The death of a baby is something that hits all of us in a place deep in our hearts.
A stillbirth – when a baby dies while still inside its mother, anytime from 20 weeks up until birth – is something even more difficult to contemplate. For most people, including me – about to give birth and availed of more information than I ever thought possible – the concept of stillbirth belonged in another era, long ago. My own grandmother had a number of stillborn babies. I cannot imagine the grief she experienced and the courage it took to continue trying for a child. I thought, however, that stillbirth was something that people of her generation and before suffered; not people of my parents’ time, let alone mine. Right?
Wrong. Each day in Australia, six babies are stillborn. To put it in context, there are more stillbirths than deaths from skin cancer, and some thirty times more stillbirths than deaths from SIDs. And yet we don’t talk about it; stillbirth is taboo.
Which is what makes Sally and Simon Heppleston remarkable. On August 19, 2008, the couple lost their first child, Hope Angel Heppleston, at 40 weeks and five days after a healthy pregnancy. Four years on, Sally and Simon have been blessed with two more children, but of course can never fully recover from the loss of their little girl. But they are out there, bravely talking about Hope and the issue of stillbirth via an inspiring and beautiful campaign, Fairy Tales for Hope.
The campaign was initiated by Sally’s friend, the talented Melbourne artist Tonia Composto, who decided to honour Hope’s memory by creating one illustration inspired by a popular fairy tale, each day for the month of August. Thirty-one days meant thirty-one illustrations. I can’t imagine the work that went into creating these unique and uplifting works, but the results speak for themselves.
The limited-edition prints are being sold to raise funds for the Stillbirth Foundation. Individual prints are A$20 (plus $12 P&H in Australia; $16 P&H for international orders), or you can buy the entire series of 31 prints for A$500. You can find out more about stillbirth and buy the prints via the Stillbirth Foundation of Australia website. You can keep track of updates on the campaign and hear inspiring stories from Sally, Tonia and their supporters via their wonderful Facebook page.
*Images courtesy of Fairy Tales for Hope