A word of warning: readers might find this post upsetting.
October is SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This month parents and families across Australia will honour their babies who passed away from miscarriage, stillbirth or postnatal causes.
To lose a baby is an agonising heartbreak that no one should ever have to go through. Here is Paige's story about her son Franklin...
By Guest Blogger Paige Cunningham (@jarnipers)
My son Franklin was born on September 15th - tiny, beautiful, and perfectly imperfect.
It was a loss we knew was coming, yet something we could never be prepared for. Weeks earlier we had our morphology scan that revealed some things weren't right. After further scans, MRIs, amniocentesis and consults with multiple doctors we were met with grim news. I can still remember the doctor talking slowly, like in bullet point, or maybe I just took in fragments. Four different congenital brain defects. "Your son is very sick, I am sorry but he will not make it". I felt hollow; all I could hear is my heartbeat pounding in my ears.
We'd already lost his twin, this couldn't be happening. I remember sitting there taking it all in, we could handle disability; "it'll be okay right?" Pushing the doctors, "it'll be okay right?" It wasn't.
Handed paperwork to read, research to do, given numbers for services I could call, charities and outreach groups that I would come to need. It broke me making the phone call and planning a funeral for the unborn child who was kicking away at my hand on my belly.
When Franklin was born it was such a bittersweet moment, holding my son and feeling so proud and full of love. He was beautiful, with a button nose and pouty lips like his sister. Long slender fingers like mine. Furrowed brow just like his Dad's. I was broken, defeated.
But the worst was yet to come, I had to say goodbye. It was the hardest thing I have ever done - one more hold, just one more kiss. But I did it. I walked out across the foyer of the hospital with colostrum leaking through my shirt, an uncomfortable maternity pad on, tears streaming down my face, clinging to a teddy.
Grief is hard. There are a range of emotions you go through. I get stuck on guilt and anger. Guilt is resonating, I should have done more, it was my job to grow and nurture this child and I couldn't. Anger is fierce - at myself, at the doctors, at the world.
I've been thrown into this other world, one of being a parent who has lost a child. Guided there kindly by a beautiful friend of mine who lost her son last year. Seeing her talk about him, with pride, love and strength, opened me up to doing the same. Our babies were here, they will always be our babies and we will always be their mothers.
It's lonely here, in this realm of parenting. People never know what to say, and that is okay. I don't know what to say either.
If you know a parent who has lost a child, you can tell them how sorry you are. You can cry, light a candle for them, be there when they need you, talk to them about their baby (we are proud fierce mamas who love our babies), make them food, and hold them. But give them respect and space. Sometimes we just want to cry and we don't want to face the world.
Don't say nothing. That really hurts and we're already lonely enough. We know it's uncomfortable. Send us a heart emoji just to say you're there. Don't say "you can try again" - we are traumatised, and we loved and wanted THIS baby. Don't say "things happen for a reason", there is no reason big enough to justify our loss.
And to the parents facing this cruel fate, I am so sorry. It's not fair. No one expects you to be okay. You don't have to face the world with a brave face. Be gentle with yourselves and seek your happiness in the little things.
I hadn't laughed in weeks, than I found myself in the kitchen with arms full of groceries wetting my pants. Not a little trickle when I sneezed but standing in a puddle of pee, jeans and Converse soaked through. I wet my pants like a child, while my husband stared at me. And I laughed a proper hard belly laugh with tears streaming down my cheeks.
Whatever walk of life you're on, you're not alone. It's okay to not be okay. And you will laugh again, as Miranda in Sex in the City points out, when something's really really funny.