THE question “how many children do you have?” seems simple enough, but for Kylie Sladic the answer is fraught with emotion.
Having lost two children after early onset labour, Kylie says situations such as taking her eldest child to playgroup become isolating when you don’t know how to answer the question.
Kylie’s journey as a mother began four years ago when her son Alexander was born.
“With Alexander it was a very easy pregnancy, everything went really, really well,” she says.
Kylie and her husband Ben had no reason to suspect there would be complications when they discovered they were having a second child, but just 23 weeks into the pregnancy their son son Declan was born.
“Being so early, he wasn’t able to survive,” Kylie says.
Last year, Kylie and Ben’s third child, a daughter named Ella, was born at 24 and-a-half weeks.
“She did quite well to live for five weeks and then, unfortunately, we had to withdraw life support,” says Kylie.
Through the heartbreak, Kylie has found a safe environment where the difficult questions don’t come up because “everyone just knows”.
The Puggles Playgroup, run by SIDS and Kids ACT, has been instrumental in helping Kylie deal with her loss. A free playgroup for bereaved families, it provides a place for Alexander to play with other children and Kylie to meet with other mothers who understand what she has been through.
“The Puggles Playgroup has been a lifesaver for Alexander and I,” she says.
At the time of losing her babies, Kylie says she “became so engulfed in the darkness that (she couldn’t) see past it.” But now sees the colour again, being 22 weeks pregnant with her fourth child.
While it was a difficult decision for Ben and Kylie to continue trying to have children, Kylie says they are confident they have done everything they can.
“Of course, being pregnant this time there are a lot of conflicting emotions, but we have to fall back on the belief that we can’t be that unlucky again.
“I’ve got such regular medical appointments that each one becomes my next milestone and I focus on that.”
As well as the playgroup and a raft of counselling services, SIDS and Kids offers a Pregnancy After Loss support group, which Kylie has also used.
She says she has been amazed at the support network available through SIDS and Kids, even though “it’s a club you never want to belong to”.
SIDS and Kids ACT offers bereavement support to all families affected by the death of a child during pregnancy, birth, infancy or childhood.
ACT chief executive officer Karen Faichney says the organisation sees about 120 families a year.
Puggles Playgroup is run in partnership with Noah’s Ark Resource Centre. It is for bereaved families with children aged 0-5 years and held for two hours on Mondays from the second to the last week of each school term. SIDS and Kids 24 Hour Crisis Support is available at 1800 138300.