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Annabel’s Story

Annabel’s Story

I’ve had 5 beautiful babies, but I will only get to see 4 of them grow up. My 4th child, Miles was stillborn in December 2018 after he was diagnosed with a rare brain haemorrhage in utero. The grief which followed was overwhelming and for some time I truly believed I’d never be happy again. Eventually, the fog began to lift, and I started learning how to live a life in which grief and joy sat side by side. I found ways to move forward with Miles in my heart and honour him as a cherished member of our family. 

After losing Miles I wanted to share our story to help end the silence surrounding baby loss because with silence comes shame, yet there should be no feelings of shame attached to baby loss. If our experiences of miscarriage, IVF, TFMR, and stillbirth are kept in the shadows we will always feel as though they need to be hidden and spoken of only with those who’ve endured similar heartache.

I share my story in the hope that those who read it know that they’re not alone, that their grief is valid, and that they will make it out of the darkness. It may take some time but one day they’ll look back in amazement at just how far they’ve come.

When you lose a baby people often tell you that you’re brave. You’re brave for talking about your child, brave for sharing your story, you’re brave to face the world. I never felt brave in doing so, initially, I felt bereft and bewildered and spoke of Miles to make sure others knew he was real, that he had been born, that he was worth remembering. I was worried everyone would move on and forget about him.

What I think is brave and wonderful is when people include and mention babies who sadly couldn’t stay. It’s brave when people reach out to their friends who’ve lost babies even though they’re unsure of what to say or do. It’s brave to keep having uncomfortable conversations in the hope that one day they’ll no longer be uncomfortable. We need to talk about baby loss just as we need to continue talking about anxiety and depression.

In recent years thanks to the incredible work done by organisations such as Gidget Foundation Australia the topic of perinatal depression and anxiety has come out of the shadows making it easier for us to share our stories, seek help and receive vital support. My 3rd pregnancy was high risk due to severe fetal growth restriction. I grappled with crippling anxiety which was amplified after my daughter Bonnie arrived. She was born premature and spent her first 4 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit and special care unit. With the support of a wonderful GP, I was able to manage my anxiety, I dread to think how much it would have spiraled if I didn’t have this support.

I also found managing my anxiety when I fell pregnant with my youngest Tom, after losing Miles to be a huge challenge. I was constantly worried and found talking about my fears with other mothers who’d also experienced pregnancy after loss to be hugely beneficial. It was incredibly hard to share in others’ excitement of my impending arrival when I was terrified that tragedy would strike again. Whilst pregnant with Tom I also began writing a book, Miles Apart to give comfort and solidarity to other families who’ve lost a baby.

Miles Apart is the book I wished I’d had on my bedside table after Miles died. My goal is to make it available to families across Australia leaving hospitals and healthcare clinics with broken hearts and empty arms. The Miles Apart Foundation has been established to distribute donated copies of the book around Australia. Gidget Foundation Australia Clinicians have also been given copies of Miles Apart as a resource that they can pass onto their clients.

Baby loss can have an enormous and lifelong impact, we need to normalise how we talk about its emotional impact to help lift the taboo. Silence and shame add to the stigma which sadly remains, and my hope is that Miles Apart helps to open up much needed conversation whilst giving comfort and solidarity to grieving mothers.

Books are also available for purchase online

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