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15 October, 2022
Creating acceptance through awareness – Two employees share their journey towards hope after child loss
The Project Hope Employee Resource Group (ERG) is a network of support created by Medtronic employees for employees and people beyond affected by pregnancy, infant and child loss. We sat down with two of our resilient employees, Lauren Gaw and Lauren Malcolm, from the ERG to learn more about their journeys.
Lauren Gaw is a Sales Operations Specialist for the Cardiovascular Group, founder of the Project Hope Employee Resource Group (ERG) and co-chair of the Medtronic Women’s Network (MWN). After the loss of her daughter Hope in 2020, Lauren founded and launched Project Hope in 2021. At Medtronic, Lauren has been able to share her story and build support structures for other families through an Ambassador Program.
My healing journey is a long one, and a journey that will no doubt last my lifetime. After losing Hope Aloma, I remember having this incredible fear that was all-consuming. It was the fear that my daughter would be forgotten and that no one would remember her name.
“Medtronic was instrumental in my healing. They gave me the space and time to grieve at my own pace, and I always felt my colleague’s support.”
When you lose a child, you realise just how many people are affected by pregnancy, infant and child loss. I needed to make sure others who walked the painful road like me never had to do so alone. It was okay to be vulnerable. Project Hope was born to honour all the little angels who had grown their wings way too soon. At first, Project Hope was about raising awareness, but it soon became about providing support to Medtronic employees who experienced this type of heartbreaking loss. Medtronic were on board from day one, and this just showed me how lucky I was to work for them.
Project Hope has had amazing support from Medtronic employees. So many people have come forward and spoken to me about losses they have endured, and how relieved they have felt to share their experience with our Project Team. The Medtronic Leadership Team have thrown their support around this initiative 110%. My family have always been supportive of my endeavours. Through Project Hope, we are definitely keeping Hope Aloma's memory alive. This is such a beautiful way for us to honour our little girl.
At first, I wanted to tell the world about my wonderful daughter, so to start with, one might say I was being a little selfish. I also wanted to make sure that everyone in the workplace felt as supported as I had if they were to ever experience the loss of a pregnancy, infant or child. Being able to speak our truth, gives us the ability to just grieve, without worrying about what people think of us. Having the space and time to grieve our way is so important. I knew that at Medtronic I was being presented with an opportunity to really make a difference. From that step forward in my career I never looked back.
Pictured left Michael, Lauren Gaw and Hope Aloma, top right – Hope Aloma as a newborn
There are several resources and programs that employees can tap into at Medtronic. There are funded parental leave and flexible policies that support parents who have especially been through challenges with birth, adoption, surrogacy or stillbirth. Via Project Hope, we introduced the Medtronic Ambassadors: seven employees who have been trained through the Baby Loss Project Training Courses. These ambassadors support fellow employees going through a challenging time and reassure them that they are not alone. We also work together to provide Bereavement Packs with items and information on all relevant charities/agencies that offer resources to help employees going through a difficult time.
Grief is such a personal experience. No two people grieve the same way, so for me allowing myself the time and space to sit in my grief was so incredibly important. To fall apart when I needed to and really experience every emotion as it came up. Talking to other mums and dads through charities such as Red Nose and SANDS was also very comforting. Knowing I wasn’t alone helped me get up each day and be present in life. It is a journey, and I still grieve today, I just have more to be hopeful and happy about too, especially my beautiful girl Faith Aloma, Hope’s baby sister.
Pictured: Michael, Lauren Gaw and Faith Aloma (Hope’s sister)
Lauren Malcolm is a Strategic Account Manager in Medtronic Australasia and co-chair of the Medtronic Women’s Network (MWN) and the Project Hope Employee Resource Group (ERG).
After the loss of her son Landon in 2015, Lauren decided there was a need to reduce the stigma of infant loss. As a result, she established Landon’s Legacy which is dedicated to Landon and aims to raise awareness of the subject of infant and child loss. At Medtronic, Lauren has been able to share her story with fellow employees and she aims to bring discussions beyond the workplace.
We are a family of five with three beautiful children. Harper, Landon and Knox, each 22 months apart. Sadly, in 2015, we lost Landon when he was stillborn. Since then, my husband and I have been advocating on behalf of the Stillbirth Foundation Australia in raising awareness, providing education and fundraising for research for people who have experienced the stillbirth of a child and preventing stillbirth.
We have actively been involved with government in helping get legislation passed to ensure all parents who have a stillborn child, receive parental leave. We firmly believe that every child is a story yet to be told and want to ensure that we create a future for the babies of the tomorrow.
Pictured: Shane and Lauren Baggett with the memorial sculpture of their stillborn son Landon at Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park, Matraville, Sydney.
Having worked in other medical technology companies, I knew what I wanted in a company by way of employee support and culture. I knew the ethos of Medtronic and understood this to be closely aligned with my own core beliefs. For me, it’s not just career opportunities that makes a company a good place to work at. It’s the support network, a true mission to advocate for the health and for the people we serve that takes a company from being good to being one of the best places to work.
In 2021, there was a new Employee Resource Group called Project Hope that was part of the Medtronic Women’s Network. When I joined their first webinar where stillbirth, infant loss and child loss were discussed, it really resonated with me.
With the loss on my own son and the previous work I had undertaken with the Stillbirth Foundation, it was a natural progression for me to volunteer my time for Project Hope. I was honoured to receive the co-chair role of Project Hope in helping to support any Medtronic employee throughout their pregnancy and beyond.
Through the Project Hope ERG, I felt comfortable to share my own story in helping to raise awareness and provide a support network for those colleagues may experience the same as we did. Project Hope has been able to capture the heart of the organisation by way of open communication, events, webinars, and fundraising.
Pictured: The Baggett family Lauren, Harper, Knox and Shane Baggett at Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park, Matraville, Sydney.
It’s important to remember that everybody grieves differently. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, the one thing that can make a difference is ensuring you take help when it’s offered. Allow yourself to say ‘yes’ to people that want to help, whether it be letting them help with household chores, cooking meals or helping with any other children you may have.
Self-care is also vital. Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves. Sometimes the waves are calm and sometimes extremely overwhelming. As time goes by, the intensity and frequency of the sets will dissipate, however, the waves will always remain. All we need to remember is just to keep swimming.
For more information on Landon’s Legacy, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/landonslegacy1/