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Say Their Name Day on 25 March 2021 is a national advocacy campaign from Red Nose, including Sands, to help breakdown the stigma of pregnancy, infant and child loss and start conversations about this difficult but important topic.
This year’s theme is ‘in loving memory’ – with family members and friends invited to celebrate and acknowledge the little lives we have loved and lost, but who live forever in our hearts.
According to Red Nose Co-CEO Jackie Mead, one of the most common things we hear from bereaved parents is how much it means to them when their baby or child’s name is spoken out loud.
“When a baby or child dies, life as we know it stops – for parents, families and their wider communities. This pain cannot be fixed, only carried. But what makes this pain lighter to bear is often the simple acknowledgement of this reality from those who matter.
“Saying a baby or child’s name alongside those who loved him or her is a powerful act of kindness and acknowledgement that requires no special knowledge or experience”
Annette and Tony Fusitua’s daughter, Hayley was stillborn
Our beautiful Hayley was stillborn at full term. She was born on our wedding anniversary, so it makes the day even more special, a little sad but also happy. We always celebrate both her birthday and our anniversary.
Being over 40, I never thought I would have kids. Hayley was very much a wonderful surprise. I had a trouble-free pregnancy, except for the insane mango cravings.
I was due to be induced, but I woke up that morning and knew something wasn’t right. We went straight to the hospital and they told us that Hayley had no heartbeat.
I thought the world was going to end.
We were then sent home for the night, as they didn’t have a bed free to be able to induce me.
That is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do – I didn’t want to go back the next day, I wanted to keep Hayley with me.
When Annette and Tony found out their daughter had no heartbeat, Annette “thought the world was going to end”.
At the hospital we received an overwhelming amount of information to take home and read.
We both knew we needed to talk to someone, but we didn’t want to leave the house. I called Red Nose as they offered a counsellor who would come to our home, and we followed up with more sessions over the phone.
The initial counselling allowed us to grieve in our own way. They gave us the tools to use, when we were ready, to do the basics like be at the shops and have someone ask how the baby is.
This was invaluable and I still use these skills today when people get uncomfortable when I mention Hayley or say I have two kids.
Red Nose was also extremely helpful for my hubby. Everything is aimed at the mother. It felt like he was not a part of anything at times.
Red Nose helped him navigate his way around his grief and also made him realise that he was just as important as me.
Annette and Tony have two children, Lina and Hayley – and although Hayley’s not here, she is often talked about.
We have photos of Hayley in the house. We celebrate her birthday with cake and balloons at the cemetery.
If I am signing a card, it has her name on it too. We talk about her and often wonder what she is doing.
What I’ve learned is that grief has no time frame, no instruction manual. You need to do what is right for you.
Don’t let others make you feel uncomfortable when talking about your child and what happened – if they do make you feel that way, it’s them with the issue not you.
I wanted to share Hayley’s story for Say Their Name Day as a way to honour and acknowledge her.
It’s so important to us as a family to say Hayley’s name. She is a part of our family. And we love that we can acknowledge her by talking about her. And talking about her when I say I have two kids and people assume I only have one.
While she may not have taken a breath on this earth, she was very much here, and very much a human being. She was the most beautiful little thing ever (I may be biased!).
And she is very much a part of who I am today, so I think I have every right to say her name, whenever and as often as I want too, just like I do when talking about my other daughter Lina.
And that’s why I think Say Their Name day is so important – it’s a simple gesture, but a powerful gesture, and it has such a big impact for families like mine.
If you, or someone you know, needs to talk to someone, call Lifeline on 13 11 44. Or, if it is an emergency and you’re experiencing a crisis, call 000 NOW.
For information and support around stillbirth, contact: Red Nose on 1300 308 307; or Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Newborn Death Support (SANDS) on 1300 072 637.