Archives for : BIRTH BABIES

Abortion is usually a lonely experience – that’s why I openly talk about mine

Technically, I wasn’t alone when I had my abortion. There was a doctor at my feet. A nurse at my head. She offered to hold my hand, but I dug my fingernails into my palms instead – hoping one type of pain might distract from another. I wasn’t alone, but in so many ways, I was.

An hour later, I returned to the waiting room. My not-quite-boyfriend’s chin was folded against his chest. I poked his shoulder and motioned toward the door.

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It may take two people to get pregnant, but only one will feel the physical effects. 

“Let’s go,” I said.

I tried to slip my arm through his as we walked through the parking lot on that frigid Chicago morning, but he was stiff and unresponsive. I pulled back and held my elbows tight instead.

I’ll never know what was going through his mind during those moments that are still so vivid for me: the morning I choked out the words “I’m pregnant” on the phone; the day I showed him a Post-it note where a nurse had scribbled a due date that I tried to forget; the night we drank too much wine because it didn’t matter if I drank – I wasn’t keeping it. (I still felt guilty and cried.)

I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him, either. But his experience is his, and mine is mine, and they parted ways shortly after that walk through the cold parking lot.

Eighty-three percent of women who have abortions are unmarried. Which makes sense. For most single women, I imagine that having a child is more daunting than for married ones.

No matter a woman’s marital status, though, abortion can be a lonely experience. It may take two people to get pregnant, but only one will feel the physical effects. Only one can ultimately make the decision of how to handle what’s happening with her body. Thankfully, we still have that decision to make, despite those who try to take it away.

The stigma surrounding abortion further isolates those of us who’ve been through it. It’s not something we’re supposed to talk about. We grieve quietly. Or we don’t. But we don’t dare tell anyone that we didn’t feel grief. We’re expected to agonise over the decision, even though for many, it’s a no-brainer. And while I did feel anxious and sad going through mine, I know that that’s not true for everyone.

I didn’t tell many people about my abortion, and I told even fewer about the emotional turmoil I experienced around it.

The man who got me pregnant and I spent about eight months together. At the time, I thought he was passionate. Looking back, manipulative is a better word. There were insults and accusations that shouldn’t come from the mouth of someone who claims to love you. Through unfounded assumptions about me and random men, he’d often make me apologise for things that never happened. His jealous temper might have stemmed from his intimate awareness of how easy it is to lie. He’d had another girlfriend all along.

About a week after the cold walk through the parking lot, he left his phone at my apartment and the screen lit up with evidence as I scrolled through his texts: “I love you”; “I’ll be home soon, babe”; and “What should I make for dinner?” A seemingly happy relationship formed between work and meals and errands. I could see myself slotted in between an occasional “Where are you?” and “Come home.” But otherwise, their life together seemed shockingly whole.

I was ashamed for not seeing the truth sooner, for letting him control me through my insecurities for so long. And it was terrifying to suddenly lose the one person who had been there through the decision to end my pregnancy, to end our pregnancy. Part of me wanted to shut the phone and pretend I didn’t know.

When I confronted him and ended things, relief became the dominating emotion. I’d made the right decision. And I was freed from a future that scared me even more than being alone.

I began sharing my experience by journaling through tears and with shaky hands. And then I kept writing, through an increasing level of clarity and self-forgiveness. Writing became my therapy. Eventually, it struck me that other women probably needed to share their stories as badly as I did. I began to talk about my abortion with friends, and discovered more and more women who had stories to share, too. Those who didn’t were still open and supportive when hearing mine.

These stories were complicated to tell, but it’s not so complicated to listen. The #ShoutYourAbortion campaign has tapped into this desire to share our stories. Through the hashtag and downloadable posters, women are reclaiming the conversation by refusing to be silent about their decision to end their pregnancies.

These stories can be legally powerful, too. In the recent Supreme Court case that struck down Texas’ abortion restrictions, 200 women filed friend-of-the-court briefs, names attached, describing their abortion experiences.

Ultimately, I healed by myself, without the help of a partner. Hearing other women’s stories over the years helped me realise that I was strong enough to get through it without him. I hope this one will serve a similar purpose for someone else. I hope she knows that she’s strong enough on her own – and that she’s not alone.

The Washington Post 


Henry Sapiecha


Heaviest babies in history are huge

An Indian mother has given birth to a 6.8kg baby girl, putting to shame baby whopper Ziad Kadic, who was born in Perth Australia weighing in just under 6kg three weeks ago.

The baby girl weighs the same as the average six-month-old and is reportedly twice the size of a regular newborn baby.

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The newborn, who is unnamed, was delivered by caesarean to her 19-year-old mother, known only as Nandini.

