‘Our Baby Died 3 Days after Mummy’s Funeral’: QLD Dad Loses Wife and Newborn Daughter Within Days of Each Other


On the night of August 3rd 2021, Vicki and Denham Hattenfels of Brisbane kissed their two daughters, Indiana and Kennedy, goodbye and headed to the hospital for a scheduled induction.

Vicki and Denham promised their girls that they would return home soon with their newborn daughter and the girls’ baby sister.

Vicki was not quite 38 weeks pregnant yet, but six years ago she and Denham lost their first daughter, Mackenzie due to placental abruption. She was born still at 38.5 weeks.

Everything was going as planned

Both Indiana and Kennedy were born through scheduled inductions before the 38-week mark and Vicki and Denham requested the same this time around.

In the early morning of August 4th, Vicki’s waters broke and the couple prepared to meet their little girl.

Everything was going as everyone hoped and the birth suite was being prepared,” Denham tells Kidspot.

“Victoria was having a contraction and in the few seconds that I turned around to get her hospital bagher body was seizing all of a sudden.”

Vicki was rushed into surgery for an emergency c-section. This was the last time Denham saw his wife conscious.

Tragically, she went into cardiac arrest due to an amniotic embolism, a life-threatening birth complication where amniotic fluid enters the mother’s bloodstream. Vicki was placed in the ICU on a ventilator and Denham and his family and friends prayed daily for his wife to be okay.

Because of the stillbirth, I was thinking the worst, that the baby wouldn’t survive. But I never thought that anything like that could happen to Vic…”

Heartbreakingly, Vicki never regained consciousness. Doctors informed Denham that his wife had brain damage and that it didn’t look good.

Losing Vicki 

Denham and Vicki’s daughter, Aria was also born with brain damage from the traumatic birth. She remained in the NICU ward at the Brisbane hospital while her mother clung to life on the other side of the city in an ICU.

However, seven days after the birth, Denham and his family were told their little girl’s condition was improving.

Just one day later, Vicki was declared brain dead and her life support was turned off. She never got a chance to meet her youngest daughter.

We think Vic held on until she heard Aria was fine … then she passed away. So I took her hand and told her that I loved her and that the girls would be fine.”

In an instant, Denham went from a married father of two to a widowed father of three.

Having to tell his daughters that their mother was gone was devastating. At just three and two years old, Indiana and Kennedy couldn’t understand where their mum was and why she wasn’t coming back.

denham and his daughters
Denham with his girls – Kennedy, Indiana and newborn daughter Aria. Source: MyCause

As Denham prepared a funeral for his wife and the mother of his daughters, Aria remained in the NICU. She looked perfectly healthy but anytime someone touched her, she would seize.

Denham held onto the hope that she would be okay and that Vicki’s death was not in vain.

Tragically, this wasn’t the case.

‘Our newborn girl died three days after Mummy’s funeral’

Just three days after the funeral, when Aria was only 26 days old, the newborn took her last breath.

In the span of one month, Denham lost his wife and newborn daughter. His girls lost their mum and baby sister. We cannot even fathom this pain.

It is an indescribable and numbing sensation.”

Unimaginable loss

Since the death of Vicki and Aria, Denham has tried to pick up the pieces for his daughters but admits it’s incredibly hard. His workmates at Total Tools set up a MyCause account to help their mate out and Denham is focused on his little girls.

In what should have been a joyful and magical time in their lives, the Hattenfels family have had to deal with this unimaginable loss,” the account, which is up to $72,000, reads.

‘I have to be there for them’

Denham admits that the girls still ask for their “mum” whenever they are upset and think Aria and Mummy are coming home.

I have told them Mummy and Aria have gone to heaven but they are so little.

I just don’t know how the girls will grow up without their mum – but I know I just have to be OK because I have two daughters who need me to be their dad and I have to be there for them.”

Our thoughts go out to Denham, Indiana, and Kennedy. While the campaign was set up in October, it’s not too late to donate and make a difference for Denham and his beautiful children. Visit MyCause to help.

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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