FOR the most part, insensitive comments about the stillbirth of her daughter don't upset Sally Heppleston. The comments don't come often and when they do, they are usually well meant.
Last week a friend told her that it may have been better that her daughter, Hope Angel Heppleston, died at birth and not when she was older and the bond with her mother was stronger. ''I said to her, 'I don't think there is a good time for it to happen. There are no winners when your child dies','' she says.
Ms Heppleston says the comment was an illustration of the lack of awareness in Australia about stillborn births.
''For us, the thing that made it so sad was that we didn't get any time with Hope, any memories, we didn't get to know what she'd grow up to be. Sometimes we find ourselves jealous of people who did get to keep their babies a bit longer, because with a stillbirth you just get nothing.''
Hope was stillborn on August 19, 2008, after a healthy 40-week pregnancy. For Ms Heppleston and her husband, Simon, the sadness is ongoing, and particularly acute as the anniversary of their little girl's death approaches. This year to help distract from the pain, Ms Heppleston set herself a challenge to take a photo each day in August and post it on Facebook.
But when she announced her plan, a friend, Tonia Composto, suggested she go further, offering to craft a daily illustration in Hope's honour.
By the end of the month, Ms Composto had produced 31 illustrations - all based on fairytales the artist says Hope was denied the chance of reading.
Ms Heppleston and Ms Composto decided to sell the illustrations and give the money to charity but were unprepared for the response. Demand was so high they had to ask the Stillbirth Foundation to help.'' Lots of people bought an illustration for babies they had lost - one woman bought one for a child she lost 20 years ago,'' Ms Composto says. So far the project has raised close to $30,000.
Six babies are delivered stillborn each day in Australia, yet awareness is ''almost non-existent'', says the Stillbirth Foundation director Emma McLeod. ''It's still a somewhat taboo topic that people don't talk about unless it happens to them or someone close to them,'' she said.
Ms Heppleston says little is known about how it affects the parents and other loved ones.
''It was my first pregnancy, and it was a perfectly healthy, perfectly normal pregnancy,'' she says.
But five days after her due date she noticed the baby had stopped moving. She was told Hope had died due to an infection.
''We were lucky, I suppose, that we got an answer. Many go unexplained,'' she says. ''It's not something you can ever prepare yourself for. I probably felt in the pit of my stomach that something was wrong but didn't ever want to entertain that it might be that.''
The Hepplestons now have a son, Angus, 2, and a second daughter, Juliet, 1. ''We have had two more babies … [but] you don't move on and you don't get over it. You just sort of learn to live with it,'' she says.
Visit stillbirthfoundation.org.au/fairytalesforhope for more details.