Many people don’t know, but along with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. On October 25, 1988, President Ronald Reagan devoted the entire month of October to mothers who have lost their children during and after pregnancy. And on October 15 at 7:00 pm, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, mothers across the world join together in a candle lighting ceremony to reflect on the loss of their children. Like many others, I had never heard of this awareness until it became dear to my heart when one of my very best friends lost her son shortly after his birth.
We went through our entire pregnancy together: supporting one another, tagging each other in silly memes about pregnancy on social media, laughing about all the food we consumed that day, giving each other a heads up when baby items went on sale, sharing pictures of our baby bumps, and expressing how excited we were for our sons to get here. Our due dates were only 6 weeks apart. And even though we were over 900 miles away from each other, not a day went by where we didn’t check on one another. She was my rock throughout my entire pregnancy and I was hers.
On February 16th we were both admitted to the hospital due to pre-term labor scares. We were terrified, to say the least, and it was uncanny how similar our pregnancies seemed to be. But the very next day I was sent home on bed rest. My best friend, however, after a long hard labor gave birth to a flawless little boy at 9:45 pm via emergency c-section. He was healthy and beautiful, weighing 6lbs 7oz and 19 inches long. I gushed at all the pictures she sent me. He was perfect in every single way and I couldn’t have been more proud of her. He was finally here.
Five days later, I got the most heartbreaking text I had ever received. She was on the way back to the hospital because he began to have trouble breathing. My heart dropped. He was admitted to the NICU where he was intubated and rushed to a children’s hospital. For five days I prayed all day and all night, but his condition kept getting worse. I begged and pleaded with God to let him be alright. Not a second went by where my best friend and her family weren’t in my thoughts. But somehow, I knew, he would make it. Because if he was anything like his momma, he was going to be a fighter.
But on February 27th, 2016 I woke up to the news that my best friend’s baby gained his angel wings and went home to be with his Creator.
I cried. I screamed. I couldn’t breathe. She was devastated. And I was devastated for her. She didn’t deserve this. No one ever does. I couldn’t comprehend why something so terrible could happen to someone so wonderful. How and why were questions I filled my head with daily? He can’t be gone, this can’t be true. I couldn’t believe it and I didn’t want to. I felt like I was in a nightmare. If I was hurting this much, I could only imagine what she was going through. A piece of her will always be lost, and I felt like there was nothing I could do to help her.
A couple months after, while browsing online I came across an event that was being held in Atlanta called A Walk to Remember. This was a walk dedicated to mothers who have lost. I attended the event on October 2nd in remembrance of my friend’s beautiful baby boy. To my dismay, I realized that there were SO many other mothers and families who have lost infants. During this event, hundreds of women gathered together to share their stories. I was completely shocked at how many mothers have experienced this kind of unbearable pain. It was heartbreaking, but also incredibly empowering to watch so many women support one another through such a devastating experience.
Statistics say about ¼ of women experience pregnancy and infant loss. That’s 25 percent. One in four. 25 out of 100. That’s a pretty large amount. So why it is something that we don’t hear about often? Why is it a forbidden territory to talk about? Why don’t I see more women honoring and uplifting these survivors of infant and pregnancy loss?
My best friend is the one in four. She, like many others who have lost, is going through something that NO MOTHER should ever have to experience. And I can only imagine the constant hurt that these women must feel. And although, they may not believe it – these women are strong. And I respect each and every one of them for their bravery and strength.
I am writing this post to honor all mothers who have babies with angel wings. I want to raise awareness of how common this unfortunate situation is. I want to honor my best friend and the ¼ of women who have miscarried, are battling infertility, gave birth to a stillborn, or brought home a bundle of joy only to give the blessing back to the Lord. I have felt her agony and it’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
I hope that if you are reading this, that you will honor these mothers with me. You don’t have to experience this type of loss, or even know someone personally who has, in order to understand it. And although, there is no amount of words that anyone can say to make it better; what we can do is send our love, thoughts and support their way.
As a community of women, it is so important for us to uplift one another during times like these. Together, let’s help these women stay strong and remind them that we care and their baby is not someone that will ever be forgotten. It is our job to remind them that they are not alone – even if they feel like they are. It’s our duty, as partners in womanhood, to help them keep their hope alive. Let’s remind them of how incredibly strong they are. Let’s vow to never let them grieve alone.
To the mothers who have lost – WE ARE HERE.
We are here to shed tears with you. We are here to embrace you. We are here to listen to you. We are here to pray with you. We are here to remember you and your angel baby. We are here to love you. Forever and always.