Grieving mother’s agony is laid bare in a heartbreaking image of her kissing her lifeless infant born at 16 weeks – after being forced to terminate her ‘angel baby’ when her brain stopped growing
- WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Justine Zampogna lost her baby at 16 weeks
- Baby Gigi’s brain had stopped growing and she could not survive to full term
- The 28-year-old from Perth, Australia has shared photos of her family’s ordeal
- Justine hopes to pave the way for other mums to speak about their experiences
A grieving mother has shared heartbreaking images of her tiny baby’s lifeless body in a bid to encourage women to speak about the ‘lonely loss’ of miscarriages and stillbirth.
Justine Zampogna, 28, from Perth, Australia, received the devastating news in August that her unborn baby’s brain had stopped growing.
Doctors gave her the option to either terminate at 16 weeks or deliver her daughter, who would survive only a matter of hours at full term.
The heartbroken mother has now shared her family’s story on her blog and Instagram after noticing how few people talk about pregnancy and infant loss, leading her to feel incredibly lonely.
Justine kissing Gigi after delivering her at 16 weeks. The 28-year-old received the devastating news in August 2018 that her unborn baby’s brain had stopped growing
Chase nicknamed his mum’s tummy as Gigi, after they originally chose the name Gia, meaning ‘gift from god’. Justine is now speaking out to encourage other women to share their stories
Justine and Ty had just five days from finding out about Gigi’s condition and delivering her, still born, documenting their ordeal in a series of heartbreaking photographs
Justine and her husband Ty, who have been together since they were 16 years old, had their first child, Chase, in January 2016, and began trying for a second in April 2018.
Justine, who works as a hypnobirthing companion, was ecstatic to be expecting again and couldn’t wait to meet her little girl who she decided to call Gia or ‘Gigi’.
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But her 14-week scan revealed that Gigi had anencephaly, a fatal neural tube defect which means that if a baby makes it to full term, he or she can only survive a few hours.
At 16 weeks, Justine decided to take a pill which stopped the placenta from working, and then deliver her baby that same week.
‘When we found out we were pregnant a second time, I was just so excited and felt so unbelievably grateful to be a mum again,’ said Justine.
Justine cradles her pregnancy bump before receiving the devastating news that her baby’s brain had stopped growing and the infant would not survive
Ty and Justine spent six hours with Gigi after delivering her. Having always loved the name Gia, they had already given her that name, while Chase nicknamed his mother’s bump Gigi
Justine holding Gigi’s small body, as she hopes to raise awareness and encourage other women to speak about their experiences (left); and in hospital with Ty
‘I was so sick for the initial 12 weeks, so much sicker than with my son. But I was starting to feel so excited because we had just got our harmony test back and found out that it was all perfect and we were having a baby girl.
‘I remember thinking to myself that it all seemed way too good to be true, but we were on cloud nine.
‘My husband and I loved the name and meaning of Gia. It means “gift from God”. Chase just always referred to my belly as Gigi though, so it felt natural to call her that.
‘We had our 12-week scan at 14 weeks as we were away, and then I got a call to say that Ty and I needed to go straight to the doctors. I knew in this moment that it wasn’t good.
‘So, at the end of my 14th week we were confronted with having to terminate our baby girl. Anencephaly is a fatal neural tube defect and the baby can only stay alive for a few hours post birth, and that’s if they make it to full term.
Justine found that many women are too afraid to speak about pregnancy loss, which is why she has decided to share this series of heartbreaking photos (pictured with husband Ty in hospital, sharing Gigi’s tiny body in August)
Justine in hospital during the delivery. Gigi had anencephaly, a fatal neural tube defect which means that if a baby makes it to full term, he or she can only survive a few hours
‘We were sent to two major women’s pregnancy and birth hospitals here in Perth and we were given two options, either to birth her at the hospital or be referred to a clinic to have a dilation and curettage (D&C).
‘There’s no right or wrong way, but for me personally I knew I had to stay authentic to myself and birth her to get the closure I truly needed.
