Name: Rachel Hay
DOB: 13 January 1986
Place of birth: Sydney, Australia
Occupation: Clinical Psychologist
1. Is there something personal about the letters you have chosen for your necklace?
I wear two H’s on my necklace. My sister gifted me my first H in July last year on the day of our son’s funeral. Hugo was stillborn on July 27, 2018, and he was our first child. My second H is for our beautiful rainbow baby Harrison who I truly believe was a gift from Hugo, born on July 23 this year. It has been an incredibly difficult year with many lows and some beautiful highs.
When we fell pregnant with Hugo, I was aware loss was common. But you never think it’s going to happen to you. Until we experienced it firsthand, I didn’t realise just how common it was. Loss during pregnancy comes in so many different forms, from infertility to miscarriage, and stillbirth amongst others. It’s devastating and I don’t think anyone can understand it unless you have experienced it. You become a Mum or a Dad the second you get those double lines on a pregnancy test. I believe that is something society needs to recognise. I didn’t become a Mum when Harrison was born, I became a mum when I fell pregnant with Hugo and I am a mother to two beautiful boys. The only difference is for my story, one of those boys is in heaven watching over his little brother. For so many Mums and Dads out there who have experienced loss, the title of ‘parent’ is devastatingly ripped away from them. And that’s not right at all. They are just as much of a parent as is someone who has their child at home with them.
If I had any advice for those that haven’t experienced loss, it is to recognise that when you fall pregnant, you dream of what your child might be. You find yourself starting to plan all the things you will do together. You are constantly thinking of your baby, all day every day. It’s incredibly difficult to go from that dialogue to facing the reality of having all of that ripped away from you. Those that experience loss, haven’t just ‘lost their baby’. But they have lost their baby's... first words, first steps, the first day of school, their wedding…they have lost the opportunity to see that child grow and develop…they lose every moment with that child. Your whole future is altered in that very second.
2. Do you have a message for other women or couples who have had a similar experience to you?
That you aren’t alone. Try and connect with others who have experienced loss. It’s a club you never want to be a part of, but once you are, you need people around you who truly understand. There are ways to connect with other grieving Mothers and Fathers on Instagram. There are private Facebook groups, charities and counsellors who can all help. Having these connections got me through those first weeks and months - something I will forever value and be grateful for. Talking about it helped me process it all, and I believe that’s so important to do.
Find your way to grieve and include your child in your life moving forward. Grief is such an individual journey, but for me having Hugo constantly part of our lives helps us. He will always be part of our family and a day barely goes by that we don’t say his name. With Christmas approaching, something we have decided to do is to get a stocking for both Hugo and Harrison. Each year as a family we will pick a charity to donate to on behalf of Hugo. As Harrison and any other siblings get older, it’s something we can decide together as a family. For me, having meaningful moments and experiences like that helps.
And remember grief is a messy road. It’s okay to have good days and bad days. And be triggered by various events or circumstances over time. Grief has a way of hitting us when we least expect it. It doesn’t mean you have taken several steps backwards, it’s just the nature of it all. Be kind to yourself. Let yourself feel those emotions and process the grief if we fight…it has a nasty way of coming back or bubbling away under the surface and can hit us a lot harder down the track.
3. What do you love about being a Mama?
Honestly….absolutely everything. Harrison is a little ray of sunshine that brings me so much joy. My unconditional love for him and his for me. Even at just four months old to see the resilience in him is so amazing. He recently learnt to roll and he just wants to practice it (all day, every day!)...I think children are a great reminder of not giving up. And even if you can’t do something initially or if it is difficult, they just keep practising and practising and never give up.
4. What do you find the hardest thing about being a Mama?
This is a tricky question for me to answer because if I answer in regards to Harrison, it would be nothing. He makes my job as his Mum the most enjoyable thing in the world. But if I was to answer in regards to Hugo, it would be to never be able to hold him again or see him grow.
5. What are your go-to beauty products and favourite brands?
I’ve recently rediscovered Miranda Kerr’s skincare range, Kora. The ingredients are certified organic which I have been attracted to since falling pregnant and becoming a mum. I’ve got the serums, oils, face masks…the lot! And I am a big makeup fan as well…Charlotte Tilbury, Nars, By Terry, Dior and Chantecaille are amongst my favourites.
6. How do you manage to stay in shape?
Being only four months postpartum this is very much a work in progress for me! I used to love going for walks, Reformer Pilates and did personal training sessions a few times a week. I am slowly easing back into exercise which is so important for my mental health as well. I’ve been doing short workouts at home when Harrison sleeps, or I’ll pop Harrison in the pram and we go for walks together (which I love doing with him). He is such an active and inquisitive little guy so he loves looking around and I explain all the sights and sounds to him.
7. How do you find time to rest and relax?
This hasn’t happened much yet! My husband will have some playtime with Harrison in the morning before he goes to work. This gives me a bit extra sleep and gives my husband and Harrison some special time together. During the day, when Harrison has a nap, I try to do something for me. Sometimes I will exercise, other times I will lay down and have a nap. Other days I will do absolutely nothing! I try my best to listen to my body and not feel guilty if I don’t do anything. I might only get five minutes some days but for now, that is working for me.
8. Where are your favourite places to go in Sydney (restaurants, cafes, kids activities etc.)?
We absolutely love living in Potts Point as we can walk everywhere - which is a big plus with a pram and being so close to home. Gypsy is a local favourite for coffee and breakfast. Pre-motherhood my husband and I loved going out for drinks and dinner. But this has changed to lunches since Harrison joined us! Going out for lunches on weekends has been a great way to get out of the house with Harrison. A few favourites are Fei Jei, Lotus and Cafe Giorgio’s all in Potts Point.
9. What are your favourite things to do together?
Weekends are really special at the moment to have that family time. We love going for walks, picnics, hanging by the pool, seeing friends, and out to lunch. It was harder to do these things when Harrison was just born. So now he’s getting a little older, it’s been great to get out and do the things we love. We also love entertaining, so having friends over for drinks or a BBQ is a common occurrence as well. I can’t wait to keep doing more fun things as Harrison grows up. I’m looking forward to some upcoming family holidays.
10. Any travel tips with small children or a new baby?
We have already had a few weekends away with Harrison. What I found helped was to be prepared. Yes, I may have overpacked a little (or a lot!) but it was a big comfort knowing we had everything there with us. And to adopt a ‘go with the flow’ attitude. We were meant to have a picnic but Harrison decided to have an extra-long nap in his cot that day, so we had the picnic on the lounge room floor instead! It was still really fun and we made it special. I’m not sure if this will change as he gets older though!!
11. Where is your favourite place to vacation with your family?
Growing up, we would do a family holiday to the snow every year. I can’t wait to continue that tradition with Harrison. And beach holidays in summer. The Maldives is my all-time favourite destination but it might be a while before we return there.
12. What is your signature style and favourite fashion brands?
My wardrobe is full of dresses. I love Zimmerman and Thurley for special occasions and some of my more casual dresses are from Auguste, Sheike and Rodeo Show. Although, I have recently discovered I hardly have any clothes that are breastfeeding-friendly! So my style has evolved a little. Comfort is key at the moment, and being able to adapt dresses from day to night is a big plus. I might wear them with white sneakers during the day, and at night, change to a pair of heels. If I’m not in a dress I’m in my activewear…I am currently loving Nimble Activewear and have found a few of their tops are breastfeeding-friendly.
Rachel wears Love Letters HH necklace in 18k solid white gold.