Doctors believe her weight overtakes the alleged current record holder, Carisa Rusack, who was born weighing 6.5kg in Massachusetts in 2014.

regular size & huge size babies image

Dr Venkatesh Raju, the local health officer, said: “In my 25 years of experience, I had never seen such a big baby.

“She is a miracle. I believe she is not only the heaviest baby born in India but the heaviest baby girl ever born in the world.”

Doctors and family were surprised by the size of the baby, because the pregnancy had gone smoothly.

Nandini, the mother, weighs 92kg and is 175cms tall, and was unaware she was going to give birth to such a large child.

Health workers are monitoring the child in an intensive care unit to check her developments, before letting her go in a few days.

The gynaecologist who delivered the baby, Poornima Manu, said: “She came as a big surprise for all of us. The surgery took place for almost half an hour and it was free of any complications. She is really big and beautiful.

“She does not have any health issues like irregular sugar levels or thyroid and breathing normally. We were initially concerned about her sugar levels but that is fine.

“The mother had made regular visits for check-ups at the hospital and never showed signs of gestational diabetes or thyroid disorders.”

Despite being “big and beautiful”, the unnamed baby is far off the current Guinness Record holder for heaviest birth.

This is held by a baby boy born in Italy who was born without any health issues at 10.2kg to Sig Carmelina Fedele (Italy) at Aversa, Italy in September 1955.

On May 2nd Perth mum Breanna Sykes gave birth to 13-pound whopper Ziad Kadic at Joondalup Health Campus, who is understood to be one of the heaviest babies in WA history, weighing in at 5815 grams and measuring 57 centimetres.

“One of the doctors said ‘this is the biggest baby I’ve ever seen in my 15-year career’. It’s pretty amazing,” Ms Sykes told Nine News.

“They said he’s just not going to fit, if I try and push the baby he would break my pelvis so I had to get a caesarean.

“But, he’s here safe and happy and that’s what matters,” she said.

Telegraph, London; 9 News Perth

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Henry Sapiecha


pregnant lady of 2 years story images www.goodgirlsgo (6)

According to the story, Angie claimed that doctors advised her about her condition, and told her that if she wanted to continue with her pregnancy, it would take a long time, probably up to 24 months, and she insisted to continue with the pregnancy. However, she now claims that the feeling is unbearable. She says that her baby weighs 19 pounds, and that for the past four months she could no longer walk. Medical experts are baffled with this case and they said that this is the first time ever for a mother to carry her child for more than 10 months, let alone 2 years!

pregnant lady of 2 years story images www.goodgirlsgo (7)

When news about a girl name Angie Dellora went viral, it sent shockwaves around the internet, especially among mothers and mothers to be. Imagine the struggle that every mother has to go through when carrying a child for 9 months – but imagine what Angie Dellora feels like, being pregnant with her boy for 24 months. That is two years of being pregnant, and still, she have not delivered yet. According to Angie, she just cannot take it anymore, and she certainly cannot wait to deliver and see her son. But at least, that is what Angie Dellora claims in the stories.

pregnant lady of 2 years story images www.goodgirlsgo (2)

Many people question, will the mother and baby survive the birth process? How can the baby last for so long in the womb? According to Angie Dellora, she is going to China to try out an experimental acupuncture treatment that would help to calm her nervous system down and regulate her blood cells, which would help to normalize the growth rate of the baby’s organ, and hopefully help Dellora to give birth faster. Angie claims that she is keeping her faith and hopes high and she hopes for the best after the experimental treatment.

pregnant lady of 2 years story images www.goodgirlsgo (3)

However, how true are the claims of Angie Dellora? Or the biggest question of them all, does she truly even exist? While the story of Angie Dellora’s 2 years pregnancy sent shockwaves through social media, being shared all over – there are many sceptics who believes that such claims is just impossible, and most probably that the story is a hoax, or not true. Further research into this story, some people found out the whole truth – and the truth is nothing as close to what the story claims. In fact, you will be shocked to know the real truth is….

pregnant lady of 2 years story images www.goodgirlsgo (4)

The real truth is Angie Dellora does not even exist, and the story is a hoax spread by NewsWatch-28, a popular comedy and satirical news sites. Blogs picked up the story, and started duplicating and spreading out the story. The woman in the picture is actually Czech mother, Alexandra Kinova. Yes, she is pregnant, and no she had not been pregnant for 2 years – but her pregnant belly is super huge because she carried quintuplets. Alexandra Kinova gave birth to 4 healthy sons and a daughter in 2013 in Prague.  The satirical website stole her picture and made up a fake story.

pregnant lady of 2 years story images www.goodgirlsgo (1)

