Dear Nellie …

15 11 2010

Nellie of Penrith Posted at 5:54 PM October 17, 2010:

… as for Kristina Keneally allowing her husband and sons appear in a family photo and allowing the stillbirth of her daughter to be used as brownee points for politics. She should be ashamed, I know any respect I had for her has gone, gone, gone.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/spin-out-of-control/story-e6freuy9-1225939672167

Dear Nellie,

My name is Kimberley. I have one brother, and three sisters. I was born a huge (9lb, 11 ounces, 23 inches long!), healthy baby girl at 1.18am on 6 December 1971. I am my parents’ second child; their oldest surviving one. I am the younger sister of Kelly Margaret, who was born, and died, in 1969. In all of our birth notices, my parents celebrated their healthy babies’ arrival with the words, ‘sister / brother of Kelly, in heaven’. I cannot begin to tell you how much I respect my Mother, who quietly, but factually explained to us as children that she went into labour with her daughter’s heart beating; a heart which stopped beating before Kelly was born.

As the member of a family with first-hand experience of stillbirth, I find your comments, which I believe relate to this story (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw-act/kristina-keneallys-sad-memories-of-a-stillbirth-10-years-ago/story-e6freuzi-1225939374867), abhorrent. If you click on this link, (http://www.stillbirthfoundation.org.au/node/125), you’ll see that the story relates to the Premier’s decision to become patron of Stillbirth Foundation Australia.

As an adult, I look at my parents in awe to think that they could even attempt to turn what must be unspeakable pain into a part of our lives; just as Ben & Kristina Keneally have done for their sons. I am proud that the Premier has shared her love for her daughter, and her very real place in her family’s heart, since she entered public life. You may not know, but Caroline Keneally’s name is in the NSW Parliament Hansard, in her mother’s maiden speech, along with the rest of her family. Like the Keneallys – and too many families – mine has an angel in heaven as well.

Yours sincerely

Kimberley Ramplin

PS: You can help make a difference to this parent-run charity by visiting http://www.stillbirthfoundation.org.au/node/95. The five-year Little Feet lunch raised more than $50,000 for research into why so many stillborn babies’ babies’ deaths remain unexplained.

DISCLAIMER: I work in NSW politics, as a ministerial adviser. I disclose this on my Twitter account and in the ‘about’ section of this blog. While this post isn’t about politics per se, it was sparked by the ‘anonymous, vicious, troll’ debate. I actually agree with the, ‘yes to anonymous, vicious, trolls’ argument, but I have been obsessing over it today because it instantly brought to mind this pseudonymous online comment – almost one month later. If you think I didn’t cry when I read it, or cried again when I started typing tonight, think again.

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10 responses

19 11 2010
AllanHardie

Typical Kimberly piece: poignant, superbly written and right.

18 11 2010
mandi bateson

Beautifully written Kimberley. Empathy is clearly not Nellie’s strong suit and it’s disappointing that she clearly used her agenda against Kristina to imply that her acknowledgement of Caroline had an agenda.
While I don’t think Nellie would have been swayed too much by your story at least those of us who do have an ounce of compassion have taken pause to reflect on what this might be like for families across Australia. Thanks for sharing.

16 11 2010
Yvette Vignando

This post struck a chord with me because it relates to empathy. I can make no definitive assumptions about why Premier Keneally posed for a photo with her family or spoke about the incredible sadness of stillbirth – the bottom line is that’s her and her partner’s decision but it does seem to be a decision consistent with becoming the patron of Stillbirth Foundation Australia.

Whatever our political views are, we need to remember that politicians have private lives too – lives that are under immense scrutiny. I imagine that many of them think twice or even three times about decisions that you or I make in an instant – purely because the public has “an interest”.

I happen to think it is okay for the public to have an interest but I also think that along with our “right” to know, comes an obligation to be empathetic and recognise that politicians – shock horror – have feelings. Being a politician must play havoc with feelings on an hourly basis – especially if that politician is following their career because of strongly held values and a desire to make a difference.

I don’t know why Premier Keneally went into politics. But let’s assume for a moment that it was not so she could be photographed with her family for a daily newspaper and it was not so she could share the sadness of losing a baby at full term. Have a heart “Nellie of Penrith” and be pleased that (whatever your political persuasion) Premier Keneally has a personal story that she is willing to share. Sharing stories helps others immensely. And in this case Premier Keneally is using her story as part of being a patron of Stillbirth Australia. She does not need “brownee points” – but other parents who have lost a child at full term will relate to her story and have empathy and appreciate that Premier Keneally is assisting the Stillbirth Foundation in raising awareness of their work. I will give Premier Keneally all the “brownee points” she wants for exposing her grief and loss in the hope of making a difference. Empathy people – it’s important.
(and I also disclaim any intention of making any political statement in support or otherwise of any politician)

16 11 2010
MarionGroves

The Telegraph reader who denigrated Kristina Keneally for mentioning her stillborn daughter Caroline Keneally is despicable, and if the paper had any decency, it would not have run this comment out of respect to the Premier of NSW and her family. The comment had no actual relevancy to the story and was unnecessarily hurtful not just to Ms Keneally but also to the many families like yours Kimberley that have experienced the tragedy of losing a much-wanted baby. It must be especially difficult for your mother to think that modern obstetric technology may have saved baby Kelly if she had been born in more recent times, yet your parents have always lovingly honoured their baby’s memory rather than retreat into silence or bitterness. Thank you Kimberley for this poignant reminder that losing a child is a lifetime journey.

15 11 2010
Dermott Banana

Nellie is a Telegraph reader.
So when she says ‘any respect I had for her is gone’, just know the loss wasn’t very significant.

Lovely piece Kimbo.

15 11 2010
the referral

Thank you. One thing: I’m not writing about the newspaper; the article by Zoe Taylor was really quite beautiful. It’s that one comment which struck a chord with me personally. I also don’t speak for the Keneally family’s loss, just have respect for their determination to keep their daughter and sister’s memory alive, as my parents have done.

15 11 2010
Tweets that mention Dear Nellie … « The Referral -- Topsy.com

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Amy Brown, Kimberley Ramplin. Kimberley Ramplin said: Here's a blog post I made just now. http://wp.me/p12XCW-5F […]

15 11 2010
Ameeee

I completely agree with you Kimberley. I’m the eldest of 5, including Sarah, who was born a year after me and died in the same way as your sister. It’s sad and presumptuous for “Nellie of Penrith” to think this way.

15 11 2010
the referral

Thanks Amy. I really can’t write much more. Thank you for reading, thank you for leaving a comment. I hate this word, but thank you for sharing Sarah’s name with me. Much love, Kimberley

15 11 2010
Ameeee

Thank you for writing xxx

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