Among it’s various purposes, causes, and fulfilling the love of fall, October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The 15th of October, specifically, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
I, as a bereaved mother, am aware of this tragedy of life every. single. day. This isn’t a time where I’m suddenly reminded of the heartache we experienced over three years ago. This isn’t a time where my eyes are opened to new information or developments in infant loss.
This is a time where I know hundreds of thousands of families across the globe are wishing they could change their story.
Four years ago, we made the announcement social-media official, sharing Little Miss would be a big sister. We had no idea we would bury her baby sister six months later.
One in four pregnancies ends in loss. I didn’t know that until after Harlynn died. I assumed – as do so many other mothers-to-be – if you made it past the first trimester, you were good to go.
Miscarriage. Stillbirth. Trisomy 13. Trisomy 18. Anencephaly. LBWC. Preterm labor. Delivery complications. Uterine ruptures. Placental abruptions. Genetic abnormalities. Disease. Cancer. SIDS. The list is a long one, yet it’s still a list most people aren’t willing to acknowledge exists.
In 2016, continuing on from centuries before us, babies are dying. Thousands, every single year.
And yet we have a month of awareness. A month where sometimes, I feel as though we’re pitied for a time. “Let them drudge up their stories. November’s almost here…”
I struggle with the responsibility of raising awareness of pregnancy and infant loss. I don’t want to scare anyone. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade. I wish I still had my naivety. I wish I still thought healthy babies were a given once you were past the 13 week mark of pregnancy. More than that, I wish it were a reality rather than a naivety.
But it isn’t.
I don’t advocate simply for awareness. I don’t air my journey so anyone reading about it can simply be aware I’ve been through hell-on-earth. I don’t advocate for exposure or attention for myself.
I advocate for breaking the cycle. I advocate for praying for miracles. I advocate for doing whatever we find to do to prevent the death of babies. I advocate for research. I advocate for respect. I advocate for information and education and honesty.
Most of all, I advocate for other parents like myself, who are thrust into a world they couldn’t previously comprehend existed. I do whatever I can to ensure they get the care and compassion they need when their entire world has crumbled in an instant. I do whatever I can to make the medical community, funeral homes, social workers, coworkers, friends, family – aware of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of these precious people who just lost their precious baby. I advocate for support and companionship.
If you understood 26,000 babies in the United States alone are stillborn – every. year. – what would that awareness spur within you? Unless you’ve walked through it, probably nothing. It’s another number. Another statistic.
Every year, however, 26,000 little hearts that were beating one moment, stop beating the next. That’s stillbirth alone. Add to it the thousands of other anomalies we lose babies from each year. It’s mind blowing. It seems impossible. Made up. Wrong.
But it isn’t.
Anyone who knows me knows our story. I’m one of the vocal ones. There are thousands of families each year who go silent in their story, however, because they don’t know how else to cope with it.
This October, and every month, I implore you to go easy on these broken hearts. If you can’t understand what these families have gone through, and will continue to go through, don’t place expectations or limitations on their journey. Be their advocates, not their adversaries.
This October, and every month, I pray you’d support pregnancy and infant loss research. I pray you’d support the ones who are trying to prevent these losses from happening, and those who know enough to call these possibilities to attention.
This October, and every month, I ask you to understand everyone you meet has a story. A journey. A struggle. Show extra kindness. Offer extra help. Be encouraging. Look through lenses trying to find ways to serve others, rather than through lenses focusing on flaws or imperfections.
This October, and always, be aware there are a lot of broken hearts in need of a gentle hand.