This is a recent picture of the real women in the picture, Alexandra Kinova, with her husband, Antonin Kroscen, and their beautiful quintuplets. Her babies were the first quintuplets in the history of Czech Republic. They were naturally conceived, and she had an ordinary C-Section birth with no complications. Doctors cleared that the babies will grow up to be healthy. So there you go, the story of the allegedly 24 months old pregnant Angie Dellora is a hoax and is fake. Medically and scientifically, the story did not make sense, and nothing like that could ever happen. So mothers to be can take a sigh of relief. (6)

Henry Sapiecha

Virgins giving birth to babies

pregnant belly image www.goodgirlsgo.comVirgins giving birth to babies

Virgin conception: a distorted message?

Dozens of young women have had virgin births after undergoing IVF in Britain, it has been reported.

Four major British fertility firms said they had assisted in such cases, with doctors suggesting there have been at least 25 such births in the past five years.

Fertility doctors said single women who had never had sexual intercourse were seeking donor-assisted treatment – at a cost of around $10,800 – because they wanted to have a child now and save sex for a “special relationship”.

Others said their cases involved women with a fear of sex.

The decision to provide fertility treatment in such cases has been criticised by religious groups, who said it undermined the importance of bringing up children in stable marriages.

Care Fertility, which runs five centres across England, is among the clinics to confirm virgin births.

Maha Ragunath, medical director of its clinic in Nottingham, said: “The number of single women I see has doubled over the last decade and single women now account for at least ten per cent of my patients.

“A lot of them are very young, in their twenties, sometimes studying or doing very ordinary jobs and often living with their parents, rather than career women who have been driven and focused too much on their work.

“When I ask them why they are coming for treatment, very often the response is that they are ready to have a child and they don’t want to wait around for the right partner to come along,” she told the Mail on Sunday.

“A small percentage have never been in a relationship and never had sexual intercourse,” she added.

Over the last three years, she has provided successful treatment to three virgin women; one a nurse, another living at home with her parents, and a third who needed multiple rounds of IVF, she said. Other IVF firms helping virgin women to conceive include the London Women’s Clinic, Create Fertility, and the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre. The NHS does not fund such cases.

Tracey Sainsbury, a senior fertility counsellor and research officer at the London Women’s Clinic, said she saw about two single, virgin women a year wanting to have a baby. “Some have never had a relationship, others have been in a relationship but never had sexual intercourse, some are single lesbian women; for others there may be psychological or medical reasons why they have never had sex,” she said.

Josephine Quintavalle, from the pro-life campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: “What is the child for these women? A teddy bear that they pick off the shelf?

“The message from nature is for a male and female to have a child, and I am saddened that we are willing to distort this.”

James Newcome, the Bishop of Carlisle, said such trends could damage society. “The ideal is that a child has a mother and a father who are married to each other. All the evidence shows that is the best context for a child,” he said.

The Telegraph, London (6)

Henry Sapiecha

Two related sites below

Woman Pregnant for 46 Years Gives Birth to ‘Stone Baby’ Video report.

A Moroccan woman named Zahra Aboutalib was 26-years-old when she became pregnant with her first child. She lived in a small village and had planned on conceiving outside of a hospital.

She was over the moon about giving birth, but just 48 hours into an excruciating labor, she had to be taken to see doctors.

For the mother and the baby’s safety, doctors told her that she would have to undergo a caesarean section. However, Aboutalib fled from the hospital after witnessing another woman in the ward die during childbirth.

The labor pains continued for a few days after returning to her village, but soon subsided. After she was no longer suffering, she thought maybe she just lost the baby, and continued to go on with her life as if nothing ever happened.

It wasn’t until many years later, 46 to be exact, that those familiar pains surprisingly returned.

The 75-year-old was suspected to have a growing tumor inside her belly, however, a MRI scan revealed it was the baby she had conceived as a young woman.

Aboutalib’s fetus had actually been calcified into a lithopedion or stone baby.

Typically, in an ectopic pregnancy, if the deceased fetus is too big to be re-absorbed by the mother’s body, it will become a foreign object to her immune system.


Henry Sapiecha


Lotte Hofmeester was filmed once a week every week since her birth in October 1999.image

Lotte Hofmeester was filmed once a week every week since her birth in October 1999.

It took Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s daughter Lotte 12 years to grow from a full-cheeked infant to a coy 12-year-old girl on the brink of adolescence.

But you can watch this incredible (and inevitable) evolution take place in less than three minutes, thanks to Hofmeester’s video “Lotte Time Lapse: Birth to 12 years in 2 min. 45.”

