05 January 2009

Angel gowns: when pregnancy ends in heartache

I came across a really interesting concept recently that made me think about an issue that I tend to forget as I rant about pregnancy, losing baby weight and the fatuous lives of celebrities. Dana, from Unique Christening Gowns in Melbourne, pointed me in the direction of her online store as a reminder that sometimes pregnancy ends in heartache. After all, according to the Bonnie Babies Foundation, one in every four pregnancies ends in a loss from miscarriage and stillbirth. Over 17,000 babies are born prematurely, many of them often struggling for life. The organisation provides free grief counseling for couples that have lost a child due to miscarriage, stillbirth or prematurity.

Dana creates beautiful gowns for parents to bury their babies, 'angel gowns', a product that is strangely non-existent in the mainstream market. As grief counselors tell grieving parents to find a way to connect with their babies' short lives, often having a proper funeral is an important way for parents to farewell their children meaningfully. I have heard over and over again from women who have miscarried how angry they are when friends and relatives respond to their grief with the statement that they can just 'try again', implying that a miscarriage is not the loss of an actual 'life' to many women. A number of women in my study told me that it took them months and even years to feel confident enough to try for another baby after so many previous disappointments.

Sources: http://uniquechristeninggowns.blogspot.com/search/label/angel%20gowns


Louisa said...

Sadly it's true, in Victoria alone 2 in every 100 babies die from stilbirth, when we went to deliver our Harry at full term we never expected him not to breathe, we had paid for the best private care and OB it wasn't their faults, because of a cord accident Harry sadly died, by all means he was a chubby blonde blue eyed baby and he looked like he was going to take a breath, women whom lose a baby to Stillbirth often call it the silent grief because often people don't validate it as sheer grief, but the hopes, expectations and possibilities of this baby already in our lives from the moment we declared we were pregnant is dashed when those words are uttered "sorry we can't find a heartbeat" you get to hold the baby, hug them and it is a beautiful thing that Dana is doing to offer gowns to babies, you certainly don't expect to walk out of the hospital with a nappy bag just with their footprints, a lock of hair and their handprints...Baby loss is such a complex form of grief and it is so sad that these things happen but it still happens even with recent medical advances, stillbirth is still known as the last mystery of medical obstetrics, because things can happen..Kind regards Louisa Line

Louisa said...

Talking of babies that have died is such a taboo subject, I know people don't like to believe it happens as it is too distressing but it does happen and it happens every day in Australia and parents like myself and my husband would like to be able to be open about our son's existance and to raise awareness that pregnancy loss can happen at any stage and babies can die soon after birth and before birth and it is devastating for all those concerned.

In Australia today, one in four pregnancies end in heartbreak and one in every hundred babies are stillborn.

It's an invisable grief I would like to be made more visable to the greater community just because the baby was known only to the parents and that bond was made with the direct family, it doesn't mean that it should not be a shared nor a supported grief, our grief was intense and we are still living with it...support is crucial, understanding that parents, siblings and families need support is so important. Also talk about the baby, validate the loss, validate the baby as a human being, what Dana is doing is an important service to parents, when we went to deliver Harry at full term he had died due to a cord accident, I had only had a healthy check up four days prior, we had paid for the best care, but Stillbirth is the last mystery to obstetrics...
This is fantastic what she is doing, we only had what we had brought to the hospital to dress Harry for the funeral it would of been beautiful to dress him in one of Dana's outfits, when the funeral directors came to take him, he had his little Toshi bear hat with hears and his striped blue outfit on, he looked so serene, still looking like he was going to take a breath, he was by all means blonde, chubby, blue eyed, perfect looking, I couldn't believe the outfits I had expected to take him out of hospital was being used for him to place him in his casket, it's a surreal and shocking experience just walking out of hospital with a nappy bag with your baby's hand and footprints and a lock of hair, your arms ache for the baby, we hope that bringing to the fora the sheer loss of a baby will break those feelings of isolation for other parents as it is often related to as a silent grief, good on Dana for doing a service like this...

Kind regards

Louisa Line

Krista said...

I think this is a wonderful service to provide to grieving families. My sister just found out her baby is suffering from Potter's Sequence (http://www.potterssyndrome.org/potterslinks.html), which has a 100% fatality rate. Her baby will likely be carried to term and then die within minutes or hours of birth. Since my mother is talented at sewing she will be making the angel gown, but for those families who don't have such a resource this is wonderful. Thank you for the link.

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