Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
October 15 - Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day
President Ronald Reagan, side note: my favorite president of all time, declared October to be Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in October of 1988. Here is what President Reagan had to say on the day he made his declaration: “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes. Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.”
October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day which started as an American movement by Robyn Bear, Lisa Brown and Tammy Novak. These women petitioned to the federal government as well as the governors of all 50 states for this day in-conjunction with President Reagan’s month of remembrance and awareness.
During the entire month, and especially on this day of October 15th we take time to remember all those babies who were born sleeping, lost to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancies, molar pregnancies, SIDS and death at birth. According to the CDC, 1% of all pregnancies each year babies are born sleeping, 1% of babies pass away during the first year of life, 0.5% babies are lost to SIDS and 1 in 4 women lose their babies to miscarriage. More than likely you know someone who has lost a baby in one form or another whether you know it or not.
Pregnancy and infant loss seems to be a taboo subject to talk about for an unknown reason. Maybe because it makes people uncomfortable to talk about death especially deaths in babies? Who knows. However, today we are going to talk about it. Pull up an uncomfortable seat and put on your uncomfortable pants on cause things are about to get uncomfortable on this “taboo” subject.
As a parent of a child who has passed away when asked “how many kids do you have?” that is not a simple question to answer. I stop and think to myself how will this person react if I tell them about my first son? will they get closed up and not respond? will this person not ask about my first son? are they asking to make small talk or are they asking because they actually want to know? In a split second all these thoughts run through my head before I answer if I have 1 or 2 children.
It hurts my heart to say that I only have 1 child because I technically do have 2 children. I carried both children: one for 31 weeks, 4 days and one for 39 weeks, 1 day. So, why do I put others feelings into consideration? Well, because I am a people pleaser, I try to say and do everything to make everyone happy before myself. As a result more often than not I say that I have 1 child. But, that stops today! I am here to spread awareness for all babies who have been lost along the way from tiny little embryos to fully developed babies who were called home far too early.
When you come across a mother who has lost a child ask them about that child. Ask them their name. Ask them their story. More often than not if a parent has lost their child after 20 weeks of pregnancy they have named that child, and that child has a story that should be heard. That mama had to go through labor at delivery if their child was lost after 20 weeks. She had to feel the pain of all the contractions, she had to push, the umbilical cord had to be cut. Then after the end of it all, she had to go home empty handed with a broken heart. She had to go through all the postpartum healing, she had to feel her body fill with milk and had no baby to feed. So, I can guarantee you that, that mama will be delighted that you want to hear about her baby and knowing that her baby is not and will not be forgotten.
When you come across a father who has lost a child again, ask them about that child they lost. Ask them their child’s name, their child’s story. Talk to them, let them tell their stories. Daddies feel pain too. They had to watch the woman they love go through labor and delivery if that baby was lost after 20 weeks. They watched their wife give birth to that baby, more than likely they are the ones who actually cut the umbilical cord. Daddies also had to go home empty handed and with a broken heart. We often don’t think that the Dad will hurt as much as the Mama does, but they do. Just because they did not carry that child inside of them does not mean they did not love that child or that they do not feel pain from losing that child.
Those parents who have brought their babies home and lost them at home due to illness, SIDS etc ask them about their babies. Ask them what made them smile, what made them laugh, what made them upset. Just talk to them about their babies because they will be so thrilled to tell you about them. Yes, it hurts because our babies are not here with us but we are still thrilled to talk about them. We may cry along with you hearing our child’s story but we are happy to know that you want to remember our child just like we do.
Let’s talk to these Mamas and Daddies let them know that their babies are not forgotten about. Let their babies stories be heard, let these parents stories and pain be heard. So next time you ask someone how many kids they have let them tell you how many kids they have; the ones here and the ones who have been called home and ask them about their kids, especially the ones who were called home.
Today, take time to remember all those babies lost as tiny embryos, the ones lost while still growing inside their Mamas, and the ones who left the hospital but were called home far too early. Remember the parents of these babies, remember the siblings of these babies and remember the families of these babies.
Lastly, today at 7pm in your time zone the wave of light is happening. Light a candle of these babies who were lost. Share it on social media with #waveoflight and read about others who have lost their babies as well.
Be kind to one another and until next time, stay positive.