Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 2995 ..
turn the most tragic night of their lives into one they can look back on with love and affection.
Matilda’s parents have shared with me what they learned from their baby girl—empathy, compassion and a newfound awareness that much of life is beyond our control. They note that Matilda taught them the importance of communication and how opening up about their experiences has helped in their healing journey. Uncertainty can feel crippling, and loss can make you feel like a failure, but talking and communicating with those you trust can take your mind to a better place in minutes.
Lucy and Lachlan urge people to acknowledge others’ loss. Saying nothing is one of the worst things you can do. A call, a text, a card or even an emoji is all that it takes to let someone know that they are in your thoughts, even if it is to say, “I don’t know what to say.” The next step is to keep letting them know, and acknowledging their baby, especially by name, if you can. Do not expect their grief to evaporate within a time frame.
Matilda was my neighbour. I never got to meet her, but one of the gifts that she gave me was a deepening friendship between my family and hers. In grief, my beautiful neighbours let us in to listen to their experience, demonstrate our care and our respect for them, and enable us to show our support.
While suffering pregnancy loss and losing an infant will always be part of a family’s story, there is joy in the stories of the two families that I reflect on today. In my case, a year after my loss I gave birth to my Matilda. Twelve years later, she continues to delight, challenge and excite me, as my beautiful daughter and an amazing young woman. After a very complex journey, my neighbours now have a baby girl, Zoe. While Zoe will never get to meet her sister, Matilda, her parents’ love is shaped by their experience. Matilda is never far from their hearts or thoughts. Grief is still there, but there is gratitude as well, as they revel in the delight of a beautiful, bubbly six-month-old baby.
MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Seniors, Veterans, Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health and Minister for Mental Health) (12.21): I thank Ministers Rattenbury and Cheyne and Ms Lee for bringing forward this tri-party motion today. The stories that we have heard today are not only very personal but also a reflection of how powerful an event it is in someone’s life to want to bring a new member into the family.
I rise today to speak as a former ACT branch president of the Maternity Coalition and as one of the founding members and a former convenor of Friends of the Birth Centres Canberra. We spent many hours in those groups talking about how pregnancy and birth are handled in the ACT and how we could do things better. That included talking through what happens when something goes wrong and how we could better support people.
I would also like to reflect on the fact that it is often midwives who have to help families through those very difficult times in their life. I thank them for the work that they do with such care and empathy.