EMOTIONAL JOURNEY: Adam Shirvington and Brenna Craven dote on their rainbow baby, Onyx, after her birth in May.
EMOTIONAL JOURNEY: Adam Shirvington and Brenna Craven dote on their rainbow baby, Onyx, after her birth in May. MELISSA Jean Photography

Talking about loss helps the process of healing

FOR most people, the end of a life barely yet begun is a taboo thought, so uncomfortable it is rare we will ever discuss it.

Hunchy mother Brenna Craven wants this to change and for people to talk about pregnancy loss and infant death openly and without fear of judgement.

The 31-year-old mother of two lost her "little angel", Azalea, who was stillborn at 36 weeks, in January last year.

In May this year Miss Craven and her long-time partner, Adam Shirvington, 35, welcomed their second baby, Onyx, into the world in the backseat of their car on the side of a road in Kunda Park.

Read more: There's no time limit on grief, says mum

Onyx is Mr Shirvington and Miss Craven's "rainbow baby" as she came after the emotional storm following the death of Azalea.

Since the birth, Miss Craven is often asked if this is her first baby, a question she is never shy to answer.

Has someone in your family lost a child?

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She said often her response made people uncomfortable, talking about her baby being stillborn, but she would never want to pretend Azalea had not existed.

"You don't know how people are going to react," Miss Craven said.

"Most people don't know what to say and others just don't say anything.

"More awareness needs to be raised so that it becomes normal to talk about miscarriages or stillbirths."

Miss Craven is happy to share her story with the Coast community because she loves and honours her first daughter's life and she wants to share her with others, even though that daughter is no longer here.

"I am happy to be her mum and I am proud she chose me to be her mum," she said.

"I want to celebrate her and not hide her - she is still my daughter."

Miss Craven said giving birth to Azalea, knowing she would not be alive, was something she had been unable to prepare for.

She said her four-and-a-half hour labour after being induced was "the most incredible experience" despite the heartbreaking circumstances.

"Azalea dying was unexpected because everyone I knew who had been pregnant had given birth to a live baby," Miss Craven said.

"You don't think things like this happen.

"I thought to myself, I've been ripped off. I had to give birth but I don't get a live baby at the end of it.

"Initially I didn't cry, I just accepted it."

Miss Craven got a huge amount of support from her family and friends after Azalea's death and did not need to seek additional help from any of the available support groups.

However, Miss Craven attended a memorial day and released a butterfly for Azalea during the ceremony.

This was done through Sands - a miscarriage, stillborn and newborn death support group - which has a local network.

"My friends and family were amazing so I didn't need the additional support at the time because I was able to talk with them about the birth and death of Azalea," she said.

"But the ladies at Sands, especially Emma, are so supportive and amazing."

Miss Craven said openly talking about her experience had inspired others to do the same.

She said women often suffered in silence and it was up to everyone to do their part in making mothers feel comfortable to talk about miscarriages, stillbirths and newborn deaths.

In Numbers

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service records

Losses (gestation ranging from 13 weeks to 41 weeks)

2013 - fewer than 50

2014 - fewer than 40

2015 - fewer than 30 (Jan-June)


2013 - 2406

2014 - 2486

2015 - 1300 (Jan-June)

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