In loving memory of Torah

Torah Black

In early 2016, Lara and Joel Black heard the words no expectant parent wants to hear, “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat”.

After a textbook pregnancy, they delivered their daughter Torah at 36 weeks. Torah was born perfect, but still.

Lara and Joel have been supporting us with fundraising in loving memory of Torah and all the babies whose families didn’t get to take them home. They are also sharing the story of their beautiful Torah with everyone.

We remember Torah.

Joel and I were extremely excited to find out that we were about to start a family together, falling pregnant in June 2015 with our first child. Starting a family and becoming a Mum was something I had looked forward to for most of my life.

Our pregnancy was textbook, with everything tracking perfectly at every milestone. We had an appointment at 36 weeks - everything was fine, the heartbeat was perfect, and our excitement was growing as the birth was approaching. At this appointment, I mentioned there was reduced movement but was reassured that as the pregnancy was in its later stages, there wasn’t much room for the baby to move around.

I woke one morning a week or so later to a feeling that something wasn’t right. I couldn’t feel our baby move at all and decided to go to the hospital for a reassurance check-up. Thinking it would be fine and that I was being paranoid, I expected to have the check-up and be sent home.

On arrival at the hospital, we were taken to an area for CTG monitoring. The nurse couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat on the CTG, so we were taken to a room for an ultrasound. The doctor came in and said, “we need to do an ultrasound as we are concerned about your baby”.

This was when we started to worry.

The next words were ones you never want to hear…“I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat”.

Our whole world was shattered in a second. We were numb. How do you go from such a smooth pregnancy with positive feedback from our 36-week check-up to being told you’ve lost your baby? I just remember saying to Joel, “I’m so sorry”.

Our perinatal team of doctors explained that an internal bleed during the last week of my pregnancy caused my blood to create antibodies as a defence mechanism against the positive blood from our baby. These antibodies are created to destroy the foreign positive blood cells and, in the end, attacked our baby’s blood cells.

We lost our baby from Rhesus resulting from a bleed and the baby’s blood incompatibility, with me being a negative blood type mother. We were told these antibodies would now always be in my system, cause issues and complicate future pregnancies. More devastating news that we had to take on board.

The next few days were the most challenging of our lives. We were told I would need to deliver our baby the day after finding out we had lost her. Although I couldn’t comprehend how I would deliver our baby naturally, with my emotions still being so raw, I was talked through it by numerous doctors and nurses, who said it was the best thing for me to do.

After 12 hours of heart-breaking and emotional labour, with the support of a great midwife team and our family waiting outside, she was born.

Our beautiful baby girl, Torah Jaymes Black, was born sleeping on Valentine’s Day, 14th February 2016 - forever our Valentine.

Although it was the most devastating, heart-breaking moment in our lives, she was here, and she was perfect. Brown hair, just like her Mumma and the cutest button nose I’ve ever seen, and she was our baby girl. The connection I felt to her after delivery was something out of this world. I was so happy I got to deliver her naturally and share that connection with her.

After the delivery, the hospital provided us with a room where Joel and I could spend some time with our baby daughter before saying our final goodbyes. Although extremely hard and emotional for our family, they were able to meet Torah. We shared many cuddles, kisses and tears.

We tried to say goodbye a few times but kept her with us until we were ready to let go. We said our final goodbye and held a small service with our family and close friends to remember what a special little girl she was.

Days, weeks and months went by.

Life continued for most, but ours just stood still. For what should have been the happiest time in our lives, we were numb from pain, doing our best to get through it together.

It was difficult to think of wanting to try for another baby as we were still dealing with the pain of losing our first. Later in 2016, our hearts were finally ready to let more love in, and we started trying for our second child.

Through a difficult and highly monitored second pregnancy, our daughter Briar Jaymes (just like her big sister) Black was born on 15th June 2017. A short stay in special care, and she was ready to come home. We were then blessed again to fall pregnant with our son Aston Rhys Black, born on 17th December 2019. His pregnancy was more complex and even more regularly monitored than Briar’s, requiring numerous blood transfusions and hospital stays. The amazing team at Mercy Perinatal made sure that he arrived safely.

