Today, October 15th is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. In fact, many don’t know but along with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October also remembers mothers who have lost during pregnancy and after birth due to reasons, not limited to, miscarriage, SIDS, stillbirth and infant death.
Although I have not lost a child, bringing awareness to this topic has become near and dear to my heart when my best friend lost her son at only 10 days old. Last October, I wrote a post dedicated to her and her son, called My Best Friend is the One in Four, (you can read it HERE). Every time this year, I will continue to use my blog to help raise awareness for mothers, like my best friend, who have lost. Their voices deserve to be heard and their babies deserve to be remembered.
One in four pregnancies will end in loss due to miscarriage, infant death or stillbirth. That means women of all different ages, sizes, ethnicities, and social statuses will, unfortunately, have to go through the loss of a child. Over the past week, I had the pleasure of speaking with the one in four.
A total of 27 mothers, with 27 different stories, remembering 34 angel babies. These women were brave enough to not only share their stories but also answer some questions to help break the silence of Pregnancy and Infant Loss. I invite you to read their words of advice and wisdom. I invite you to cry with them. I invite you to validate them. I invite you to encourage them. I invite you to be a shoulder for them to lean on. I invite you to make sure they never feel alone. And most of all, I invite you to remember their babies with them.
Here are their words. This is what they want you to know about Pregnancy and Infant Loss.
How should women (and men) break the silence on miscarriage and infant loss?
Talking to someone is the first step. It took me a long time to talk about my situation because I didn’t want to relive the moment I lost my babies. At my job, people ask me all the time, “do you have any kids?” I use that moment to tell my story. I tell them I have angels. They always ask me what I mean by that and that’s when I go into my story. It doesn’t bother me as much now to talk about my infant loss or miscarriage because it’s helping me grieve and tell their story to the world. I suggest counseling, or any type of group sessions. It’s nice to be around others that know your pain and know that you can relate to them. – Shanika, 26, Virginia
Shanika suffered both a miscarriage and infant loss. She miscarried during her first pregnancy and lost triplets during her second pregnancy. The first triplet passed away when Shanika was 4 months pregnant. The second, a son named Kamari Chambers, was stillborn at 5 months pregnant. Sa’Miyah Chambers, the third triplet, passed away 2 days after birth. Unfortunately, Shanika never got a chance to see Kamari because she was rushed into surgery. Both Kamari and Sa’Miyah were cremated.
Stop labeling the 2nd and 3rd trimesters as the safe zone. Sadly, there is no safe zone in pregnancy or in life. People should be proud to announce a new life being formed, whether it makes it outside the womb or not. Every story is beautiful! We shouldn’t be ashamed to share our babies’ stories because if they were living, we would share them. – Katy, 24, Texas
Katy is an angel mom to Brynne Willow. Brynne Willow grew her angel wings on July 19, 2017. Katy lost her sweet baby girl during birth. She was full term & had no complications pregnancy wise, although she does suffer from ulcerative colitis. Sadly, she has no answers as to what went wrong.
Some women and men simply don’t ever feel right talking about it. Each parent has to make their own peace with it, and that’s incredibly difficult. Breaking a silence like this, takes so much faith, confidence, and support. I have seen it tear couples apart. They shut one another out and try to go on with life like it never happened. But it did. And when you make peace with that, that is the moment that the silence is broken. Even 2 1/2 years later, I still feel guilt. When life is going good and I’m enjoying a day at the park, I feel guilty because Madison should be there with us. Parents struggle with that. It’s not something that is easy to accept. You don’t have good memories to hold onto. You are literally left with nothing but questions and pain. Fortunately for me, right or wrong, I have faith. Faith that I will see her again, I will hold her, I will hear that tiny little heartbeat again. – Christa, 32, Indiana
Christa is the mother of her angel baby, Madison, who passed away at 10 weeks old due to miscarriage. Every year Christa and her family release balloons to Madison with handwritten messages on them.
Parents of angels should break the silence of pregnancy and infant loss by not being afraid to talk about their angels. Remember they are a big part of who you are. Support other parents going through the same and encourage sharing your stories. We are not alone in this world. Our angels bring us together. – Nicola, 28, United Kingdom
Nicola lost her son, Conor, last year on August 7. Nicola’s water broke early for an unknown reason. After blood work, it was later discovered that she had septicemia. Her condition worsened and two days shy of 24 weeks, Nicola had to be induced to save her life. Although the doctor’s fought hard to save Conor’s life, he passed away at 12:33 am, 20 minutes after he was born.
