UK & EUROPE PRESS

Daily Mail, The Mirror & The Sun’s interview for Gigi’s Sweet Story they shared in the hope to help others not suffer in silence.

“Chase nicknamed his mum's tummy as Gigi, after they originally chose the name Gia, meaning 'gift from god'. Justine is now speaking out to encourage other women to share their stories”

“Chase nicknamed his mum's tummy as Gigi, after they originally chose the name Gia, meaning 'gift from god'. Justine is now speaking out to encourage other women to share their stories”

My hope in sharing this interview is to answer any questions that you may be wanting to know through out your pregnancy loss journey. So much love & light to all of you. And remember your baby only ever knew L O V E! 

INTERVIEW WITH: Justine Zampogna

Job title:

Mama / hypnobirthing companion – I help women prepare for giving birth.

Please can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background (family life etc)?

I love all of the simple things in life. the beach, picnics and my coastal walks. My passion lies in living a really healthy and balanced lifestlye. Eating organic, having cold pressed vege juices every single day and doing my yoga.

I am blessed to be surrounded by an immediate family that are so close. I am one of three girls (poor dad) and to be honest had a childhood people would only ever dream of. My life so far has been built around family. My parents are Italian and Greek so some of my most fondest memories are sitting around my Nannas and Nonnos table sharing stories and eating THE BEST food. So having a family of my own one day was always so important to me.

But A huge part of my life is my husband. We met when we were 13 and been together since. He had the polar opposite upbringing to me, being the primary career to his father that had bipolar psychosis from such a young age and a broken home his whole childhood. But his outlook on life is just phenomenal.

So iv taught him unconditional LOVE and what home feels like and he has taught me resilience and how to find the beauty and positivity in absolutely every situation…

When was your son born? How was your pregnancy with him?

He was born January 22nd 2016.

Besides the standard pregnancy symptoms in those first 15 weeks it was just beautiful. I loved being pregnant and I loved preparing for his birth. My pregnany and birth couldn’t have been more “text book” . I mean he even entered the world on his due date.

Did you and your husband make the active decision to try for a second baby when you felt ready?

Yes we did. Gig was so planned.

When did you find out you were pregnant for the second time?

We were “trying” when we were on our family holiday in the Maldives April 2018). Two weeks after when we returned home we got those special positive bright pink lines.

How did you feel when you found out you were expecting again?

I was just so excited and felt so unbelievably grateful to be a mama again.

When did you choose the name Gigi and how did you choose this name?

It was originally Gia. My husband and I just loved the name and the meaning. It means “gift from god”. However Chase just always refereed to my belly as Gigi. And even when we told him that Gia was now in the stars he would go “no its Gigi” so it only felt natural to call her that J Our little Gigi Rose – ahh I just love it!

Can you tell me a little about the lead up to finding out about Gigi’s condition?

I was finally starting to feel “me” again! (I was SO sick for that initial 12 weeks. So much sicker than with my son – it was really debilitating). I was starting to feel so excited. We had just got our harmony test back and found out that it was all perfect and that we were having a baby girl. I remember actually thinking to myself oh my. Goodness this just seems way to good to be true. But we were on cloud 9. We had our 12 week scan at 14 weeks  (as we were away) and on the Monday got a call to say that Ty and I needed to go straight to the Drs – I knew in this moment it wasn’t good.

How far into your pregnancy were you when you found out about the anencephaly? I was 14 weeks when I found out and 15 and half when I gave birth to her.

Can you tell me about the process you had to go through with the termination? When was this? So at the end of my 14th week we were confronted with having to terminate our baby girl. She had a condition called Anencephaly. This is a fatal neural tube defect, which results in baby only staying alive for a few hours post birth and that’s if they make it to full term.

We were sent to the major womens pregnancy and birth hospital here in Perth and given two options either to birth her at that hospital or be referred to an abortion clinic to have d & c.

Justine found that many women are too afraid to speak about pregnancy loss, which is why she has decided to share this series of heartbreaking photos (pictured with husband Ty in hospital, sharing Gigi's tiny body in August)

Justine found that many women are too afraid to speak about pregnancy loss, which is why she has decided to share this series of heartbreaking photos (pictured with husband Ty in hospital, sharing Gigi's tiny body in August)

Did you find it hard to make the decision of how to let go of your baby?