We discovered Red Nose a while after our journey, and we have since been wanting to raise awareness about the services offered to families going through a similar journey.

I think the critical aspect of managing the grief for us was communicating, whether with a partner, friend, family or through a support group with people on similar joinery. We found that everyone is very polite and showed concern about our loss but not often was it discussed much further in detail. Sometimes we just wanted to talk about Torah as our daughter and not a baby we had lost. Just saying her name and acknowledging that she was born meant and still means so much to us.

Torah is our first daughter. Your first child paves the way for future family. Torah did pave the way for our family, as she’s made us stronger than ever. Although she’s not with us physically, we ensure she is always remembered. Our daughter Briar and son Aston have always been told about their older sister.

Some of the harder moments included:

  • Coming home without your child to a house where you have already prepared their nursery, purchased their cot and pram and have baby shower gifts still sitting in the living room
  • Socialising at larger events for the first time where people are incredibly sorry for our loss but don’t know how to express or discuss it with us
  • Dealing with the emotions when a friend announces they have just fallen pregnant. This is an exciting time for them, and you’re happy for them, but it brings back the pain of losing our daughter
  • Responding to someone who asks how your baby is doing as they see you’re no longer pregnant
  • All special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Christmas, birthdays

We have a special memorial teddy bear with Torah’s ashes inside. The bear is very special to our children and us. We use it to remind our children of their older sister Torah, and for this reason, we call the bear Torahbear. We always talk about her as part of our family and have books we read to our children to explain they had a sister that came before them.

Talking and sharing stories about Torah keeps her memory alive, and that’s something we will never stop doing. We acknowledge her on all special occasions, such as Christmas and birthdays, and celebrate her life each year on her special day, Valentine’s Day being her birthday. Although it can be tough not having her with us to share those memories, it’s nice to remember that she will always be a part of our family.

Joel creating his fundraisers over the past year makes me so proud. What he has accomplished in raising funds and keeping our baby girl’s name alive, and sharing our story is so important to all of us.

I struggled to share our story at first. I thought it might be too confronting to some people, too sad. But as time went on, sharing our story became easier and more normal.

Our story is who we are.

If sharing our story means one more family can open up and talk about it, it’s all worth it.

We didn’t discover Red Nose or Sands Services until a while after our loss. We have never been big talkers, and we both find it difficult to talk about our emotions and how we are feeling. I became depressed in the weeks after losing Torah. Life was starting to get back to normal for most except me.

One day, I did want to talk to someone, but I was struggling to even know what to say. I was home alone at a time that should have been maternity leave. Instead, I emailed the support line and found it easier to write down my story. I got an email immediately acknowledging my thoughts; all I really needed was, “we are here for you when you are ready to talk”. At that moment in time, that’s all I needed.

A close friend who lost her son not long before we lost our daughter was a huge help in getting us through the difficult times. She recommended Red Nose and suggested we make contact if we needed any additional support.

We understand, for our friend’s journey and many others, that Red Nose was what got them through. Pregnancy and infant loss can sometimes be a subject that isn’t discussed openly, yet it’s all so common. For this reason, I think it’s important we support the charities providing awareness and offering services that will guide families through the journey of losing their child.

The pain will be managed most of the time, but it will always be present. Take each day as it comes. Some days will be easier than others. Don’t be afraid to talk or ask for help. Everyone grieves in their own way - find what helps you get through the grief and work through it together with your partner, family and/or friends.

The pain for families who have lost a child is often experienced for a lifetime. A child that you were expecting or had is now gone. It helps to honour a child by saying their name and sharing your story.

Our girl was such a special little girl. Her impact on this world is unfathomable, and she will always be remembered. Torah, you will forever be our Valentine.

By experiencing loss, you have experienced love, which is a beautiful thing.

Last reviewed: 12/7/24