Parents take the steps their lost little ones never could
THE elation of Coast parents Adam Mathieson and Karen Russo's first pregnancy changed to total devastation when their daughter Elliott was born sleeping.
For 40 weeks, the married couple had prepared for her arrival, only to be left heartbroken by her death during labour.
Their recovery since the traumatic incident on June 3, 2014, has been aided by miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death support service Sands Australia.
Mr Mathieson helped to organise a remembrance walk in Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden on Sunday for other members of the Coast community grieving lost children.
"You are preparing for the birth of a baby and then you are preparing for a funeral," Mr Mathieson said.
A crowd of about 70 people gathered for the event to share stories, light a candle, release butterflies and take steps through the garden their lost loved ones didn't get to take.
"Days like this are good," Mr Mathieson said.
He said sharing stories with other parents could be comforting.
Those in the park heard how previous generations had not been so open in discussing stillbirths and about some of the distressing practices mothers would endure directly after the loss of their babies.
Mr Mathieson was grateful for the support his family received, beginning with understanding and guidance from midwives at Nambour General Hospital.
He and his wife have since had a second daughter Georgina, now 11 months, who was with them for the walk.
Statistics from Sands Australia showed more than 106,000 people nationwide were affected by stillbirth, miscarriage and neonatal death every year.
"You don't realise how high the statistics are," Mr Mathieson said.
"It affects so many people, every day of the week."
University of the Sunshine Coast nursing and midwifery student Rachelle Mackenzie, 18, attended the walk to gain greater insight into dealing with the loss of a baby.
She also went to honour the baby her sister Tanya and brother-in-law Nathan Moore lost after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Miss Mackenzie was 14 or 15 at the time.
"It is hard to try to comfort somebody going through something like that," Miss Mackenzie said.
"All you can really do is just be there."
She said the way her sister was supported by midwives made her want to take up that career.
"Even though I was so young, I remember how amazing the nurses and midwives were that day," she said.
"It made such an impact on the rest of their lives."