October: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

Every parent that finds out they are expecting a baby wants to bring the baby home. This does not happen in every case. Some parents will hear the unfortunate words that they lost their baby, which is something no parent wants to hear. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness month, which includes stillbirth, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and a newborn death. This is observed on October 15.

This day is used to raise awareness with candle lighting around the world. In the United States, President Ronald Reagan declared that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, This offers a chance to increase understanding the devastation that a parent experiences. It also helps to meet the needs of parents and other members of the family to try and prevent this from happening.
As a mother who has lost not only one, but two babies, this is an experience I would never want anyone to have to go through.

With my first loss, I found out that she had a serious heart defect and cystic hygromas growing out of her neck. There was a very small chance of survival. Everyone said that I should terminate the pregnancy. I refused to terminate. The small chance that my child could survive the pregnancy was enough hope for me to continue the pregnancy.

At my thirty-ninth week of pregnancy, I had a routine appointment before being induced. I went in expecting the same results I received every time I walked into the clinic. The doctor came in, placed the ultrasound wand on my belly, and then stopped for a second. He placed the wand back on my belly and looked for what seemed like a lifetime. There was no heartbeat. I was devastated. I could not figure out how I had gotten this far just to lose the battle. I went in the next day to be induced to have my little girl. She was born asleep a few hours later.

There was a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness counselor at the hospital where I delivered. The counselor sat and talked with me allowing me to talk about any and everything. She did not have any answers to my questions. Why did I lose my baby after a fight this long? What could I do to make sure no one else could go through this. She led me on the path to at least offer support to other parents, mostly mothers, cope with this situation. I had the option to donate my baby to science to find out what caused her heart to route the wrong way. I refused. I was selfish then and wanted to bury my child and get closure. My second loss was a miscarriage a few months later. I went through the same counseling program.

While I still grieve the loss of my children, having a month to raise awareness, helps me cope. There is no greater loss than a mother losing a child. One day there will be better ways to prevent miscarriage and infant loss.


written by: Wendy Cook-Rester