Staff and parents pause to remember lost babies

‘Hands’ by Michael of Scott.

Pip Hanrahan will always remember the moment her sonographer confirmed her baby boy Patrick had no heartbeat.

“From that moment I was surrounded by the most beautiful people on earth,” Pip said.

“I didn’t realise at the time those hours in the hospital would be my lifetime of memories with him. I’m forever grateful to the midwives who bathed him, dressed him, took photos, wrote down his measurements, and did all the things I would never have thought to do.”

Even during that distressing time, Pip knew she wanted to thank the “angels” who cared for her – something she had a chance to do at Westmead Hospital today during the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day morning tea.

Bereavement midwives Lisa Wilmott (left) and Elizabeth Roberts (second from right) with two mothers who shared their story, Julie Onyango and Pip Hanrahan.

She also voluntary facilitates group chats for women who have lost a child through the support charity Sands in memory of Patrick.

Bereavement midwives Elizabeth Roberts and Lisa Wilmott organised the morning tea to remember the families and babies staff have cared for, and thank everyone involved in the emotional process.

“I want to acknowledge not only the doctors, nurses, midwives and social workers, but also the people behind the scenes. The word clerks, pathologists, mortuary staff, sonographers; the staff who validate parking. The little things you do all make a big difference,” Lisa said.

Smocking Arts Guild volunteers Debbie Parkinson, Sandra Tedesco and Judy Berry.

Julie Onyango, who delivered her first baby stillborn at 23 weeks pregnant, said it was seeing the midwives cry that reminded her everyone involved is affected by the loss of a child.

“You’re there at our best time and you’re there at our worst time. Your job matters and you make a difference,” Julie told staff gathered for the morning tea.

“I would want every woman to receive the care I did. At the time you don’t feel like you will get through it, you feel like it’s the end, but with the support of people like you, somehow you make it.”

Lisa also thanked Rebecca Lyons from Red Nose and three representatives from the Smocking Arts Guild, who make 1,000 smocks every year for stillborn infants in 41 hospitals around the state.

Guild president Sandra Tedesco explained they donate packs including smocks, booties, bonnets and wraps in five sizes, as well as keepsake toys for parents or siblings.

“Every smock has a tag that simply says ‘to show we care’,” Sandra said.

“It is a very difficult time for families so we rarely receive any thanks, but I have heard many families hold on to that tag. It is nice to hear that what we do makes a difference. Those words help keep us going.”

Messages for staff from grieving families.