Awareness

I’m Teri. I’m one of the many faces of pregnancy loss. For those of you who don’t know, October happens to be Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This also happens to be the first time in my life that I knew there was a month dedicated pregnancy and infant loss awareness. This time last year, I was blissfully ignorant to anything related to pregnancy or infant loss.

I’m realizing the world can be split into two lines like a game of red rover. One line stands on the ignorant side of an issue and the other line stands firmly aware. One side cannot imagine how the other side feels. Not until the other side calls your name. Red rover, red rover, let Teri come over. Just like that I ended up on the other side. I’m really proud to say that once I made it to the other side I was surrounded by strong, beautiful people who welcomed me with warm embraces.

We all need to be more aware. Some could argue that people are becoming too sensitive and too easily offended. But I will argue that many people are not sensitive or thoughtful enough. I know now how hurtful words and actions can be, even if they are not intended to be hurtful. There have been situations I’ve found myself in recently that would not have bothered me at all in the past but now reduce me to tears and panic attacks. I’m talking small things. I don’t believe my reactions mean that I’m overly sensitive or easily offended. Because of recent events, I do take longer to carefully choose my words. I am slower to make judgements about situations. I’m more thoughtful about how my actions may affect someone.

It’s my hope that sharing my journey will increase awareness, will help other grieving parents, and help people learn how to support their loved ones who experience a loss.

Facts about pregnancy and infant loss:

  • Pregnancy and infant loss includes miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, and the death of a newborn.
  • Each year, approximately a million pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of the newborn child.
  • National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members and work to prevent causes of these problems.
  • Even if you never personally suffer the loss of a baby, you likely know multiple mothers who have experienced loss. According to the American Pregnancy Association, approximately 10 to 25 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and this statistic does not include pregnancies not verified in a doctor’s office, still births, and infant losses.
  • Dads especially need to be given the space and time to grieve as they often are not only grieving their child but also grieving over the pain of their wives.

Please read this full list of rights, and have them in the back of your mind should you or a loved one ever experience a pregnancy or infant loss. Here are some of the main rights to remember.

  • To be told all options and to be given the choice (when medically possible) on how to proceed when your baby has died, such as D&C, natural delivery or delivery induced by medications.
  • To see, hold, and take photos of your child.
  • To name your baby.
  • To request to have or not have an autopsy or pathology exam.
  • To bury your child in accordance with your family’s beliefs and rituals.
  • To be informed of the grieving process.

How can you help support a grieving friend?

  • Take the time to listen and understand your friend’s needs and wants.
  • Remembering the child at holidays and on anniversary dates.
  • Not minimizing the grief of baby loss or seriousness of medical problems.
  • It’s never wrong to say the words, “I’m so sorry for the loss of your baby. Is there anything that I can do for you?”
  • Accepting that grief is an individual experience and can’t be rushed or forced to fit another person’s expectations.
  • Any sentence that begins with the words “at least” needs to be reconsidered.

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