AFL star Rory Sloane and wife Belinda’s big-hearted move after son’s stillbirth

Posted in Birth.

Content warning: This story discusses stillbirth.

Rory and Belinda Sloane were elated when they discovered they were expecting a baby together, but tragically their little boy was stillborn at 34 weeks. 

“It was heartbreaking”

It’s now been a year since the couple lost baby Leo, and they’re honouring their beautiful little guy in an amazing, important and selfless way.

In partnership with Red Nose, Belinda and Rory just launched a national stillbirth research campaign called Lion Warrior.

They’ve generously shared a video about heir own experience with Leo – whose name means Lion – and are hoping to raise awareness and much-needed funds to help reduce stillbirth rates in Australia.

Six babies are stillborn each day in Australia, a figure which has remained unchanged for several decades.

“A great moment”

Belinda and Rory say that in many ways, their experience in the minutes and hours after Leo’s birth were incredibly special.

“After Leo was born … I cut the cord, which was really nice of our obstetrician Chris to ask me to do,” Rory says in the video.

“A great moment to experience as a father and I remember him just passing Leo straight into Belinda’s arms and, again, probably the most emotional we’ve ever been I think.”

“I remember looking across and Belinda holding her little son in her arms and him obviously being lifeless. It’s so hard to explain — the joy on Belinda’s face, but also matched with the sorrow — it was heartbreaking.”

“You’re so perfect”

“I’d describe Leo as perfection,” Belinda explains in the very vulnerable and personal video. “He had a little button nose, cute little cupid’s bow, rosy cheeks, there was blonde hair that had started to curl so I reckon he would have had hair like his daddy. I  just remember holding him and thinking ‘you’re so perfect.'”

She notes that for a few seconds she let herself forget what had happened to her baby because he was just so special and she loved him so much.

“I looked over at Rory and seeing him crying brought it back to reality that we’re not taking him home.”

In the clip this lovely couple also speak of the moment they found out that their baby’s heart had stopped beating in utero, and the pain of the experience and decisions that followed.

They’d had a scan just six days before and everything seemed to be okay. But after a full day with no movement, a trip to the hospital revealed that their little one had died.

Leo’s lessons

The couple are clearly still deep in their grief, as would be expected, but they’re determined to make a difference in Leo’s name.

“Over the past year we have learnt so many valuable lessons from our gorgeous Leo. He continues to shape the people we are today,” Rory wrote in a Facebook post announcing his family’s partnership with Red Nose.

“Our hope is that by sharing his story with the world, we can raise awareness and funds to reduce stillbirth rates within Australia.”

He urged those who are touched by Leo’s life to head to and contribute to this vital campaign.

If you’re struggling with the loss of a baby, please don’t go it alone. SANDS counsellors are there to support you and provide helpful advice about living with loss.


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