Malmesbury couple Sandy and Bradley Arendse were elated when Sandy became pregnant late last year. It was the first bit of good news they’d had in many years, having lived through years of Bradley undergoing dialysis treatment for renal failure and a kidney transplant, as well as Sandy’s miscarriage a year earlier.
The couple, who married in 2015, share a 10-year-old son and Sandy has a 20-year-old daughter who Bradley considers his flesh and blood.
They were thrilled at the prospect of having a new addition to their family.
But when Sandy was admitted to hospital two weeks before her due date, their happiness faded as quickly as it had appeared. Doctors shared the grim news that their son had been stillborn.
It was a devastating experience and Bradley has been sharing heart-trending poems about their loss and grief. He’s sharing their story in the hope that it might bring some comfort to those experiencing a similar heartache, he says.
“In September 2020, we discovered that Sandy was pregnant, which was amazing news because we were hoping to get pregnant after [my successful kidney] transplant. Everyone was so happy for us, knowing what we have been through. The pregnancy was going well, Sandy went for regular check-ups and the baby was growing.
“Because of the bad times we had had, he was our beacon of hope. We were going to name him Kayden, and he was a sign that good was coming. A sign that this was our time, and we were going to be one happy family. He was due on 15 April.
“On Monday [29 March] we went to the pharmacy to buy his bottles and the last stuff we needed for him. We got home around 6pm, and I had to go out. When I came home an hour later, Sandy told me she had seen some red in her urine.
“The previous week Sandy had been told at her check-up that if she saw any redness in her urine she needed to come in immediately. We started packing, and at around midnight on Monday we went to the hospital. At that time, she was already starting to experience pain in her back and lower abdominal area, which meant Kayden was on his way. I was getting very nervous.
“Sandy was admitted and I sat in the waiting area. I could hear babies crying, and I thought to myself, ‘That’s my son, he’s here now’. There were people walking up and down. I thought they were coming to fetch me, but nobody came.
“I was feeling overcome with nerves and excitement, and that was when I started writing the poem because I have this tendency to put my feelings on paper. The poem was supposed to end with the announcement of his birth.
“After about an hour-and-a-half, the doctor appeared in front of me. I could see from his body language and hear from the tone of his voice that something was not right. He opened his mouth, and said, ‘Sir’, then I lost it.
“My emotions were just dead. I just went down. I sat and listened to what he had to say. He told me that the nurse who had called him said they couldn’t find our baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope or with a sonar scan.
“The doctor told me that he was going to allow nature to take its course and let Sandy give birth normally because she was fully dilated. He said that if our baby showed any sign of life after the birth, they might be able to save him. That gave me a little bit of hope. Maybe things would be okay.
“The doctor left and returned after 20 minutes. They were not able to save our baby.
“We held him for about 30 minutes as our world fell apart. It was devastating. For us to have had that time with him was bittersweet. It felt like we had the complete family we had always wanted, even though he was no longer alive. Being able to hold him in my arms gave me some type of closure.
“I always say that whenever bad things happen to us, tomorrow the sun will shine again. There is always a reason for everything that happens in your life, and we have come to believe that whatever it is, it just makes us stronger.”