As many people know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you can’t go anywhere without seeing pink, but did you know it is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month as well? Not many people are made aware of this unless a loss has personally touched them in some way.
In 1988 President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as the National Awareness Month for infant and pregnancy loss, it wasn’t until 1991 that the Susan G. Komen Foundation started handing out pink ribbons. I would like to know why this cause has grown so much attention around the nation but infant loss has not.
Too many families grieve in silence, sometimes never coming to terms with their loss. I think as a country we feel uncomfortable talking about pregnancy and infant loss because it is such a taboo subject and with abortion being legal, people devalue the life of an unborn child. When is an unborn baby a baby? When the mother wanted and loved the pregnancy but lost it to miscarriage, or when the girl who becomes pregnant and decides she cannot be a mother so she has an abortion? That is a tricky question and I’m not here to judge! I personally know women who have had an abortion only to regret it the rest of their lives and grieve daily for that loss as much as a “planned” miscarriage.
One in four women will experience a pregnancy loss. National statistics reported by the Center for Disease Control in 2000 said that 15.6% of pregnancies were lost, according to a study that tracked 222 women from conception through the first 6 weeks of their pregnancy. I feel as though we need better studies to find out why this happens, not only 6-week pregnancies, but to full term babies who die without a known cause.
I am not saying that breasts do not matter, I am saying that pregnancy and infant loss MATTERS just as much! This country needs to be made aware of this cause, want to help find a cure, and do better studies to find out WHY this happens, many people do not care until it happens to them or a loved one.
I have worked with families who grieve for their lost babies. Mothers and fathers grieve for the 6-week fetus just as much as the family who lost a full term baby. They all had hopes and dreams of what would come. Would she look like her momma? Would he play ball like his dad? WIll he/she be a lawyer, a doctor, etc? Those hopes and dreams come to a halt when those dreaded words are spoken: "I AM SORRY THERE IS NO HEARTBEAT!" Those families were parents from the first positive pregnancy test, I know some people will argue with me, but that is my belief.
These families like to talk about their pregnancies, their beautiful baby that died, he/she had a name, and he/she had curly blonde hair, dimples in his/her cheeks like his papaw. Don’t be afraid to speak to these grieving parents, it gives them comfort to know that you care and that their child did exist and was loved.
I hope to one day see pink and blue ribbons hanging beside all the pink ribbons and know that people care and want to be made aware of infant and pregnancy loss.