This is my story.
May 27th 2013 was the day that my world changed. It literally came crashing down around me. This was the day that I gave birth to our daughter at only 17w1d gestation. We named her Aurora Rose after Sleeping Beauty. I was only 25, young and healthy so why did this happen to me? to us? to our family? These are still questions I ask myself almost daily.
I remember moments about that day but a lot of it was lost in the haze of drugs. I remember the unmistakable sound of my waters breaking, I remember crying, I remember being so tired, I remember the nurse telling me to be careful if I went to the toilet as my baby could just fall out at any moment, I remember lying in that hospital bed in fear, I remember the pain stopping, I remember asking the nurses to check on me but they wouldn't and then I remember the kindness of my obstetrician and him delivering our sleeping daughter into this world.
She never took a breath, I never got to hear her cry or feel her against my skin. I decided I didn't want to hold her because I was scared of how she would look and that I knew I wouldn't be able to take her home. I was numb afterward. Nobody can prepare you or tell you how you will feel after losing a child. Waiting to be discharged the only thing I could think about was getting back home to Aubrey. She was only 9 months old at the time . I needed her, to hug her, to smell her in the hopes that she could mend my broken heart.
My body didn't take well to experiencing labor so early and I kept bleeding. Another round of antibiotics and a D&C a couple of weeks later and I thought I was on the mend. Late one night while sitting on the couch watching TV I felt a rush. I looked down and blood was seeping through my pants. We called an ambulance, Mum and my Obstetrician and off I went, back to the place where I had lost her. I had placenta accreta and had hemorrhaged as a result. Basically my placenta had attached itself to the muscular lining of my uterus. If the bleeding didn't stop within 24 hours I was going to need a hysterectomy.
I thank everyday how lucky I am to not only be alive and healthy but that I have gone on to have another baby who is also alive and healthy. Not everyone is as lucky as me. Aleksandr Lev entered the world very rapidly at 3:14am on the 1st July 2014. My heart may still have a hole in it but it's a little bit smaller.
I think about Aurora every day, what she would look like, how she would sound and who she would be like. At home, her ashes sit on a shelf surrounded by things we or others have bought for her. A little soft lamb, a cuddle bunny made from a woven wrap and pictures by the artist CarlyMarie. I'm still don't understand why this happened to us but I like to think that all things happen for a reason and she was just too precious for this earth and so she sent us Aleksandr.
Today , October 15th, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It's is a day where we remember all the babies and children that couldn't stay with us. Please know that you are never alone. One in four is an incredibly high statistic and it's time to break the silence.
From L-R: Happier times, all looking good at our 12 Week Ultrasound, Aubrey Visiting me in hospital after my hemhorrage, Aurora's shelf and Aubrey, cuddle bunny Aurora and Aleksandr today <3
I start every day feeling like I'm waking up just seconds after my head has hit the pillow. My daughter, Aubrey aged 3, is splayed over my husband's head and my son, Aleksandr aged 1 is nestled in my arms. These are not the greatest combinations for a restful night's sleep but I wouldn't have it any other way. Hubby gets up to get ready for work and I get precious snuggle time with the kids in the warmth of the bed. Some mornings we practice counting, other mornings we talk about dreams but most mornings we like to sing. Aubrey's favorite song is Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
We get up and all bundle down to the kitchen for breakfast. I must admit I'm not one for eating breakfast but I do like my glass of orange juice. Aubrey always has a hard time deciding between toast, yoghurt or cereal and Aleksandr always loves wolfing down a banana. The next couple of hours seem to rush by at light speed. I always find myself incapable of leaving the house before 10am no matter how efficient I feel I have been. After Aubrey's tenth trip to the toilet (I need to remind myself that toilet training is fun, right?) missing socks found and both kids fully clothed and shoes on their feet we are finally on our way.
My Mum Jo is always there to greet us when we arrive. Aubrey loves to play hide and seek with her "Mee-Mah" While I set up my laptop at my desk, Aubrey sets up her books and crayons and we both do our "paperwork' together and Aleksandr has a well needed nap. We serve a few customers in between and Aubrey loves to admire all the new babies that pop in and show them her favorite toys. Last week she even demonstrated to a new Mummy how you get a baby onto your back for a back carry using her trusty dolly Lulu. My heart seriously melted that day.
Once Aleksandr has woken up its feeding time at the zoo again. Aubrey loves to head down to the cafe further up the road. The owners Gabi and Kelly are so wonderful with all the kids that visit. Aubrey likes to raid Gabi's drawer and steal a few 'Marsh-pillows' Her lunch of choice is a can of tuna, with chick peas mixed with a generous dollop of tomato paste. Gross right? Aleksandr is much more simple preferring a fruit or muesli bar and some vegemite toast.
After lunch we pack all the orders up ready for our wonderful Fastway Courier, Marty, to come and collect. My kids absolutely adore him. If he's not running behind schedule he'll stop for a chat and even read them a story. I tell you, this man is worth his weight in gold. In the work room we have a lovely long bench where we wrap all of our orders. Aubrey sits on a stool opposite me while Aleksandr is either in the Tula on my back or scooting around on the floor trying to steal choccies off the shelves. All of our orders come wrapped in tissue paper with a little hand written note and on occasion a little gift to say thank you too. Aubrey's favorite job is to do all the sticking so I wrap everything up and then she helps me to stick it all down.
