LISTEN: “I only dressed him once” - A Mom’s Journey Gives Hope to Parents

Nanki lost her baby boy at 39 weeks. Through her own loss, she felt inspired to reach out and help other parents who have, and are, suffering after losing a child. Baby Brunch The Parenting Series, made just for you, by BrightRock.


Read more about Nanki’s story below:

Nanki Robbertse is a mother who started The Hope Box Initiative and pulled together a group of women with a passion to encourage, love, support and give hope to women who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.

In August 2015, Nanki learnt that she was expecting. Being pregnant has been one of the greatest blessings in her life and she was delighted. Discovering they were expecting a boy just confirmed God’s promise and Nanki was lead to name him Kaleb, which means faithful, devoted to God, whole-hearted and bold.

“With my first son, Joshua, I was afraid of natural birth. The possibility of a lack of oxygen causing brain damage was a risk I was not prepared to take. Being an Occupational Therapist I had a fear that my child will suffer and struggle with some kind of difficulty or challenge and I wanted to do everything I could to prevent that. God always wants to change us for the better. Sometimes we are aware and open for it and sometimes not. This time I was open. I wanted God to change me, to empower me. So, I started to sense that God wanted me to have a natural birth with my second son, Kaleb.

The more I ventured into the natural birth journey, the more I was hooked and convinced that this is what God had in mind for me and Kaleb. It was a spiritual journey, a period of growth.

On the Tuesday evening, 5th of April 2016, when I was 39 weeks pregnant, I realized that I hadn’t felt Kaleb move the entire day. It was as if my mind was rewinding all that had happened and everything I felt on that day and it reported back to my conscious mind that no movement was detected. I tried to apply pressure to my uterus, like I often do to wake him up, but this time it felt different. My lower abdomen felt soft, lifeless, motionless, dead. I knew there were something seriously wrong. We went to the hospital but I knew it was too late. The uneasiness of the two wonderful midwifes trying to pick up his heartbeat was making me feel almost sorry for them. I wanted to reassure them that I already knew, but I was in robot mode and I just passively watched as life or rather death unfolded.

The next day, my robot armor was destroyed the moment our midwife handed me my baby, a little later in my hospital room. I felt raw grief, pain, sorrow and it felt as if my body was being ripped apart. He was more beautiful than what I ever could imagine and holding him was the best and the worst feeling all at the same time. He was perfect but lifeless.

On a specific very dark day, early in my grief journey, I remembered begging God for a reason to keep on living here on earth, to give me a purpose. I wanted to be with Kaleb and did not have the energy or the ability to fight anymore. I was connected to an American-based Facebook group who support mothers who have suffered a loss. Part of what they offer is giving mothers hope boxes as a tangible gift to encourage and support and point them to Jesus. I sensed God telling me to start giving hope boxes to mothers who have lost here in South Africa.”

Hope Mommies, a non-profit Christian organization based in America, was a great support to her during her grieving process and she chose to pay it forward by providing support for grieving parents in South Africa.

“On that day when I said yes to God, my grief journey changed. It changed from focusing on myself trying to escape from the never-ending black hole to focusing on others who hurt too. To make other people’s journeys a bit lighter. And without me realizing it, reaching out to others, was my step out of the black hole.”

It is Nanki’s vision to help each grieving parent find resources and a community who understands and encourages them with hope. It is also her goal to be a voice for all parents who have had to endure a loss and to educate society on how to support these women.