By Annette, mother of Hayley and Lina.
“Our beautiful Hayley was stillborn at full term. She was born on our wedding anniversary, so it makes the day even more special, a little sad but also happy. We always celebrate both her birthday and our anniversary.
“Being over 40, I never thought I would have kids. Hayley was very much a wonderful surprise. I had a trouble-free pregnancy, except for the insane mango cravings.
“I was due to be induced, but I woke up that morning and knew something wasn’t right.
“We went straight to the hospital and they told us that Hayley had no heartbeat.
“I thought the world was going to end.
“Then I had to have a whole heap of tests to try to find the cause. My poor husband looked on and was pretty much ignored.
“We were then sent home for the night, as they didn’t have a bed free to be able to induce me.
“That is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do – I didn’t want to go back the next day, I wanted to keep Hayley with me.
“I had a relatively easy labour and Hayley was born within two hours. Over the next two days, we got to spend time with Hayley. We bathed her, dressed her, cuddled her, and took photos. These are moments I will treasure forever.
“At the hospital, we received an overwhelming amount of information to take home and read.
“We both knew we needed to talk to someone, but we didn’t want to leave the house. I called Red Nose as they offered a counsellor that would come to our home, and we followed up with more sessions over the phone.
“The initial counselling allowed us to grieve in our own way. They gave us the tools to use, when we were ready, to do the basics like be at the shops and have someone ask how the baby is.
“This was invaluable and I still use these skills today when people get uncomfortable when I mention Hayley or say I have two kids.
“Red Nose was also extremely helpful for my hubby. Everything is aimed at the mother. It felt like he was not a part of anything at times.
“Red Nose helped him navigate his way around his grief and also made him realise that he was just as important as me.
“We also asked for help again when I fell pregnant with our second child, Lina.
“I had an overwhelming amount of guilt, but I was shown how to turn that into a positive thing. And we were also provided with some amazing resources that have helped us explain to Lina all about her big sister Hayley, and why she doesn’t live with us.
“We have photos in the house. We celebrate her birthday with cake and balloons at the cemetery.
“If I am signing a card, it has all four names on it. We talk about her and often wonder what she is doing.
“We also thank her, as she changed our lives. Yes, losing her was devastating, and something you never “get over”, but our family is now closer than ever, and complete.
“I am sure she sent us a healthy beautiful little sister.
“What I’ve learned is that grief has no time frame, no instruction manual. You need to do what is right for you.
“Don’t let others make you feel uncomfortable when talking about your child and what happened – if they do make you feel that way, it’s them with the issue not you.
“And if you need help, ask. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. There are people out there who can help.
“I wanted to share Hayley’s story for Say Their Name Day as a way to honour and acknowledge her.
“It’s so important to us as a family to say Hayley’s name. She is a part of our family. And we love that we can acknowledge her by talking about her. And talking about her when I say I have two kids and people assume I only have one.
“I have had people say to me – ‘it’s not nice talking about dead people’, or ‘how can you talk about her like she is still here?’
“While she may not have taken a breath on this earth, she was very much here, and very much a human being. She was the most beautiful little thing ever (I may be biased!).
“And she is very much a part of who I am today, so I think I have every right to say her name, whenever and as often as I want too, just like I do when talking about my other daughter Lina.
“While it is sad that she is not here, she is still my child.
“And that’s why I think Say Their Name day is so important – it’s a simple gesture, but a powerful gesture, and it has such a big impact for families like mine.
Say Their Name Day is on March 25 – a special day to remember all of the little lives we have loved and lost, and support bereaved families.