October is usually a time of the year where you may be looking forward to the beautiful ambers and golds that the leaves will start to deliver. Where one may contemplate what their Halloween costume might be. Although, this year being that we are in a pandemic, maybe not so much? There is something about the fall’s early morning subtle crisp-chill that turns into a day sans humidity, where you mindfully plan your day around wearing layers, a jacket, or a light scarf, and your sweaters and boots start to make the forefront of your wardrobe. Perhaps the abundance of pumpkin-spice-everything bombards you at the grocery store and the coffee shop (I’m not one who minds this). Maybe, it’s the fresh beginning of a new fiscal year. For me, it’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Did you know pregnancy and Infant loss affects 1 in 4 women? According to the Centers for Disease Control, non-Hispanic Black women and American Indian/Alaska Native women are twice as likely to experience stillbirth in comparison to Non-Hispanic Whites, Asian or Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics. Research supports a lower quality of maternal health care, socioeconomic factors, and structural racism in healthcare closely tie to racial disparities in maternal and infant deaths. I didn’t even know this was a thing until having had experienced this twice; the loss of an infant indoctrinated me into a secret society that I never wanted to be a part of.
Through the years, this secret society has turned into a badge of honor. Being in this circle has been the most kind-hearted, gentle, heartbreaking, disturbing, guilty-joy, beautiful, awful, loving, hopeful, lonely, disastrous, fearful, and anxiety-ridden whirl of emotions I ever knew I could feel all at once. I have also learned how common it is to be in this group; together, we share the month of October’s heartbreak and remembrance. I wasn’t aware there was a commemorative month for Pregnancy and Infant Loss. Recently, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, The NIH Office of the Director, and the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health launched an initiative called the Implementing Maternal Health and Pregnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone (IMPROVE) to improve and reduce the disparities, particularly among Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women. I’m hopeful that pregnancy loss is something you’ll never experience, even as a friend-of-a-friend or as a sister/brother/uncle/aunt/grandparent to a loss of family.
There are no words that can offer the comfort you intend to give, only the concept of time (at the unknown timeline of the affected) and kindness is what allowed me to keep moving forward—seemingly at a snail’s pace. It’s different for every person. For many families, maybe they’ve gone through this more than twice, and even just once is enough. If you have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, you and your baby(ies) are always remembered, especially this month.
On October 15, 2020, at 7:00 p.m., in all times zones across the world, light a candle for all babies gone too soon; this is called the Wave of Light. You are welcome to partake in this remembrance, whether you are directly affected or not.
If you are looking for resources to help a loved one, a coworker, or a friend going through this difficult situation, here is an article that points to simple Do’s and Dont's, the March of Dimes website is a great resource as well.
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