In October 2008, at 35 weeks pregnant, my second son was stillborn.
It had been a routine second pregnancy, with no indications anything was wrong. The first I felt something wasn’t right was after a busy day caring for our toddler. When I finally had time to sit down, I realised my baby hadn’t moved much that day. The next day, Thomas Mabbott was born but his little body was lifeless. He had died in utero.
The cause of death was unknown at the time of the birth.
We did know that I did not have any of the usual risk factors known to be associated with stillbirth; I was not overweight, it was a second pregnancy, I was not a smoker, I was still only in my early thirties and I didn’t have any health issues.
The post mortem, which we received many months later, advised cause of death was a severe feteo-maternal hemorrhage. The simplest explanation for a feteo-maternal hemorrhage is the membranes between the placenta and wall of the uterus breakdown. It can occur due to trauma, placental abruption or may be spontaneous, with no cause found; which was the case for mine.
It is a very rare occurrence, cannot be screened for and happens in an instant. Because it is so rare, there is very little known about why it occurs, or therefore, how to prevent it. There was nothing anyone could have done to save Thomas. It was simply a terrible, tragic loss.
At the time, my husband James and I, knew about stillbirth, as a good friend in South Africa had experienced one a few years earlier. But we, like so many others, didn’t consider it was something that could happen here in Australia.
In Australia, it is a sad truth that there is limited awareness about stillbirth, its frequency, causes and impacts.
Unless directly impacted by stillbirth, most people believe it is something that used to happen, prior to the advent of modern medicine or that it belongs to an age when health and nutrition were poor.
Through our tragic experience, we learned the statistics for stillborn babies have not moved in decades, despite the advances in medical and health care, with six babies stillborn every day in Australia. A frightening statistic when we knew first-hand the pain and suffering those families experience after the loss of their longed-for baby.
Today, I am a life and grief coach, working with other mothers who choose to honour their lost child by living their best and most authentic lives.
My journey to get to this point has had tough times and moments where I questioned whether I would be okay.
Would my marriage survive? Would somehow our first son be irrevocably harmed by the loss of his brother, or, his parent’s sadness and grief? Because of the experience of losing Thomas, I found myself reflecting on many of my life decisions.
This is not uncommon; most parents who experience the loss of a child reconsider many of their life choices. Sometimes changes are made, other times not.
It was this experience, and the deep desire to live life in a way that honoured the loss of Thomas, that led me to start my coaching business in early 2016.
My purpose in life now is to help other parents transform their lives – from one experiencing the pain of loss, unwanted change, anxiety, challenge and imbalance, to a balanced, transformed, happy life. A life full of joy, hope and love.
Based in Sydney, yet supporting clients all over the country and around the world, JoyHopeLove is my coaching practice. Through coaching, I work with mothers who want to move forward and use the loss of their child as a driving force to change their lives. They want to turn their upset into a set-up for the future. Many times, the change they wish to undertake involves the idea of legacy, and living a happier, more purposeful life to honour their lost child.
As well as coaching parents one–on–one, I also founded an online support group, Parents Evolving & Transitioning After Loss (PETAL). My experience showed there was little understanding from the wider community regarding how the loss of a baby impacts not only the parents, but the siblings of the baby, the grandparents and the siblings of the parents, as well as wider family and friends. For this reason, I started the PETAL group as an online support network for parents, to provide a safe place to talk about the ongoing impact of their loss, particularly after the initial grief has passed.
Latest posts by Rowena Mabbott (see all)
- Life after baby loss: living with joy, hope and love - December 21, 2016