Megan Gaffney describes feeling as though all joy had been robbed from the world the moment her first daughter died.
Everything had appeared normal during her pregnancy eight years ago, yet a complication during labour led to her child, Ruby, passing away moments after birth.
“It really literally is the saddest day of your life,” Mrs Gaffney said.
One of the hardest parts of processing the loss came when Mrs Gaffney fell pregnant for a second time.
“A midwife said to me, ‘people who have a miscarriage can breathe a sigh of relief when they get past that point in their next pregnancy, but a stillbirth leaves you worried the whole time’,” she said.
I felt like I couldn’t be excited about this pregnancy, what if it happened again?Megan Gaffney
She has now successfully had three healthy children, but nothing can replace the loss of her eldest.
“My family and friends came to see [Ruby] in the hospital after she had passed, and I’m so grateful they did,” Mrs Gaffney said.
“I love it now when they look at my other three and say things like, ‘oh Ruby had eyes just like you’, she’s still so valued.”
Ruby’s life, though short was not lived in vain because it prompted Mrs Gaffney and four other mothers of stillborn babies to establish the Bloss Riverina Pregnancy and Baby Loss support group.
“We donated a teddy to the hospital in memory of Ruby, and six years later when my friend Katie lost her daughter Lara, she was given that exact teddy to comfort her,” Mrs Gaffney said.
“It really came full circle, and that’s when we realised we had to do something to help other mothers in this time.
“When I left the hospital I was just given a folder of Centrelink forms, I had no idea how to process things.
“There was just no face-to-face support so I wanted to start something to better support families who have been through this.”
To raise awareness and funds for grieving parents, the team of four women and their families hosted a trivia night on August 25 in Gumly Gumly. More than 200 people attended, filling 25 tables.
“I so did not expect that many people, I was hoping we might get about a hundred, but we doubled that,” Mrs Gaffney said.
“We thought trivia would be good because after you’ve been through something like that, you need to learn to laugh again.
“In a lot of cases, you need to learn how to give yourself permission to laugh again.”