By Astha Gupta
A mum has shared the poignant reason behind her miracle son’s zombie-themed birthday cake smash – after being called an ‘evil mother’ for the stunt.
Amy Louise Gebert, 27, was so sick during her first pregnancy she considered a termination but was heartbroken when son Phoenix was born with no heartbeat on October 31, 2015.
After 13 minutes of resuscitation Phoenix miraculously defied the odds and let out a cry – leading the mum-of-two and fiancé Gary, 30, to jokingly nickname their survivor son a ‘zombie baby’.
Amy, from Brisbane, Queensland, decided on a zombie theme for Phoenix’s Halloween first birthday because he had ‘gone to heaven and come back as an angel’.
But when she shared photos of Phoenix in zombie makeup eating his ‘human brain’ cake she faced a torrent of abuse and was banned from a mums Facebook group – with trolls calling her ‘possessed by the devil’ and labelling the pictures ‘sick and twisted’.
Speaking out to defend the shoot, professional makeup artist Amy said: “Anyone who knows me knows Halloween has always been my favourite holiday.
“My son was born on Halloween, we were in room 13 when I gave birth, I had thought he had died for 13 minutes, then he came back to me and zombie was his nickname – it was all creepy Halloween coincidences rolled into one.
“On his first birthday, since obviously it was Halloween, I had a massive zombie- themed party. It was all very spooky.
“For his birthday photoshoot, I wanted to do something different and creative that represented us and reminded Gary and I how close we had come to losing Phoenix.
“Walking Dead is my all-time favourite series and given the history of Phoenix’s birth, it wasn’t hard to connect the dots.”
Amy chose a red velvet cake, designed in the shape of a bloody brain, with strawberry jam inside for Phoenix’s cake smash in October 2016.
She did Phoenix’s make-up herself to give him a zombie look and enlisted the help of professional photographer Amanda Queen to snap the adorable images.
But when Amy shared the pictures to a parenting group this month, she found herself at the centre of a hate storm – despite none of her tormentors knowing the poignant reason behind the shoot’s theme.
Amy said: “I knew the pictures were not everyone’s cup of tea, but I was shocked with the comments I was getting.
“Mums were calling me, ‘evil’ and saying that ‘I was possessed by the devil’, that Phoenix would have nightmares and I was making fun of the dead and some even said they wished my son had actually died.
“Gary told me to ignore them. I tried to defend myself but I was blocked out of the group.”
Throughout her pregnancy with Phoenix, Amy had a bad case of Hyperemesis gravidarum – vomiting up to 15 times a day.
In her 36th week, she couldn’t eat or drink anything for six days and when she went to the doctor to get a drip she collapsed with a pain in her uterus.
Doctors rushed her to
theatre after finding her baby had no heartbeat and within minutes she underwent an emergency c-section.
Amy said: “I wanted to give up so many times, even thought of terminating. I wanted to be a mum desperately but I felt like I was dying.
“By the third trimester, I couldn’t even stand and I was having blackouts and migraines.
“In surgery, I heard someone call out to Gary to take out his phone as the baby was coming, but then I heard no sound.
“I didn’t know what was happening as the room fell silent.
“Suddenly, I heard ‘one and two and three and breathe’, ‘one and two and three and breathe’…. It went on forever, and then I saw Gary crying. I went into shock and told Gary, ‘stop crying’.
“I knew our son was gone. My body was shaking and I was getting angrier as I realised I had gone through nine months of hell but I was now going to have to bury my son.
“A doctor squeezed my hand, and tears started flowing.
“Just then a nurse screamed, ‘Thank God! He’s come back! He’s come back,’.
‘What’s happening?’ I asked. ‘His heart has restarted,’ a nurse said and before I had a chance to process, doctors and nurses were running around and Gary and our son were taken to NICU.”
Amy wasn’t allowed to see her son for three days due to being so ill herself and felt ‘disconnected’ when Gary showed her pictures of the newborn.
Because her placenta had detached and he had been without oxygen, doctors worried he could suffer from brain damage or disabilities.
But luckily, both mum and son made a full recovery – and over the next few months, Phoenix’s ‘zombie’ nickname stuck.
Amy said: “We had a few names, but seeing what our son had gone through, we decided to call him Phoenix.
“He had come back from the dead and I couldn’t wait to meet him.
“Hello my sweet baby, hello my zombie baby,’ I said.
“He was always hungry and he ate like a zombie.
“He was such a good baby and never troubled me so everyone said he had died and gone to heaven, and come back as an angel to us.
“Everyone loved our little zombie.
“Knowing what Phoenix went through, people now understand why we had the zombie theme and what our intention behind it was.”
Amanda, who photographed Phoenix’s shoot, said: “When Amy approached me to do a zombie style cake smash for her little miracle, I couldn’t wait! I love bringing a client’s vision to life.
“I loved the thought of doing something not only unique but an idea that had so much personal meaning behind it.”