By Jennifer Primeaux
When people share their pregnancy, they may post status updates and ultrasound pictures on Facebook, send baby shower invites in the mail, explain detailed plans about maternity leave, decide what color to paint the nursery, and have a name chosen for their unborn baby. Then, they patiently wait to greet their healthy baby and introduce him or her to the world.
But what happens when the plans change, and their dream of creating or expanding a family is abruptly interrupted due to a pregnancy loss? Typically, if the pregnancy was 12 weeks or less, most people have not yet announced to family members that they were pregnant due to the increased risk of miscarriage. After that point, the risk of miscarriage is lower and people feel more confident in disclosing the pregnancy. Unfortunately, pregnancy loss still happens past the 12-week mark. Regardless of when the pregnancy loss or infant death occurred, it creates numerous feelings including: grief, bewilderment, anger, guilt, or anxiety. Below is a quote that articulates the isolation of losing a child.
“A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. […] there is no word for a parent who loses a child. That’s how awful the loss is.”
– Jay Neugeboren, An Orphan’s Tale, p. 154.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. To further add to this statistic, consider that this number does not account for miscarriages that end before the woman realizes she’s pregnant, stillbirths, abortions, or infant deaths. With that being said, chances are, you know someone that has had a pregnancy loss or infant death.
In 1988, President Reagan declared October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. October 15th is recognized as Pregnancy Loss and Infant Remembrance Day and everyone around the world is invited to light a candle at 7pm in their time zone and to keep it burning for at least 1 hour to create a continuous wave of light around the world. This time is a chance for grieving parents to remember their child and can be an opportunity for family and friends to show support to the grieving parents. Please join in lighting a candle on October 15th at 7pm in support of families who have suffered a pregnancy loss or infant death.