Tell me a bit about you and your partner! How long have you two been together? Where do you live? How old are you both?
My partner Paul Lyons and I met in 2013. We met relatively late in our lives as Paul was 37 and I was 34. We had a whirlwind romance and got engaged whilst on holiday in Thailand around 4 months into our relationship. It was a dream come true! We both knew that we wanted to have kids and as such were really excited to get married and start our own family.
Could you walk me through your losses? I read through what happened with each pregnancy in the article from 7 News, but I’d love to have this in your words. If you could share with me your journey to become parents, from the infertility issues to the losses to the stillbirths to the loss of your twins, I would appreciate it. Really, just give me your history up to when you shared your story on the news and received criticism.
We have had a very long, complex and heartbreaking baby journey.
Our journey has spanned over 7 years and included 3 Stillbirths, 6 Miscarriages and the loss of Identical twin girls who passed away due to cord entanglement. We currently have no surviving children.
- Our first son Cooper was stillborn at 22wks due to undiagnosed Placental Abruption on 14.02.14
- Our second son Hudson was stillborn at 20wks due to an undetected infection causing my waters to break on 23.01.15
- Our Monoamniotic Monochorionic (MoMo) identical twin girls Emma & Zoe passed away at 15wks due to cord entanglement on 30.08.15
- We experienced Miscarriages in October and December 2016
- We experienced Miscarriages in November and December 2017
- Our third son Noah was stillborn at 22wks due to Preterm Labour on 06.10.18
- Most recently we have experienced Miscarriages in July and August 2019
Tell me about the news story you did that started this backlash? Which news outlet was it? Was it a television story or written? When did you start to notice the negative comments? Were they on Facebook? Could you tell me some of the things that were said?
We recently had an article published by Channel 7 about our story in an effort to shine a light on Pregnancy & Infant Loss for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month (October).
We were away for the weekend having some down time following the first year anniversary of the stillbirth of our son Noah when the story was released.
On Saturday 12th October, around 5.30pm, our story went live.
Both Paul and I sat in our tent (we were glamping), reading the article in full as we hadn’t seen it prior to release. We then moved on to the comments. Some were beautiful and truly heart-warming whilst others were so hurtful and incredibly offensive.
Those which we found most offensive/hurtful are listed below:
- “serial killer”
- “I’ve heard of these cases before, where multiple babies die and that its always at the hands of their own mother” (Implying that Samantha has intentionally caused the death of our babies)
- “God says you can’t be parents”
- “Do you think that being pregnant and 11 babies dying is completely acceptable???? Wake up to yourself!”
- “Why would you keep trying?”
- “You need to buy a television”
- “Lost 11 babies? Did they look under the lounge cushions? Maybe check the linen cupboard”
- “Very sad and selfish. How many more babies will die, and at what age if ever that one lives will you stop trying? 50? 60?”
In addition to the above, there were countless messages of criticism saying that we should adopt or pursue surrogacy.
After reading the comments for about 30 minutes, I was sobbing. The tears just wouldn’t stop. It honestly broke my heart that people could be so nasty and hurtful. At that point, I don’t think I was processing any of the kind or beautiful messages, I was so focused on the messages of hate, anger and hurt.
Paul intervened and said that it was time to put our phones away, which we did.
How did you and your partner feel when you saw these comments coming in? Why did you decide to speak out in another article to explain yourself and your decisions, infertility journey, etc? Some people would say to just ignore the comments — why did you want to do the opposite?
We were absolutely heartbroken to hear the negative backlash coming from members of the general public.
Our biggest concern about this type of response is that it will discourage others who experience similar loss from being open and sharing their story/grief.
Losing a pregnancy/baby can be very isolating. Negative responses and feedback from the general public perpetuates the cycle of isolation for Bereaved Parents.
Pregnancy & Infant Loss doesn’t discriminate, it touches all. We all know someone who knows someone that has lost a pregnancy/baby.
As at today:
1 in 4 pregnancies end in Miscarriage (prior to 20 weeks gestation).
6 babies are Stillborn everyday
Approximately 2 Neonatal Deaths occur each day (loss following birth up to 28 days old)
Approximately 100 babies die from SIDS each year
Whilst Pregnancy & Infant Loss is incredibly common and affects many, it is still considered a taboo topic with many people being discouraged from talking about their loss/baby.
We decided to share our story to let others know that they are not alone.
We strongly believe that increased discussion will lead to increased awareness and hope that by sharing our story and encouraging others to do the same, it will help to normalise the discussion of Pregnancy & Infant Loss and ultimately help us to move towards becoming a society that better acknowledges and supports those who experience the loss of a pregnancy/baby.
We believe that the negative comments and responses received stem from a lack of understanding surrounding Pregnancy & Infant Loss.
For many years, the loss of pregnancy/baby has been viewed and treated as a private matter, even though it affects thousands of families each year.
