Former Warwick woman Brearne Barnes has created a special jumper for this year's festival.
Former Warwick woman Brearne Barnes has created a special jumper for this year's festival. Elyse Wurm

Miscarriage grief inspires healing Jumpers and Jazz project

RATHER than placing her lovingly hand-crafted, unused baby blanket in a box beneath the bed, knitter Brearne Barnes will use it during Jumpers and Jazz in July to create a common thread among others suffering the grief of miscarriage.

The blanket will appear as a tree jumper in Warwick where branches will reach out to couples feeling isolated by personal trauma.

"It's a way of saying, 'Hey, if you're out there, I hear you, I see you, and there's others out there'," Mrs Barnes said.

It was a therapeutic process for Mrs Barnes, who found out she was pregnant during Jumpers and Jazz last year.

At the time, Mrs Barnes had never heard of a molar pregnancy, a gestational disease that affects one in 1000 unborn children, of which very few cases survive.

During the eighth week of her pregnancy, it became apparent something was wrong.

A non-viable egg had implanted in the uterus, swelling into what Mrs Barnes described as a tumour.

"For two months I thought I was going to have this baby, but instead I was told I might have cancer," she said.

"It was like losing the baby twice."


Brearne Barnes with partner
LET'S TALK ABOUT IT: Christopher and Brearne Barnes encourage a more open discussion around the taboo topic of miscarriage. Brearne Barnes

The next couple of months were a whirlwind as Mrs Barnes underwent numerous procedures to ensure the tumour wouldn't become cancerous.

Fifteen per cent of women diagnosed with a molar pregnancy have to undertake chemotherapy treatment.

It all came as a "horrible surprise" to Mrs Barnes, who felt isolated by grief.

"No one warns you that it's something that can happen," she said.

Miscarriage occurs in one in four pregnancies and impacts more than 103,000 Australian families each year, but Mrs Barnes felt "so very, very alone".

When Jumpers and Jazz released their theme "connect" this year, Mrs Barnes saw it as an opportunity.

"My hope is that if there is someone out there going through the same thing, they won't feel alone," she said.

Mrs Barnes has created ribbons, available for free at the Warwick Art Gallery during Jumpers and Jazz, for lost children.

The public can pin the ribons on her tree in remembrance.