Hoffmeester filmed his daughter once a week, every week, since her birth in October 1999. As she was about to enter adolescence, he decided it was time to share this visual history of his daughter’s growth with the world.

He strung the videos together and sped them up, creating a time-lapse video of sorts that has gone viral on the Internet. In the last week it has racked up close to 2 million views on Vimeo and YouTube.

“She was changing at such a rapid pace that I felt the need to document the way she looked, to keep my memories in tact,” Hofmeester said in an email to the Los Angeles Times.

The images in the video are not static – so the video lacks that creepy slow morph that we’re familiar with from people who take their picture everyday.

Hofmeester said it wasn’t always easy to get Lotte and her younger brother Vince to sit in front of the camera every week.

When they didn’t feel like it, Hofmeester said he’d ask them questions about their lives, trying to stall them until he got the shot.

Hofmeester said he decided to share the video with the world now because Lotte is entering puberty. “She’ll be changing a lot over the coming years, but primarily on the inside,” he said.

But of course, he will continue filming.



Henry Sapiecha

Raped woman forced to give birth by caesarean after being denied abortion

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A young woman who conceived a baby after being raped and who was refused an abortion – despite claiming to be suicidal and protesting with a hunger strike – has had her baby delivered by caesarean section.

The case has reignited the controversy over a relatively new Irish law that allows for abortion in limited circumstances.

The woman, who is not an Irish citizen, sought an abortion under a clause in the new Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, saying that she was suicidal after the rape and pregnancy.

Ireland has strict abortion laws, but in July 2013 the Irish Parliament legalised the termination of pregnancies in cases when there is a real risk to the life of the mother, including the threat of suicide over a pregnancy. The law took effect in January, and the woman’s case is believed to be the first such one under the legislation

The case was referred to a panel of three experts – an obstetrician and two psychiatrists. The psychiatrists determined that she had suicidal thoughts, but the obstetrician declared that the fetus was viable and that it should be delivered.

After her request for an abortion was rejected, the woman began a brief hunger strike, refusing food and liquids. She eventually agreed to a caesarean section nearly 25 weeks into her pregnancy, after health officials began legal proceedings to forcibly hydrate her.

The baby survived the early birth and is currently in NICU. It is expected to be taken into state care.

The controversial new anti-abortion law does not allow abortions in cases of incest, rape, fetal abnormality or when there is no prospect of survival outside the womb. Abortion-rights advocates say this means that thousands of Irish women will still be forced to leave the country for abortions, but the woman’s immigration status in Ireland may have prevented her from doing so.

England is currently the preferred option for thousands of Irish women who seek abortions every year. In 2013, 3679 women with addresses in the Republic of Ireland and 802 from Northern Ireland had abortions in England, according to official figures from the British Department of Health. The actual figures, however, are likely to be higher.

International outrage over the case of Savita Halappanavar, who died of septicemia after she was repeatedly refused an abortion despite being told that she was having a miscarriage, pressed Ireland to modify its restrictive abortion law.

In July, the chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Nigel Rodley, criticized Ireland’s abortion law and told Irish government representatives that women were being treated as mere “vessels.”

“Life without quality of life is not something many of us have to choose between and to suggest that, regardless of the health consequences of a pregnancy, a person may be doomed to continue it at the risk of criminal penalty is difficult to understand,” Rodley said.

“Even more so regarding rape when the person doesn’t even bear any responsibility and is by the law clearly treated as a vessel and nothing more.”

NY Times with staff writers

Henry Sapiecha



A screen grab from the Pea in the Pod Maternity website.

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Celebrities showing off their ‘baby bumps’ on glossy covers and weekly ‘how I got my body back’ magazine features continue to peddle the message that regular, healthy pregnant bodies are simply not up to scratch. But why simply read about it when you could walk around selling the message yourself?

American retailer A Pea in the Pod Maternity (not to be confused with the Australian company of the same name) is selling a shirt for pregnant women with the words “Wake Me Up When I’m Skinny” emblazoned across its front, and it’s yours for just US$48.

Pregnant women need many things in the lead up to the birth of their child – support, rest, and positive vibes, for starters. What they don’t need is a demeaning slogan that reinforces the idea that there is something wrong with their bodies during pregnancy, a tacky shirt that makes light of the wondrous fact that they are growing a human inside their body.

As Jezebel points out, everyone knows “pregnant women who have the audacity to put on weight should just shutter themselves away and fall into long, deep slumbers like Sleeping Beauty so no one ever has to see them when they are not skinny.”

You would really think a company that exists for, and because of, pregnant women would be a little more supportive. Sigh.