Absolutely. This was by far the hardest decision that I have ever been confronted with in my life. I mean I had already imagined my whole entire future with her. I didn’t want to have to let go. But I knew that I some how had to find the strength to navigate my feelings and make the decision being completely and utterly authentic to me. I knew that this decision was extremely important in order to help me heal. And let me tell you sometimes what may feel like the “easier” option to you isn’t necessarily the “right” one. For me I had to  birth her, I knew I needed to feel EVERYTHING and I also made the decision to see her and hold her. It was so heartbreakingly beautiful and the closure I really needed.

 How did you feel at that time when you had to take the pill to terminate the pregnancy? Was this a difficult decision to have it straight away? This was by far the worst day of my life. But as part of the process of birthing her I had to do it. It was really tough to physically swallow that pill when I knew what it was going to do - ultimately stop the placenta from functioning. I was heart broken. So this was the day that I said goodbye to her with my husband, mum, dad and son by my side.

At 16 weeks, Justine had to take a pill which stopped the placenta from working (pictured), and then deliver her baby that same week

At 16 weeks, Justine had to take a pill which stopped the placenta from working (pictured), and then deliver her baby that same week

How did you prepare for her birth in the week prior? Some may think this is crazy right! Preparing for your angel babies birth? But when you truly understand it, it involves a lot more preparation than a full term birth. You are not only walking away from that birth room without your baby, they can be really long and painful births. Your body isn’t ready to birth your baby and all of a sudden its being induced. Not only that, you aren’t wanting to let go and as a result that comes through as physical pain.

Preparing for Gigi’s birth involved an incredible amount of strength for me. I mean in only 5 days I had to accept that she was no longer ever going to be mine earth side and that no matter what I had to be induced and give birth (“terminate”) her because of her condition. During my preparation I could not find any information that was real, raw and relatable - only scientific.

So I trusted what I knew through my knowledge of being a hypnobirthing companion, having the most empowering and beautiful birth experience with my son and a huge belief that childbirth is a deeply spiritual endeavour, where our senses as women are at their sharpest, mainly our intuition and connection..

So my preparation involved saying goodbye to her that two days before and visulaise her buzzing around me. It involved visualising an empowering, short and pain free labor, it involved watching my positive birth affirmation video,it involved remaining extremely calm and relaxed – I would say over and over in my head soft face = open cervix and it also involved implementing all of my hypnorbithing tools (on my website).

What was the delivery like with Gigi? When was she born?

It was so heartbreakingly beautiful. It was Fast, peaceful and pain free physically. 

I cried through out the whole entire thing but I also felt an immense amount of peace. My tears on that day weren’t from saying goodbye to her. They were from accepting she was gone and now my baby angel by my side. It was the closure that I needed. I felt like after everything we had been through we deserved to have our very own precious “birth story” too, I truly felt so connected to her.

What was the overring emotion when Gigi was born?

 LOVE!

The more I heal the more I truly realise that what happened to us could only ever be beautiful…

Her sweet little soul hadn’t even spent more than a day on earth, but she touched my heart so deeply AND thats when you know you have experienced the purity of LOVE itself. 

Love in its most traumatic, yet pure form and with absolutely no strings, no expectations and no conditions. For we only had a brief moment together, 

but in that moment we were bonded together for life.  

Of course, I have had other emotions. Sadness, regret, pain and sorrow, but my overriding emotion has always been LOVE and truly, LOVE is all that there is.

So, complex yet so simple. 

How long did you and your husband get to spend holding Gigi? Did your son meet Gigi? After birthing her I had to be monitored for 6 hours so we spent all of that time with her. My son didn’t meet Gigi, we had already told him that she was in the stars and he was with my little sister for the day. I had my husband, mum and big sister my side.

How have you managed to cope in this whole situation and to come out of it so positive?

Because I still have so much to be grateful for. My son, my husband, our health and my close family and friends. Did I mention my son? Gosh he is just my little soul soother. 

BUT Acceptance, Trust, Patience. 

Three of my most powerful practices and the biggest lessons from all of this!

ACCEPTANCE: I accepted what happened to me. After all I had no choice. This was the journey that I was given.

