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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The most heartbreaking goodbye: remembering pregnancy and infant loss

Emily Magee will always be a mum, without a baby.

She was 28 weeks pregnant when she made the unimaginably heartbreaking decision to terminate her pregnancy after her unborn daughter was diagnosed with a serious chromosome abnormality.

“To love and anticipate this precious life, only to have it whisked away, it’s the kind of heartache other parents can sort of imagine but perhaps never truly grasp,” Ms Magee said.

“Our baby had the ‘1q21.1 Deletion,’ a chromosomal condition associated with learning disabilities, developmental delay, infection and heart problems, the list goes on.

“It’s incredibly rare, a sample of 1,000 people in the ‘normal’ population would find no carriers. A sample of 1,000 people with some form of disability might find 10.”

Regina Rose was born on the 9th of May, cruelly, the day before Mother’s Day.

“She was perfect, slender fingers, cherry red lips, and the most perfect button nose,” Ms Magee said.

“For those who haven’t had children, it (the loss) is possibly even more unbelievable, and this highlights the desperate need to open up and start talking about stillbirth and infant loss.

“The statistics haven’t changed in Australia in over 20 years. Losing a child is a devastating, isolating, lingering pain.

“Outpourings of love came in hard and fast, and then stopped.

“They’d say: ‘Reach out if you need me,’ ‘time will heal,’ ‘the hard part is over.’

“The hard part had just begun. We then had to navigate the rest of our lives without our baby.”

From her experience, Ms Magee is helping to promote the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Virtual Service, which is being held by Northern Cemeteries at 7pm on Thursday 15 October.

The service is organised to support families who have lost a baby before, during or soon after birth, and provides an opportunity for families to recognise and honour their memory.

“I think, personally, so few people are aware of just how common infant loss and still birth is and having a service like this, is an important element to connect friends and family because it’s an incredibly isolating experience, so it helps to bring conversation to the forefront.

“It’s really difficult to say goodbye to a child when you don’t have any memories, it’s different to losing a grandparent who is 90-years-old and you can laugh about the good times, you don’t get that when you lose a child.

One of Emily Magee’s creations for ‘Cakes for Regina.’

“The service is a good opportunity to take a step back and give some compassion to people who have had that loss and be able to have that delicate moment of sympathy.”

To remember Regina, Ms Magee has started a cake business named in her honour.

It donates $50 from all orders to organisations associated with supporting bereaved parents.

“I hope to slowly be able to begin introducing the conversation of loss while also remembering Reggie through helping others celebrate their life milestones with cake,” she said.

“There’s a little bit of her in every cake.”

The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Virtual Remembrance Service will be available by clicking here, at 7pm on Thursday 15 October.

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