Parents honour a life lost at birth

Sarah Whitehead with her second daughter, seven-month-old Paige. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d421845
Sarah Whitehead with her second daughter, seven-month-old Paige. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d421845

Sadly, the Bedford couple were never to take their first-born daughter home.

The young mum-to-be enjoyed a textbook pregnancy until she went into labour at 23 weeks.

Sarah said she pleaded with her doctor to save her baby and stop the labour.

But the couple were told nothing could be done and their tiny infant was unlikely to survive.

About four hours later Sarah gave birth to Jasmine.

‘I remember the moment the doctor announced, ‘you’ve had a baby girl’; it is both the most beautiful and painful moment in my life,’ Mrs Whitehead said.

Sarah said the room fell silent as Jasmine was placed in her arms.

‘We spent the day with her, soaking up her beauty, studying her beautiful body, loving her the way any parent loves their child, except we knew we had to leave her precious body and take only her spirit home with us.

‘I remember kissing her goodbye and not wanting to leave her in the room alone, so we asked a nurse if she could please take good care of our daughter,

‘It felt so wrong leaving her.’

The couple then left the hospital in shock, armed with a small booklet with Jasmine’s birth details, her hand and footprints and a few pamphlets.

‘I couldn’t believe the world was still going on when my daughter had just died,’ she said.

‘I honestly expected to walk out into a dark lifeless world, which was how I felt. I can’t possibly put into words the pain you feel when your child dies, it is unimaginable.’

The support groups SIDS and Kids for bereaved families became a lifeline for the couple.

‘I called them a few days after Jasmine died and spoke with a counsellor,’ Mrs Whitehead said.

‘The counsellor told me about their services, including the healing memories monthly support group for parents who have had a child die.

‘Four days after Jasmine died I went along to this group where I sat at a table with other mums who had lost a child.’

Mrs Whitehead said the group’s help was immeasurable.

‘Jasmine had not yet been cremated and thanks to those ladies I was told about organisations like Heartfelt that took photos of my daughter, and Twinkle Toes that made hand and feet castings of our daughter.

‘They are now my most precious possessions. Thanks to the advice from those ladies, my daughter was cremated and had a memorial service that truly honoured her life.’

Sarah continues to attend the healing memories group and has formed strong friendships.

July 7 will mark two years since Jasmine passed away.

The couple now have a second beautiful daughter called Paige.

But Sarah said the hearts of those who have lost children continue to ache and Jasmine would always be her first child.

‘Jasmine was my daughter the moment her little heart started beating in my belly,’ Mrs Whitehead said. ‘A life is a life no matter how long it is lived. Acknowledging her as our first child is honouring her life.’