If a family loses a 6 or 16-year-old child, society doesn’t tell them to grieve in silence or to keep their private lives to themselves. The loss of a pregnancy/baby should be acknowledged and treated with the same level of care and respect as any other form of loss.
Can you walk me through some of the comments that bothered you most, and what your response/reasoning is to them? For example, I saw people said you should adopt, but you had some reasons why that isn’t what you guys want to do at this time. If you could tell me some of the big “arguments” commenters listed and what you’d say back to those, that would be perfect.
There was a large amount of feedback suggesting that we should adopt or use a surrogate.
We have invested countless months into investigating a variety of non-traditional pathways to parenting such as Surrogacy, Adoption, Permanent Care etc.
Surrogacy in Australia is both costly and lengthy. On average it takes up to 5 years from commencement to holding a baby in your arms and the average cost sits around $100-150K. We also looked into International Surrogacy options but unfortunately it also comes with a similar price tag. We don’t have that kind of money and we certainly don't have another five years to give to our baby journey so unfortunately Surrogacy is not a suitable option for us.
In 2017-18, 330 adoptions were finalised in Australia and this includes intercountry adoptions. ‘Known child’ adoptions (where the child is already known to the adoptive parents) represented 71% of the total adoptions and less than 16% of these cases were children under 5 years of age.
Both local and intercountry adoptions are complex processes and come with lots of rules and restrictions. For example, in some cases you must have ceased having your own children and are not permitted to be undergoing any type of fertility treatment and for others you must have been married for a minimum of several years to be considered eligible for adoption. Again, the wait times for both options are extensive. The wait time and fact that we are looking to parent our child from newborn to adulthood means that for us Adoption is not a suitable solution unfortunately.
We definitely wish that someone had of spoken to us about these alternative pathways and their associated challenges earlier on in our baby journey. If this had of occurred, we could be in a very different position today.
Whilst it’s wonderful that non-traditional pathways to parenthood exist, they're not one size fits all and they're certainly not achievable for all people that are struggling to have a child the traditional way.
What is next for you guys in your journey to become parents?
We are currently trying to conceive Baby Number 12. As I turned 40 earlier this year, the doctors believe that our recurrent Miscarriages are now due to my age/egg quality. As a result, we have withdrawn 40K from my superannuation to fund the purchase and shipment of donor eggs from overseas. The eggs are due to be shipped next week!
We have also been working closely with our hospital and a team of specialists to develop a detailed care plan which will involve early hospital admission and preventative pre-term labour strategies in the hope that we can achieve our dreams of a healthy baby for the next pregnancy.
We are being extremely cautious but hopeful!
For anyone interested in following our journey, you can follow us here:
Can you tell me a bit about your Facebook page? When did you start it and what purpose do you hope it serves?
After our second son Hudson was stillborn in 2015, both Paul and I started to become more involved within the loss community. It quickly became clear to us that there was a significant lack of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness merchandise/events accessible locally within Australia.
In late 2015, we attended our first Memorial event. In the lead up to the event, I searched high and low in effort to find a Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Ribbon or Pin for us to wear. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything locally and the shipping estimates from overseas were far too long. As such, Paul printed a pink & blue ribbon, cut it out and glued a safety pin to the back of the paper ribbon. Both Paul and myself wore our handmade paper ribbons to our first ever Memorial event.
Fast forward a few months and I was retrenched by my employer at the time. I was fortunate to secure a new job quite quickly and as such I had a little bit of my payout remaining. I invested this money in shipping a bulk order of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Merchandise in from USA and created our Facebook Page.
Fast forward to today, and how things have changed!
MOAA is now a self-funded social enterprise with an online community of over 10K whose aim is to raise increased awareness for Pregnancy & Infant Loss. Additionally, we provide support and services to the women and families who heartbreakingly experience the loss of a pregnancy/child.
We specialise in a variety of awareness products and memorial keepsakes which help Bereaved Parents to honour the memory of their child. We also provide opportunities for Bereaved Parents to connect with other like-minded individuals through specialised workshops, catchups and social gatherings.
We are incredibly proud to be raising awareness and championing such an important cause. In doing so, we are proudly honouring the lives and legacies of our own babies.
Anything else you’d want to add?
I guess I’m trying to communicate the message that for some, pregnancy, birth and parenthood doesn’t always go to plan. And in these cases, the journey can be incredibly tough and isolating.
There seems to be this perception that as a woman, you get pregnant and 9 months later you have a healthy baby. The reality for many women and families is that this is not the case.
I’m also hoping that we can assist society to better understand Pregnancy & Infant Loss and what it means to be a Bereaved Parent. Bereaved Parents are still parents. Their child/children existed and mattered.
If you know a Bereaved Parent, I would encourage you to reach out to them and ask how they are doing. I would also ask you to acknowledge their child, whether it be in passing conversation or by adding their child’s name to a Christmas card. The biggest fear of all Bereaved Parents is that their child/children will be forgotten. Please don’t forget our children.