instant state changer.
Life is really is even more precious and unpredictable than I ever imagined. These days I try not to sweat the small stuff. I try not to take things for granted. I’ve learnt to accept that bad things happen to people for no good reason - it is just a part of life and can’t always be explained by logic or reason.
We need to talk more about stillbirth and infant loss. The more we talk about it, the less isolated people affected by this devastating experience will feel. You are not alone and your babies will always be remembered. There is so much comfort in a happy ending... in the rainbow after a storm.
How Zoe Hope® is helping
We believe the majority of stillbirths could be prevented with more research, education and awareness.
With every Zoe Hope® purchase you make, 10% of profits is donated to the Stillbirth Foundation Australia. Together we can prevent stillborn babies and reduce stillbirth rates in Australia