We turned a calendar page this morning, and October beckons. Fall with its pumpkins, crunchy leaves, and brisk air. Stores are already stocking Christmas decorations. Pink is showing up everywhere for Breast Cancer Awareness. And pink and blue ribbons are beginning to show up on social media venues.
Pink and blue — for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, recognized since 1988, with October 15 designated Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
Until you or a loved one has been touched by the loss of a baby, it can be hard to believe that in 21st century America, stillbirth still happens, but it does, in about one out of every two hundred pregnancies. Miscarriage (the loss of a baby before twenty weeks gestation) is far more common, occurring in about 15% of all pregnancies. Put it all together, and the accepted statistic is that one in four women have experienced the loss of a baby in pregnancy.
Pregnancy loss is a devastatingly common occurrence — and yet, it is one that makes the woman experiencing it feel so terribly alone. In part, the feelings of loneliness occur because it is so seldom spoken of in public, being considered a private loss — it is a loss without recognition, without concrete memories and mementos, without culturally accepted rites to say good-bye.
I have walked this road five times, now — three losses between my two living children, and two more in the years after my son was born. Only with my first, my daughter Naomi lost at 18 weeks, did we have a funeral. With my others, I cried at home . . . and then went on. Nothing to bury, nothing concrete to mourn, although in each case, I was very aware of what exactly I had lost — not my “pregnancy,” not “products of conception,” but my child. And the future I had expected to have.
Thankfully, the aloneness that parents feel after a loss is beginning, ever so slightly, to dissipate as more and more people dare to speak publicly about miscarriage and stillbirth, and provide places and ways to come together and find others on the same road. Here in the Midlands are several events this year where you can meet others at different places on the journey called Loss. All are free of charge.
— Monthly Support Groups —
Date: Thursday, October 13, 2016
Time: 7 – 8:30 p.m.
A support group for parents who have experienced the loss of a miscarriage, stillbirth or early newborn death. Meets in the North Tower of Lexington Medical Center on the second Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. For more information, contact Corrine Barbian at 803-781-1003.
Date: Thursday, October 13, 2016
Time: 6:30–7:45 p.m.
Naomi’s Circle has two support groups meeting at the same time. The Parenting/Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) group is for women who have experienced one or more losses, and are either pregnant or have another living child (born before or after loss). Women without living children are welcome, but babies may be present.
The HOPE Group is for couples who have experienced a recent loss, whether or not they have living children. No minors come to HOPE group meetings. Both groups meet at Spring Valley Baptist Church in the Platt Educational Building on the 2nd Thursday of the month, from 6:30 – 7:45 p.m. Sometimes the groups meet together and sometimes separately, depending on the needs of those present. This month, the groups will meet together and we will have a special time of remembrance and candlelighting. Free childcare is available without advance registration, but knowing that you are coming helps us plan. For more information, write to [email protected] or call 803-728-1162. If you cannot come but would like a candle lit in memory of your baby, you may email this request.
Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Meets at Palmetto Baptist Hospital at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month for parents who have experienced infant or pregnancy loss. For more information, contact Rosalie Blair at 803-296-5636.
Ongoing – see the Naomi’s Circle Events Calendar for additional information.
— Special Events —
Date: Thursday, October 13, 2016
Time: 6:30 – 7:45 p.m. (during the regular Naomi’s Circle Support Group meeting)
Meets at Spring Valley Baptist Church (91 Polo Road) in Northeast Columbia in the Platt Education Building (which is accessible from the lower parking lot). This event is free and no preregistration is required. Free childcare (provided by trustworthy, screened workers) is available, but please let us know you need this if you are not a regular attender so we can have sufficient coverage. For more information, contact Kristi Bothur at [email protected].
Date: Saturday, October 15, 2016
Time: 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness/Remembrance Day, a national day for parents of angels to join together and take time to remember our darling babies. At 7 p.m., in ALL time zones, parents throughout the country will light a candle in remembrance of babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, and all other causes of infant loss. Know that you are not alone, that we are in this together. Join us to help create awareness, to find support and also offer support to parents and families affected by infant loss. Feel free to share pictures of your angel and your candles on October 15!
Healing Grace Childbirth Services hopes to raise awareness about pregnancy and infant loss and are including an awareness table (brochures, resources, books, educational materials). Proceeds from this event will go directly to providing support to families affected by pregnancy or infant loss. We are hoping to find a few businesses to help sponsor this event, helping to provide light refreshments to the families that will be joining us on that evening. This event will include tables highlighting the bereavement services available to the area, a raffle and give-away, free goodie bags on a first-come first-serve basis, and much more! RSVP here.
— Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Sunday —
Date: Sunday, October 16, 2016 (although can be held any Sunday in October)
Recognized by various churches around the Midlands as a time to stand alongside families impacted by pregnancy loss and early infant death by doing three simple things:
- Place a bouquet of yellow roses on the church altar. If you would like, consider including a label on each one with the Naomi’s Circle website to provide more information for bereaved parents, or add this information to your bulletin.
- Announce in the bulletin, “The bouquet of yellow roses on the altar is in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and in prayerful support of all families touched by such a loss.”
- From the pulpit, at an appropriate time in the service, invite anyone touched by this kind of loss to come to the altar after the service and take a rose home. If this is done earlier in the service, remind them again before dismissal.
To invite your church to participate, see Naomi’s Circle for additional information.
— Memorial Walk —
Date: Sunday, October 9, 2016
Time: 3 p.m.
This memorial walk, sponsored by Palmetto Health Richland and Palmetto Health Baptist, is for all parents, families and friends who have been touched by the loss of a pregnancy or death of an infant. No preregistration is necessary, and there is no charge to participate. Meet at the Laurel Street entrance to Riverfront Park. In case of rain, the service will be held at the Palmetto Health Baptist Auditorium at 1501 Sumter Street in downtown Columbia. If you would like to meet up with the Naomi’s Circle group, contact [email protected] for details on where to meet. For more information, call Rosalie Blair at Palmetto Health Baptist at 803-296-5636, or Leitha Morgan at Palmetto Health Richland at 803-434-8454.
If there is another special event for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month that you would like to share with others, please tell us about it in the comments. If you have said good-bye to a child, and would like to share his or her name, or just “Baby ____”, on our Forever Loved Wall, please feel free.
When we step into the light and share our stories, we help others feel less alone, and we realize that we are not alone either.