Coping with infant and pregnancy loss

International Wave of Light Oct. 15

By Tracy Stewart - Contributing columnist

I am one in four.

I am one out of every four women who have experienced, or will experience, a loss of a baby through a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.

At least 25 percent of women join this group through immeasurable heartache. It’s a society you never want to be a part of. Nobody likes to talk about it. It’s often a lonely, silent journey.

Ronald Reagan declared October as “Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month” in 1988 to help break this silence and help those who have gone through this painful experience.

Oct. 15 is a day of international unification that connects those around the world wo have been impacted by this devastating loss. Having a month and specific day allows for connecting, sharing, and validation and helps bring awareness to this painful situation.

Each year, at 7 p.m. on Octo. 15, the International Wave of Light occurs. It invites baby loss families, loved ones, friends and supporting organizations from around the world to join in remembrance of all loved and longed for babies who left the world too soon.

Illumination begins at the International Dateline, on Christmas Islands in the first time zone. Illuminations and candles will remain lit for at least one hour with the next time zone lighting respectively, creating a “Wave of Light” around the globe for a 24-hour period.

CMH will be participating in the International Wave of Light for the second consecutive year.

While we can’t be physically together for this event this year, we do welcome individuals to join our ceremony through various activities that will be posted on our Facebook page. This will allow us the opportunity as a community to come together, support one another and reflect upon each other’s pregnancy or infant loss.

Why remembering helps

The grief of a parent who has lost their child during pregnancy, at birth or during infancy can be especially difficult since there was limited time with their child.

These parents don’t have a lot of memories of experiences to grieve, instead they grieve the hopes and dreams they had for their family. They’re grieving their future.

Many bereaved parents are fearful that their child will be forgotten. It’s important to these mothers and fathers that their child’s life is not trivialized. It does not matter how long their life was or how big their baby grew, that baby is still their child – a child they will hold forever in their heart.

According to Resolve Through Sharing, also known as RTS (the gold standard in perinatal loss education), there are several ways a family can remember and validate their child. Some of these suggestions are:

• Say their baby’s name out loud

• Plant a tree

• Journal/write poetry

• Celebrate birthdays

• Create a memory box/hold on to tangible mementos

• Create/start a fundraiser in your child’s name

• Help others

• Donate to charity in your child’s name

Choosing one or several of the above suggestions can be helpful in the coping and healing process.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Though the grief may become easier as time passes, it is important for loved ones to remember that it truly never goes away.

Ronald Reagan said it best when he said, “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.”

I think about all my children often. Framed photos remind me of my five growing, beautiful kids whose smiles light up the world; however, those same pictures fail to show my babies that I carry with me in my heart.

This month I especially think of the ones missing in our family photos along with several friends’ babies who we will never get to meet here on earth. Please be especially thoughtful and kind to the moms and dads you know who have experienced loss this month.

And on Oct. 15, I invite you to join me and other CMH employees by lighting a candle in remembrance of all of the babies born asleep, or whom we carried but never met, or those we have held but could not take home, or the ones who made it home, but didn’t stay.

Tracy Stewart, BSN, RNC-EFM, is RTS Coordinator and Educator and Director of Mother/Baby Care Unit at Clinton Memorial Hospital.
International Wave of Light Oct. 15

By Tracy Stewart

Contributing columnist