Sophia’s story - in loving memory of Mia

24 Mar 2022

Mia was donor conceived after I decided to conceive a child as a single person. Myself and my close family and friends all felt connected to her while she was growing in my womb, and we all felt she had a very happy little spirit.

Sophia - Mia's mum

In loving memory of Mia

Mia was born still at 22 weeks gestation on 22 December 2022, after being diagnosed with multiple massive organ complications and trisomy 18. When I was given Mia’s diagnosis and understood that she would not survive, I had to make the most difficult and heart-breaking decision of my life, to be induced at 22 weeks – referred to in the medical world as termination for medical reasons (TFMR).

I find this terminology very problematic as it implies you had a choice, which isn’t accurate. With Mia’s diagnosis she could not survive outside my body, the only control I had was around how peaceful and loving her departure from this world would be.

If the pregnancy progressed further, Mia could be born trying to breathe in a body that couldn’t sustain breath or life outside my body, and have a few short and very distressing moments in this world before dying.

I didn’t want that for her so I carried her for as long as I could safely, so that she could have a peaceful and loving transition only having known the warm happy somersault space of my womb. I chose the most painful choice for myself knowing it was the only loving path forward for her.

Mia was donor conceived after I decided to conceive a child as a single person. Myself and my close family and friends all felt connected to her while she was growing in my womb, and we all felt she had a very happy little spirit.

She was so active in her little somersault space in my belly. Because I spent a lot of days and hours being scanned when we started to discover things weren’t right with her, I and my mum (who has been my incredible primary support person through my pregnancy and Mia’s death) spent a lot of time observing and engaging with her on the screen.

Every time I had a scan a little hand would go right up as though she was waving at us, and when we were trying to do the amniocentesis test it took so long because she kept putting her little bum in the way. We and the medical attendants all agreed she was a bit cheeky and had a sense of humour.

Even though my hopes and plans for our life together are lost and it is very painful, I still feel her light happy energy around me most of the time.

Mia was born and died right before Christmas, so nearly all my friends and network were away and consumed in the holiday season. I felt very alone.

Luckily, I had my amazing mum staying with me at the time and totally keeping me afloat and alive, but mum also had her own grief of losing her grandchild and watching her daughter labour and birth her still baby.

Now I have a special table in my bedroom dedicated to Mia, where I have her ashes, candle, flowers and a few other bits and pieces that I feel connect me to her. I light the candle daily.

But really, I feel most connected to Mia when I am out in nature and each day in the way things happen like when a blue butterfly passes by me just when I am thinking of her, or when I’m sitting in a coffee shop and a dragonfly flies in completely randomly. These are the types of reminders that our spirit loves are with us – if we choose to notice.

In the hospital I was given some information on Sands, and through Sands I discovered and linked up with some of the support offerings of Red Nose.

Red Nose and Sands had some really helpful resources online that both mum and I referred to and early on we both called the 24/7 support line at different times. I also went on to have a couple of check-ins with a Red Nose grief support worker before I found an ongoing birth experience counsellor.

I think the support that has helped me the most from Red Nose has been the regular stillbirth and TFMR support groups. Supporting a loved one who has had this experience can be so difficult for friends and family who have never been touched in that way. Connecting in small groups with other people who have been through it and understand all the plethora of complicated experiences, thoughts and emotions that follow is just so valuable.

Trying to convey the story and experience to those who haven’t been through it can be quite draining and taxing emotionally so being able to sit and say things and be understood in the support groups without having to spell out every detail of the story helped me so much.

It’s about being heard and validated in your experience and also hearing from others who are at different points in the journey and have moved through different milestones is really valuable too.

Without the support from Sands and Red Nose I would not have survived the loss of my daughter Mia. Especially having consciously conceived Mia as a single person, and having her stillbirth occur at Christmas when people were busy and away on holidays I felt very isolated. Sands support groups, support and grief workers and resources kept me afloat (and continue to) and I will be eternally grateful for that.

Regardless of circumstances, every family grieving their child needs appropriate and sensitive support that often others in your life cannot or don't know how to provide. Sands and Red Nose provide this in a completely accessible way. They even support the people in your life who are not sure how to support you but want to.

To others facing loss I would say there is support out there that can help you survive and move through the hardest time of your life.

I recommend taking the step and seeking support from Red Nose. I was very nervous when I first signed up – it took me a while to even call the support line because I didn’t know what I would say. But you don’t have to know. I wish I had called earlier because there is someone at the end of the line who can just hold space for you when you really need it.

I was nervous about joining the support groups too but was so glad I did – I left my first group feeling like a weight had been lifted off me. Please make use of these supports.

And know that although your pain will always be with you, it won’t always feel this way, it will change over time and there will eventually be room in your wounded heart for other feelings and experiences to sit alongside the sadness.

When I think back to Christmas I was certain I would never be ok again. Now I feel proud of myself for surviving and I have more days of feeling ok, and I can find bits of Mia magic in my days and can see all the big joy, love and magic she brought me and my family in her short time. The sadness is still there but there is space for other feelings too.

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.

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