Source: Jezebel

Henry Sapiecha

I fell pregnant after my husband passed away. This is my story

Katie Elfar with her sons Oscar, 5, and Beau, who was born three years after his father died of cancer image

When Katie Elfar’s partner Karim was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2009, she was devastated. Not only did she have to confront the loss of her partner, but the couple’s first child, Oscar, was just two weeks old. Her dreams for the future – a large, happy, rowdy family – were shattered.

But before doctors began aggressive treatment on Karim’s cancer, the couple attended an in vitro fertilisation clinic in Sydney. The couple had decided to conceive a second baby with Karim’s frozen sperm.

IVF technology, which was first used successfully in the late 1970s, is not just for couples struggling with infertility. As long as a man consents, Australian law recognises a woman’s right to have her dead partner’s baby.

“I knew with all the treatment he wasn’t going to be able to conceive naturally, even if he survived,” says Katie. “He was happy because he knew what our plans were. [The first time] I fell pregnant naturally within a minute. So I thought it would be easy.”

It wasn’t. Seven months after her partner’s diagnosis, Katie began fertility treatment. As she underwent cycle after cycle, 50-year-old Karim grew sicker. In February 2010, when he was given just two weeks to live, the couple married in a small ceremony in their courtyard.

Karim’s cancer spread from his kidneys to his lymph nodes, then attacked his bones and bone marrow. Oscar learnt to crawl in the chemotherapy ward.

Meanwhile, Katie’s IVF treatment kept failing.

“Karim was very supportive, but he was in hospital all the time,” says Katie, North Sydney real estate administrator. “He wanted a family, but that wasn’t his priority any more. He just wanted to get better, so I was doing the fertility treatment by myself.”

A few weeks after Karim passed away in November that year, Katie discovered she was pregnant. Amid the grief, the new life gave her hope. But, tragically, the baby was born prematurely, at 23 weeks. Katie called him Karim. He lived for three hours and was buried with his father.

“I fell apart from there,” says Katie. “It was horrendous to bury my husband and my son within six months of each other. I don’t think I left my house for a month.”

Time brought healing. Katie got a job and saw her old friends. She even tried dating, without success.

But her desire to have another baby was still strong.

On the first anniversary of her baby’s death, Katie made an appointment at the fertility clinic. Her doctor gave the go-ahead but she was uncertain. She pulled out at the last moment.

Another year later, she took the plunge. The treatment worked first time. In February this year, Beau Eddy Karim Elfar was born.

“It was the best decision I ever made,” she says. “I could have so easily not have gone down that path. I only had a few embryos left. Thank goodness I kept them.”

Katie, 30, is aware of the enormity of her decision. Yes, she knows her son will never meet his father. Yes, she hopes she will meet someone new someday. Yes, she is aware of the challenges of raising two boys alone.

“I feel so blessed and so thankful that we live in a time where we are able to do this,” she says. “I feel so lucky to carry on our family because it was what Karim wanted, too. I would have given anything for Karim to share it with me, but I wasn’t scared to do it on my own because I’d always been a single mother. Karim was around when Oscar was born but he was too sick to help.”

Stories such as Katie Elfar’s are rare. Gavin Sacks, clinical director of IVF Australia and Katie’s doctor, says there are only a handful of similar cases in Australia. The reason? Simple statistics. Few people die during their child-bearing years.

But there is also a larger ethical question. Is it right to conceive a child who will never know its father?

“It’s an amazing thing for Katie to have gone through and our job is to support people in their decision,” says Sacks. “But you have to say, ‘Is this really what you want?’

“Ultimately it is her choice. Whatever they had together must have been so powerful. And also, she wanted to make a true sibling for her eldest child. She’s actually created two children who can support each other and it gives her strength to find new life herself. It’s a very individualised thing but she’s been very determined and we’ve grown to appreciate that in her.”

In Katie’s case, the law was clear: Karim consented to his sperm being used after his death. But in cases where a man dies suddenly, his partner is usually forced to take her battle to court.

“The general principle is that sperm should not be used in reproductive treatment after a man has died, without his written consent,” says Professor Loane Skene, a medico-legal expert at Melbourne Law School.

“A man may be willing to have a child by reproductive technology while he is alive but be less willing, or even object to, having a child who is conceived and born posthumously.”

Despite that, the courts have been remarkably understanding. In 2011, Sydney woman Jocelyn Edwards was granted access to her dead husband’s sperm because they had planned to sign IVF consent forms a day after he died in a workplace accident.

Last year, a South Australian woman was allowed to take sperm from her husband who had died in a car accident because she could prove they’d planned to start a family.

For Katie, there are moments of heartbreak and sadness. But most of all, she feels overwhelming joy.

“Beau looks exactly like Karim,” she says. “It’s the icing on the cake. Karim would have been absolutely overjoyed.”

