Aliyah and Dane Harding

Mum and dad to Aamiya, born at 37+2 weeks. This is Aliyah and Dane.

This is Aliyah's story

'Talk about the life, not the loss, and make as many memories as you can.'

We started getting reduced movement. Scans at 12 weeks and 20 weeks showed everything was fine. At 37+2 weeks, Aamiya passed away unexpectedly. 

It was such a shock. I’d had headaches and swelling.  Afterwards, I found out that these were signs of preeclampsia. 

I struggled with guilt, especially after the post mortem which showed there was nothing wrong with our daughter, Aamiya, but I had blood clots on my placenta. I felt so ashamed, like my body had let her down.

There was such sadness, I cried and cried. I was numb as they took me to the delivery room, I just couldn’t accept what was happening.

I researched all the time. Was it was something I did? Something I ate?

Connecting with people online who had those same feelings let me know I wasn’t crazy, that it’s normal and it does get better.

I had this need to find other people, especially those who had been through pre-eclampsia or had blood clots, to try and find answers. I just wanted a reason why.

If you don’t feel like you can talk to the people around you, talk to people online. There are so many forums and I came across so many people on Instagram, talking to them is private and everyone is so supportive.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I wasn’t sure I believed in counselling but it really helped. It’s not for everyone though, you have to cope in your own way, cry if you want, but when you smile again don’t feel bad.

Dane and I have always been close but it was tough. I struggled to communicate, I was depressed, didn’t want to get up, shower or talk to anyone. Dane was more, ‘don’t let it destroy you’ but she wasn’t here and nothing else mattered.

People have good intentions but they can feel whatever they say will be wrong so they’re afraid to approach the situation. My advice would be, you don’t need to say anything, just be there.

Many people with a living child worry that, when they get pregnant again, they won’t have enough love for two and I feel exactly the same.

I want to be excited about this pregnancy but then I remember it’s not Aamiya. Hopefully this child will come earth side and it’s finding that balance loving your living child and loving the one in heaven.

Also, there’s fear. How do you convince yourself that what happened last time won’t happen again? I didn’t really know about Tommy’s the first time I was pregnant, after our loss I found a lot of pregnancy information. Having that research, that guidance is reassuring and you feel less alone.

I used to think, ‘How is it possibly going to get better?’ but it does. You don’t go back to the old you, but there is a light.

Talk about the life, not the loss and make as many memories as you can. I sleep with the teddy she cuddled in hospital and, when I feel sad, I go through her memory box. At first it was upsetting but now it’s a nice way to incorporate her in my life.

Before she was born I was so scared at the thought of seeing a baby that wasn’t alive, but as soon as she was born all I felt was love.

If anything, I regret not holding her enough, she was so small, so delicate I was scared of hurting her but I wish I’d held her more. Hold them, take photos and say everything you want to say to them because these are the memories you’ll cherish forever.

This is Dane’s Story

'You never forget, but you’ll put that memory into a better place.'

I just remember them saying there was no heartbeat and I was so angry, filled with rage.

Then I looked at Ali, saw how sad she was and had to tell myself not to be selfish. I’m not a very open person, I like to just deal with it and it’s hard for dads in this situation because you just want to look out for your family, there’s so much pressure to be ‘the man’.

I just couldn’t let Aliyah see me at my lowest points. Even now, I’ll go for a walk, talk to myself, cry, scream and shout until I can deal with things again.

You’re going to feel that pain whether you want to or not and there’s no right or wrong way of dealing with that. You have to take as much time as you need to heal. Losing a child is so sad but if you follow your emotions, it will get better.

I struggle most when I’ve too much time to reflect, to focus on ‘What ifs?’ but that’s natural.

I think it’s important to get out there and interact, even just an hour a day. It can be really bad being left alone with your thoughts and emotions for months at a time.

Don’t be in a rush to go back to whatever ‘normal’ means for you.

Find ways to cope and understand. You can’t go back to who you were but if you can take anything positive, however small, that will help heal you in a way.

It heals me to talk about her, we talk about her every day, ‘I bet she would have done this or that’.

Sometimes when we visit her we still read her stories, which is comforting in a way because those were the things you planned to do. Just because she’s not here in the way you want, she still exists.

I know some people might not want to say anything for fear of upsetting us but she was here, she’s a part of me and not something I want to forget.

There’s lots of bonding as that bump grows. She made me happy, changed me as a person, even though she’s not here, she did so much for my life. People not acknowledging that she was a person is tough, it’s upsetting.

I just want to remember her and be happy.

Sometimes it breaks your heart because you were expecting to do so much for them and I felt angry because I didn’t understand. You want a reason and, even after the post-mortem, there was nothing definitive.

But I don’t feel anger anymore. I’ve put her memory in a place that allows me to love my daughter and still get to move forward.

When I speak about her now, it’s with happiness rather than anger and bitterness. She’s not here, there’s nothing I can do about that, but I can make her memory happy.