TRUST: I had to simply trust the process and trust the universe. Not delve into the whole “what if” and why me”. Perspective is everything,

I have learnt some beautiful lessons and she has taught me so much from our sweet little journey.

PATIENCE: I am patient with my healing and I am kind to myself. I honor all of my emotions and I still allow myself to have sad days where I stay in my pyjamas all day long. I am also patient with the process of falling pregnant again and having my rainbow baby in my arms.

I also eat clean, I do yoga and mediation and most of all I make sure that I still play and laugh - after all laughing Is by far the best medicine for everything.

What about this made you feel so alone personally?

It wasn’t until I had lived my “new normal” for a couple of months that I truly understood how pregnancy loss is given the term “lonely loss”. Its not like a normal loss, where everyone around you has a connection with that person, or bonded with them to some degree. That you all then feel the emotions of that loss and therefore you support eachother for weeks… months…years after.

WE as the Mama’s are the only ones that have ever had that connection, have felt our babies flutters/kicks and have already visualised our whole entire life with them. Which then means we are the only ones that truly feel the pain that you get with a normal loss with no where near as much support. There is a lot in the beginning weeks and then it just drops off. And all of a sudden you have to somehow navigate your way through these crazy emotions. Chuck in all your pregnant mama friends surrounding you and it can be tough!

So this for me personally was the most challenging. But at the end of that day a loss is still a loss no matter how far along you were on your journey. At the end of that day at some stage we had something and then all of a sudden it was gone – where entitled to feel sad and mourn there loss for as long as we need.

How has sharing your story on Instagram, and through your blog, helped you?

For as long as I can remember I have always had a journal and written all of my feelings down. However Instagram for me was only ever a space to share our awesome family beach adventures, I never went deep!

But the moment I was confronted with having to terminate my baby girl it just felt so organic and easy for me to share. Because I felt as though it had a real purpose and I knew that so many women suffer in silence with this type of loss.

My very first journal entry I shared “my new normal” the day after birthing Gigi, I received over 1000 private messages from women across the globe telling me that my words were healing and helping them.

I think there is something really powerful about seeing the way you feel written by someone else – its externalised and also knowing that you are not alone. Every message I read, I cried. I felt so blessed that these women felt as though they could open up to me and share their own pregnancy loss stories with me. But the most special part of it all – these women were helping me just as much as I was helping them.

The more messages I got – the more I wanted to share – the more I wanted to create a platform for women to feel as though they could speak.

Do you think enough men and women speak openly about infant and pregnancy loss?

No! The biggest thing I found and that has shocked me the most was how much women & especially men suffer in silence. From connecting with these thousands of women that reached out to me all of them shared a really similar message. That they thought they couldn’t speak of their baby because they never made it earth side. This made me feel so sad, because at the end of that day these babies have been a huge part of our lives and defining who it is that we are today.

So women should do whatever they feel they need to do in order to heal. Name your baby, speak about your baby whenever you want to, make a big deal about the day you birthed them, or on their due date. We should speak about them forever and always. For me personally talking about Gigi, or hearing those around me say her name is really healing. My son talks about her every single day and I just LOVE IT!

What message would you like to convey?

I would like women to know that they aren’t alone. I want them to see the beauty in the heartbreak and I want them to know that their precious angel babies are important so to never be in silence.

 

You will always be my most favourite “what if” {YOUR BIRTH ✨ Journal Entry 5}

I woke up on the 27th of August 2018
And started my day like I would any other ... Chase running into us with the biggest smile on his face and jumping in our bed for cuddles.

I held onto him a little tighter on this morning and had tears running down my face . He said to me you alright mama? It’s a beautiful day! 

And he was right it was going to be a beautiful day, we were about to meet our angel baby and get the closure that we truly needed… 

It absolutely broke my heart that I would be returning home without her but my husband helped me with my mindset from the second we woke up and I felt really prepared for it from using all of my hypnobirthing techniques.

I gave Chase and my little sister patrice a big hug goodbye - reassuring them that I would be home in time to tuck Chase into bed . And I hopped in to the car with who Ty calls my birthing dream team (which I agree) - him & my mum. 

