Talking about him is an acknowledgement that he was here, and that you care and love me enough to talk about my beautiful baby boy
Chris - Liam's dad
My wife Bethany and I have been married for 8 years. We’ve had 6 years of fertility issues including failed IVF rounds, 2 miscarriages, a pregnancy termination due to an ectopic pregnancy and Liam was a neonatal death.
To us, we have 4 kids. To some members of society, we have 1 child that is deceased and to others we don’t have any children
Our son Liam was a beautiful boy. He had Bethany’s button nose and small ears, my long limbs and feet, and curly dark hair, all of which I am grateful for.
He was a big baby for 30 weeks, measuring 46cm long and weighing 1750gms. Liam was born at 30 + 3 week’s gestation after preterm prelabour rupture of membrane (PPROM) at 16 weeks. He passed away in my arms in the NICU when he was 22 hours old.
The name Liam means strong willed warrior. We chose this name not long after we found out about the PPROM and he embodied this, fighting during the whole pregnancy and for the time he was with us in the NICU.
The bereaved dads’ touch footy team has allowed me to connect with others who all know the same pain.
I feel that when it comes to pregnancy and infant loss, the fathers/non baby carrying partners don’t get the same level of care that the baby’s mother does, so I wanted to bring guys together that have been through absolute hell. We all know how the other guy is feeling.
Touch football is the avenue but what I want to create is a safe space where grieving dads that have been through hell like I have, have somewhere they can go and have a run around, even if it’s just for 2 hours a week. We sit down after the game and have a beer or 2, meet once a month at the pub on a Saturday arvo and talk about life’s challenges.
Spending time with these guys has helped my grief journey immensely.
In the initial months after Liam died, I felt so isolated by society, as well as some family and friends. Vast majorities of people do not want to talk about the tiny baby that died, but they should.
The baby existed, still exists and like any parent I want to talk about Liam’s massive feet and his button nose. I was losing my hair at 25 so to have a baby with thick, black curly hair makes me incredibly happy.
These parents are going through the worst time of their lives and people not acknowledging their baby or their grief because they feel too “uncomfortable” or “don’t know what to say” isn’t good enough. If you are not sure what to say, Google it. Saying nothing is not good enough.
Saying the baby’s name isn’t going to give you bad luck with your own pregnancies or babies, neonatal death is not contagious.
Likewise, talking about Liam isn’t going to remind me that he is not here; I live with that reality every day. Talking about him is acknowledgement that he was here, and that you care and love me enough to talk about my beautiful baby boy.
The brief period of uncomfortableness for you is nothing in comparison to what that person is going through and it could well make their day or week and give them enough strength to get up and go another day.
We have a few special ways of remembering Liam:
- A plaque at the Red Nose garden at Mt Gravatt, which I visit regularly
- We scattered part of Liam’s ashes at a small beach in Kingscliff, which has become a second home to me
- We have the remainder of his ashes in an urn at home with his hand and feet casts that sits with his Precious Wings memory box
- Beth made a sentimental bench that has become another massive part of my life and a way of connecting with Liam
- We also go for a family walk with our dog every Sunday afternoon at 5.30pm, which was the day and time Liam died
I’m very grateful and appreciative of the care and support from Red Nose’s Hospital to Home program, which has been amazing for us.
To be able to sit down and talk with someone who had walked in our shoes was immensely helpful. We were able to discuss how we were feeling, where our grief journey was at, and they helped guide us through the first few months when everything was very dark.
To others who are going through similar pain, I’m so sorry that you have joined this horrible club that no one should ever have to be a part of.
There are some incredibly difficult days ahead with a few manageable/okay moments. Over time the okay days will slowly become more frequent and the difficult days will slowly subside.
There are people out there for you. You may need to look a bit harder for them and they may not be the people that you thought, but they are there. So please keep looking.
Be kind to yourself and your partner. Do what you can. Replace should with could. Grief is just love with nowhere to go so please don’t give up on yourself.