Henry Sapiecha



women talk on couch image

Georgie Gardner tells Show and Tell’s Katie Monty Dimond about her miscarriage during a recent interview. Photo:

Just when I thought I couldn’t admire or respect former Today show co-presenter Georgie Gardner any more, she opens her heart on the subject millions of women find too painful to articulate – miscarriage.

‘‘It really rocked me,’’ Georgie recently told website Show and Tell. ‘‘Some women I know have miscarriages and are very accepting and say, ‘That’s OK, that’s nature taking its course’, but, my god, it really took me to a very deep and dark place.’’

There are many reasons why I am humbled by Georgie’s courageous admission. 1: She didn’t have to talk about this sensitive and private matter but did so to help others. 2: Women – and men – don’t talk about miscarriage nearly enough. 3: She has two healthy kids and as such risks the ‘‘but you have already been blessed so stop complaining’’ comments. 4: It is possibly the most emotionally complicated and fraught experience a woman can endure. 5: It has inspired me to join the chorus of women brave enough throw an emotional hat in the ring and admit that yes, I, too, have suffered and, yes, I believe I always shall as a result. And I am not ashamed to admit so.

It is evident Georgie’s pain is still raw, even years after the fact. But this is what miscarriage is for many women, myself included – unfulfilled potential, heavy in the depths of our souls; an indelible part of who we are as if etched on our DNA; something that time doesn’t necessarily heal.

And this pain is not confined to women. Men suffer from miscarriage also, acutely so, and almost always in silence. And this shouldn’t be the case. Not when it is something many of us will be touched by in our life times, whether through personal experience or that of someone we love.

Depending on which statistics you believe, either one in three or one in four women will suffer a miscarriage (the higher number is estimated to include the many women who do not admit or report the fact). So, conservatively, that’s about 147,000 Australian women each year.

To suffer this in silence, or act like it never happened, is possibly the worst way to deal with grief. I have been through this grief with close girlfriends of mine and they, in turn, counselled me through my loss years ago. And looking back, I don’t know how I would have survived without them. Some of these women are well-known media identities and braver than I have been up to this point, selflessly sharing their pain with the public in the hope it may help others.

My dear girlfriend, Today host Lisa Wilkinson, is one of these generous souls. She shared her story in an interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly in 2009.

‘‘I’ll never forget, the radiographer was quiet for the longest time before asking me how many weeks I thought I was,’’ she recalled. ‘‘The look on her face said it all and that was when I knew. She couldn’t find a heartbeat and the baby had died at eight weeks. It was like a body blow. When it happened a third time I was inconsolable. [But] denying the grief or acting like these babies never were is the worst thing I could have done.’’

My rock through the bumpiest of times, media mogul Mia Freedman, also decided that the crippling pain of discovering her daughter had died in her womb at 19 weeks was something that shouldn’t be hidden like a dirty secret. She wrote about it in her 2009 memoir, Mama Mia.

‘‘It was a very healing experience, but hard. I knew always that I’d write about it because I knew that’s how I wanted to process it but also I wanted to share that experience with other women who’ve been through it or who might go through it in the future. Because when it happened to me, I remember standing in a bookshop and looking and I couldn’t find anything on miscarriage. Nothing,’’ she wrote.

Another woman I love and admire, TV royalty Kerri-Anne Kennerley, was similarly generous when she spoke to the Women’s Weekly in 2006 of her devastation at losing a child some 15 years earlier, and the appalling assumptions that had plagued her since.

‘‘There are people who are so very maternal and so family-friendly that they discriminate,’’ she said. ‘‘In the back of their minds they think, ‘She prefers to have a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes than pay for her child to go to school’ or ‘She’s too busy to have a baby’.’’ As a woman without children I, too, have suffered these ignorant and cruel assumptions.

Hugh Jackman also understands, having endured several miscarriages with wife Deborra Lee Furness. ‘‘I’ll never forget it … It’s very, very rarely talked about, it’s almost secretive. It’s a good thing to talk about it. It’s common, and it is tough. There’s a grieving that you have to go through.’’

But it appears a shift in attitude is emerging. In the past month alone, US reality TV celebrities Giuliana and Bill Rancic spoke of their heartache at learning their surrogate miscarried (it was one of the couple’s last viable embryos, because Giuliana is recovering from cancer). British celebrity Danniella Westbrook announced she would be taking time off to mourn the loss of her unborn child, and Australian author Tara Moss wrote about her two miscarriages in her autobiography, The Fictional Woman.

‘‘The roses and balloons and pink and blue Hallmark cards don’t really cover it,’’ Tara said. ‘‘It’s also tears and blood and uncertainty. By keeping these discussions taboo, we force women and families to suffer in silence. Enough!’’

