A Look Back at October

DSC_1493pregnancy.awareness.monthOctober is a special month. Many people connect October to the beautiful colors, wonderful fall food, decorative mums and pumpkins, and Halloween as reasons for it being special. But, for many others it is special because it is Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Like most people, I didn’t realize this even existed, nor did I understand its significance. Sadly, in our society, miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss are not topics which are readily accepted in day to day conversation. Yet, in the United States alone, 15-20% of all verified pregnancies end in miscarriage each year, nearly 30,000 pregnancies will end in stillbirth, and about 90,000 children will die before their first birthday (statistics source). This is just for the United States alone!!! With numbers of loss being as high as they are, and the number of families affected by loss, I find it extremely sad that discussion about loss makes people so uncomfortable.  October is special, because it allows families who have lost children to have a small platform to speak openly about the child they have lost. The child they wanted. The child they love. The child they miss. The child they wish they could speak openly about during the other 11 months of the year. (Now, if you know me personally, you know I am very bold in speaking about my son, the details of his condition, my thoughts surrounding his loss, his amazing story of donation, my memories of him, and how I am feeling in the moment. You know I will do this not only with those of you who are my friends, but also my co workers, acquaintances, complete strangers, and basically anyone who has ears… And yes, I realize this is not normal; yes, I realize it makes some of you uncomfortable, and yes, I realize this is typically considered a social taboo… and no, I’m not going to stop). I hope that one day that families will be able to speak openly about the ones they have lost year round, and that society will embrace those walking through this journey rather than shun them. I am thankful for October because October brings healing for families and lets them share with pride about their special little one. Special love to all the mothers in the miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss community.

I also find October allows me to shine a light on the importance of donation. Donation is all about saving lives. Neonatal donation is about saving lives of babies and helping the horrible statistics of infant loss go down. Regardless if donation occurs for transplant or research, donation is an amazing gift with the same goal of preventing heartbreak for another family. Although heartbreak is inevitable for the family who will be donating, it can bring amazing joy and healing to them as well knowing that the gift of donation will prevent this pain for another family.

I am happy to say that during October I was able share the stories of 4 little ones whose families created a lasting legacy through the purposeful gift of donation. I am so honored to share these stories during such a special month. May we remember these little ones and be thankful that their families who made the choice to bring down the statistics of infant loss. (Anna Vittoria’s Story, Amelia’s Story, Annie’s Story, Palmer’s Story)

As we enter November and the holiday season begins, I challenge you to be gentle with the members of the miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss community. Let these families share about their little ones who have passed and speak openly about them. Let the specialness of October to overflow into the rest of the year.


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