Samantha Rowe has wanted to be a mother for as long as she can remember, however she could never have imagined the heartbreaking journey that wish would take her on.
The 40-year-old from Melbourne and her fiancé Paul have had to endure the devastating loss of 11 babies, through stillbirth and miscarriages, but say they are not ready to give up on the dream of bringing a healthy baby home.
“We both had always wanted to have children,” Samantha tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mother. Whilst I do consider myself a mother as I have birthed three babies that were stillborn, my arms are still empty.”
Samantha and Paul found out they were expecting their first child after a whirlwind romance and engagement in 2013. But while the pregnancy initially progressed without incident, at 21 weeks Samantha started experiencing pain and eventually their first child Cooper was stillborn.
Since then, the couple have also lost Hudson (stillborn in 2015), twin girls Emma and Zoe, who passed away due to cord entanglement (also 2015), and Noah (stillborn in 2018), as well as suffered seven miscarriages.
Their complex situation has often left doctors stumped and as the years progressed their ability to fall pregnant and carry to term has become more and more difficult.
“Things have become somewhat more challenging and we now have several complications and concerns to manage, including pre-term labour and shortening of the cervix, high risk of infections due to an Immunological Disorder called Mannose Binding Lectin deficiency, and now due to age, a high risk of infertility or miscarriage as I am about to turn 41,” Samantha tells us.
After extensive research into a variety of assisted fertility options the pair commenced the process to do IVF using donor eggs in July 2019, however lost the resulting pregnancy in a miscarriage in December.
Samantha says every time she has lost a baby she is hit with a whirlwind of emotions; from shock, disbelief and heartache, to anger, frustration and resentment.
But while many would decide the hurt is too much and give up, Samantha says it’s hope that keeps them trying.
“While there is still some hope left, I just can’t give up on our dreams of a family,” she tells us.
“I’m a fighter, I’ve always been passionate about things I believe in and I believe that having a family is something worth fighting for. If we were going to give up, we would have done so long ago.”
In Australia, one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, while 2,200 pregnancies end in stillbirth every year. To share their story and try and help other families going through similar heartbreak, Samantha and Paul founded Memories of an Angel, an organisation providing a variety of supports for those who experience pregnancy/infant loss and memorial keepsakes to help families honour the memory of those they have lost.
“Both Paul and I are passionate about honouring the legacy of our babies,” Samantha says, adding they make sure to celebrate milestone days every year, as well as participate in memory walks and fundraisers.
“The other big part of our children’s legacies is running our social enterprise Memories of an Angel (MOAA). We want to provide the support to bereaved parents that we felt was missing during our own journey.”
Samatha has also recently been handpicked by MAFS alumn Jules Robinson as an ambassador for her shapewear line Figur. She says the opportunity to represent the brand has helped her overcome her own struggle with confidence.
“Having a post baby body when your baby has died is utterly heartbreaking,” Samantha says.
“My self confidence is close to zero if I’m completely honest. However, when standing in the studio, shooting alongside my fellow Ambassadors, wearing Figur Shapewear and my dress, I have never felt more sophisticated, sexy and beautiful.”
Samantha hopes her story, while difficult to tell, will help communicate the message that for some, pregnancy, birth and parenthood doesn’t always go to plan.
“There seems to be this perception that as a woman, you get pregnant and nine months later you have a healthy baby. The reality for many women and families is that this is not the case,” she adds.
“The death of a baby is one of life’s most distressing experiences. The loss of hopes, dreams and a future with your child leaves many parents feeling confused, isolated and heartbroken.
“You may be feeling tremendously alone, but rest assured, you are not. Please know that there is help at hand to get you through these heartbreaking times.”
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