This podcast is for fellow grieving families who have suffered pregnancy loss - miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. The mission of this podcast is to assist you to come through this cruel twist of fate, with as much psychological fortitude, compassion for yourself and connection with others as possible, using wisdom, knowledge and insights sourced from interviewing experts and specialists in the fields commonly accessed by grieving mothers. Sharing these little gems will allow you to navigate the long journey ahead. Don’t let the darkness swallow you, don’t let yourself do this alone.
Specialist doctors - how they can help YOU when contemplating a rainbow pregnancy
Dr Ashleigh Smith of The Glimmer Project interviews 2 sub-specialist medical professionals in this episode of The Glimmer podcast - for women and their families who have experienced pregnancy loss, stillbirth, neonatal loss or high risk pregnancies.
Dr Alex Heazell is a consultant Obstetrician and leads a stillbirth research group in Manchester, UK. He works with Tommy's charity, The International stillbirth alliance and is father to Jack, his son who was stillborn 19 years ago. Dr Heazell runs a rainbow pregnancy clinic specifically for women who have experienced pregnancy loss and are planning or currently pregnant again. Dr Heazell has written research about the economic and psychosocial consequences of stillbirth in the UK, research which had previously been so neglected. His research enabled him to develop a message that the consequences are enormous to women, families, society and the economy, supporting the argument that we should really invest in preventing stillbirth. It costs more to deliver and care for a mum after a stillbirth than in a live birth. Further, a subsequent pregnancy costs a great deal more. Particularly if there is a stillbirth with an unknown cause. In terms of psychological costs, there are 4.2 million women globally, who have symptoms of significant depression because of stillbirth. That level of burden of disease and the societal costs are huge.
Dr Alex Heazell talks about the Rainbow Clinic, which he developed in 2013 after a systematic review, looking at women’s experiences in pregnancy after loss. He looked at accounts of their care or lack of care in their own experiences. It helped them re-frame everything from bereavement care and pregnancy-after-loss care. The Rainbow Clinic offers support including referrals to follow up bereaved parents after their baby has died, results of investigations, post-mortem autopsy, genetic test results, and then to use that information to plan how they care for someone in the following pregnancy. The comfort their care provides mothers and parents is invaluable through continuity of care and a sense of control. He says that midwives and doctors who have the capacity to acknowledge and absorb some of the bereaved parents stress, is hugely therapeutic . The clinic has also been able to amass data from about 600 women, helping to identify patterns. They are constantly learning. Financially - for every pound spent in the clinic, it generates 6 pound 80 in economic value. Finally, Dr Heazell talks about progress towards a gold standard of care, and offers a Glimmer of Hope for women looking for empathetic care during their Rainbow pregnancy.
Dr Johanna Laporte is a maternal-fetal-medicine specialist who discusses the role of this sub-speciality of obstetrics and how it can address the listeners obstetric care and improve outcomes. She emphasizes team work and patient centered care.
This episode is particularly useful for anyone contemplating pregnancy or who is currently pregnant after loss. Anyone interested in current and future research occurring in the field of pregnancy loss would also greatly benefit from hearing this episode.
Pregnancy loss is a tragedy for grandparents too...
In this episode of The Glimmer Podcast, Dr Ashleigh Smith interviews Joy Hall. Joy offers a grandparents perspective to pregnancy loss and shares her experience as grandmother to Marley, who was stillborn earlier last year .
Joy speaks about the multiple layers of her grief - the grief for her grandchild and then the added grief and anguish she feels for the pain her child and partner are experiencing. Joy talks about the first weeks after Marley was born and the added complication of coronavirus, compounding both the physical and emotional isolation.
She shares her experience with her friendship groups. How she came to accept and give understanding and compassion for family and friends who just don’t know what to say or how to provide support.
She talks about the way her relationship has changed with her daughter and how she feels her role as a mother has changed.
Joy explains the love that Marley has brought to her life. She shares some beautiful ways she maintains her connection to Marley, and how she keeps her memory alive. Joy talks about the pride she has for both Marley, and also for Marley's parents.
This episode depicts the love and loss that grandparents of babies lost through pregnancy or newborn loss feel. It is so important to give support and love to grandparents who find themselves experiencing this devastating loss too.
