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Blog - Parent Spotlight

27 Jun, 2024

Chris and Kylie Stewart’s first-born child Alexander Hamish was stillborn in 2019, a month before his due date. Both parents, who work in public policy, felt the pregnancy was a smooth one, until one night when Kylie was 8 months pregnant, she felt pain and headed to the hospital thinking she was going into early labour. What happened next would turn their world into disarray.

At the hospital, the couple were told that there wasn’t a heartbeat. While the couple were heartbroken, Chris acknowledged the high level of care and compassion they received throughout this ordeal. Little things that the staff did went a long way. “Kylie’s obstetrician came into the hospital in the early hours of the morning to confirm the diagnosis and spend time with us. Kylie had a cesarean and instead of recuperating in the maternity ward, she was put in another ward where the midwives and nurses treated her like she was the only patient in the world. We were also immediately linked with a social worker and support group. We both thought that the support was absolutely amazing,” said Chris.

With no answers as to what led to a placental abruption causing Alex to be stillborn, both Kylie and Chris were determined to devote their time to research and try to find answers that may help other parents. “Both of us have had a number of jobs in public policy institutions,  including leading research teams. I was just innately interested in thinking about how I can help the public through either data, analysis or communication of any findings,” said Chris.

Chris and Kylie first came across Stillbirth CRE through the Research Involvement Registry and have  since been involved in the recent Research Priority Setting exercise, as well as becoming members of the IMPROVE Steering Committee and Bereaved Parent Advocacy Committee, respectively. Contributing their perspectives to research in this way helps keep Alex’s memory alive.

The Research Priority Setting exercise made a big impact on both Chris and Kylie. “It’s amazing to see how people are actually building on each other’s ideas. We might not always be in agreement, but everyone is trying to learn from each other and being as productive as possible. It looks amazingly collaborative,” said Chris.  

The days without Alex have been challenging and Chris found exercise to be a useful therapy. A passionate cyclist himself, Chris  participated in the Sydney to CAMberra ride to raise awareness and funds for Stillbirth & SIDS awareness. However, with this ride now cancelled, he decided to organise a solo Canberra to Sydney ride to support the Stillbirth Foundation of Australia. Great planning went into the ride, from making sure he had the right gear to mapping out the safest and most interesting routes. “I reached out to a farmer to ask if I could cross his property to avoid a really busy road and he was more than happy to help and even gave me advice on how to get to his property. And again, this is another example of where people are really happy to support you. There are a lot of good people out there,” said Chris.

Over four days of relentless pedalling and bracing the unpredictable weather, Chris tackled the challenging 402km route, spurred on by his unwavering commitment to the cause, and “for Alex”. His journey was made possible not only by his determination but also by the invaluable support of a close friend, who provided crucial assistance by shuttling him between accommodations and the road, ensuring Chris could focus solely on his mission to make a difference.

The fundraising initiative garnered an impressive $5,000 thus far, far exceeding Chris's initial goal of $3,000. With gratitude and anticipation, Chris looks forward to seeing the funds allocated where they can make the most significant impact. “If that means you can reduce the number of stillbirths, reduce the number. If that means you can’t reduce the number, but you can essentially help people cope better, then, spend it there,” Chris said.

In memory of Alex - Chris, Kylie, and their 3-year-old daughter, Charlotte, go to the beach each year on his birthday. Kylie also makes a homemade cake to honour their beloved baby boy who would have turned 5 on the 19th of June.

Chris and Kylie will continue to raise awareness on stillbirth and will actively seek avenues to engage with and contribute to ongoing research efforts in the field.

If you would like to donate to Chris’ efforts, you can find the link here: