Real Life

Tracey Harris: "my twins healed my pain"

When the devastating 2011 earthquake took the life of her baby, Tracey Harris never expected to find happiness again – until a double miracle arrived.

By Aroha Awarau

Loving mother Tracey Harris has every reason to smile again after her gorgeous eight-month-old son, Jayden, lost his young life in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

The little boy with the adorable blue eyes was one of the youngest victims of the national tragedy when a 21-inch television fell on him when he was sleeping.

Devastated by her loss, Tracey (26) never thought she’d have more children after a difficult birth with Jayden.

But eight months ago she found happiness again, giving birth to twin girls, Alexis and Kaylee. Her daughters are helping their mother heal from her emotional pain.

“Being a mother is the best feeling in the world,” says Tracey, who also has two older daughters Stephanie (6) and five-year-old Vanessa.

“I had given up on being a mum again, so I was shocked when I found out that I was pregnant. It gave me a sense of calmness and peace.”

Since the earthquake, the pain of losing her baby has been extremely difficult and Tracey admits that she was coping one day at a time.

“The last few years have been up and down, and chaotic. The loss of a little baby is hard to deal with.

“If my house was destroyed in the earthquake, I could have recovered, but when my son was taken away from me, it was so painful.”

Jayden was on the floor when the 6.3 earthquake hit and Tracey was in the kitchen, preparing a bottle for him.

As the house shook violently, the television fell from a chest of drawers, landing on a sleeping Jayden. Despite rushing her baby to hospital, it was too late – the serious head injuries had killed him.

The nation mourned the young victim, whose white coffin was filled with his favourite toys, and white and blue balloons were released as Jayden was lowered into the hearse.

Today, life has been far more positive for Tracey. She is in a new relationship with partner Tim Hill (30), and loves being a mother again to two daughters, who she says have a close connection to their brother.

“Alexis has Jayden’s laugh and she looks like him, and Kaylee’s middle name is Jayde, in memory of her brother.”

“There will always be a part of me missing. It’s something you never get over, but being a mum again has helped.”

She says Jayden would have loved to be a big brother.

“He would have been that fun brother that would follow them around and protect them. They will grow up hearing stories about Jayden so they know about him, and that will keep his memory alive.”

Tracey is extra cautious about large objects in her home and ensures they are on the ground or fixed. In fact, she recently acquired a new television – but it’s still in its box.

Tracey is fronting the Earthquake Commission’s campaign later this month, spreading the message for families to make sure all large objects are securely fastened.

“People need to be careful, especially those with young children. It’s important to get that message out there.”

Tracey has also set up a charity in her son’s name, the Jayden Harris Charitable Trust, to help babies who suffer from head injuries. But it’s her young twins that remind Tracey how lucky she is to be a mother.

“I love them cuddling up to me. They look at me knowing I’m their mother. It’s made me realise that life is not over and I can be happy again.”

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