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By Hayley Pearson

I know I’m not the only one who’s been through something terrible and I know, sadly, it could happen to many an Adelady in the future. But, if you’re ever faced with a truly heartbreaking situation at the same time as having a baby, I hope my words help you in some small way.

Seven days after my baby boy was born, my brother passed away from alcohol addiction.

This is a letter to the person who saved me: my real-life superhero; my six-year-old birthday boy.

Dear Austin Bobaroo,

Today, you turned the big six. I say this all the time and I know you can’t possibly understand the meaning behind my words, but you seriously are my superhero.

The day you were born, was the best day of my life. Despite spewing my guts up for the first 12 hours, after taking a cocktail of drugs to numb the pain from my emergency C-section, I was filled with complete happiness. And not just because my vagina didn’t rip in two. But because I had just met my favourite new person. You.

I have one big regret about that day though. As I was horizontal and projectile vomiting, my phone rang. Mum answered and it was my bro, your Uncle Ryan. He’d just heard that he had finally become an uncle and was crying with joy. He wanted to speak to me, but I was so ill that I shooed the phone away and said I’d speak to him later. But, I never did.

For the next seven days, I was wrapped up in my brand-new-baby world and every little bit of attention was on you — my superhero. Although at that time, I didn’t know you actually were a superhero.

At the time, I was annoyed at Ryan for not getting himself sober, so he could come to the hospital and meet you. I’d told him months before he died, he wasn’t allowed to hold my baby if he wasn’t sober. I assumed that was enough to help his addiction. Now, I know it wasn’t his fault.

Seven days after you were born, we were sitting in your room and completely overcome from a lack of sleep. As I was trying to absorb everything about you — every little noise and every tiny movement — I felt a sudden urge to call Uncle Ryan. He didn’t answer, so I tried a couple more times. Three hours later, your dad was in the shower and I saw his phone ring. I could see it was my mum (your Ganny) calling. As soon as I saw her name pop up, I knew something bad had happened.

At 10:35pm, your dad sat beside me and looked at me. I can’t even write what happened next, as it hurts too much. But an hour and a half after hearing the news, you woke up and needed to be fed. In my head, all I could hear were the very loud words, “HOW THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO THIS?”

Looking back, I actually don’t know how I did it. I couldn’t cry myself to sleep; I couldn’t collapse on the floor and numb myself with sleeping pills. I had to get up, I had to be your mum and feed you. I remember being blurry-eyed and looking down at your little face. You had no idea that your mum was in so much pain. You just looked up at me with sheer innocence and suckled your milk.

Austin, from that moment on, I knew you were a superhero. You arrived at both the best and the worst time in my life. But because of you, I’ve laughed every single day since your uncle passed away. You’ve distracted me in the best way possible, when my heart felt like it was being ripped out of my chest.

Austin, I hope you never understand the feeling of having a baby and losing someone at the same time. But for people reading this letter, you would know the rollercoaster I speak of. It’s indescribable sadness, anger and enormous love and happiness all mixed into the one feeling. And of course, the multitude of hormones that come with just having a baby. I didn’t have time to revel in depths of despair. Everyone grieves differently and there is no right or wrong way to process it. For me, I allowed myself to get engulfed by the love I had for you, because you were the only thing that made me forget what had just happened.

I remember feeling guilty when my mother’s group would be complaining about their kids and how stressful it is. Because for me, looking after you was piss-easy compared to losing my brother.

But Austin, you didn’t just save your mumma. You saved three people: your Mum, your Ganny and your Pa. And that makes you their superhero too! Pa often tears up while talking about you, but not because he’s a silly, old man. Well, he is a silly, old man; but it’s mainly because you just light up their world! They lost their son and YOU helped them heal.

To you and all other superhero babies, thank you! You saved us and I’ll try to remind of you of that every birthday. Thank you for being our superhero.

Happy birthday Austin Bob

Mumma xx

Hayley Pearson

Hayley Pearson

Co-Creator and Writer for Adelady, she still gets goosebumps that she’s combined her creative passion with sharing the best of her stunning home state.


  • Leonie says:

    They are amazing words Hayley. You your Mum & Dad are truly beautiful amazing people. Special in so many ways.

  • Hannah says:

    Hayley.. I have a similar story to yours, although my sister died when she lost her battle with depression, months before my son was born, it still resonates so strongly. My favourite person is turning 6 in a few days too… we must have been going through a similar experience around the same time. Totally changes who you are… but doesn’t it make you appreciate what you have! They were a gift, given at the right time for me and our extended family. xxxx

    • Hayley Pearson says:

      Oh we would have been going through this together, the sad thing is I’m getting hundreds of emails and messages with people saying the same thing. I’m so sorry about your sister, but so thankful you got your superhero to hep you heal. xx

  • Skye says:

    I feel your story all too much. My brother (also Ryan) died when I was 39 weeks pregnant with my 3rd baby and I was induced to ensure I didn’t miss his funeral. Such raw grief at the same time as the greatest joy in the world was a cocktail of emotions that I hope I never experience again.

    • Hayley Pearson says:

      Sky that’s terrible. I’m so lucky that I go to have Austin not knowing that I’ lose ryan the next week. I cannot imagine going into labour and feeling so much heart ache at the same time. I’m sorry that you lost your Ryan xx

  • Helen Goldber says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. My brother passed away earlier this year from alcohol addiction. He had finally decided to turn his life around but by time he made the decision it was too late. There is nothing harder than watching someone you love try to get their life together when all the doctors are you is telling you that medically they shouldn’t be here. Sadly they were correct.