What advice would you give to a grieving mother who is currently dealing with pregnancy or infant loss?
Infant loss sucks. It’s hard to go through whether it’s a miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDs, tubal etc. Because we all think, “what could I have done differently?” Some advice I was given was from someone dear to me. They said, even though I did not know what the gender of my baby was, to help grieve she said to think of what I thought it was and give the baby a name. She said it helped with her miscarriage. It does get easier, but the pain will always be with you, no matter what. I always say that it’s ok to cry, but to remember that when you have your rainbow baby, your angel has his/her hands on it at all times. – Lexi, 22, Virginia
Lexi suffered the loss of her angel baby due to an ectopic pregnancy in February 2014. In August of 2014 Lexi found out she was pregnant again with her now 2.5-year-old, Declan and she has another little boy named, Remington. Lexi says she knows her angel baby was looking out for both of them.
There is no right way or wrong way to grieve. There is no timetable that says when and how you should do things. Do what makes you feel better. That could be talking to a therapist or a friend. Going for a run or writing in a journal. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A lot of people will be awkward about it. It’s not their fault and they are not trying to be, but everyone deals with loss so differently that most don’t know how to handle it. Or what to say. It’s best to let the people around know what you need. – Tashina, 26, Wyoming
Tashina’s daughter, Brooklynn, was stillborn at 26 weeks due to a small part of the umbilical cord that was extremely twisted and unfortunately, cut off support. Tashina recently celebrated Brooklynn’s 4th Birthday.
Take it one day at a time because somedays are going to be harder than others. Some days you will feel like it’s ok to breath and go on with life and other days you will feel suffocated. But it is ok, it’s ok to smile sometimes and it is also ok to cry and be in denial other days because a part of you is not here anymore. A part of you is gone. The pain of a grieving mother is endless because as a mother you never stop loving your child. So, don’t feel ashamed of smiling and all the mixed emotions. Take it one day at a time. – Rosa, 23,Texas
Rosa’s son, Fernando, was born April 1, 2017. At 20 weeks of pregnancy, Fernando was diagnosed with CHD (congenital heart disease). The day Fernando was born he was also diagnosed with DiGeorge syndrome (a deletion on chromosome 22). After a successful surgery, Rosa later found out that Fernando also had a cancer tumor rapidly growing in his head. Fernando underwent surgery one day after another. He fought very hard for his life, but on July 19, 2017, he passed away in his daddy’s arms.
My best advice is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. There may be people who don’t like how you handle your grief – whether friends, family, or even other bereaved parents. (Yes, that happened to me. Someone said I was a “disgrace to angel mums” once.) Your grief is your own. If you feel like throwing yourself back into work is the right thing to do, do it! (Make sure you have an easy out though, just in case). If sobbing into your baby’s blankets is your coping mechanism, then you soak those blankets. Eventually, things do start feeling normal again. Really, the loss of your child becomes your new normal. It can look a lot like your old normal life, but the memory of your loss will carry on. Your grief will change, too. At times it’s a dark cloud, hanging over your head and muddying your mood. Other times, it’s a bright rainbow, reminding you that you survived the worst thing that can ever happen, and whatever else life throws at you is nothing. But really, there’s no answer that will fit for every family. – Tenielle, 31, Austraila
Tenielle’s son’s name is Ianto Jack Reid. He was stillborn at 32 weeks gestation in February 2010. Tenielle used her blog to chronicle her grief and her pregnancies with Ianto’s sisters. You can check out some of her posts at http://sweetsoftsmudge.blogspot.com/
My biggest piece of advice for a mother grieving is to take care of yourself. Lean on friends and family, it is going to be tough especially through the first year, I won’t say it gets 100% better but it gets a little easier if that makes sense. Make sure you take time to reflect on exactly how you are feeling and talk about it, don’t bottle it up. it may seem impossible, but you are strong and you will somehow get through this! – Julianne, 27, New Jersey
Julianne is the mother of her angel baby, Savannah Nicole. Savannah was stabilized and rushed to the NICU after being born non-responsive on July 15, 2015. After many days of testing, it was concluded that Savannah suffered a loss of oxygen and blood flow to her brain, better known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). On July 1, 2016, Savannah gained her angel wings. Julianne and her fiancé started a clothing company called Hold On, Pray Every day (HOPE), in honor of Savannah. Every month they donate a portion of their sales back to the hospital that helped Savannah. You can visit their website at www.holdonprayeveryday.com
Please take it day by day. It doesn’t get easier overnight. Do not push away loved ones that are trying to be there for you. As much as you don’t think you need them or they can’t help, they are what’s going to hold you together. Its ok to cry. Its ok to talk to your baby. Always remember your baby is watching over you and never wanted to make mommy and daddy cry. You are strong and no matter how bad you feel that day your baby/babies would want to see you smile. – Angel, 23, Ohio
Angel’s daughter, Khristoriah Lynn Newel, was born sleeping due to a knot in her cord on June 23, 2017. Khristoriah was Angel’s first baby after 7 years of trying. She will always be loved and remembered. As of today, Angel and her husband have found out they are expecting their angel baby.
