Running for Rhys

IN MEMORY: The Brawata family, wearing their kindly donated running gear, are raising money for Stillbirth Foundation Australia in memory of their second son, Rhys Ashley.
IN MEMORY: The Brawata family, wearing their kindly donated running gear, are raising money for Stillbirth Foundation Australia in memory of their second son, Rhys Ashley.

Renee Brawata said she’d be crawling over the finish line in the 14 kilometre City2Surf next month if she has to.

Every step of those 14 kilometres she will be thinking about her son, Rhys Ashley, born on June 7.

“Perfect in every way but his silence,” she said, as Rhys was stillborn.

Renee, her husband Andrew, and their son Finn will be competing in the City2Surf to raise money for Stillbirth Foundation Australia, which funds research into stillbirth.

“You feel powerless,” Renee said. “All you want to do is take your baby home, love and care for him, but you can’t.”

She said the hardest thing to come to terms with was the fact the doctors had no explanation as to why Rhys had died.

Each year over 2000 babies are stillborn, one in three of these deaths are unexplained.

She said these statistics hadn’t changed much in the past 20 years, even with the advances in modern medicine.

“There remains some stigma around stillbirth in general society,” she said. “It’s a subject that people feel uncomfortable talking about, but its real and happens so much more often than you hear”

The mother said she couldn’t just sit around; she wanted to do something proactive and so thought they’d raise money.

They chose the foundation because it funded medical research, something Renee as a scientist could see the logic behind.

The family has already raised an incredible $3400 for the cause and has a target of $5000.

“You feel you can’t do anything about your situation [but] even if it saves one baby and one family it’s something we’ve done to help.”

Renee had a scan the week before she went into labour and nothing unusual came up.

“All was fine; he had a good heart beat and was a big baby.”

When she went into labour the couple initially went to Yass Hospital and, when they couldn’t find Rhys’ pulse, they were rushed to Calvary in Canberra.

“When they couldn’t pick up a heart beat I remember the obstetrician coming in with a sad and confused look and said ‘we don’t know what went wrong’.”

The couple’s friends and family were incredibly helpful and understanding, she said.

After heading home from hospital a group of friends created a roster and every night someone would drop off a meal at their front door, giving the family the space they needed.

While Andrew will be running the City2Surf, Renee will be pushing Finn at the back of the pack on August 12.

To donate, visit the family's fundraising page.