    • Hayley Pearson says:

      Helen I’m so sorry. Wow, I get so choked up hearing when others are going through such pain. We need to talk about addiction more – people don’t realise young people can die from alcoholism. xx

  • Angie O'Flaherty says:

    So beautifully written Hayley. From the heart . Austin is a gift and I am sure his Uncle Ryan is watching over him and is proud of you both. You always speak from the heart and you help others from sharing your own pain. I remember when you were talking to others on the radio about losing your brother to alcoholism and you were really helping them understand the pain ot causes to loving family. All the best. Happy Birthday Austin xxx

  • Abby Hughes says:

    Wow Hayley… you just teared me up, talk about the feels. No one would ever guess that you had felt such sadness, but thank you for sharing, we all have sadness and grief to deal with and I am so thankful that our children help us heal. I was 3 months pregnant with my 4th child when my dad passed, he was diagnosed in December and I saw him every day .( I had recently gone through a break up with my husband, but we had reunited and our 4th child was the result) so it was an emotional time all around. My dad passed away in February, I held his hand and felt the last pulse in his wrist..’I was so glad to be there, and to help my mum deal with all of the official stuff… my son Bear ( that’s what we call him) carries my dad’s middle name and when he was born in June I know he lifted my spirit. I am forever thankful to all my kids Keyla, Alex, Caleb and Bear…. plus my husband Bob and his kids Carmen and Liam (we married in 2006 and I found my
    soulmate).. my heroes Love you all

    • Hayley Pearson says:

      That is so sad Abby! I’m so sorry you lost your beautiful dad. Thank God for Bear! Lots of love and thank you for your message and sharing your story. xxxxx

  • Kylie says:

    Hello there,

    Your story or letter was so beautiful and I like the way you wrote it. I have a super hero too. I had a very similar situation happen to me but in the reverse order. I lost my sister and nephew in a car accident and I felt dead inside, like my heart was completely ripped out, gutted. I didnt think I was ever going to get through it but about a month later I fell pregnant with my second son. I alway s believed he was my miracle baby because he saved my life. I truly beleive my sister sent him to me because she knew it would make me happy again. Well I still had a long road ahead, lots of grief, lots of troubled times but my little boy filled my heart with love again and I feel Im alive because of him because I really felt that if he didnt come along I wouldnt be here. Hes now 16 and we have the most beautiful bond. Hes the sweetest boy with the biggest heart. Thank you for sharing your story because it just rerminded me that I also have a hero and Im so thankful every day ? I wish you many happy years to come

    Kylie ?

    • Hayley Pearson says:

      Kylie that is beyond heartbreaking. Two people you love, gone, I cannot imagine! Your poor parents too! I’m so glad you fell pregnant at that time though, you little superhero saved you! xxxxx

  • Lorinda says:

    That’s beautiful… where there is life there is also death. I feel your pain deeply as I lost my brother as he fell from a tree working as an ableist 10months after having my son 4.5 years ago. My son was at the funeral, the wake and just lifted everyone’s mood… as did my 2.5yo. Children are innocent bystanders in death and are full of life, love and trust in the ones who love them… much love to u and your family.

    • LJ says:

      How can I edit comments!?

    • Hayley Pearson says:

      Im so sorry to hear about your brother, that’s so terrible! I took Austin to Ryan’s funeral at 2 weeks old, because I wanted him to be there but yes, like you, he made us smile at the worst possible time.

  • Kylie breeze says:

    Gosh, tears welling up. Love.

  • Jen Venardos says:

    Just beautiful. I’m so sorry you lost your brother. From personal experience I know how healing the love of/for a child can be. It gets you from the depths of despair and back up into functioning mode in 5 seconds flat some days. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Julie says:

    That is just gorgeous Hayley. I have never been in the position you have just written about with losing a loved one but I was suffering from severe depression a few years ago and thought there was no way out, except to just end it all. The day when I really wanted to end it was the day I found out I was pregnant. My 4 year old son is my superhero and by a some miracle he saved me and I now have a whole new perspective on life and try not to think about what could have been. I am one of the lucky ones and I now cherish every day, just grateful that I have a superhero in my life and his smile reminds me of how lucky I am.

    • Hayley Pearson says:

      Oh Julie, I am SOOOOO glad you found out you were pregnant that day! Your little boy really did save you! Whenever you feel down, look at that little guy… and remember how lucky we are! xxxxxx

  • Sandra McMahon says:

    What a lovely letter to your son. I used to listen to you on the radio and you would often talk about your brother and I remember thinking how sad and difficult it must have been for you and your family. I am so glad that Austin has helped your family heal.

  • Lili baker says:

    I know your pain Hayley. I know your pain and your joy. I guess they balance out.

  • Lili baker says:

    I know your pain and your joy. Hayley. I guess that balance out

  • Diane simmonette says:

    Your letter made me teary Hayley (I’ve really warmed to you over the years).Sadly for me my younger brothers tragic death (then the birth of my daughter)…only caused my mum to have an unhealthy obsession with Tahlia.This made my life even more hellish (my mum has since passed away also)

    • Hayley Pearson says:

      Hi Diane. I’m so sorry to hear about your brother and your mum. That’s too much death for one person to deal with. I’m not sure how old Tahlia is but I’m sure she will one day realise that she’s a little superhero! Thanks for your message. Hayley x

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