I couldn’t agree more. Each time a woman speaks of her loss and pain, I am reminded of my own. And although it hurts still, it also helps the heal.

Age columnist Wendy Squires is a journalist, editor and author.

Henry Sapiecha



A New York City mom made the ultimate sacrifice — giving up her own life so her baby girl could live.


Doctors told cancer patient Elizabeth Joice that she would never get pregnant, so when she did last year, it was something of a miracle.


But joy quickly turned to heartbreak for Elizabeth and her husband Max when doctors presented her with an impossible challenge: terminate the pregnancy and begin treatment — or put her life in danger.


It didn’t take Elizabeth long to reach her decision.


“Having a kid was one of the most important things in the world to her,” Max told The Post. “She said, ‘If we terminate the pregnancy and it turns out I can’t have a baby [later], I’ll be devastated. She knew this might be her only chance.”


Elizabeth and Max were together for two years in September 2010, when an MRI showed that what doctors thought was a herniated disc was actually a tumor.


Elizabeth Joice and her husband Max


“The day the doctors called us with the results is also the day I proposed to her,” Max said. “She said, ‘If it’s terminal, I’m not even going to fight. Let’s travel the world until I keel over.’ ”


Max made a beeline for the kitchen and returned with an engagement ring made of tin foil.


“I said, ‘You don’t have the option not to fight’ and proposed to her then,” Max said. “We got married a month later.”


Elizabeth, 36, described as fiercely independent and optimistic, endured four rounds of chemotherapy, a surgery and even more chemo to make sure the tumor was eradicated.


She was declared cancer-free for three years but still longed to have a baby, even though doctors told her it was impossible.


Undeterred, the couple moved from the Upper East Side to Roosevelt Island in June 2013 to prepare to raise a family. Within a few days, Liz discovered she was pregnant. “I totally blew a gasket,” Max said. “They said there was no chance this was happening — and here it was happening.”


But only a month later, they received the devastating news: the tumor was back.


Doctors removed the mass, but because she was pregnant, Elizabeth couldn’t undergo full-body MRI scans and her oncologist couldn’t see whether the cancer was growing.


The baby was due March 4, but the doctors could no longer wait. In January, a surgeon performed a C-section and beautiful baby Lily was born.


Elizabeth’s health quickly declined as her cancer spread. Tumors invaded her right lung, heart and abdomen “We said our goodbyes,” Max said. “It was like something out of a movie. We sat there and cried. We tried to tell stories, talk about all the great things.”


“Liz came home five days after Lily was born,” Max said. “That one night at home was all we had.”

Henry Sapiecha



When Sarah* was 20 weeks pregnant she looked as through she was nearing her due date. “I was so big, I looked as if I was 40 weeks pregnant,” she says. Sarah put her large belly size down to carrying twins; her 20-week scan, however, revealed something worrying was happening with her babies.

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“There was a complication called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, which ended up with me in hospital at 21 weeks having three litres of fluid drained,” Sarah says. Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome is when blood moves from one twin to the other, often resulting in one baby having too little blood, and the other, too much. Left untreated, it can lead to the death of one or both babies.


Thirty ultrasounds, a plane trip to Sydney to have laser surgery, and another three litres of fluid drained later, Sarah was told that she was going to have perfectly healthy identical twin girls. “That was the best thing I had heard in a long time,” she says.


When the big day arrived, Sarah, her husband and their son were so excited to meet the new additions to their family. “After everything we had been through with the pregnancy, we just couldn’t wait for this moment to meet our healthy girls,” she says. But Sarah’s excitement didn’t last long.




“When the girls were born they seemed to look different,” Sarah says. “They had deformed ears and deformed facial bones.” Sarah and her husband weren’t concerned at the time; they put the girls’ unusual looks down to being born at 36 weeks.


The twins were immediately taken to the special care nursery while Sarah recovered. “We had doctors coming in and out saying that they thought the girls had a syndrome,” Sarah recalls.


Three days after the twins were born, Sarah’s small hospital room was filled with doctors, paediatricians, craniofacial doctors, and counsellors who explained that Sarah’s twins had Treacher Collins Syndrome, a rare condition where the skull, cheek and jawbones don’t develop properly, causing facial defects and hearing loss. It affects about one child in every 50,000.


Sarah was overwhelmed with the news. “My first thought was ‘Why me? What have I done to deserve this?’” she says. “I’ve had such a hard life. I’ve lost my Mum, Dad, Nanna and Pop. I’ve done nothing wrong to deserve this.” So she coped the best way she knew how.


