Tracey Bencetti is encouraging other Blue Mountains families touched by the death of a newborn child to attend a ceremony at Nepean Hospital on October 15 (10am) to mark Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
The event, the first of its kind held at the hospital, aims to provide a place in a caring environment to recognise and honour babies and infants who have died from miscarriage, stillbirth, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or birth or postnatal complications.
Butterflies will be released and parents can write their baby’s name on a butterfly-shaped card to attach to a memorial tree.
Mrs Bencetti and her husband Mark lost their daughter, Milana, at Nepean Hospital in February 2009 just two days after unexpected complications developed during a traumatic labour.
“I think she was without oxygen for 45 minutes before they managed to get her breathing and on life support,” Mrs Bencetti said.
“You often automatically expect you will have a healthy child, but each labour is different and complications can occur.
“It was very, very difficult, especially when we knew she was going to die.
“Right from the start [after the birth] the doctors were honest and upfront and said she’s not going to make it.
“I spent about four special hours with Milana by my side in the neonatal intensive care unit where I had photos and a video taken.
“The hospital staff were absolutely wonderful in the respect and understanding they showed and they gave me a momento box for Milani so I could keep things like her wristband, an outfit and toys.”
The couple has five children now aged between two and 11 as well as two foster children, aged three and nine months.
Their son Matteo was born 10 weeks premature in 2010 and spent his first nine months in an incubator crib, but is now a healthy, happy toddler.
Mrs Bencetti will recite a poem she wrote for Milani called My Butterfly at the ceremony at Nepean Hospital and said the importance of the day is to recognise “you had a little life and that life was very important, it was only for a brief period of time but it is still cherished”.
“I think Nepean Hospital is a good place to hold the event because you can see the people [medical and pastoral staff] that helped you through. The hospital runs groups like NNICUPS (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Parents Support) and you could get to meet people in a similar situation.”
An occupational therapist who has started a Masters degree in Social Work, Mrs Bencetti said while the pain of losing a child is always there, there are some things parents can do to help manage it.
“Each person deals with grief differently, even within the
“It [Milani’s death] affected the kids quite strongly too, but our biggest support was their school (Warrimoo Public) which was absolutely fantastic in helping them through.
“What I find helps is you should talk about it as much as you need to, you should seek out support and talk to other parents who’ve been through it.
“And don’t ever hide the fact you still have that child in your heart and in your thoughts.”
The ceremony will be held at Nepean Hospital’s auditorium on level three in its west block and be followed by a morning tea and opportunities to speak with staff.
For more information, phone 4734-1072.