Elysa Rapoport, Tel Aviv.

During my first pregnancy an ultrasound at 28 weeks revealed a severe abnormality with the fetus’ kidneys. From that moment on everything went haywire. We spent the next 4 weeks frantically consulting medical specialists to understand the severity of the situation. After each consultation it became abundantly clear that we would need to terminate the pregnancy. This was an immense shock for my partner and I. Throughout this time the baby grew and moved inside me in a healthy and normal fashion. This was an immensely stressful and anxious time for us and our families. We were totally alone in Israel, as both our families live in Australia. We also experienced a lack of support in navigating the Israeli medical system. We were never offered any psychological support to assist us in having to make the agonizing decision to terminate our pregnancy.

At 31 weeks gestation, I gave birth to a baby girl, who ultimately did not make it into this world alive. I held her in my arms and kissed her head. She was small but complete, a real baby who had lived and grown inside me for 31 weeks.

The next 18 months were very tough, until I fell pregnant and gave birth again, this time to a healthy baby girl who changed my world. During those 18 months I felt alone in my grief and sadness, as I felt like no one really understood what I had experienced. I had journeyed to the gate of becoming a mother but had not been allowed to enter. I tried to locate a stillbirth support group, however none were operating in Tel Aviv. Nine months later my health fund began a small support group in a different city, so I traveled there weekly for 2 months to take participate. The emotional support I received assisted me in realizing that everything I was feeling and experiencing was normal. Importantly, it was beneficial to interact with other women who has been through similar experiences, as well as to receive the advice and guidance of the 2 professional group leaders.

To mark the 12 months since my daughter’s stillbirth, my mother Rebecca and I launched an online fundraising campaign to start an Israeli national stillbirth support organization. We both feel that no other woman or family in Israel that experiences a pregnancy loss should feel as alone and unsupported as I did.

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