Do what you have to to be able to get your self through this dark time. If u want to throw something do it. If you want to cry do it. Don’t let anyone tell you your not a mother. You are. Your baby grew inside of you. And you gave birth. Everyone is different. Your time to heal physically will be different than mine was. – Heather, 36, TX
Heather is the mother to angel baby, Bella Rose, who passed away when Heather was 12 weeks pregnant.
What advice would you give to someone who has a loved one dealing with pregnancy or infant loss?
Always be there for a shoulder to cry on. It’s hard to understand if you haven’t been through it, but everyone needs someone during that time. – Bri, 22, South Carolina
Bri experienced pregnancy loss in December of 2016. She describes it as a very dark time in her life, but she is glad that she has been blessed to be pregnant again with a baby girl. She refers to her loss as her angel baby.
Whether it be husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend family or whatever please just listen. I know it’s hard because it’s depressing and most people are not good in these situations but just pull up a chair or take her out to her favorite food place and eat and chat let her know she isn’t alone and can talk any time it bothers her to give her encouragement and reassure her that she will have a rainbow baby and it will help the pain and longing for a baby. And never make them feel like it’s their fault or something is wrong with them – Berry, 21, Tennessee
Berry experienced pregnancy loss in October of 2014 and August 2015 when she had two miscarriages back to back. Talking and sharing the story of her miscarriages has helped Berry realize that her babies were too perfect for this world. She knows God is keeping them to hold near and dear until she can see them again.
Give her time. She may not want to talk about it, that may be all she wants to talk about. Offer your support, even if it’s taking over her house chores for the day. Make sure she knows her baby is real and valid. Call him/her by their name if they were given one, acknowledge that it happened and that their baby was real. – Aly, 22, Idaho
Aly has her first miscarriage when she 19 years old and has, unfortunately, has two other since then. It wasn’t until after her last miscarriage that she got pregnant with her rainbow baby. She will be 20 months old this month.
Be present but not overbearing. Bring food or wine or just love. Don’t say it’s all going to be ok. It will never really be ok. But they can get through it!!! Be supportive. Take care of other children in the house. Wash the dishes. Just be there without being overwhelming. Give her a foot massage. Go for a walk together. Just be there. Having support that doesn’t expect for you to get over it or be ok is amazing and makes a huge difference. – Tessa, 36, Virginia
Tessa’s angel baby is named Lucy Grace. Lucy Grace passed away at 9 weeks old from SIDS on October 22, 2006. Lucy is still very much a presence of the family. She is terribly missed and very much loved. Her brother and sister speak of her often.
Be there the worst thing you can do is pull yourself away because you don’t know what to say to them the best thing you can do is just sit there with them let them cry to you, let them yell and scream – Lexis, 21, New York
Lexis’ son, Carter James Bergmark, passed away at 31 days old due to unknown causes. Carter passed away after his daddy finished singing, “My Old Man,” to him on July 8th, 2017.
Listen to them, hold them, let them know you are there no matter what. Please don’t tell them you know how they feel unless you went through it yourself. Please don’t make them feel like their emotions are not valid. This is a horrible journey that nobody should have to endure. Be kind and patient with anyone that you may come across that lost a child. – Tracey, 47, Florida
Tracey lost her angel baby, Blake Andrew Clark, 21 years ago to SIDS.
