Mum goes viral on TikTok after sharing her grief following baby loss

Danielle Heusner at home at Spixworth, with a TikTok of her son Ivar, who was born stillborn ay 35 w

Danielle Heusner at home at Spixworth, with a TikTok of her son Ivar, who was born stillborn ay 35 weeks - Credit: Denise Bradley/Archant 2022

It has become something of the norm for parents to share photographs of their newborn baby on social media. 

But for those who are faced with the heartache of their child arriving into the world stillborn, sharing their news can be devastating.  

And that is exactly how Norwich mum, Danielle Heusner, felt after her son Ivar was delivered via a caesarean section at 35 weeks.

Danielle Heusner holding hands with daughter Avaiya and son Ivar

Danielle Heusner holding hands with daughter Avaiya and son Ivar - Credit: Supplied

The 25-year-old, of Ivy Road, Spixworth, described how she faced loneliness on a scale like nothing before and decided to turn to the social media platform, TikTok, to share her grief and find comfort. 

“When I came home without my baby, I was just stuck inside these four walls,” she said. "You can’t begin to describe how lonely it is". 

“I started doing TikToks to write about what I’ve been through. A couple of videos got quite a bit of attention with thousands of people sharing that it had happened to them too.”

Danielle Heusner at home at Spixworth, with her 23-month-old daughter, Avaiya Heusner-Millan.

Danielle Heusner at home at Spixworth, with her 23-month-old daughter, Avaiya Heusner-Millan - Credit: Denise Bradley/Archant 2022

Despite having a routine pregnancy with no cause for concern, Miss Heusner began experiencing what she thought were labour pains at 35 weeks. 

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She ran herself a bath in the hope of getting some pain relief, but after no improvement, she called the maternity unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, which advised her to come in. 

With no one else available to take her, she was left with no other option but to drive herself to the hospital. 

“As I was driving, the pain became unbearable and I thought I was going to faint. When I finally made it to the hospital, I did. 

“Two people managed to wheel me to the delivery suite where I began to be sick. I was in so much pain and nothing would ease it. 

“They checked for the baby’s heartbeat, but couldn’t find one. Then an ultrasound scan revealed that he had died.”

Danielle Heusner at home at Spixworth, with her 23-month-old daughter, Avaiya Heusner-Millan, and a

Danielle Heusner at home at Spixworth, with her 23-month-old daughter, Avaiya Heusner-Millan, and a picture of her son Ivar, who was born stillborn ay 35 weeks - Credit: Denise Bradley/Archant 2022

Although the results of a post-mortem have not yet been confirmed, it is believed that baby Ivar died from placenta abruption. This is a serious condition in which the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth depriving a baby of oxygen and nutrients in the womb. 

“When I was told what had happened, it was like having an out-of-body experience,” she added. 

“It felt so unreal. The staff were amazing and so supportive but I was on my own at the hospital and all I could manage to do was to text my loved ones ‘he’s dead’. 

“I just couldn’t believe it.”

Miss Heusner made the gruelling decision to have a caesarean section under general anaesthetic – a procedure she is still recovering from. 

“As soon as I came around, I wanted to hold Ivar straight away. 

“It was so horrible knowing he had died as he just looked asleep and I kept waiting for him just to wake up. 

“He looked so perfect like nothing was wrong at all.” 

Her one-year-old daughter Avaiya Heusner-Millan, who turns two later this month, was also able to meet her little brother. 

“She loved him straight away and also wanted to hold him. We’ve very much been led by her in what she’s wanted to do and talk about. 

“I had never thought about stillbirth before, as it was too scary to contemplate, but I wish now I’d been given more information about it. 

“I do think people should talk about it more to help break the stigma surrounding it.”

Danielle Heusner's picture of her son, Ivar Heusner-Millan, who was born stillborn at 35 weeks.

Danielle Heusner's picture of her son, Ivar Heusner-Millan, who was born stillborn at 35 weeks - Credit: Supplied

Since starting her TikTok account, she has been overwhelmed with how much support she has received. 

Her videos so far have included eye-opening accounts of her screaming in pain, baby Ivar’s funeral, and photographs of the tot after he was born – a video which has amassed more than 1.8m views.  

Miss Heusner added: “I found a charity to do professional photos of stillborns called Remember My Baby. 

“I left the hospital with just 169 photos of Ivar on my phone – nowhere near a lifetime’s worth – so these photos meant everything to me.” 

The images are both moving and emotional, and capture Ivar looking peaceful in a mosses basket holding hands with his mum and sister. 

“Stillbirth isn’t really talked about. It’s still controversial. But what some people don’t understand is we do not have a lifetime of memories and most of us want to remember their faces. 

“My baby was so beautiful he deserved to be shared with the world because he did exist. 

“I started TikTok to process my feelings and to talk to other people who had been through the same thing. Now I hope to raise more awareness too and also promote the amazing work of Remember My Baby. 

Ivar Heusner-Millan died earlier this year on May 31. His funeral took place at St Faith’s Crematorium on June 29.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share videos, on any topic - originally up to 15-seconds long. 

The TikTok app offers users a wide selection of sounds and song snippets, along with the option to add special effects and filters. There is also an option to directly add videos created on your phone. The app is promoted as a video-sharing social network. 

TikTok users can create a variety of videos ranging from challenges, dance videos, magic tricks, and funny videos, but it also has a much broader scope for video creation. 

The app reportedly has amassed over 500 million monthly active users, the US being the most popular country where it has been downloaded over 80 million times. 

There was a surge in its popularity in the UK during lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.