babies LOST TOO SOON Inspire network to help bereaved mothers
To the outside world, Angie Dawson and Zoe Lent are both proud new mothers to beautiful baby boys and lifelong friends. It’s another bond, however, which has forever intertwined their lives. Both Angie and Zoe suffered the loss of their first baby.
In 2015, Angie gave birth to her son Roman at just 23 weeks.
“Roman was six days old when he died. We loved him, we cherished him, we told him stories, I sang to him, I fed him, I changed his nappy,” Angie reflects.
After six days, Roman’s fragile body was breaking down under the immense stress of being born so prematurely. After multiple complications that affected his health and his future, Angie and husband Mitch made the impossible decision to remove his life support so he didn't have to fight anymore.
That same year, Zoe had her own tragic experience as she gave birth to Avery, born sleeping at 36 weeks. Zoe had had no idea that anything was wrong when she attended a routine antenatal appointment to be told that there was no heartbeat. Zoe gave birth to her beautiful baby girl the next day, and her and her partner Adam could not have been prouder, nor more devastated.
Despite being engulfed in their almost consuming sense of grief and loss, Angie and Zoe would reflect, and together identify a glaring need for support for mothers with a similar story to theirs.
“In May 2016, we created Little Doves; a friendship and support group built of bereaved mothers. The group is for mums who have lost babies through pregnancy and infant loss, and is a safe place for them to find strength and support through shared experiences – and find a way to live fully, all the while remembering and celebrating their own Little Dove,” Zoe explains.
In addition to holding monthly informal support meet-ups around Perth, Angie and Zoe have begun creating Memory Boxes for parents experiencing the loss of their baby.
“Memory Boxes are a comfort to bereaved families who sometimes have just minutes, hours or a few days to create a lifetime of memories with their child,” Zoe said.
Items in the Memory Boxes include: blankets, baby clothing, journals, teddies, photo frames, footprint pads, candles and sympathy cards.
In addition to creating Little Doves, fundraising and donating more than 100 Memory Boxes to WA hospitals to-date, both Angie and Zoe are busy mums to their rainbow baby boys Reyn (15 months) and Brooklyn (13 months).
“Our group Little Doves is something we are passionate about and sadly, we already have over 100 members of Perth mothers. We now know from experience that stillbirth and perinatal loss is something which still occurs much too frequently, even in a country like Australia. We feel that this is an absolutely essential support network,” Angie said.
Little Doves are seeking financial or in-kind support to continue the Memory Box Initiative. You can donate in honour of an angel baby or bereaved family that you know at the Little Doves GoFundMe page. Alternatively, you can donate some of the items listed on the Little Doves Facebook page.
Over 2,000 babies are stillborn in Australia and New Zealand every year occurring at a rate of approximately 7 out of every 1000 births; approximately 7 babies each day.
Complications of preterm birth are the leading direct cause of neonatal mortality. The Women and Infants Research Foundation is a global leader in the field of preterm birth prevention. Its world-unique WA Preterm Birth Prevention Initiative has successfully reduced the rate of preterm birth across the state by 8% in its first year. We ask you to please support this critical work which will allow us to provide a roadmap for other regions nationally and internationally to effect large-scale change.