When mothers-to-be Angie Dawson and Zoe Lent lost their babies in 2015, it felt like the end of the world for both.
“It’s the lowest feeling I’ve ever, ever experienced,” Ms Dawson revealed to Yahoo7 News.
The 27-year-old lost her son Roman six days after giving birth, while Ms Lent’s daughter Avery was stillborn at 36 weeks.
The pair revealed that in the aftermath of their loss, they went through their darkest hours, battling crippling postnatal depression and severe anxiety.
“It goes through every aspect of your life, work, literally everything,” 27-year-old Ms Dawson said.
Yet three years on, the mothers from Perth have both given birth to healthy young sons and credit a turning point in their lives which led them to a healthy state of mind.
The pair both enlisted in a getaway in NSW for women who have lost their babies.
“We thought that we could meet other mothers who experienced the same thing,” Ms Lent, 32, said.
While already long-term friends, the pair began spending considerably more time with each other after the trip, on which they had found solace among other parents who had gone through the same traumatic experience.
“We both started feeling so much better from the connection,” Ms Lent revealed.
Wanting to find a group of mothers closer to home, they were left frustrated to find there was no such group in the Perth area so the grieving mothers decided to take matters into their own hands and started a support group they called ‘Little Doves’.
“There’s something about strength in numbers, you can get the counselling but what helps is the connection,” Mr Lent pointed out.
The group now boasts an impressive 150 members after starting in 2016, but the mothers reiterated the success of their project doesn’t lie with its popularity.
“It’s important for the group to be intimate and for them to meet face-to-face,” Ms Lent said.
And now having previously been through it all, the pair are guiding other vulnerable mothers through the grieving process.
“The loss of our children was debilitating. It was isolating. It is a very lonely journey because its something that affects less than one per cent of the population,” Ms Lent said.
“In a way we’re kind of their support through that”.
According to the Stillbirth Foundation Australia, there are six stillborns across the country each day, equating to over 2000 a year.
They say the group has been so successful as it is “difficult for friends and family to offer the same support”.
“They’ll never really grasp what you’ve gone through, they can empathise but they haven’t experienced it,” Ms Dawson said.
“They want to see you better, but they don’t know how to help.”
And their biggest piece of advice to mothers going through what they have is that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“We tell them ‘you can have that baby, there is hope’. We both relied on modern medicine but we got here in the end,” Ms Lent said.
“We’re there to show it’s not the end of your life, it’s actually the beginning of a different and new one,” Ms Dawson added.
Giving back to the community
Ms Dawson and Ms Lent have placed a huge emphasis on giving back among the group, noting that they were both given the same “fantastic” councillor to help them through their recovery.
Having both received a memory box filled with personal baby-related items that helped with the grieving process, they decided they wanted to make sure all suffering mothers benefited from the helpful gift.
Thanks to regular fundraisers by the group, they have so far donated more than 100 boxes across WA, with The Women and Infants Research Foundation being the recipient of more than 40 of them.
“Memory boxes are a comfort to bereaved families who sometimes have just minutes, hours or a few days to create a lifetime of memories with their child,” Ms Lent said.
The mothers have also started giving presentations to hospitals around Perth, giving clinicians and hospital staff a unique insight into what parents facing perinatal loss need from their care provider to guide them through their ordeal.
“We just try to be involved as much as we can in our community,” Ms Lent said.
The mothers use the Little Doves Facebook page to connect the group together.
“Our passion is to connect Perth mums who are facing this difficult road and allow them a soft, safe place to land where they can find comfort and be supported,” Ms Lent revealed.
In a bid to continue providing memory boxes to the community, they have set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs.