Melbourne woman who lost 11 babies to stillbirth and miscarriages wants you to know her story
"All we want is the opportunity to parent a living child"
By Elizabeth Daoud
October 12 2019
Melbourne woman Samantha Rowe has been pregnant 11 times.
But every single time, it’s either ended in a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
“All we want is the opportunity to parent a living child,” Rowe told 7NEWS.com.au.
The 40-year-old executive assistant from Heidelberg West, who met her partner Paul Lyons when they were both in their mid-30s fell pregnant only about seven months into their relationship.
Despite some minor hiccups, things were seamless for their first pregnancy in February 2014. Until they weren’t.
Rowe began to feel a lot of pain at 21 weeks, and, at the time, didn’t know she was in active labour.
She was sent home from the doctors twice and it wasn’t until she passed a blood clot that she went to hospital.
As her condition deteriorated, she was told she was a “mystery”.
Rowe only realised she was in labour when she went up to go to the toilet and her waters broke.
"Not only did my waters break, but Cooper's foot was already coming out," she said.
"I could just feel something between my legs and I screamed and the lady in the room on the opposite side of the curtain obviously pressed her emergency button and people came running in from everywhere and I was crying.
"I put my hand down, I could feel something."
The doctors told Rowe baby Cooper would be way too small to be able to survive outside of her.
"My biggest regret of my entire time having babies or trying to have babies was that they asked me if I wanted him to be put on my chest and I said no," Rowe said.
"He'd just been born and he was dead. I was scared about what he would look like and I really, really regret that."
But Rowe did get to see her baby and what she saw surprised her.
"I was really surprised that he was, and it probably sounds crazy to most people, but he was so perfect.
"He was perfectly intact... it was just he was smaller."
Another stillbirth, twins and miscarriages
After giving birth to Cooper, Rowe was told to stop trying for a baby for a while to let her body recover.
And the pair fell pregnant again with Hudson, shortly after beginning to try.
Hudson was born at 19 weeks and six days, and - in the law's eyes - he was a miscarriage. But Rowe sees him as a stillbirth.
According to authorities in Australia, a baby is only considered a stillborn if they reach 20 weeks gestation or more.
Baby Hudson was one day shy.
The 40-year-old then went on to fall pregnant with twin girls, Emma and Zoe.
"Paul actually has twins and triplets and his family so each time we've sort of been prepared for that to happen, but it hadn't," Rowe said.
But it was a high-risk pregnancy to start with because the twins were monoamniotic-monochorionic twins, meaning they shared an amniotic sac and had the same placenta, but each had their own umbilical cords.
"The hospital actually recommended terminating because they're quite complex," Rowe said.
Despite the odds, Rowe and Lyons went ahead with the pregnancy.
But at 15 weeks, Emma and Zoe tangled their cords and passed away.
"It's absolutely heartbreaking," Rowe said of her and Lyons' losses.
"I think no one gets pregnant and thinks about the fact that it's not going to work and we certainly didn't.
"For me, my desire to be a mum has been around since I was a young girl.
"I've always wanted to get married and have babies and each time we lose a baby, for me, it just makes that desire to pick yourself up and try again, even stronger."
After the twins Rowe then fell pregnant four times between October 2016 and December 2017 and all those pregnancies ended in miscarriage.
Then there was Noah
The couple eventually turned to IVF for assistance and just before she began to take medication for the procedure, Rowe found out she was pregnant with baby Noah last year.
"We were overjoyed and we definitely thought that this baby was going to be the one to make it," she said.
“We were sure he was our miracle baby.
Considering what she’d been through, Rowe’s doctor told her they only needed Noah to reach the 23-week mark and be at a healthy weight.
If that could happen, he could be birthed and doctors would help him survive.
They’d had a couple of problems in the process but recovered each time.
At 21 weeks and six days, Rowe felt a shooting pain to one side of her body and went to the hospital to see her doctor.
She spent hours in emergency before being told her baby was fine and not in distress so she went home and to sleep.
At 6.30am the next day, she woke up and was in labour.
Doctors did their best to stop the labour but Noah had progressed too far and was stillborn.
"It doesn't sound like it's a big ask... you want to have one child that's alive, just one," Rowe said through tears.
"It's very frustrating... we've got empty arms.
"We've had to sit and watch so many couples around us have babies and we're still back at the starting block."
Just this year, the couple had another two miscarriages.
Helping other couples
The 40-year-old now wants to help break the stigma around talking about pregnancy and infant loss and wants to encourage other families who have gone through similar things to know they’re not alone.
Rowe and Lyons founded Memories of an Angel, an organisation providing ribbons, pins and bracelets in memory of lost babies.
The couple also attend walks and memorials, helping raise awareness for pregnancy and infant loss, which is commemorated annually on October 15.
"It's still incredibly taboo and that's really not helpful to the parents that are in this situation and experiencing the loss.
In Australia, one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, while 2,200 pregnancies end in stillbirth every year.
"It just blows my mind that we're still sort of operating in a society where we're encouraged to keep it to herself," she said.
"I think that as a whole society, we don't do death well, let alone the death of a baby."
Rowe wants other families to know they're not alone.
"It doesn't matter whether the child was lost at four weeks or 40 weeks, we need to stop measuring loss by gestation.
"I can't take away your pain. I can't change the outcome and I can't bring your baby back.
"But I can give you a listening ear and support you and tell you that even though you may not feel it today, there will be a day in the future, and everybody's timing is different, when you will smile again and you will enjoy life again."
And despite all the loss they've experienced, Rowe and Lyons aren't giving up.
The pair will be trying for baby number 12 with the help of donor eggs.
Originally published as : Melbourne woman who lost 11 babies to stillbirth and miscarriages wants you to know her story