Special thank you to:
Corey Green (podcast editor - Transducer Audio),
Coby Grant (Winter Bear backing sound track),
Holly Ryan (Producer),
Blue Hearts and the Stillbirth Foundation.
Friendships, Rainbows and the Longer term with Mia Freedman and Bec Sparrow
Bec Sparrow and Mia Freedman formed a strong and long-lasting friendship over their shared experience of pregnancy loss.
In this episode, Dr Ashleigh Smith asks them about how they became friends. How they helped each other through their grief. How they continue to support each other during the milestones and anniversaries. Bec that a week after losing Georgie, she felt strongly that her stillborn daughter was going to turn the light in her life up, not down. Even though Bec “wishes Georgie was here, she is not, and that has changed the course of Bec’s life in some beautiful ways, for example, meeting Mia” Bec says she doesn’t focus on the day that Georgie died, as that would be selling her short, but what she contributed to her life.
Bec felt like Mia was almost like her therapist. She felt as though sometimes she’d be drowning in the waves of grief, and Mia would pull her out. It felt like a fated friendship, it evolved – they later worked together at ‘Mamamia.’ It was a place that both Mia and Bec could write about their pregnancy loss – one of the only platforms that shared stories about newborn baby or pregnancy loss. Bec said that through her rainbow pregnancy, one of the tips Mia gave, was to visualize arriving home with a baby carrier coming through the front door.
Mia says when her daughter May died through late miscarriage, there was no internet and she was unable to surround herself with others who had suffered similar loss. Mia notes that Bec was the first person to treat May as a person, e.g. writing May on a Christmas ornament. Mia feels that before that, she was only ever real to herself. Bec made her baby feel real and that was the biggest gift.
Mia remembers when Kate Middleton gave birth, and she was trying to explain to the team at Mumamia, ‘this is going to be a tough day for a lot of people’ – when the whole world is celebrating the joy of a baby, that can be the loneliest of days for people suffering infertility or pregnancy loss. Mia made sure that on those days, she would acknowledge bereaved parents through Mamamia.
It’s important to have friends when times are tough, but also for those friends to be there to cheer you on when things are good. Mia says that there are friendships for a reason, a season or a lifetime and that this friendship has transcended to be a lifetime friendship.
Bec Sparrow and Mia Freedman have co-authored a beautiful book ‘Never Forgotten’ which contains stories of love, loss, and healing after miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death. It is an ode to their daughters May and Georgie and all the other children who never came home.
The Glimmer of hope and advice offered by Bec Sparrow is that “the raw pain that you feel in the first year or so after pregnancy loss, doesn’t stay that raw forever. It is possible to have a joyful life, even if you have a fractured heart.” Bec feels that she has a life that is full of joy, purpose and meaning. Her pain sits in her back pocket and she can chose those moments now, she is in charge of when to pull them out. “This type of loss and pain cracks our life open, if you let it.”
Link to Never Forgotten:
Special thank you to: -
Corey Green (pod
Navigating pregnancy-after-loss with Ann-Maree Imrie
Ann-maree Imrie joins Dr Ashleigh Smith and The Glimmer Podcast today as someone who knows the struggle of pregnancy-after-loss – also known as a ‘rainbow pregnancy’ or ‘rainbow baby.’ She is a Social Worker trained in grief and mother to Xavier who is her first child. He was stillborn in 2015 and Ann-maree has since gone on to have 2 subsequent rainbow babies named Kai and Jesse.
Discussing the recent 6th anniversary of Xavier, the pair reflect on stillbirth and neonatal loss and where is fits into the narrative of their life and how they each grapple with the existential ‘why’ and ‘why this baby’. Ann-maree still sometimes feels that it was surreal to have experienced such a loss and reports feeling like out-of-body or living in an alternate reality. How over time, the episodes of deep grief of Xaviers death has moved from the initial grief that felt like it was not survivable, to now noticing that it doesn’t last as long and knows these intense feelings will ease. She focuses on nourishing her own heart during these times. She speaks of how Christmas is a difficult time and this year with school term commencing, it brought up the deep grief of Xaviers loss so acutely as it would have been his Year 1.
