Amelia Grace Nguyen was born on Thursday September 22, just 22 weeks into the pregnancy. With her is mother Ellanah Nguyen and father Raymond Nguyen.
Amelia Grace Nguyen was born on Thursday September 22, just 22 weeks into the pregnancy. With her is mother Ellanah Nguyen and father Raymond Nguyen. Contributed

How strangers' kindness eased the pain for grieving family

ELLANAH and Raymond Nguyen were able to take their newborn daughter home for just one night.

They showed her all the toys they had bought for her, her room, her pram. She slept on a cold bed borrowed from the hospital.

Amelia Grace Nguyen was stillborn just 22 weeks and three days into the pregnancy, but she was still their daughter.

Mr and Mrs Nguyen's hearts were breaking, but the kindness of strangers kept them from falling to pieces.

Now Mrs Nguyen hopes their story will raise awareness for both stillbirth and the help available for grieving families, including the Mary Valley's own Jake Garrett Foundation.

As a first-time pregnant mother-to-be, stillbirth never crossed Mrs Nguyen's mind.

The 26-year-old Brisbane woman felt fine the day before Amelia was born, until she started feeling "a bit gassy" after dinner.

When she went to the toilet, there was blood left on the toilet paper, and the first warning bells started ringing.

"At first I thought this isn't a big deal," Mrs Nguyen said.

But the cramps were getting worse.

"I didn't know then, but it was the contractions starting," she said.

They drove to the closest hospital at about 10:30pm, where Mrs Nguyen's water broke before an ambulance ride to the Mater Hospital in Brisbane.

"When the doctors were rushing me around the hospital I thought it was the end for me, not the baby," she said.

A doctor told her they probably wouldn't be able to save the baby, but in her shocked state, Mrs Nguyen barely understood what that meant.

"I think I didn't process it at all," she said.

"I think I just brushed it off."

Amelia was still fighting for life, right up until Mrs Nguyen gave birth.

"We even saw an ultrasound right before I felt her starting to come out," Mrs Nguyen said.

"We saw her heart was still beating, right there on the screen."

Amelia Grace Nguyen was born at 1.24am on Thursday September 22, weighing just 490 grams.

The midwife was the first to tell Mrs Nguyen Amelia was gone.

"At first, I was a bit scared to look at Amelia or hold her," Mrs Nguyen said.

"I didn't know what to do."

She agreed to spend some time with Amelia, and her qualms dissipated.

"I just came to realise she was still my baby," she said.

"When I first started to hold her it started to sink in and I got more and more attached."

On Friday evening the hospital told Mr and Mrs Nguyen they could take Amelia home overnight, and gave them a cold bed to help preserve her body.

"We were taking her home, but it wasn't as we imagined it," Mrs Nguyen said.

"That first step into the house was heartbreaking.

"We told her, 'This is where you were supposed to grow up.'"

Mrs Nguyen heard about the Jake Garrett Foundation through a former workmate, who also helped send the application to the foundation.

"We were quite lucky to have been told about them," Mrs Nguyen said.

That afternoon, a volunteer came to the hospital to speak to the couple.

Jake Garrett Foundation founder Helen Garrett contacted Mrs Nguyen on Facebook and added her to a support group for grieving parents.

"They were really quick to respond and help out," Mrs Nguyen said.

"They can donate up to $1000 towards a child's funeral."

While money could never offset the pain of Amelia's stillbirth, Mrs Nguyen said the funds relieved the extra financial burden of the funeral.

"It's one less thing to worry about," she said.

The foundation also sends families care packages, including books on grieving and teddy bears for young siblings, and if possible takes moulds of the child's hands and feet for family keepsakes.

Kind gestures like these are helping families like the Nguyens through the grieving process.

"My husband said to me yesterday, 'I never though the first funeral I'd have to arrange would be my child's,"' Mrs Nguyen said.

"I am still thankful she was here, regardless of how short it was."

"She's shown us the kindness of strangers. She's taught us how to be grateful."

Mrs Nguyen hoped mothers-to-be could become more aware of stillbirth.

"Being my first pregnancy, it's not something I even thought about," she said.

She said everyone she spoke to had been incredibly caring and supportive.

"People who I've talked to, it seems like everyone has a story to tell about someone who's lost a baby."

Ms Garrett said about 60% of the families the Jake Garrett Foundation supported had suffered a stillbirth.

She has, as part of the foundation's work, taken moulds of a baby born just 15 weeks into the pregnancy.

"Some people would call that a miscarriage, I call that a real baby," Ms Garrett said.

Gympie Times

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