Forget traditional cake smash photos. Amy Louise wanted to capture her son's first birthday in a meaningful way that celebrated his amazing birth story. With a knack for special effects makeup, the Australian mom dressed up her 1-year-old tot Phoenix in zombie makeup and clothes fit for "The Walking Dead." The cake was a bloody, rich red velvet, complete with "brain squiggles" made out of fondant and coated in strawberry jam for gooeyness.
With the help of photographer Amanda Queen, photographs showed Phoenix devouring the cake like a proper zombie eating brains.
But Louise didn't expect the negative comments that rolled in after posting some of the photographs online: "That's absolutely disgusting to put your baby in a theme like that"; "What kind of a mother dresses their son as a dead baby"; and "This is so offensive to all the women who have lost their children." Others got personal and targeted her parenting, saying she was scarring him for life, getting him bullied or raising a "serial killer." The Australian mom was even removed from Facebook groups for moms because of her "obscene and offensive pictures."
"I was, in all honesty, slaughtered by these mothers—but they didn't know our story. They didn't even bother to learn it, and we didn't care," Louise wrote for Kid Spot.
After Louise's pregnancy was marked by hyperemesis gravidarum and depression, Phoenix was born on Halloween and believed to be dead.
"All I saw was a tiny purple foot, no scream, no cry, not a sound," Louise, who had an emergency C-section at 36 weeks, recalled. "Nine months of hell just to bury my son. I couldn't believe it. I didn't even feel sad, I felt furious."
In her delirious state, she could hear the doctors say the baby wasn't breathing. She could hear the repeated "one and two and three and breathe" as they pushed on Phoenix's chest.
Thirteen long and painful minutes went by until finally a nurse cried out, "He's come back!" Phoenix, who Louise affectionately calls her zombie baby, had come back from the dead.
"On that fourth day (in the NICU), I got to hold him," the mom wrote. "It was the greatest, most emotional day of my life."
Louise tells Mom.me that apart from the comments shaming her for her decision, she has also had lots of support from moms who went through similar experiences.
"They loved seeing that I was so strong with talking about what happened," she said. "(I've also received) messages of support from men and women who had seen the nasty people talking about it, but mostly messages saying how happy they are that Phoenix was still alive and that he looked adorable—which he does."
Her story is certainly a reminder to hold judgment because you never really know what's going on in another mom's life.
P.S. He's definitely the cutest little zombie we've seen.