Ashleigh asks at what point did Ann-Maree start thinking about trying to conceive after Xavier and what emotions and thoughts ran through her mind? They then go on to discuss how each trimester of pregnancy felt different and brought different challenges. How ‘Pregnancy after loss’ is isolating in that you don't feel you 'fit in' with other pregnant mum's who have never experienced loss. How difficult it is to ‘bond’ with the baby inside and the feelings of not trusting your own body.
When the pair turn to discussing the birth of her second child who was alive and well, Ann-Maree expresses the deep grief as she realized what she had missed out on with Xavier. She then goes on to discuss how her 3rd pregnancy was different again and how at 29 weeks (the same gestation as Xavier was when she discovered no heartbeat), Ann-Maree suffered a terrible scare that brought up feelings of PTSD, grief and panic that paved the way for a difficult and awful trajectory for the remainder of her pregnancy. Her mantra that she used in both pregnancies was ‘Right now, in this moment, to the best of my knowledge, everything is fine.’ Ashleigh explains how mindfulness meditation has greatly helped in her current pregnancy.
Finally, Ann-Maree discusses the human spirit as the driving force that has given her strength and courage to face the challenges and pain she has endured in this life. Through Ann-Marie's life changing experience of parenting Xavier she has published a children’s book for bereaved families to read to the baby who lives in their heart. She has also now found her passion – The Baby Loss Project – An online training program that up skills employers to create policy, and respond proactively to pregnancy loss, stillbirth and infant death.
Special thank you to:
- Corey Green (podcast editor - Transducer Audio),
- Coby Grant (Winter Bear backing sound track),
- Holly Ryan (Producer),
- Blue Hearts and the Stillbirth Foundation.
A fathers perspective on life after stillbirth - connection, direction and navigating grief
Mitchell Delamotte joins Glimmer today to offer a ‘fathers perspective’ on pregnancy loss - an important and lesser-discussed experience. In this episode. Mitch explains how his daughter Pia’s stillbirth 4 years ago has shaped and altered his life. Dr...
How faith and loss can intersect, with Senator Keneally
In the Season finale of The Glimmer Podcast, Dr Ashleigh Smith interviews Senator Kristina Keneally about her life after losing her daughter Caroline through stillbirth, political activism and spearheading the Stillbirth Inquiry. The 2018 Senate Inquiry into stillbirth has resulted in greater government funding toward research and bereavement support for affected families.
Senator Keneally explains how 20 years ago (when her daughter Caroline passed away) there was no internet, no support groups, no podcasts and the stillbirth foundation didn’t exist. She remembers feeling isolated and unable to connect with others. She talks about arranging Caroline’s funeral and leaning on her faith and the structure of the church. Kristina explains that she doesn’t believe that God medals in our lives and earthly existence in specific ways, and while initially feeling angry with God she has been able to make peace with her religion and its role in her life. She has a background in feminist theology and feels that if God is a woman, she is also a woman who has lost her only child. Senator Keneally speaks about the intersection of faith and loss – the anger and the solace.
Kristina says that her life trajectory was altered because of Caroline’s stillbirth and that it has made her fearless. The two discuss the difference between fearlessness and apathy and ponder how those feelings evolve over time. Kristina believes that reproduction and the challenges that women face along the way are often misunderstood– she believes these challenges give strength to women that is underestimated.
They discuss the Senate Inquiry and what it was like hearing from parents, researchers and clinicians. Senator Keneally recounts the range of emotions she felt from reading the personal accounts and impact statements that hundreds of families submitted. She describes initially feeling distraught but was later moved to anger. She felt that the hearings became quite personal and emotional.
Finally, the women discuss the future for stillbirth prevention. Senator Keneally explains that an airline tells all passengers what to do if the worst should happen – should we be educating all pregnant women about management of pregnancy loss?
Exactly what I needed
I lost my firstborn child to complications in May 2020 and am extremely thankful for this podcast. Dr. Ashleigh Smith urges listeners to “keep going, keep going”, and every time she says it I well up with tears and smile, because some days that’s all I can try to do. Thank you Ashleigh!