Mallory's story

Mallory's story

The 5 May 2015 – our third wedding anniversary, and the day our world fell apart. What should have been the happiest day of our lives, the birth of our first child, could not have been further from how we had ever imagined.

When I found out I was pregnant in November 2014, I hadn’t given a great deal of thought to starting a family. Like a lot of people, it was something I always thought was in my future, and I had taken for granted the idea that children would just happen. Once the news had sunk in, myself and my husband Mark were thrilled with the idea of becoming parents. We planned out a nursery, started thinking of names (Mark came up with a variety of comical suggestions!).

Early on in the pregnancy I had some bleeding, which sent me into a panic. A trip to the obstetrician showed all was still well with our tiny baby so I tried to push the worries aside and continued on with preparing for our baby. The bleeding continued on and off, until one night at 17 weeks pregnant when I woke in the middle of the night to a bleed like nothing I’d experienced before. Mark took me into our local emergency department where an ultrasound showed our baby’s heart still beating strongly. I felt a sense of relief when I saw it flickering away on the screen in front of me. But I knew from the sonographers face there was something very wrong. “I’m afraid your waters have broken, it does not look good for your baby”.

We were transferred to a specialist ultrasound centre where a doctor explained that I was likely to go into labour within the next 48 hours, and it was unlikely our baby would be born alive, and if they were, they would not live for long as it was way too early.  We were sent home and I tried to process what had happened. I never even knew it was possible for this to happen. I felt a huge sense of guilt that my body had let down my precious little baby, who was still alive and moving around. The 48 hours came and went, and I still hadn’t gone into labour. I went onto bed rest in the hope that this would help my baby stay put.

To my amazement our little baby sat tight. Each day was a challenge and fraught with anxiety, as I didn’t know if that would be the day that I lost our baby. After 7 weeks of bed rest at home I was admitted to the Mater Mothers Hospital to continue on bed rest. Our baby had reached ‘viability’ at 24 weeks. This meant they stood a chance, and if they were born there were interventions which could be performed to give our baby hope for survival. I met with the paediatricians from the NICU to speak about a plan for our baby. I had so much hope.

After two weeks on bed rest everything came crashing down. I woke up one morning and realised I had felt no movement from our baby. One of the midwives tried to find our babies heartbeat – nothing. I started to panic. An urgent scan was arranged. I rang my husband and asked him to leave work at once. I was wheeled to the ultrasound department. As soon as the probe was placed on my belly I knew the worst had happened. ‘I’m so sorry, but your baby has no heartbeat’. I didn’t even know how to process this. My baby had held on so long. The thought that they would die before being born just hadn’t seemed like an option now. I asked a nurse to call my mum and tell her to get to me as soon as she could. I was trying to work out how to tell Mark, when he arrived and I realised I didn’t have to tell him, as soon as he walked into the room he knew.

I was induced a day later and our baby girl, Eva made her silent entrance into the world. She was tiny but perfectly formed. The midwives at the Mater went above and beyond to make the most of the time we had with our little girl. They took hand and footprints, helped Mark to bath and dress her, made a beautiful memory book with some photos they took. They also called a charity, Heartfelt, who sent out a photographer who captured the most precious images of Eva. It felt so unfair. We should have had a lifetime to make memories. Before I had experienced this, I would probably have thought it was morbid to take photos of a baby who had already passed away, but she looked incredibly peaceful. There would be no first day of school photos, no graduation photos, no wedding photos for our little girl. These photos were all we would have.

We were able to keep our baby in a specially cooled bassinet in our room so we could have extra time with her. I noticed that this bassinet had been donated in memory of another baby who had gone too soon. We received a beautiful memory box and teddy bear, both donated in other babies names. This made me realise we were not the only ones to have to go through this, my heart hurt for these other families but also gave me comfort that life could continue after this and at some point we too could do something positive in Eva’s name.

Nothing could prepare me for having to leave our beautiful girl behind in hospital and walking out the doors with empty arms was so painful it physically hurt. In the weeks that followed we had to choose a coffin for our little girl and make arrangements for flowers and a cremation. No parent should ever have to do this.

Life eventually had to resume, and we adjusted to our ‘new normal’ as bereaved parents. I returned to work after being granted full maternity leave from my employer (vital for both my emotional and physical wellbeing). I found that other people around me struggled to know what to say. Some people avoided the subject completely, which, whilst probably intended to protect my feelings, hurt even more. My daughter had been here and although only a few people had seen her, she was very real. Each morning a wave of grief would still pass over me as I woke up and remembered the reality that we were now living. Following meetings with my obstetrician, we were told no reason could be found as to why we had lost Eva. After a few months we decided the time was right to try again. Another baby would be no replacement for Eva, but my arms felt so empty and I longed for another chance to be a mum.

I fell pregnant again quickly, in August 2015. Initially the pregnancy went quite smoothly and we got through the first trimester without any issues.

It wasn’t until the second trimester when we discovered our little boy was not growing at the rate he should’ve been, and there was little amniotic fluid surrounding him. Unfortunately the situation looked very similar to my pregnancy with Eva. At 25 and a half weeks we found out that lightening can strike twice. Our beautiful boy had passed and my world was once again shattered beyond repair. I was induced and once again, a perfect baby born completely still. We named our little boy Zachary. Once again, we bathed him, dressed him and tried to make the most of the little time we had. The same beautiful photographer from Heartfelt came to us and took the most precious photographs. I could not believe we were doing this for a second time, I did not know how I was ever supposed to cope. How could I ever be the same person again?

We went back to the same funeral director to choose a coffin for our Zachary. She was shocked to see us there again within a year of losing Eva. It was the most sickening feeling of de ja vu. This time I felt as if I had been hit even harder. When we lost Zachary I felt a lot of hope go with him. Would I ever be able to birth a living baby? Waking up every morning and continuing felt like a battle.

We fund raised for Heartfelt, and donated memory boxes in our babies names. Knowing that our experience would bring another family some comfort during the darkest hours gave me some positivity. I also attended support groups which were run by other families who had gone through similar experiences  and met with the fantastic bereavement team at the Mater.

Moving forward it became apparent that losing two babies in such similar circumstances had not been a heartbreaking coincidence. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and a blood clotting disorder. Whilst this diagnosis was difficult to deal with, having a name for my condition brought with it some potential treatment options for future pregnancies.

Eventually, after another couple of years the time felt right to try again. This time the pregnancy was harder emotionally than it was physically. I had an overwhelming sense of fear that the same thing could happen for a third time. I spent a great deal of the pregnancy as an inpatient at the Mater, for close monitoring, which helped with my own mental wellbeing. Nothing was ever too much trouble for my amazing obstetrician and midwives.  I was also referred to a psychologist through the Mater who helped me to make sense of how my previous trauma was affecting my outlook on this new pregnancy.

This time, with the right medications, the pregnancy progressed much more smoothly. The week after my 30th birthday in July 2018, after a long labour, we welcomed our third child into the world. This time our baby was born healthy at 36 weeks. I cannot begin to fully describe the emotion when I first heard his cry. Our little boy Oscar has gone a long way to help heal our hearts, but the scars still remain and our first two precious children remain in our minds every day. He is in no way a replacement but there are times when I look at him and see glimpses of similarities between him and our other babies. 

By sharing my story I hope this can give other parents in similar situation some hope for the future, and let them know that they are not alone in their pain.

I also hope that the staff at the Mater can know how truly valued their hard work is in supporting parents like ourselves, and how the little gestures went a long way in providing comfort when we needed it most. 

Return to Bereavement Services Page

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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