The weather is breaking in southwest Ohio. Leaves are starting to turn and there is a crispness to the air. Flannel shirts, pumpkin spice everything, and pumpkins and gourds are everywhere.
Despite the fact that last Sunday, we spent the third official day of autumn sitting poolside and sunning ourselves, and as I cling tightly to summer by refusing to trade in my chacos for boots, I am still reminded that the change of seasons is inevitable.
I swear I blinked my eyes and September was gone. And now, here we are on October 1.
October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, first declared by President Ronald Reagan in October 1988. In his declaration, he said this:
“When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses his or her 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.”
Here’s the deal: Pregnancy and infant loss is hard. Really hard.
When we lost Alexander, we lost so much more than “just” a baby. We lost innocence. We lost hopes and dreams. We lost the almost fifteen month old that should be keeping us on our toes these days. We lost first days of school and birthdays and first communion and confirmation and graduations. We lost first steps and first words. We lost identity and purpose. We lost the opportunity to watch Alexander grow up and get married and have children of his own. We lost a lifetime.
Not only is pregnancy and infant loss an unimaginable pain, but it’s a hell of a lot more common than people think. It’s not just us, but it is us. And it’s our friends. And it’s more friends. And it’s more friends. It’s friends of friends. It’s people we pass in the grocery store. It’s classmates from high school. It’s people sitting next to us in church.
Pregnancy and infant loss is stillbirth, miscarriage, infertility, and so so much more.
It’s grieving mothers and fathers.
And it needs to be talked about. Because there are a lot of people who are suffering in silence, quietly grieving, and walking alone through the most tragic and difficult life imaginable.
So this month, I’m making a commitment to talk about it.
Next Saturday, Scott and I will be walking the Lydie’s Loop: Steps Against Stillbirth 5K in memory of Alexander. We would like to invite our family and friends to join us by walking with us on Team Alexander, either in person or through the virtual walk, or by making a donation to support research, advocacy and awareness about stillbirth through the Ohio Chapter of the Star Legacy Foundation. Our team’s goal is to raise at least $500 (up from our original goal of $300!).
Throughout this month, I will be sharing a little bit extra about the realities of stillbirth and PAIL, because it’s important and because it helps me to honor Alexander and parent him in the only way I can. I hope you’ll join me in breaking the silence.