How one couple found strength after their son’s stillbirth


Like all expectant parents, Danielle and Kyle Jenkins had plenty to organise before the arrival of their baby boy.

They chose the name Aryton after Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna to reflect both Kyle’s mad love for the sport and Danielle’s Brazilian heritage.

They had a baby shower, filled drawers with baby clothes, decorated the nursery with a teddy bear theme with a night light and a mobile of pastel-coloured soft toys.

“I knew I had to put everything else on hold and focus on being the best mum I could be,” Danielle says.

“We just had so much love to give … we wanted children to share in that love we had for each other — that was our definition of family.”

Danielle had had a miscarriage before trying for Ayrton, but there was nothing to indicate any problems with him until she went into labour at nearly nine months and went to hospital in 2012.

“I was told his heart had stopped beating inside me,” she says.

“In that moment, all the plans we had, the family we had dreamed of, disappeared.

“By that point I already thought of myself as a mother. All of sudden it was taken away from me and I was left with no baby to show the world. I lost my identity.

“The thought of not bringing my son home from the hospital had never entered my mind. I felt so confused, so lost, so alone, so hurt, so empty. It was like having an out-of-body experience.”

The cause of Ayrton’s death was inconclusive, leaving the parents without an explanation.

Different responses to grief

Grief travels at different speeds, especially within a couple when each side experiences loss differently.

Sands Australia, a national organisation that represents and supports parents who’ve experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death, says there are two types of common grief — intuitive grief and instrumental grief:

  • Intuitive grief responses encompass strong, affective reactions and waves of powerful emotion
  • Instrumental grief responses are more inward, quiet processes, with less outward expression of emotions.

Sands Australia says often instrumental grievers express their grief by being physical and doing practical things.

In Danielle and Kyle’s case, they responded separately, in each way. Continue reading

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