Jasmine Connelly was beyond excited. It was the day of her baby shower, she’d just started maternity leave and was heading off on her babymoon in a few days.
But her joy turned to unimaginable heartbreak later that day, when she discovered her baby boy had died, at 35 weeks.
Warning: This article contains images of baby loss.
“It was no doubt the hardest time of my life,” Jasmine said.
Queensland couple Jasmine, 33, and her husband Bevan were thrilled to be welcoming their first baby – the first grandchild on both sides of the family. But the morning of her baby shower, she noticed something wasn’t right.
“I remember the day I noticed Archie hadn’t kicked inside my belly, it was the morning of my baby shower,” she said.
“It was unusual. I was used to him moving around. I was so excited about my baby shower, I wanted to see my girlfriends and enjoy my first day of maternity leave, and we were to go on our babymoon the week after.”
After her baby shower, Jasmine went to Mater’s Pregnancy Assessment Centre (PAC) for a medical check. And she heard the words that would crumble their world.
“When I heard the words ‘there’s no heartbeat’ I was in a state of shock – Archie was both our parents’ first grandchild.
“I actually had had a textbook pregnancy. I was nervous and excited. I was used to him moving … and then everything came to a halt.”
After Jasmine gave birth to beautiful baby Archie, doctor’s discovered he’d died due to his umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck.
The bereavement team encouraged the the family to hold Archie, and Jasmine spent several nights with him in hospital.
“Every day is different. There are definitely days that are darker than others. And there are days that make you smile and laugh,” she said.
“Time can go very slowly when you are caught up in the depth of grief – several months have gone by since we lost Archie and I sometimes I still feel angry that he isn’t with us.
“You would be hard-pressed to find a bereaved parent who doesn’t feel guilt or shame after losing their child in the early months. There’s definitely times when that guilt comes back with a vengeance, especially on anniversaries or milestones.”
Jasmine is now seven months pregnant with her second baby. “Being pregnant again comes with a new type of guilt,” she confessed.
As part of the grieving process, Mater’s gifted the couple a memory box from Precious Wings as a keepsake. The boxes include hand and footprints, locks of hair and other precious items.
The Connelly’s memory box included two teddy bears – one that was left with Archie and another they took home. Charity Heart Felt Photography also captured the moments following Archie’s birth.
“For some parents, they leave hospital carrying only a little box of those memories. It is such a privilege to give parents these boxes during what can be the hardest moment of their life,” said Mater Mothers’ Hospital Perinatal Loss Coordinator Emma Porter.
Brisbane paediatric nurse and Precious Wings Founder and CEO Kerry Gordon gave birth to her stillborn son Toby at 22 weeks in 2011.
“Instead of carrying home my beautiful newborn baby boy to his excited big brother, I carried home the shattered remains of my life with no idea how to piece it back together,” she said.
It prompted her to start the Precious Wings organisation.
“There is no guide as to how to navigate this unspeakable loss. I found myself feeling isolated and alone. I desperately trawled the internet trying to find others that I could connect to who had experienced a similar loss. I was terrified of reintegrating back into society and felt judged and pressured to ‘get back to normal’.”
“Losing Toby made me reflect on how hospitals care for bereaved families when they lose a child and what a difference that care can make to the grieving process. I am dedicated to improving the bereavement care and support provided to bereaved families and ensuring all families have access to resources to create precious memories of their child.”We may get commissions for purchases made using links in this post. Learn more.