Emma and Nathan’s story – In loving memory of Ada
Emma and her husband Nathan have three beautiful children. Lottie, who is 3 and a half, Ada and rainbow baby Otis.
Ada was my fourth pregnancy following my living daughter Lottie (3.5) and two early miscarriages. When we made it through the first trimester and found out we were having another beautiful little girl I was absolutely ecstatic.
I dreamt of having a sister growing up. I have a brother five years older than me who has an intellectual disability, so I didn’t grow up with the traditional sibling relationship that I watched others enjoy. I was just so excited to have the privilege of providing Lottie with a little sister to dote on.
Every night before going to sleep I would lay there and imagine - dream - about our life together. What she would look like, who she would become. I would imagine the girls playing together. I could envision them sharing a room and looking out for each other at school and beyond. I dreamt of an entire life with my two girls together.
Imagining who she would be was the favourite part of my day.
We chose her name early on and easily. And I adored it. I talked to her constantly, wrote her name in notebooks, on scrap paper and whenever I had a pen in hand really.
We read Lottie books every night about becoming a big sister, she was so excited. Despite her young age she had really good comprehension. Late in my pregnancy she began putting nappies on her doll, feeding her, carrying her and patting her to sleep. She would hug and kiss my belly in moments of quiet. We spoke about all the ways life was going to change when her sister Ada came home.
Preparation was key – so I was told.
It just never entered my mind that these would be the only memories we’d have together with her alive.
On September 19th following a completely ordinary and lovely Sunday spent with friends... my heart sunk to the bottom of my stomach as I sat still reading Lottie her bedtime story. Why wasn’t she moving? When did she move last? Why do I feel such dread?
I put Lottie down, walked into the kitchen and started to cry. That was the beginning of our worst nightmare.
On the 20th of September 2021 at 32 weeks following a low risk, well monitored, smooth pregnancy – we lost our Ada June.
Despite a full autopsy, genetic testing and every available investigation of myself and Ada, her death remains unexplained. I’ve been told that it happened suddenly and quickly.
At first when I received pamphlets in the hospital, I didn’t even read them. Eventually I picked them up and joined a Facebook group. Around eight weeks after Ada’s death, I joined my first in person support group.
The safe space to sit and talk about Ada provided at this Red Nose support group made me feel safe. Held, and understood.
I met another loss Mum on my first night and we have been a huge support to each other. Not only in our grief, but also through subsequent pregnancies and now navigating newborn life. Early on I attended a session on self compassion and I’ve also attended a number of the play group sessions for parents with living children which were also very supportive. These are obviously all in person sessions which were just so valuable to me in making connections, but the facebook groups have also been helpful to make further online connections and build that village.
For families at the beginning of this journey, I want you to know the indescribable pain you are feeling is valid. Your child dying really is that bad. It’s unbearably unfair, heart shattering and completely re arranges your entire life.
And it will never leave you.
But it won’t always feel as all-consuming and intolerably heavy as it does in the first 12months… it doesn’t get easier, but it gets ‘different’… it ebbs and flows more. You start to come up for air and slowly have more moments of reprieve. You are forever changed, as you should be, you created a beautiful baby who only ever knew love, and that fact can’t ever be taken from you. Hold on, don’t give up. You are worthy, you are loved and it is not your fault. Your baby lives on through you.
I'd just like to emphasise that something so simple can make such a huge impact to a parent who has lost a child. We chose our daughter’s name with so many hopes and dreams attached, so much love. And we imagined saying it a million times a day.
Instead, we barely ever hear it outside the walls of our home. So, for others to say it out loud, or write it in a card or on a social media post... for them to acknowledge her life, her impact.
It is so incredibly meaningful to us. Hearing her name makes our hearts swell with love and pride.