In September 2015 I received a phone call I will always remember. We have all had those calls and this was one of mine.
It was from Paulyne, the lovely Mum of Louise, a dear friend of mine. "Juliette, please come to the hospital Louise and Ben's baby has died."
I drove to the hospital somehow - sorrow for Louise and Ben and their family filling every part of me. Louise was 38 weeks pregnant with her first baby. She had gone for a routine antenatal appointment and been referred to the hospital when the community midwife was unable to find a heartbeat. At the hospital they were told the unimaginable news that their precious baby girl had died. I saw them in the Day Assessment Unit an hour or so after they were given the news.
Louise has written bravely and beautifully about the birth and loss of her daughter Adora Elsie Klann and only she is able to tell you her story. But I want to tell you how she welcomed me in to her story and how my story changed because of that.
Louise is a singer and dancer. She owns and runs a successful dance school and my three daughters have had the privilege of being part of Starlet Dance School since their little chubby feet could do "good toes, naughty toes" (they are now 20, 19 and 16). Louise is one of those very special people who creates community - she is a welcomer and an encourager. She seems to have a very special knack of getting to know people and enjoying them and encouraging them to live fully and bravely (ask any little one who has just come off the stage of The Hexagon having done a solo in front of hundreds of people).
The whole of the Starlet community shared in the joy and anticipation of Louise's pregnancy and when Adora died the whole community felt the shattering loss. But somehow, unbelievably Louise managed to do what she always does - she welcomed people in and encouraged them to live bravely and fully as they also grieved the loss of Adora. In the depths of her own pain she allowed people to express their own experience, to take their place in the company of those who were bereaved, whose lives were irreversibly changed that September day - because they loved Louise, because they loved Ben and because they loved Adora.
I am in that company of people. In their grief and heartbreak Louise and Ben let me in - they allowed me to take my place in sharing the pain of losing Adora. First, foremost and above everything Louise and Ben lost their beautiful daughter, but somehow they made space for others to have lost her too. It is a legacy of love that I and many others (especially numerous blue t-shirted Starlets) are blessed to have received.
And my path as a midwife changed because of Adora - I took up the role of specialist bereavement midwife almost a year to the day I received that phone call and since then have had the honour of walking alongside families in pregnancies following loss.
In December 2016 Louise and Ben's rainbow baby Everly Isla Klann was born.
A beautiful and priceless gift to them.
And once again they have welcomed us in.
This time to the joy and wonder.
To know and love Everly, Louise and Ben's second daughter, Adora's little sister.