‘We lost 12 babies. 7 years is a very long time. Most couples we know now have 2 or 3 kids.’: Couple advocate for other bereaved parents, ‘We continue to fight’

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“Some women get pregnant and carry easily. Others find the journey of creating a family to be riddled with challenges and heartbreak. Unfortunately, my partner, Paul, and I fall into the latter category. We have been on our baby journey for 7 years now. During this time, we have lost 12 consecutive pregnancies/babies. I have literally spent the best part of the past 7 years either trying to get pregnant, trying to stay pregnant, or recovering from a lost pregnancy or baby. Our first son, Cooper, was stillborn on February 14, 2014. Our second son, Hudson, was stillborn on January 23, 2015. Our identical twin girls, Emma and Zoe, tangled their cords and passed away on August 30, 2015. Our third son, Noah, was stillborn on October 6, 2018, and we have endured 7 miscarriages from 2016 through 2019. We currently have no surviving children.

Courtesy of Samantha Rowe

As part of our journey, we have met with all kinds of specialists. You don’t get to the point we are at without turning over every stone. We’ve both been through extremely thorough Genetic Testing on several occasions. Partway through our baby journey, our medical team discovered I was lacking a protein called Mannose Binding Lectin (MBL). MBL deficiency affects the immune system and in my case, makes me highly susceptible to recurrent infections. As a result, I have to be monitored very closely throughout every pregnancy and follow a strict medication plan. I usually end up in the hospital several times throughout each pregnancy, battling a variety of nasty infections that not only risk my baby’s life but sometimes my own life as well.

Courtesy of Samantha Rowe
Courtesy of Samantha Rowe

Another issue of great concern for us, arguably our biggest issue if I’m completely honest, is the fact I tend to go into labor too early. For some reason, which may or may not be linked to my MBL deficiency, the doctors are not sure, I have been unable to carry a baby past 22 weeks. All three of our sons who have been stillborn arrived around this gestation. Cooper at 22 weeks, Hudson at 19.6 weeks, and Noah at 21.6 weeks. The issue that makes things even harder to manage is the fact my cervix doesn’t shorten like you would normally see in a patient with a history of preterm labor. I pretty much go from being fine one moment to being in full-blown labor within a matter of hours. By this time, we are then at a point of no return.

Courtesy of Samantha Rowe

As you can imagine, our life has and continues to be consumed by sadness and loss. Virtually every month of the year now has some kind of anniversary or memorial date associated with it, which is utterly heartbreaking. Quite honestly, it’s a really tough way to live.

7 years is a very long time. Many couples we know who hadn’t even met when we were at the beginning of our baby journey now have two or three kids and while we are incredibly happy for them, it’s absolutely heartbreaking for us. It’s really hard to watch others do what you cannot, especially when, as a woman, all I’ve ever wanted was to be a mom.

Courtesy of Samantha Rowe

When your child or baby dies, you feel unimaginable pain and grief. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced such loss just how deep the sadness is that grips your soul or how the heartbreak of losing your much loved and wanted baby consumes every single part of your life. There are no words that can accurately convey the amount of pain you feel. It’s definitely something that stays with you forever. You may in time learn to live with your grief, but both you and your outlook on life will change.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss is still considered to be such a taboo topic. As a society, we don’t do death well, let alone the death of a baby or child. The broader impacts of our losses have been enormous. There is this knock-on effect that seems to creep into almost every part of your life. The impact reaches family members, friends, employers, colleagues — pretty much everyone you are connected to at the time of your loss. The hardest part we have found, personally, is social isolation. So often people don’t know what to say, so they choose to say nothing. And then after a period of saying nothing, they eventually drop off. I have lost count of the number of people who have ceased contact with us over the years. Our life has definitely become very quiet, which is also really hard.

Courtesy of Samantha Rowe

I never could have possibly imagined just how challenging or heartbreaking our journey was going to be. Looking back, I wish I knew so much more. I wish I knew how common pregnancy and infant loss actually was. I wish Paul and I had met earlier in our life so we could have started our baby journey earlier. I wish more people would talk about their experiences so when others find themselves in such a position, they would feel less isolated and alone. I wish I had known about my health concerns a lot earlier in our baby journey. I wish I had spoken up and advocated for both myself and my babies a lot more than I actually did during our journey to date. I wish all of the existing alternate pathways to parenthood weren’t so complex, convoluted, and costly. Last but by no means least, I wish more than anything our babies were still here with us.

Courtesy of Samantha Rowe

About a year into our baby journey, Paul and I started to become involved in the loss community. We volunteered with several loss related organizations, including Angel Gowns Australia and Sands Australia. Before long, it became quite clear we had developed a passion for helping others and we wanted to do more. In mid-2016, we started Memories of an Angel (MOAA), a self-funded social enterprise that raises continued awareness for Pregnancy and Infant Loss. Additionally, we provide Bereaved Parents with support, understanding, and a place to belong — in our special community, which is a safe environment free of judgment where Bereaved Parents are among like-minded individuals who ‘get it.’ MOAA has gone from strength to strength with each passing year and has become an incredibly supportive community of over 15,000 Bereaved Parents and supporters. We specialize in a variety of awareness products and memorial keepsakes and also provide opportunities for Bereaved Parents to connect through specialized workshops, catchups, memorials, and social gatherings. Both Paul and I are passionate advocates for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. We are so proud to be championing this very special cause and to have built such a special legacy for our own babies.

Courtesy of Samantha Rowe
Courtesy of Samantha Rowe

While our own journey is perhaps not quite over, it is now nearing an end. As Paul is now 44 and I am 41, our chances of achieving a successful pregnancy which would result in a healthy live baby, given our complex history, is highly unlikely.

We previously used all our savings to undertake IVF using donor eggs. Unfortunately, this approach also failed for us. As such, the final option we have left now is to pursue surrogacy. We are currently trying to pull together the required funds but the process comes with a substantial price tag (over 100K) and it is quite a lengthy journey.

I truly hope from the bottom of my heart, one day in the future, Paul and I can share the happy news we are expecting and it will be a celebratory and joyous occasion that will see us welcoming a very special little person (or people) into our lives. It’s that dream we continue to fight for!”

Courtesy of Samantha Rowe

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Samantha Rowe from Melbourne, AU. You can follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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