Maria Henderson had always wanted to be a mum. 

Growing up with five siblings in Margaret River, Western Australia, the 34-year-old  dreamt of starting her own family one day.

Her wish came true in 2017, when Maria and now-husband Ash were excited to announce to the world they were expecting their first child together. 

But 16 weeks into the pregnancy Maria started experiencing ‘intense’ cramps and ‘niggling pains’. 

She ignored it at first and thought the cramps weren’t an issue as other mums told her it’s simply ‘what happens when you’re pregnant’. 

‘I woke up in the middle of the night in agonising pain and my water broke. It was instant shock then adrenaline,’ Maria, now 40, told FEMAIL. 

What led was a ‘traumatic’ miscarriage in hospital that shook her to the core. 

‘It was the most devastating thing that’s ever happened to me and I was terrified by the thought of trying to conceive again.’

Maria Henderson (pictured) was excited to become a mum for the first time but suffered a 'traumatic' miscarriage in 2017

Maria Henderson (pictured) was excited to become a mum for the first time but suffered a 'traumatic' miscarriage in 2017

Maria Henderson (pictured) was excited to become a mum for the first time but suffered a ‘traumatic’ miscarriage in 2017

Maria and now-husband Ash (left) 'cried and cried' over the loss, and it took Maria 12 months to get her life back on track

Maria and now-husband Ash (left) 'cried and cried' over the loss, and it took Maria 12 months to get her life back on track

Maria and now-husband Ash (left) ‘cried and cried’ over the loss, and it took Maria 12 months to get her life back on track  

Maria’s partner is a FIFO worker and they don’t have any family nearby.

‘I drove myself to the local hospital because Ash was away,’ she recalled.

‘It’s the weirdest feeling – you don’t know what’s going on, you just hope for the best and think this has to be okay.  

‘A laid down on the hospital bed, the nurse started an examination and started pushing down on my belly.. then I started seeing this pool of blood everywhere. It was like something out of a horror movie.’

Unfortunately her worst fear had come true and the little one had unfortunately passed away. 

Maria described the experience as ‘intense’ and ‘horrible’, particularly because she was alone during the ordeal.

‘Leaving the hospital without the baby while also still looking pregnant was one of the hardest aspects of it all. I messaged Ash to let him know what happened and a friend took me home,’ she said.

Ash immediately flew home from work and over the next few month the two felt ‘so vulnerable’. 

Maria said: ‘We just cried and cried.’  

'Leaving the hospital without the baby while also still looking pregnant was one of the hardest aspects of it all. It was the most devastating thing that's ever happened to me and I was terrified by the thought of trying to conceive again,' she said

'Leaving the hospital without the baby while also still looking pregnant was one of the hardest aspects of it all. It was the most devastating thing that's ever happened to me and I was terrified by the thought of trying to conceive again,' she said

‘Leaving the hospital without the baby while also still looking pregnant was one of the hardest aspects of it all. It was the most devastating thing that’s ever happened to me and I was terrified by the thought of trying to conceive again,’ she said

However, she did fall pregnant again twice and now is the proud mum to Van, five, and Mila, three

However, she did fall pregnant again twice and now is the proud mum to Van, five, and Mila, three

However, she did fall pregnant again twice and now is the proud mum to Van, five, and Mila, three 

It took Maria 12 months to grieve the lost of what would’ve been her first child and seeing other women with their children, prams, or bassinets would remind her of what would’ve been. 

With her shoulders ‘hunched’ she often found it hard leaving the house and constantly wanted to be around Ash because he made her feel ‘safe’. 

‘I was giving it my all to just get through the hard days. It was quite an isolating experience and I kind of went into survival mode,’ she said. 

‘Part of my healing process was crying in the shower then putting on a nice set of PJs.’ 

It was this simple ritual of cleansing and getting changed was what helped Maria get her life ‘back on track’.

While the thought of conceiving again was ‘terrifying’ at first, Maria fell pregnant the following year then had a little baby boy by emergency caesarian at 42 weeks. 

A couple years later she then fell pregnant and had her daughter, Mila, now three. 

‘I told myself, “whatever will be will be”. But I was still so worried during the entire pregnancies,’ she said.

Perhaps one silver living of the experience as a whole was the development of Maria's small pyjamas business, which arose from her 'vow' to help other women moving forward

Perhaps one silver living of the experience as a whole was the development of Maria's small pyjamas business, which arose from her 'vow' to help other women moving forward

Perhaps one silver living of the experience as a whole was the development of Maria’s small pyjamas business, which arose from her ‘vow’ to help other women moving forward

Maria launched The Vow Sleepwear in November 2020 and since then the hobby has transformed into a small business selling stylish pyjamas at affordable prices

Maria launched The Vow Sleepwear in November 2020 and since then the hobby has transformed into a small business selling stylish pyjamas at affordable prices

Maria launched The Vow Sleepwear in November 2020 and since then the hobby has transformed into a small business selling stylish pyjamas at affordable prices

'Going through something so awful made me feel so numb. But pyjamas made me feel so beautiful and feminine. They felt so soft on my skin and made me feel good when looking in the mirror,' she said

'Going through something so awful made me feel so numb. But pyjamas made me feel so beautiful and feminine. They felt so soft on my skin and made me feel good when looking in the mirror,' she said

‘Going through something so awful made me feel so numb. But pyjamas made me feel so beautiful and feminine. They felt so soft on my skin and made me feel good when looking in the mirror,’ she said

Perhaps one silver living of the experience as a whole was the development of Maria’s small pyjamas business, which arose from her ‘vow’ to help other women moving forward. 

‘Going through something so awful made me feel so numb. But pyjamas made me feel so beautiful and feminine. They felt so soft on my skin and made me feel good when looking in the mirror,’ she said. 

‘And I realised I want other women to feel good in themselves too, simply by wearing a set of PJs.’

Maria launched The Vow Sleepwear in November 2020 and since then the hobby has transformed into a small business selling stylish pyjamas at affordable prices. 

This year the business also won the 2023 Australia Post Local Hero award, which Maria says was ‘such an honour’. 

Within four hours the brand sold $5,000 worth of product, which has been the biggest sale to date. 

The stay-at-home mum operates the brand completely from home while the children are sleeping or at school or daycare.

‘It’s been a real dream come true and I’m so proud of it,’ she said.  

For miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death support 24/7, please call SANDS on 1300 072 637.

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