October is often equated with cooler weather, Fall colors, Halloween festivities and even Breast Cancer awareness. But did you know that October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month? At Doulas of Orange County we want to take an opportunity to stand in solidarity and love with all of the parents who have lost a baby, whether before or after birth. We understand that this topic can be painful and often goes undiscussed due to that pain.
In an effort to reduce the stigma surrounding miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss we’d like to share a beautiful story from our friend Jesse. Jesse is a mother of 4, whose sweet children came to her via the foster system and adoption. She gifted us with her experience and we hope that by sharing we can help give a voice to those quietly processing their journey without support.
“October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month. So, I'm breaking my silence and sharing my story. One year ago today, we found out that our unborn son's heart had stopped beating. He was our surprise miracle baby after 8 years of infertility. Despite our extreme excitement over FINALLY getting pregnant, we decided not to tell anyone until after the first trimester. Those first 12 weeks went by, we heard his little heartbeat, and we thought we were in the clear. We found out that it was a boy and planned to announce to everyone at a Halloween party that we were hosting. The week before the party (one year ago today) we found out that our long-awaited son had died. He was 14 weeks. The Halloween party was fun, most of our friends and family were there, but it was hard to get through while carrying this devastating secret.
Why didn't we reach out to our gathering of friends and family for support? There's a taboo when talking about infant loss. You're expected to just pretend it didn't happen. Pretend you never had a tiny human growing inside of you. Pretend you didn't spend every waking moment thinking about him growing in there and dreaming about what he would look like, who he would be, what your life would be like with him in it. It's not just a fetus that dies in a miscarriage, it's all the hopes and dreams you had about your child that die along with him. It's been a year since we lost our son and I still think of him at least once everyday. He would have been six months old this month if he had survived. In honor of the joy my son gave me for those short 14 weeks, I'm sharing his story so that maybe others who have lost their babies will feel more comfortable breaking the silent taboo. 25% of all pregnancies end with loss. With so many people out there who have their own stories, let's make it okay to talk about. I love all my children, no matter how they joined my family or how long they were here with us.”
Today, October 15th we participate in what is called the “Wave of Light”. We invite you to light a candle at 7pm in your own time zone. Light a candle in remembrance of the babies who have gone far too soon. Please keep the candle burning for at least an hour and in doing so there will be a continual wave of light across the world all day. The wave of light shows that we stand together, that bereaved parents aren't alone. You don't have to be bereaved to join in, so please show your support by lighting a candle at 7pm.
If you are in need of support and healing after your own loss, we are available to assist you in finding resources or support groups in your area. It is so important to honor your feelings and process though the loss of your child, no matter how short a time they graced this world womb-side or earth-side. You are forever a mother and they are forever carried in your heart. In Orange County, there are several options, including “Forever Footprints” who offers regular group meetings in Newport Beach. Hoag Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital also have several support group options. Please know that you are not alone. We are here to help. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on support groups, if you’re interested in leading a group at our office or for the support of a Bereavement Doula.
We welcome you to break the silence and share your baby’s name or nickname during pregnancy in the comments section, as we honor and remember the babies gone far too soon.