“I went straight into shut down and blocked everyone out of my life,” she says. “Everyone was trying so hard to be supportive, but at that stage whatever anyone said to me would come out negative. I had people say, ‘God has given them to you as he knows you will cope,’ and my response was, ‘Well, I wish he had asked me first’. Others would say, ‘You’re strong, Sarah,’ but there comes a time in your life when you just can’t be strong anymore.”


Sarah’s memories of that time are filled with darkness. “I wanted this to be a dream, but each day it was still there and it got the better of me,” she says. “The doctors told me there was no quick fix for this syndrome. I was heart-broken. All I could think about was my girls being picked on and questioning how I would cope without any support from my extended family.”


When the twins were two weeks old Sarah uttered a sentence that would change her life forever. “I suggested to a counsellor at the hospital that maybe the girls needed to go into foster care,” she says. “Before I knew it, the counsellor had contacted a foster care agency and the ball was rolling.”


The twins were placed in foster care shortly after that conversation. Sarah felt conflicted about visiting her girls once they were in the care of others. “I really didn’t want to visit, but something inside me said I had to,” she says. “I think it came down to the way my parents brought me up, that family is everything. I knew my parents would want me to bring my girls home.”


Sarah was determined to be reunited with her twins, but she needed to get help. She began seeing a psychologist. “I went through six psychologists before I found the right one, and this psychologist helped me tremendously,” she says.


Life was difficult at home without the girls, but Sarah says she knew they were in the right place until she got the help and support she needed.


After a year in foster care, the twins came in through Sarah’s front door – for good. “I finally felt strong enough, and had the support I needed to bring my girls home to where they belonged,” she says. Sarah says life at home with the twins felt “complete”.


Sarah believes things would have turned out very differently if she’d had different support at the hospital. “I look back and think that counsellor really should have said, ‘Hang on, you have severe depression, let’s get that sorted, then we can think about foster care’. But that’s not how it went, unfortunately.”


The twins have now been at home for seven years, and despite the bumpy start, Sarah says she now sees her girls as any other child, adding, “It’s really only when an appointment pops up for them that I think, ‘Oh, that’s right, my girls have a syndrome’. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t go through that,” she says.


“There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.”


*Name has been changed


HS Signature Green on white


Women have rights with baby issues, but should this be against the law??

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A New Zealand woman has been accused of secretly injecting her husband’s sperm into the couple’s maid, in a bizarre Dubai court case.

Dubai-based Egyptian businessman Mohammad Fouad has sued his wife, whose name has been suppressed, for injecting sperm into their Filipina housemaid’s womb, Gulf News reports.

Mr Fouad said his wife carried out the procedure secretly, taking his sperm to the hospital where she worked, without his knowledge.

The couple met in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and married in 2008 in Auckland.


The New Zealand woman found she could not conceive, and arranged with Fouad to have a baby through surrogacy.

Fouad said because surrogacy was illegal in the UAE, they decided to find a woman outside the country.

As the couple searched for a surrogate, the New Zealand woman hired a maid, who moved into the couple’s home in 2010.

In March that year, the New Zealand woman asked for Fouad’s sperm, and took it to her workplace at the hospital for “testing”.

“She took the sperm on four separate occasions. A few weeks later I left for Egypt,” Mr Fouad said.

When he returned, the maid was visibly pregnant, he said.

“I was aghast … when [my wife] blurted out the truth. Here was my wife who had used my sperm to impregnate a woman she had hired to do our dishes. And she did it behind my back.”

Mr Fouad claimed his wife had signed a contract with the maid, and tried to get him to sign it as well. He said he refused because it was illegal.

His wife allegedly told Mr Fouad she would make sure the baby was born in New Zealand to avoid prison time for the maid and the unborn child.

In December 2010, the maid gave birth to a baby girl at an Al Ain hospital.

When she gave the New Zealand woman a written consent to adopt the child, the Kiwi refused to take the child.

Mr Fouad said he got the child an Egyptian passport and sent her to a third family in Egypt.

“There was nothing else that I could have done as I cannot look after her on my own,” he said.

“Since her biological mother is unmarried, the local health authorities refused to issue a birth certificate.

“Eventually I had to prove my paternity through DNA testing and get the certificate issued through the court.”

New Zealand’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said it was aware of the case, but could not confirm “the veracity of the claims being made”.

“The New Zealand consulate Dubai provided notarial services as part of a consent for adoption process,” MFAT spokesman Adham Crichton said.

“It is not the function of New Zealand embassies or consulates to authorise surrogacy agreements.”

Mr Crichton said the ministry could not release any more details for privacy reasons.

 Fairfax New Zealand


Henry Sapiecha