Tomorrow Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month comes to a close. But before October ends, I want to take a moment and reflect on this emotional remembrance and do my part to add to the awareness of miscarriage, pregnancy loss and infant death. I truly believe it is important to have this time to stop the rest of the world and make the voices of loss heard.
Of course, as always, my family participated in the OC Walk to Remember in honor of the steps our babies will never take. It was an emotional event just as in years past, but what really struck me was just how big the event has become since we first took part 3 years ago. There were so many new faces, new names read aloud. The crowd was noticeably larger and the funds raised to support local NICUs and baby loss support groups was quite impressive. I really am thrilled to know that we helped to support such an amazing cause but I still really don't know how to feel about how much the walk has grown in these past few years.
The thought I wanted to hold on to and the one Chad kept steering me toward, was that the walk's growth is a good thing. More families than ever who have suffered the loss of their precious little ones are getting the support and the resources they need to grieve, to honor and cherish their babies. The walk's growth means that so many who may have been carrying their heartbreak alone for so long, now have found a place where they can celebrate their baby, hear their name, cry openly and do something positive for others who are going through the same. And the sheer number of supportive family and friends who accompany these grieving parents, holding their hands, shedding their own tears and honoring their lost sons and daughters alongside them is enough to make anyone's heart swell. Clearly, the walk, the entire Month itself, is fulfilling one very important mission in raising awareness of loss and increasing the love and support for those that experience it.
I tried my best to only think about these many positive aspects of seeing so many new faces among the ever-expanding crowd this year, but I couldn't help knowing better. I knew that many of these new faces meant new losses and for that my heart broke over and over again. I still carry and honor every single one of the names I wore last year. This year, I sadly had many new precious ones to add to that list. My little community has suffered far too much and I pray every day that no more will come, that the most recent loss will be the last. But no matter what happens I will always, always honor and remember. It is the least I can do.
And I can hope. I can keep reaching out for that light amongst the darkness. I can celebrate the sweet boy born just before 25 weeks gestation fighting and growing in the NICU. I can cheer for the amazing little boy home with his parents and big brother after the devastating loss of his twin sister in utero. I can rejoice for the friend who has reached full term with a healthy baby boy after the gut-wrenching goodbye she said to his twin halfway through her pregnancy. I can praise the amazing nurses and staff at NYU Medical Center who safely evacuated 20 infants from the NICU after the hospital lost power during Hurricane Sandy (story here). I can support those who are finding their way after a loss. Hold their hands as they try to bring their rainbows into the world or stand with them if they decide not to pursue another pregnancy.
It breaks my heart into a million pieces to think of anyone ever suffering the devastating loss of a child. I still cry for each miscarriage, each lost baby and I wish more than anything that no one would ever have to go through such pain. And yes, knowing what I know about how fragile these things are, seeing loss after loss, does give me trepidation when I consider trying to conceive again one day, but I would still never turn away from this community. Because what I have learned is that it is not just loss or grief we can find here, there is hope, there is love, there is life. Grieving is living, contrary to what many will have you believe. Crying, wailing, mourning, whatever form it takes, it honors the life we miss. My grandmother shared with me recently the stories of her two stillborn sons and the grief she still feels. She wears their birthstones on her mother ring right alongside her other six children and remembers them every day with love. I know that losing her boys shattered her heart and that she, like all parents who have lost, will always miss those pieces. But seeing how those that have experienced loss honor their children in the amazing ways that they live life is truly awe-inspiring.
For those that have lost babies, I know your hearts ache all year long. Please know that while October has been a month for the nation to be made aware of the reality of Pregnancy and Infant Loss, so many of us also ache all year along with you and we remember, love and honor every day.