THE heartache of burying your baby, is a pain no parent should ever have to bear. For Heather Bladier, it’s an unimaginable sorrow she was faced with twice in her life.
‘I’m an angel mum as they call it, because I’ve lost two babies,” Ms Bladier said. “It’s a pain that never leaves you...even after all these years, I’ve never forgotten.”
Ms Bladier gave birth two stillborn babies during the 1970s.
“It was a terrible time to have a stillborn because they would just wrap the baby up and take it away from you,” Ms Bladier. “I never got to see my babies..hold them in my arms or give them the burial they deserved. There was no funeral, there was nothing. They thought that was best for the mum and it wasn’t.”
Spurred on by a desire to give grieving parents dignity and choice when they feel like their world is crumbling around them, Ms Bladier joined Angel Gowns Australia earlier this year.
The volunteer run organisation is part of a global trend where women donate their wedding dresses to be transformed into gowns for babies who are stillborn or die soon after birth.
Ms Bladier has lovingly sewn almost 30 gowns for parents in the midst of their grief. But it’s also been cathartic for Ms Bladier.
“I’ve been sewing for a very long time but while I was making the first gown I thought to myself “I can’t do this” because it was just so raw for me,” Ms Bladier said. “All these emotions came flooding back and it felt like I was reliving the pain again.”
But she finished it.
The first gown Ms Bladier made was for one of her own angels, she was never able to bury.
The second was for the other infant she lost.
The dresses hang like two tiny floating angels on the wall of her home. Each dress Ms Bladier makes is different and some are poignantly made from the wedding dress of the baby’s own mother.
The dresses are wrapped and given to parents in hospitals across Australia with a poem and tiny crystal angel they can keep.
From next week, dresses will be stocked at the Ballarat Base Hospital.
“I want parents in Ballarat to know that is available to them,” Ms Bladier. “I don’t want them to face what I did. I want them to be able to dress their angel and say goodbye.” For details visit angelgownsaustralia.org.au.
SIDS and Kids 24-hour bereavement support line: 1300 308 307.