October is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. On 10/15, people around the world will light candles in remembrance of babies gone too soon creating a “Wave of Light”. Two Newtown Moms have created a Virtual Event on Facebook for this year’s Wave of Light. Their hope is to create community, connection, and support for those who have experienced a loss. All are welcomed to light a candle. Kathy Gardner, one of the organizers of this year’s Northern Fairfield County Wave of Light contributed the below.
Northern Fairfield County Wave of Light to Foster Connections for Local Baby Loss Moms
By Kathy Gardner, Newtown Mom
Stillbirth happens much more often than most people realize, occurring one in 160 pregnancies, amounting to 70 babies every day and approximately 26,000 babies each year. Experts have referred to stillbirth as the most understudied issue in medicine today. While progress has been made to bring stillbirth out of the darkness, most families still lack the support and understanding they need after their babies die.
As part of October’s National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, at 7pm local time on Thursday, October 15, people around the world will light a candle on behalf of the babies gone too soon in a Global Wave of Light. This year, fellow Newtown loss mom Jessi Ruotolo and I have organized a virtual event page on Facebook for Northern Fairfield families.
This page is designed for local families and friends to have a space to share pictures of their candles burning, pictures of their children, to speak their babies names, and also hopefully connect and support one another. For example, a mom saw the event posted on Newtown Neighbors Unite and has already contacted me — her son was stillborn just a couple months before my daughter was stillborn. She lives on the same street as me, and we never even knew the other one was a stillbirth sister. This is why this event, and others like it, are so critical in fostering connection around an issue that remains extremely shrouded in silence. This page is also an opportunity for friends to show their support to the families whose babies have died.
Later term pregnancy loss is in the news right now because unfortunately Chrissy Teigen’s baby recently died about halfway through her pregnancy. A very public figure, her openness in sharing pictures of her baby and the raw pain of her experience has been met with mainly support, but also very unkind and ignorant comments. That even one person thinks a picture of a dead baby is “gross” demonstrates the need for education and de-stigmatization around stillbirth and infant loss. For baby loss families, a few pictures of our baby is all we have, and they are meant to replace a lifetime of memories.
In 2018 Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal proclaimed Oct 15 Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day in Newtown. This year, Edmond Town Hall will light up in blue and pink lights the week of Oct 11 to also help raise awareness and honor the babies gone too soon. It is our hope that these activities will help de-stigmatize pregnancy loss so that families not only feel like they can freely speak their babies’ names on Oct 15, but that they can also talk about the babies they’ve buried on all the other 364 days of the year.
If you have lost a baby at any stage, my heart aches profoundly for you. Our babies matter, our grief matters, our love matters. They are always with us. We will always miss them. They are part of our families. On Oct 15 let us light a candle for them, and always, ALWAYS feel free to #speaktheirnames.
About Kathy: Kathy’s daughter, Tinsley, was stillborn on Dec. 4, 2017 at 32 weeks because of an umbilical cord accident. Kathy manages the Peer Companion Program for the NY Metro Chapter of the Star Legacy Foundation and writes about her experience as a stillbirth mom at https://ltop.blog/. Kathy lives in Sandy Hook with her husband Charlie, sons Charlie, James, and Henry, and is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her 5th child in December.
About Jessi: Jessi has lived in Newtown, CT for a year. Jessi and her husband Joe’s first child, Luca Gabriel, was born still at 34 weeks due to Trisomy 18 in Okinawa, Japan on June 5, 2015. They had received a fatal diagnosis one month prior. Jessi and Joe also have a one-year-old daughter and four-year-old son. Jessi has written about her experience on her blog at https://livingforluca.wordpress.com/