‘Two days before being induced, I had to take a pill called Mifepristone which basically stops the placenta from working.
‘That moment when I took the pill had to be the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my entire life, but as part of the process of birthing her I had to do it. It was so tough to swallow that pill when I knew what it was going to do.
‘Preparing for Gigi’s birth involved an incredible amount of strength. In only five days I had to accept that she was no longer ever going to be mine Earth side.
At 16 weeks, Justine had to take a pill which stopped the placenta from working (pictured), and then deliver her baby that same week
‘During my preparation, I couldn’t find any information that was real or relatable, it was only scientific.’
On August 27, 2018, Justine was induced and gave birth to Gigi. Following the birth, the nurses wanted to monitor Justine, meaning her and Ty spent a six-hour period with Gigi.
Justine believes that being open about her experience has made it easier to cope because it has inspired her to help stop other women from suffering in silence.
‘The more I heal, the more I realise that what happened to us could only ever be beautiful,’ said Justine.
‘I cried throughout the entire delivery, but my tears weren’t from saying goodbye, they were from accepting she was gone. It was so heartbreakingly beautiful and the closure that we needed. I felt like after everything we had been through, we deserved to have our very own birth story too.
The moment Justine took the pill which would stop her placenta from developing. Justine has shared her family’s story on her blog and Instagram after noticing how few people talk about pregnancy and infant loss, leading her to feel incredibly lonely
‘Her sweet little soul hadn’t spent more than a day on Earth, but she touched my heart so deeply. That is love in its most traumatic yet pure form.
‘We only had a brief moment together, but in that moment, we were bonded together for life. My son didn’t meet Gigi, we had already told him that she was in the stars.
‘It wasn’t until I lived my new normal for a couple of months that I understood why pregnancy loss is given the term “lonely loss”.
‘It’s not like a loss where everyone around you had a connection with that person and you can all feel the emotions and support each other.
Justine and Ty with their son Chase. The grieving mum said of her ordeal: ‘The biggest thing that shocked me was how many women and men suffer in silence’
Justine with son Chase. Reflecting on her experience, she said: ‘It’s not like a loss where everyone around you had a connection with that person and you can all feel the emotions and support each other’
Justine and her husband Ty, who have been together since they were 16 years old, had their first child, Chase (pictured) in January 2016, and began trying for a second in April 2018
Justine, who works as a hypnobirthing companion, was ecstatic to be expecting again and couldn’t wait to meet her little girl who she decided to call Gia or ‘Gigi’ (pictured with son Chase)
At 16 weeks, Justine decided to take a pill which stopped the placenta from working, and then deliver her baby that same week – and the couple are now coming to terms with living as a family of three (pictured with son Chase)
WHAT IS ANENCEPHALY?
Anencephaly, sometimes referred to as ‘open skull’, is a rare birth defect.
It causes parts of a foetus’ brain, scalp and skull to not form completely.
The defect occurs during the third and fourth weeks of pregnancy, according to Cleveland Clinic.
It happens when the neural tube, a channel in the foetus that normally closes to form the spinal cord and brain, doesn’t close as it should.
As a result, children with anencephaly are born without part of their skull and brain. They are often blind and deaf.
Babies with the defect, which strikes one in 5,000 babies each year, tend to die within weeks. There is no cure.
‘The biggest thing that shocked me was how many women and men suffer in silence. After I shared my first blog post, so many reached out to me telling me they thought they couldn’t speak about their baby because they never made it Earth side.
‘We as mums are the only ones who have ever had that connection with our unborn babies and visualised our entire life with them.
‘At the end of the day, at some stage we had something and then all of a sudden it’s gone. We’re entitled to feel sad and mourn their loss for as long as we need.
‘Women should do whatever they feel they need to do to heal – name your baby, speak about your baby and make a big deal out of the day you birthed them. We should speak about them forever and always.
‘I want women to know they aren’t alone and to see the beauty in the heartbreak. Their angel babies are important no matter how far along they were in their journey, so never be silenced.’
Visit Justine’s Instagram @justinezampogna, or her blog Dream Your Baby
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