Silence can be golden. It is in our nature to try to say things that we feel will help a hurting person. But, if that person has not shared some of their most personal or intimate details, you may be adding salt to their wound. For example, some people would come up to me and say I can’t wait to see you wobbling down the aisle at church again or don’t worry you will get pregnant again. Well, what these hopeful well-wishers didn’t know was that I was experiencing difficulties getting pregnant again and that I had lost another pregnancy. So, their words were sending me into a greater depression. Second, do not rush that person to “get over it” or tell them they can “have another one”. This was a baby not a pair of shoes. We cannot simply replace our child. To be honest, we wanted this one. Encourage that person to take their time; however, if that person speaks of harming themselves or others have them seek professional help immediately. Third, if that person comes to you to talk. Listen and then respond if needed or warranted. Sometimes he/she just want to talk. They are not looking for you to solve anything. Fourth, please acknowledge the dad. Often, dads are overlooked. They are hurting too. Lastly, do not forget. The greatest thing one can do is never forget that we lost our precious baby. So, send a card near the infant’s birthday, send flowers, or call. These simple gestures speak volume. – Sanita, 41, Maryland
Sanita’s angel baby, Anaya Simone, was born at 28 weeks. Although Anaya was only here for a moment, she will be in Sanita and Antonio’s heart forver.
What advice can you give to a mother who is pregnant again after experiencing a miscarriage or loss of an infant?
As hard as it will be, try to enjoy this pregnancy. Each pregnancy is different. Thinking positive thoughts and meditating can really help. Find a great support team to help you. It also helps to have a fantastic doctor who will understand your worry and concern. – Michelle, 36, Arizona
Michelle’s daughter, Makenzie, was born prematurely as a micro preemie at only 28 weeks, weighing 1 pound 12 ounces. She lived for 85 days, all in the NICU. At 2-months-old, Makenzie caught a cold that turned to pneumonia. After 20 days of intense treatment and life support, she gained her angel wings and went to heaven.
The best advice I can give to an angel mom expecting her rainbow is this; take it all in. Cry, feel everything you need to. It’s scary being pregnant after a devastating loss. I was miserable and on edge for the entire pregnancy of my rainbow. The first time I felt her kick, I cried for hours because the last time I felt a real kick was my son. Find a doctor that is understanding, my doctor was amazing and sent me for as many ultrasounds that we both felt was necessary. – Jasmine, 29, Canada
Jasmine is the mother to angel baby, Abel, who passed away due Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. Jasmine loves speaking about Abel, just the same as does her other children.
Hang in there, don’t blame yourself because it ruins you mentally and emotionally. I blamed myself for so long and I shouldn’t have. – Danya Leigh, 24, Austraila
Danya is the mother of two angel babies, Tana and Jahmal Page, who passed due to miscarriage on December 25. Tana and Jahmal were two of triplets. Danya-Leigh now has her beautiful little miracle & survivor, Aleerah-Maree Tracey Page. She knows Jahmal and Tana Page are looking over their sister and the rest of their family.
Know that your rainbow baby pregnancy is another pregnancy from your loss. You cannot compare the loss with the new pregnancy. You can be vigilant, however, you cannot be over anxious during this pregnancy. You do not want to cause any unnecessary stress for yourself and your baby. – Trisha, 41, Michigan
Trisha is the mother of her son, angel baby Graeme (pronounced like Graham the cracker). Trisha got pregnant with Graeme via her second cycle of IVF. Unfortunately, at 23 weeks gestation, Graeme passed away on December 12, 2006. Graeme was stillborn, weighing 1lb and 10 inches long. His eyes were closed & he had dark hair. Trisha’s favorite part of her son was that he had her husband’s feet; they were the size of her thumb and identical to her husbands. Since then, Trisha has had 3 other failed IVF cycles, one that almost resulted in death. Although she wishes she was able to still love him alive, Graeme will always be in Trisha’s heart.
What are the best ways couple/partners can support one another after experiencing the loss of a child?
