52 stories of kindness week 1 - Wingwoman Tribe

WEEK 1: 52 STORIES OF INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN

ALEXANDRA HAMILTON’S STORY

WELCOME TO WEEK 1 of 52 Inspirational Stories of Women! The project is designed to recognize 52 inspiring Women, celebrating the everyday women who make a difference in our lives. 

Prepare yourself for an emotional journey that will test the depths of your resilience. This delves into the profound themes of mortality, anguish, and unwavering faith. A box of tissues won’t merely be a suggestion but a necessity as you read this story.

WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?

In November 2011, my life irrevocably changed. We often speak of life in terms of ‘before and after’ milestone events – relocations, marriages, and births. For me, it was the day I discovered my son, River had passed away in his sleep. That day, the world as I knew it ceased to exist.

 River was a picture of health and joy, yet he succumbed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) on 7 November. I had promised to shield him with every breath, marveling at his tiny features. He overwhelmed me with love and happiness.

The night before he passed away, I was cradling him, whispering love into his sleepy blue eyes, then laid him down when he was asleep. Morning brought a deceptive calm,  the illusion of a breakthrough night’s sleep. But as I reached out to him in his cot, his stillness shattered my world.

The chaos that followed—sirens, tears, the desperate pleas as I sat, and watched on, so surreal it was as if I was watching a horror movie.  The paramedic’s silent shake of the head confirmed my worst fear. My heartbreak was so profound it felt physical. Now I have a deep understanding this is what it means to truly have a broken heart.

Time blurred, interrupted by vivid snapshots playing over in my head.  The hospital introduced me to Tracey, a bereaved mother. She sensed my despair as she sat down next to me.“I’m Tracey, Alex. I’m so sorry for your loss. Just to let you know, I’m a bereaved Mum. My daughter died 5 years ago just before her first birthday.” Those last few words echoed through the room and I looked into her eyes with desperation, fear and devastation. But I saw a tiny glimmer of hope that perhaps I would be able to continue to breathe without my little boy, just like she was. Her presence marked the beginning of a transformative decade, resulting in a deep bond that I credit with saving me.

Next came the funeral, The coroner’s report. The endless days of tear-stained faces of those around us. The endless flowers, the homemade meals, the calls, the messages. As life resumed its rhythm for others, we grappled with heartbreak and the incomprehensible reality of losing our beautiful baby boy. How could our healthy, strong, 4-month-old baby who was safely sleeping just die in his sleep?! It didn’t make sense.

We had heard of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) but how was this still happening, what research was being done, and who was trying to stop this? Determined to give meaning to Rivers’ brief life, we vowed he wouldn’t be just another statistic. Within weeks, many hours of research, meetings and endless talks with other SIDS families across the world, ‘River’s Gift was born’

WHAT DO YOU DO?

River’s Gift is Australia’s only solely SIDS-focused organization, dedicated to ensuring all babies are safe whilst they sleep and supporting bereaved families.

We do this by Educating parents, caregivers, and health professionals in safe sleep practices and SIDS; Funding world-leading scientific SIDS research and creating a platform of support and action for families touched by a SIDS loss.

12 years ago when River died, there was little to no funding being directed into SIDS research here in Australia and so that became our focus.

We have fundraised over $1.8 million and funded 3 Australian PhD students to undertake SIDS research at Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital.

52 STORIES OF INSPIRATIONAL WOME - 52 WEEK LOVE PROJECT | WINGWOMAN TRIBE

Alongside this, we also work with other SIDS families through our Unite program. This program provides them with the tools they need to fundraise in honor of their own child and creates a platform of support, channeling funds raised directly into research.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU?

10 months after River died I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, Shiloh. Having her and being so scared when she slept inspired me to ensure no other parent goes through this devastation. For 18 months, my family and I did 24-hour watch of Shiloh, ensuring that when she slept someone was always awake in case it happened again. No one could tell me that it wouldn’t happen. Once you’ve had one baby die from SIDS, you are 6 times more likely to have another. That fear, along with meeting other SIDS families whose lives had been torn apart by this loss, inspired me to fight for answers and shout our story from the rooftops.

In 2015 I had another little boy, who is now 8. Bodhi is a funny, cheeky, happy koala who is still my little shadow.  I think of 20 years from now when they might be having children, I don’t want to be petrified of it happening to them or watching them go through this heartache.

HOW DO YOU STAY INSPIRED?

Staying inspired in this space is easy when you see the impact loss has and people finding hope and strength in honoring their child and sharing their own stories. Our supporters also continue to inspire me. We have so many people run in our singlets to fly the River’s Gift flag at events across Australia, host fundraisers, and donate time and money – every week we have a running group that has come together for over 10 years to run together, share stories, forge friendships – one of the lady’s even got a River’s Gift heart tattoo on her leg to remind her of how far she had come and what inspired her during her health struggles.

These people are more than inspirational, they are part of the fabric of River’s Gift.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THAT WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Making a difference comes in many forms so I would always say just have belief in what you do.

There have been many times where I’ve felt I didn’t have the strength to carry on with working in this space, especially during Covid when I was also going through a divorce, but my WHY never changed. I always knew why I was doing what I was doing, which gave me direction. Having a strategy, working with a mentor, asking for help, being raw, open and honest – all of these elements can help you to ensure that the difference you make is sustainable and impactful

HOW DO YOU GET PAST SELF-DOUBT?

I am the world’s worst for experiencing imposter syndrome; worrying that I don’t know what I’m talking about or my business decisions aren’t the right ones. When I feel like this and want to run off and live on a beach in Fiji without social media(!), I go back to my lived experience and the difference that made to me the day River passed away!

I go back to my why. I go back to the strategy that I have in place across both organizations. I go back to the core.

Having close friends and family who you can call to lift you up and have those hard conversations with also helps. I’m so lucky to have my amazing partner, Craig, my Mum – Dee, my brother Adam, beautiful and honest close friends, business mentors, River’s Dad – Karl and I are still extremely close – I realized that having a circle around me doesn’t make me weak.

WHAT GIVES YOU HOPE FOR THE FUTURE OF WOMEN?

I see more and more women stepping out and sharing their voices with the world. In the space where I work, women (and men) are on such a journey and I see them having some spark in their eyes again. I see the strength and power they have. There is no bigger strength than existing after you’ve buried your child and if we can unleash this power and strength on the world positively, there is no stopping us.

walking group Melbourne for women

HOW CAN OTHERS FIND OUT MORE?

Rivers Gift Information: Website | Instagram

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    About the Author

    KARINA PAMAMULL

    A brilliant brunette, effortlessly juggling a plate of crispy fries in one hand while gracefully dancing to the rhythm of life with a glass of fine wine in the other.  I’m the ultimate dopamine hunter, always on the lookout for thrilling new experiences.

    I have worn many hats – a professional Dating Coach responsible for countless love stories, a seasoned General Manager, and the mastermind behind multiple events departments. I’ve successfully orchestrated over 500 events, each one a unique tapestry of connection and celebration. From conferences, and elegant soirées to heart-warming gatherings, each with its own unique story.  I am the successful author of a book called ’52 Stories of Kindness’ with more than 500 copies sold.

    All these fabulous experiences showed me the power of true connections and acts of kindness. They inspired me to create a space where women can uplift, support, and empower one another. WingWomanTribe – the home for women to find friends, connect, and grow with a tribe where they feel fully supported. #liveyourwishlist

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