The story of the Charlee's Basket Care Package - Supporting families that experience the trauma of stillbirth or neonatal death.
By Shaye Woodhouse - Mother of Charlee and Founder of Charlee's Basket.
On the 16th of December 2015, I had one of the most traumatic experiences imaginable to a pregnant mother – my second child was stillborn. My pregnancy was healthy with no complications, however at 37 weeks (classed as a full-term pregnancy) my baby’s heart stopped beating.
After I had birthed the daughter we had already named Charlee, it was clear what had caused her death. There was a knot in the umbilical cord. Charlee stopped receiving oxygen. It was an unforeseen and unavoidable tragedy.
I was yet to give birth to my daughter, whom I had already named Charlee – but suddenly I was forced to think about Charlee’s funeral arrangements.
For nine long months I had been dreaming of and planning for Charlee’s life. Instead I was handed bereavement forms and information packs – telling me what to expect, what to do next, how my relationship would suffer and how others would react to my baby born sleeping.
Immediately after giving birth to my stillborn daughter, I was to discover there was little support to help me through this horrible time in my life.
A few months after losing Charlee, I identified an opportunity to support other bereaved parents and families. I recognised the care and services I had sought at that difficult time – that were missing in the bereavement support offered by hospitals. This was my way of coping with my grief, it was also a way for me to cope with the anxiety of a new pregnancy soon after a birth and death of my daughter. As I became pregnant a short six weeks after Charlee.
Children above: Lana 3 yrs. old (now 4) and James 6 months old (now 20 months).
I set out to create Charlee’s Basket, contemporary care packages for families that have experienced the loss of a child during pregnancy, or in the days after birth.
The definition of Stillbirth in Australia is defined as the death of a baby beyond 20 weeks’ gestation. In Australia, if a woman is pregnant, there is a 1 in 6 chance that the baby will die before it is born. There in a 1 in 4 chance of a miscarriage.
Whilst I was provided with information, brochures and documents immediately after the death of Charlee; something more was needed to support me through this devastating time in my life. This is a gift I find would have been welcomed in my time of fear and isolation.
Beautifully presented, these complimentary gift baskets are filled with all the essentials for the parents during their hospital stay, plus some non-essentials and keepsakes for mum and/or dad to take home. Gifts are also available for siblings, to provide comfort and help them understand. Many of our gifts and essentials are donated by caring companies and organisations.
The products that comprise Charlee’s Basket Care Packages are primarily Australian nourishing and sensitive as possible.
Charlee’s Basket is a gift to families offered now by Sands exclusively giving while in hospital at this point in time. Given by staff in the most compassionate way.
As mothers when a baby is born, its mothers instinct to protect the baby. When a baby dies, it’s the mother’s instinct to protect their memory.
I feel incredible grateful to have aligned with Sands. To merge with a likeminded, leading organisation in miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death is an incredible achievement that I had aspired to accomplish when establishing Charlee’s Basket, to create a standard in bereavement care in Australia. Gradually building to meet demand.
Sands exists to provide vital support and information to bereaved families across Australia following the death of a baby. They also work very closely with midwives and other healthcare professionals across the country to ensure bereaved parents receive the support and care they need following pregnancy ending in tragedy.
How can you help?
If you'd like to become a sposer for Sands- Charlee’s Basket’s, make a donation to the service or reach out to Shaye - she'd love to hear from you.
Sands Charlee's Basket care packages are here to provide contemporary care to women and families who have suffered from the trauma of birth experience ending in tragedy.
Shaye Woodhouse | Founder
Charlee’s Basket - Bereavement Care Package
Care Package Manager | Sands
Harpermartin is very proud and honoured to have their 'Remembering Me' Book as part of the Sands Charlee's Basket. For the month of August $5 from every 'Remembering Me' book sold in the Remembering Me Collection will be donated to SANDS to support the vital work they do for bereaved families all over Australia.