October is a busy month for mommas all around. It’s the time of year when cooler temperatures are welcomed after hot summer days. We’re planning for Halloween, making sure jackets and coats fit, gloves have a match and snagging the good candy while its on sale. October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month was first declared by President Ronald Reagan on October 15, 1988. On that day 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. 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.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.”
My story like so many other mommas started with a healthy pregnancy until the very end when I found out that I had become a part of the 1 out of 4 mommas who experience miscarriage, infant loss or in my case, stillbirth. I will never forget the look in everyone’s eyes, the disbelief in my heart and the crushing reality that all the dreams I had for this child would not come to fruition.
Approximately five years ago I went to a regular OB appointment one day before my due date; I was excited because I knew the baby would be coming any day. I even joked that he would be born on Christmas because I found out that I was pregnant on Good Friday. However, when my midwife looked into my eyes with tears forming in her eyes and told me that my baby had passed away, my world shifted, my reality changed, and everything I knew to be Ebone was no longer true.
I then had to decide, Do I stick with my original plan to have an all natural VBAC or do I go in for the quick c-section and be done? My husband and I talked it over and decided that although the cesarean would allow a quick fix to the mountain we were up against it wouldn’t make this loss any easier. It wouldn’t change the fact that we would be going home with a box and a bear. And frankly I wanted the physical pain to match the emotional web of pain I had found myself entrapped in.
After 8 hours of unmedicated labor I gave birth to my Austin who was born sleeping. He was perfect in every way—with thick dark hair and perfectly brown skin. There are no words to describe the silence that took place in that bittersweet moment. I felt like a full-blown rock star for giving birth with no meds. But the reality was that my husband and I sat in a still room, not filled with attempts to latch on and newborn cries; our room was filled with a deafening silence. In that silence I was not angry with God nor did I have a “Why?” But my heart was at peace knowing that my sweet child opened his eyes before Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
And what a birthday that is, two days before Christmas, to open your eyes and greet your Creator, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5a NKJV), the One who knew him before I even knew that I had a desire for him.
Although his life ended at 39 weeks gestation his legacy was just starting. On Austin’s first birthday in 2015 we decided to honor him in a tangible way. So, on December 23rd just 2 short days before Christmas my family and I along with our friends set out to do as many random acts of kindness as we could squeeze into 24 hours. I was completely blown away by how many people near and far joined us in remembering his name and making his life impactful here on earth. That day helped me to understand why us mommas needed a month designated to remembering our babies. It solidified why a united front of friends and family who take a moment every year to speak our babies names, to light a candle to spread awareness and to start the conversation with others is vital to healing.
How can you support other mommas?
Do: Be present and be patient. Grief is messy and us mommas are just trying to figure it all out.
Do: Bring meal, this was a huge help for me. Every day the doorbell rang, and someone was dropping off a meal for my family and I. They didn’t stay longer than to say how to warm it up if necessary and to give a hug. THIS WAS HUGE!
Do: Keep checking in, texting, calling and emailing to letting the momma know that you are thinking of them.
Do: Keep their baby’s memory alive. Make donations in honor of their baby. Celebrate birthdays and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
www.hopemommies.org Their mission is to help every family who experiences infant loss find community, grief resources and ultimately the Hope of Christ which is our unfailing anchor.
www.sufficientgraceministries.org SGM offers perinatal hospice, birth and bereavement services for parents facing the loss of a baby.
I’m Ebone, I live in Toledo, OH but was born and raised in Northwest Indiana along with my husband Rashadd. My husband and I have been married 9 years and have 5 children together. The 4 here on earth keep us knee deep in play dates, rehearsals, sports and carpooling. I enjoy clearance shopping, cooking and vacationing with what I affectionately call my tribe. If your looking to get connected with myself or other mommas who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss, I can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ebonehumes.