I think it’s important to understand that we grieve differently. Usually men try to be the stronger ones, to help their spouse/partner, but it’s important to understand that dads grieve and hurt as well but that doesn’t mean they want to talk about it all the time as women usually do. I remember hearing my husband speak at our daughter’s funeral and there was a lot of sadness at that time but then he quickly shut it off afterwards to be strong for me. We started visiting the cemetery weekly and we would not say a word but we were there together and it helped to have that support from him because at the end of the day, only a parent that has lost a child truly knows how it feels and when it’s the person you are with there’s an even stronger connection & understanding. – Marta, 36, Florida
Marta’s angel baby is Mia Bella Rose, she was born May 19, 2017, and passed away May 22, 2017. Mia was born very prematurely (26 weeks gestation) due to placental issues that caused growth restriction. She was a micro preemie, weighing less than a pound and just 10 inches long. She fought hard for 3 days in the NICU but doctors believe that she caught an infection that her little body just couldn’t fight. Marta has created Mia’s Mission, an organization in her name where she donates blankets, preemie sized hospital gowns, incubator covers, and bereavement items to the NICU where Mia lived. Her hope is to bring a little sense of normalcy to families during their NICU journey and peace & comfort to those that sadly don’t get a chance to bring their babies home.
Everyone processes and experiences loss in a unique way. The same is true for couples. The best advice I can give is to be supportive of your partner’s feelings and loss experience even if your feelings and your experience of loss are different. – Marianne, 40, Alabama
Marianne gave birth to triplets and unfortunately lost one of the three at only 3 weeks old. She believes in sharing her story of infant loss to keep her daughter’s memory alive.
Men and women grieve differently and it’s important to remember that. It’s also important to support each other’s ways of grieving and try not to get mad at each other if your partner doesn’t want to talk about what has happened, because it may be too hard for them. Just always remember the two of you are in it together. For men, they need to remember the grief for a mother is going to feel different because the mother carries the baby. They feel them inside of them, they birth them, they had a connection with that child from the moment they found out they were a possibility. That doesn’t mean that it is not difficult for men, it’s just a different type of difficulty. – Amanda, 31, Wisconsin
Amanda is the mother of her angel baby, Jayvin Anthony, who passed away at 10 days old due to a virus he caught shortly after he was born. Although Javyin’s time on earth was cut short, he is loved immensely and made such a huge impact on many lives. Jayvin leaves behind his mother, father, and big sister Jayla.
Support one another by going to a support group together. Also, talking to each other and just being there for one another as a team. – Brittany, 22, Missouri
Brittany’s son was 8 weeks old when he unexpectedly passed away on August 30, 2016. Hunter leaves behind his mother, father, two older brothers and one younger brother.
Stay communicating do not close each other off and remember each person grieves differently. I remember thinking, “How can he be over it!!??!! I’m crying daily and most nights. He cried one day and he’s done?!” I resented him for “not caring as much as I did.” I was angry. Then one day, without telling him, I moved our son’s urn to a new shelf. He came home with a friend and wanted to show them what urn we had picked. When he didn’t see it, he started yelling, “where’s the baby!?” As silly as this may sound to others it melted my heart to hear where’s him say baby and not urn. That’s when it hit me. He didn’t forget, he wasn’t over it. He was just grieving in his own way. I’ve learned most men in these situations try to stay strong for us, as if it’ll lessen our grief by covering theirs. As women we tend to need to cry, talk, ask questions and know every part of everything to process what’s happened. Whereas men seem overwhelmed by such raw emotions. Remember, explaining and respecting your needs to each other is important in getting through this. Let him have 20 more alone minutes in the garage tinkering and talk to her when she mentions your baby. RECOGNIZE what the other needs and RESPECT it. – Ashley, 31, Illinois
Ashley, 31, Illinois. Ashley lost her son, Attikus Francis, on August 23, 2017, due to a diagnosis of an incompetent cervix. Attikus was 17 weeks when he passed away. He leaves behind his mother, father, and 9-year-old sister.
I would like to thank all the mothers who participated in this blog post. I admire each and every one of you so much and I hope that I was able to represent you and your angel babies in a way that warms your heart.
If you are a Pregnancy and Infant Loss survivor looking for support from other mothers, please consider joining the following Facebook support groups: Infant Loss Support Group and/or The Healing Haven: For Mommies with Angel Babies. Both of these groups contain a community of women offering support & comfort to mothers who have lost.
If you or someone you know has suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss, please join in the national tribute by lighting a candle on October 15th at 7:00 pm and leave the candle burning for an hour.