Remembering our Angels and Supporting their Families
Remembering our Angels and supporting their families
The Little Jem Foundation helps to provide assistance to families who experience the loss of a baby, whether during pregnancy, as a newborn as a young child. The aim is to provide assistance to families who are faced with the sudden loss of a baby or child. This may include, but is not limited to; bereavement counseling and peer support groups and a gift of a memory box and general information on where to help is available. Having experienced the loss of a child, Mat and Amy understand that time can only start to heal the hurt. Their aim is to provide some comfort and support to families during their time of grief, to help get through what is undoubtedly an extremely tough time.
The Little Jem Foundation aims raise awareness throughout communities in Australia about the impact losing a baby or child has on the family unit, and community as a whole.
The day started as normal, getting Tyson, our eldest son ready for daycare. I was feeling great and ready for a big day of doing bookwork. As I sat down to start the bookwork, I could feel her moving around like crazy. I continued and didn’t think anymore of it. By the time it got to about 10.30 am, I noticed I was having a slight pain in the tummy. By 11.30 am the pain was still dull but happening every 5 minutes. Only being 27 weeks I didn’t even contemplate I was in labour. I rang my mum and was talking for a while before I said anything to her.
My sister (also a nurse) was visiting mum and suggested it would be a good idea to call the doctors to see what they thought. So I got off the phone and rang the doctors. They told me to get straight to the hospital to be checked. Still at this stage I was not even thinking at all that we would meet our baby today. It was a ½ hour drive to the hospital and by the time we got there the pain was still dull but was about 3-4 minutes apart. The staff admitted me and started to check me out. Yep, I was in labour and it was happening fast! They tried to stop it with drugs and they gave our baby steroids for her lungs. We had nurses and doctors everywhere and within an hour the NETS team was on hand to look after our baby.
My waters broke and everything stopped. No more pain. It seemed to take a while for the pain (contractions) to start again but once it did it was really bad and within ½ an hour our baby girl was born. From memory she was not breathing and I don’t think I got to hold her, as the team were working on her straight away. Then all of a sudden a little cry - that was the first and last cry we would hear. They intubated her and worked on her for a few hours. They said they would have to transport her to Melbourne for higher care and asked if we would like to get her baptised before they moved her. At that stage I didn’t really register that she was that bad and I said "No, we will wait until we get to Melbourne". The doctors looked at us and said, "We think it’s best now as she is critical and might not make it to Melbourne". That’s when it hit. How could this be happening to us our precious little girl? Our baby girl was a really sick little girl and things were really bad.
We had our beautiful baby baptised Jemma Sue Daly in the hospital on the 15th of March 2005. She was taken for the long and unsure flight to Melbourne. We raced to Melbourne just hours after giving birth and reached Melbourne 2 and ½ hours later. She was still alive and we knew then she was a fighter. The next few days was all about finding out what was wrong with Jemma. She was not only premature but she had contractures of the hand and feet, and a clef pallet, so lots of test were done to see if there was a reason for the contractures and clef pallet. Over the following days, Jemma underwent every test possible. We spent as much time as we could with her, not thinking about what the future might hold.
She was a gorgeous little thing, lots of spiky dark hair, tiny little eyes, feet and hands, that were just so little and fragile. We had lots of friends make the trip to Melbourne to check out our precious new bundle of joy and to see how we were. I remember looking and smiling at these wonderful friends and saying “she’ll be right, she has to be” and to be honest I truly believed she would be.
Each day different emotions would come up. I think one of the hardest nights was when we went to see her and lots of equipment was attached to her head. The nurses were great and explained they were doing more tests because she was having seizures. But knowing there were more complications just made me lose a little bit of hope. I think it was the next day and we got her main tests back and they came back clear for chromosome abnormalities. But then came the big blow. They did some more tests on her chromosomes. More in depth, but these tests would take a couple more days to come back. So we started to do therapy on Jemma helping her with her hands and feet. The nurses and doctors said it will be a long and painful process to get the feet straight enough so she could walk.
We were called into the doctor’s office for the test results. It wasn’t good. I remember I just wanted to die. I didn’t want to hear that they were saying our baby was not going to make it. That whole conversation was a big blur. Our baby girl was just so perfect.
That night we gave our baby girl her first cuddles. It was such a precious moment, and one we’ll never forget. She was just so tiny, so cute! Her big brother Tyson was just so excited to see her, and as a big brother does at 16 months, just really wanted to pull all her tubes out. It was so precious and beautiful. The four of us the way it was supposed to be.
The next day we gave our baby her last cuddles. It was such a heart breaking moment to know we would not get to see her grow up, walk, talk, make friends, play sport and just be a cheeky little girl like we had dreamed and hoped for. I walked out of that room without our baby, but with my two sisters and mum holding me up because the pain was too much. The physical pain was something I was not expecting. I knew emotionally it would hurt like hell but the physical pain right in my heart was something I didn’t expect. I cuddled my husband knowing our lives had been changed forever and not knowing how we would get through it. Our life had been changed forever because of our precious little girl.
8 years on
It has taken me 8 years to put Jemma's story down on paper. I have left a lot out because it’s still too painful to write. I can think in my mind about parts of what happened but just can’t get it out and don’t think I will ever be able to, and I accept that. It was only a couple of months ago that I realised that I will never “get over” the loss of our baby and now I never expect to. I have accepted a lot of things that happened.
Jemma has had a positive impact on our lives and she is still our baby and always will be. We have gone on to have three more beautiful, precious children. The pregnancies were extremely hard having doubt in the back of my mind that anything can go wrong, but still hoping for their future. I can tell you - the relief each time I walked out of the hospital with these babies in my arms was like no other. Her sisters and brothers talk about her and she is a big part of our family. Our community has embraced her memory and I think in a little way we have helped the community talk about the babies that have gone to soon.
We now feel we would like to help others through the toughest journey of their lives. The reality is people continue to lose babies on a daily basis. We feel if people know its okay to talk about their babies, that we might be able help in the healing process. We know every journey is different and every person feels differently about what has happened to them, but most parents want to be able to acknowledge their babies.
It is bitter sweet to know we have held our very own angel.
Love ya Little Jem.
Jemma Sue Good Friday Golf Day
The Jemma Sue Daly Golf Day is an initiative of Mat and Amy Daly in memory of their daughter, Jemma Sue, who passed away on 23rd March 2005. Jemma Sue was born 13 weeks early and flown to the Mercy Hospital in Melbourne where she bravely fought for her life for eight days before unfortunately passing away a lifetime too early.
The Jemma Sue Daly Golf Day is played each year on Good Friday at the Newry Golf Course.
Each year when Mat and Amy run the Jemma Sue Daly Golf Day, they choose a community organisation to be the recipient of the funds raised. To date, they have raised over $83,000 and the recipients have included Sale Specialist School, the Maternity Ward at the Central Gippsland Health Service and the Mercy Hospital for Women Neonatal Unit, St Marys Primary School Maffra (where Jemma would have attended school) and the Heyfield Bushfire Appeal.
Mat and Amy always dreamt of setting up a foundation in memory of Jemma Sue known as ‘The Little Jem Foundation.” They have decided that next year, being the 10th anniversary of the Jemma Sue Daly Golf Day, is the perfect time to make their dream a reality and establish the ‘Little Jem Foundation’.
Little Jem Foundation