It's So Sad, People Don't Want To Talk About It

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 recently received an email from a woman who signed her note as a "mother to three angels."  Her message was urging the media to shine a light on October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  It was something I had never heard of, and the woman writing the email said that's exactly why she wanted people to know about the month's designation.

The mother wrote, "In October 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. '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.   Please speak out.  Don't let pregnancy and infant loss remain a taboo subject.  There are too many people that suffer this tragedy alone that need the help of their family, friends, coworkers, etc."

She asked not to be identified but shared an incredibly personal story about her loss, writing about a miscarriage last year, when she was 16 weeks along in her pregnancy.  She was at the hospital when the heartbreaking miscarriage occured, writing, "We were not given the opportunity to hold them or take pictures.  We were not given foot or hand prints.  We walked out of the hospital with nothing except a sense of devastation.  This kind of treatment regarding pregnancy loss has got to change because women or parents who have never lost a child don't realize at the time what they will need to cope in the future." 

Sadly this same mother had more heartache and loss to experience.  However, losing her baby the next time was very different, at a different hospital.  "With Pitt Memorial it was very different.  [He} was born sleeping at 22 weeks, and the staff there immediately asked me if I wanted to hold him.  Whenever [he] was taken out of our room, he was transported in a bassinet.  We received foot and hand prints as well as plaster castings of his hands and feet.  The staff bathed him and dressed him, they cried with us and took pictures of us together.  These are the things that parents need to help heal."

The mother who emailed me is working to start a support group in Eastern Carolina for those who have suffered the same tragedy she has.  Her goal, however, is that other parents will not have to suffer alone, that people will reach out to them in their time of need.


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  • by Billie Jo Location: Mount Olive on Nov 13, 2011 at 08:07 AM
    Just this past week I read an article in the Goldsboro News Argus about Share Pregnacy and Infant Loss Support, Inc. According to the article the contact number is 919-922-2597.
  • by Chastity Location: Washington Nc on Oct 26, 2011 at 09:02 AM
    i agree this should be a month for Infant Loss.... I just lost my child Sept 02, 2011 i was only 7months.... Its a hard thing to overcome but through god all things are possible.... Til this day i still think and dream of my daughter... Her memory will live on forever. Thank you to Pitt Hospital for all the love and support... They made sure i had everything of hers to keep as a memory and i really appriciate everything they did to help support me get through this hard time.... To all the mothers who has lost a child never give up on God cause God will never give up on you... Rest in Gods loving arms my beautiful daughter Skylaar Gabrielle Williams..
  • by Heather on Oct 21, 2011 at 04:54 PM
    Prayers for this family as they bring awareness to a cause that is dear to my own family's hearts. I am sending my hopes and prayers and wishes to this wonderful lady as she endeavors forward to help others. Her and her babies will bring good into the hearts of others always through this work. God bless them all.
  • by DeAnna on Oct 17, 2011 at 04:10 PM
    I agree that this should be brought to our attention. I could not imagin going thur something so horriable. My heart goes out to those who have ever had to go thur any of the tragedies listed.
  • by Tom Kilian, director of Mercy Partners Location: Sudan & North Carolina on Oct 17, 2011 at 10:16 AM
    Thank you for bringing National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month to our attention. I work in the conflict zone of Darfur, Sudan. Life and death are very much apart of the culture in Sudan, in a very tragic sense. When a Sudanese mother loses a child, a stick is carved as a token of the child- as to never forget the child's life. - When I reflect on how barbaric our culture is and compare it to the natives of Sudan, I have to ask - Who is the true savage? -
  • by Ginny Location: Vanceboro, NC on Oct 17, 2011 at 09:11 AM
    I had this same experience in 1987 when I lost an infant son. I was 21 weeks pregnant, and was not treated well at one local hospital. I wanted to be transferred to Pitt Memorial, but they were at capacity, so I was transferred to New Hanover Memorial. The staff allowed me to hold him, and gave me an 'unofficial' birth certificate. It is still at treasure to me. However, I completely understand the feeling of going into a hospital, feeling a living, moving fetus inside, and leaving with an emptiness that cannot be described. My body was empty, my arms were empty, and my heart was broken. It is an indescribable pain. Thank you to the writer for sharing your experiences. My prayers are with you. God brought me through with a peace that only He can give. He gave me reason to keep going.
  • by Tammy Location: Greenville, NC on Oct 17, 2011 at 06:25 AM
    My heart goes out to this mom of three angels. She's not alone. I think that people often don't know what to say to a parent when they lose their child in this way, so they either say the wrong thing or nothing at all. So glad her experience here was better than her first and that she was able to hold him and receive foot prints! There are plenty of mothers in our society who never have children to tuck in bed each night, and their love is no less important, their pain is no less, and they often still find ways to mother and nurture. Cheers to all of them!

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