When arriving to the hospital I had to go straight to admissions before getting my file and told to go to “Ward 6” the ward you go to to be induced to terminate your baby - wow this was so much to process… 

A huge amount of anxiety took over - so I asked my mum and Ty to wait here and I stepped back outside to take a few deep breaths…

Walked straight back in and said Let’s do this! 

I was greeted by my beautiful nurse, a psychologist and the pastoral care team. The support really was phenomenal. 

For those that know me know I’m very nervous of hospitals and I also have white coat syndrome. I see a blood pressure machine or any machinery and oh my - my heart rate is off the ricta  I had planned for a home birth this time round! 

So she asked if she could give me a Valium - I had never had one of these before, but my mum, Ty and big sister Monique told me that I should. 

It was amazing - haha … it helped me stay super calm in those initial stages. I knew  that once I was left alone to do what I needed to do, that I would be absolutely fine


The nurse started to tell me all about the procedure... I zoned out for most of it, as I think hearing all of that “stuff” just makes it sound scary, when I needed it to be beautiful…

But it sounded something like this… the birth can take anywhere from 6 - 48 hours. And you can have anything from panadol to morphine.

I chose to treat Gigi’s birth how I treated Chases. Trusting my body, remaining as relaxed and open as possible and connecting within. I believe giving birth is a real spiritual endeavour and after all I felt like we deserved to have our very own precious “birth story” too.

So from the second I got induced I went into my birth bubble. I listened to my beautiful birth songs, I let my tears flow the whole entire time, I remained extremely calm and open and most of all I felt her sweet soul buzzing around me. This was a huge part of my preparation. I knew that if I hadn’t of said goodbye to her 2 days prior when I had to take the drug that stopped her placenta from functioning than my birth would have been extremely painful. As it makes sense right, trying to let go of something that your not ready to let go of can result in physical pain.

So my tears on that day weren’t from saying goodbye to her. They were from accepting she was gone and now my angel by my side.

An hour from induction I could literally feel her moving lower and lower, I got my mum, Ty and sister to feel this because it was just incredible. 


Three hours post induction Gigi's song randomly came on, I couldn’t believe it…I burst out crying and in that exact same moment my waters broke. I felt this immense feeling of peace and I knew I was only minutes away from birthing our angel baby. 


It was at this time that I had the honor to stand at the doorway in which life and death passes.


Ty took my ear phones out and asked if I was okay. "I said Ty im about to birth her”

He leant in to kiss and hold me. He grabbed my face, looked into my eyes and he said Juss I am so fucken’ proud of you. 


I told my mum and sister to go and get the nurse.


They all looked back at me and said Juss its only been three hours since you were induced. And I just smiled back. Bceuase I knew that this was exactly how our little birth was going to be. Fast, peaceful and pain free physically. 


The midwife walked in, in complete disbelief. She asked me to push and she came straight out.


Ty quickly said “do you mind if I cut her umbilical cord” my heart literally exploded and I honestly think I fell even more in love with him hearing him ask this.


20 minutes after I birthed the placenta with no problems ( this can be the tricky part, especially with pre term births)  


We held her, we cried and we smiled. 


I had to be monitored for 6 hours after, so that gave us a lot of time to be with her, which was extremely special and healing for me. 


And then hand in hand with my husband we walked out of those hospital doors with out her but together completely different people. Grateful for how much her precious little soul had taught us. 

She really was the sweetest little gift to us and we will forever be grateful for her and the depth of love that she has taught us. I feel so blessed to have known her and even more blessed that she chose me to be her mama. 


We returned home - and yep you guessed it ;)

just in time for me to tuck Chase into bed. I shared an extra special story with him that night... How his baby sister was safe in the stars and how lucky we were to have our very own angel watching over us forever. 


Our Birth was the most heartbreakingly beautiful moment of my life and it truly reiterated to me just how spiritual birth can be. I have never felt so connected.


We love you always and forever our precious spirit baby. 



*I can’t thank my mum enough for snapping these photos for me. It wasn’t until a few weeks later we realised that they were live and she had infact captured some very raw and precious moments that I will treasure forever. Chase still asks me every single day to watch this video.

*The support from King Edward Memorial Hospital Perth was absolutely incredible through out the whole entire process and I will forever be thankful.