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The Book

For Isabelle Rose and all babies born still.

The BookIn 2004, my husband and I joined the ranks of millions of first-time parents-to-be. Euphoric about our pregnancy and anticipating the birth of a happy, healthy baby, our lives could not have been more exciting. At nearly 40 weeks, our baby was born. Isabelle Rose had 10 perfect fingers and 10 perfect toes. She had a beautiful round face with rosy pink cheeks and a delicate little mouth and nose.

But Isabelle Rose was not alive. She did not get to take her first breath. In one horrific moment, we went from being a loving family unit to a mere statistic, joining the 2,000 Australian families who suffer stillbirth each year.

This book is about my journey from pregnancy, birth, loss and grief to what became a highly emotional but determined bid to find out why our baby died. As we discovered, a determination to seek answers can plunge grieving parents who are at their lowest emotional ebb into a battle with the medical profession.

I have sought to challenge the law that currently regards life as beginning only if a baby takes a breath at birth. In other words, only a baby born alive is recognised as having lived at all. It was clear to me that my baby’s life began at conception. Isabelle Rose was a distinct, living and whole human being. Further to this, although she was a fullterm baby, a death certificate could not be issued because she died in my womb. Under the Coroners Act, the coroner cannot investigate the death of a stillborn child. Therefore, according to law, Isabelle Rose did not live and did not die. Such legislation denies any investigation that might provide answers to the parents of stillborn babies.

The profound pain of the loss of a child remains forever. By exploring the challenges I faced in trying to get some answers about my baby’s death, I hope to make the way easier and clearer for parents who, for whatever reason, find themselves in the same sad predicament.

“My grief lies all within. And these external manners of lament are merely shadows to the unseen grief that swells with silence in the tortured soul.” William Shakespeare



Caroline Sugden is typical of the young women of today,
successfully combining career, marriage and motherhood.
She is passionate about community issues and is a volunteer
support person for other bereaved parents. Caroline is
passionate about helping to reduce the number of stillbirths
which is currently one of the most common negative outcomes
of pregnancy but is among the least well-studied.
In 2008, there were 2154 stillbirths, defined as foetal deaths
at 20 weeks or more gestation, in Australia
-- 582 of them in Victoria. Why?
Contact Caroline at book@stillatbirth.com
if you'd like to order a book. $10 inc postage.