Afternoons tend to be our busiest time so if Aubrey doesn't want to help serve customers she'll sit on Mum's desk and 'help' her with all the paperwork or head to her box of toys and books and amuse herself or even pick on her brother. The poor little guy always gets his hair done by Aubrey in her make shift salon. I think he's getting used to having his hair brushed, combed, blow dried and adorned with clips. If deliveries come, we unpack them together, clean the shelves and make new displays. Delivery time can often be the hardest for Aubrey as she always wants something new, especially if it's a toy. Sometimes she might be lucky enough to get a surprise. I admit it, I'm a sucker for spoiling my kids but what parent isn't?
After Marty has been it's time to pack up all the toys. Aubrey is a tornado and spreads them far and wide but I'm sure all parents of 3 year olds are aware of their child's capacity to deposit junk in nearly every room of their home and being at the shop is no different. Once we're home time seems to speed up again. We have dinner, the kids get some much needed Daddy time and then everyone is off to bed.
It's not easy being a Mum and I'm sure nobody ever said it was. So many things to think about and so many fears for our children. I definitely couldn't be where I am today without my mother and I hope my kids feel the same way about me one day. I often wonder if Aubrey and Aleksandr are missing out on things by not having a dedicated stay at home Mum or on the other hand missing out on making friends and having new experiences each day because they aren't in child care. But then I watch my children, mainly Aubrey because of her age, and I can see how being at the shop each day is shaping her into a beautiful little girl. Sure, it's a totally unconventional upbringing but who decides what's normal? She gets to meet new and different people each day, interact with children of all ages, have conversations with adults and she even gets to road test new products. I love being a Mum and I love that my job allows me to be with my children each day.
You can visit Amber and her children Aubrey and Aleksandr at The Infant Boutique at 41 Chapel St Norwood SA 5067 or online at www.theinfantboutique.com.au or follow their journey on Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TheInfantBoutique
Instagram - http://instagram.com/theinfantboutique
by Sún Etheridge-Frazer
There are few things more confusing than navigating shopping for your baby. The internet is full of advice and purchasing options but how do you know what you actually need and what really works? You ask an experienced mum of course – and at the Infant Boutique you can ask a mum with her own successful shop!
Amber Grech was a new mum when she realised she wanted to combine her family with her career. Like so many first time mums she had spent a small fortune on equipping her daughter's nursery but she wasn't completely satisfied with any of the purchasing options available. "I was either buying products unseen online (and usually finding they didn't do what I needed) or wandering around big retailers who never had staff available to give advice," she said. "I realised this was the business niche I was looking for – great baby products at reasonable prices, tested by real families."
Adelaide baby emporium The Infant Boutique was looking for new owners and Amber took the plunge, taking ownership in 2012 when daughter Aubrey was only a few months old. "I guess you could say we went through teething at the same time," laughed Amber, "thankfully we all survived." They not just survived, they have thrived, and the Infant Boutique now operates out of a beautiful heritage building on Chapel Street, Norwood's premier shopping address.
Her mother and two small children ably assist Amber and the business is truly a family concern – you might find little Aubrey testing out the new toddler toys while her adorable baby brother Aleksander grins at you from his play mat. This creates a truly welcoming, family environment where customers feel comfortable in asking for honest advice and feedback on products.
Recently Amber has been putting a lot of energy into growing her selection of baby carriers. "As a business owner with two small kids and no nanny I have relied on baby wearing to combine parenting with the never ending business tasks," she said. Amber could only find a few baby carriers in shops, most of which she found uncomfortable as they couldn't be adjusted to fit as her baby grew. "Babywearing purchasing and education has been really internet focussed, which is odd as you really want to be able to try on carriers and learn how to use them properly," she said. "Some carriers can cost many hundreds of dollars and they are responsible for the safety of your baby so it makes sense to try them on first. Every baby is different too and will suit a different carrier so I realised my customers would appreciate a one stop babywearing shop in addition to all the other products we stock."
In order to be able to give the best advice possible Amber has recently completed training with the Babywearing School Australia, a training college affiliated with the German babywearing institute Trageschule Hamburg. "Babywearing has been huge in Europe for years, over there people just automatically book a babywearing consultant to learn how to wear their babies, just as you book to get your car seat installed by a professional. I was blown away by how much I learned during the course and am really excited to be able to share that knowledge with my customers," she enthused. The Infant Boutique currently stocks Ergobaby, Tula and LÍLLÉbaby carriers and has plans to extend their range and training options.
The Infant Boutique prides itself on providing a full service experience and they stock beautiful baby gifts, baby clothing, children's fashion, sleepwear and other practical items such as baby carriers, nursery decor, linen and blankets, nappy bags, sleeping bags, swaddles, books, toys and games. Their brands include Aden + Anais, Attipas, Belly Art, ErgoPouch, Ergobaby, Gaia, Janod, Lillebaby, Love to Dream, Nibbly Bits, Skip Hop, Tiger Tribe, Toshi, Tula Baby Carriers and much more! Don't worry if you don't live in Adelaide, you can still access all their products online at www.theinfantboutique.com.au or through their Facebook page. Online shoppers can take advantage of their flat rate $9.95 postage, or free postage for orders over $225 and Amber is happy to offer any advice you need by email. From the bedroom to the bathroom, and of course to that all important play-room, The Infant Boutique has searched Australia and afar to find the most gorgeous, creative and practical items for your child. Pop in to their store or online shop to benefit from their outstanding service today.