Ann-maree Imrie joins Dr Ashleigh Smith and The Glimmer Podcast today as someone who knows the struggle of pregnancy-after-loss – also known as a ‘rainbow pregnancy’ or ‘rainbow baby.’ She is a Social Worker trained in grief and mother to Xavier who is her first child. He was stillborn in 2015 and Ann-maree has since gone on to have 2 subsequent rainbow babies named Kai and Jesse.
Discussing the recent 6th anniversary of Xavier, the pair reflect on stillbirth and neonatal loss and where is fits into the narrative of their life and how they each grapple with the existential ‘why’ and ‘why this baby’. Ann-maree still sometimes feels that it was surreal to have experienced such a loss and reports feeling like out-of-body or living in an alternate reality. How over time, the episodes of deep grief of Xaviers death has moved from the initial grief that felt like it was not survivable, to now noticing that it doesn’t last as long and knows these intense feelings will ease. She focuses on nourishing her own heart during these times. She speaks of how Christmas is a difficult time and this year with school term commencing, it brought up the deep grief of Xaviers loss so acutely as it would have been his Year 1.
Ashleigh asks at what point did Ann-Maree start thinking about trying to conceive after Xavier and what emotions and thoughts ran through her mind? They then go on to discuss how each trimester of pregnancy felt different and brought different challenges. How ‘Pregnancy after loss’ is isolating in that you don't feel you 'fit in' with other pregnant mum's who have never experienced loss. How difficult it is to ‘bond’ with the baby inside and the feelings of not trusting your own body.
When the pair turn to discussing the birth of her second child who was alive and well, Ann-Maree expresses the deep grief as she realized what she had missed out on with Xavier. She then goes on to discuss how her 3rd pregnancy was different again and how at 29 weeks (the same gestation as Xavier was when she discovered no heartbeat), Ann-Maree suffered a terrible scare that brought up feelings of PTSD, grief and panic that paved the way for a difficult and awful trajectory for the remainder of her pregnancy. Her mantra that she used in both pregnancies was ‘Right now, in this moment, to the best of my knowledge, everything is fine.’ Ashleigh explains how mindfulness meditation has greatly helped in her current pregnancy.
Finally, Ann-Maree discusses the human spirit as the driving force that has given her strength and courage to face the challenges and pain she has endured in this life. Through Ann-Marie's life changing experience of parenting Xavier she has published a children’s book for bereaved families to read to the baby who lives in their heart. She has also now found her passion – The Baby Loss Project – An online training program that up skills employers to create policy, and respond proactively to pregnancy loss, stillbirth and infant death.
Special thank you to:
- Corey Green (podcast editor - Transducer Audio),
- Coby Grant (Winter Bear backing sound track),
- Holly Ryan (Producer),
- Blue Hearts and the Stillbirth Foundation.