One of my favorite months! The beautiful colors, the oppressive heat finally turning into sweatshirt weather, scary movies and cozy evenings with your favorite soup. But, for me, this month also has a special, yet somber meaning. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Awareness month. In 2019, I lost my first babies. My twin boys, Walker and Sawyer, passed away due to my body going into premature labor at 22 weeks. Heartbreakingly, they were too young to survive. Their short little lives forever impacted mine. So, I use October to spread awareness about pregnancy and infant loss.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss affects every 1 in 4 women. ONE in FOUR! That means, every day, nearly 72 women are experiencing the loss of baby. In just Ohio alone, approximately 47,000 babies are lost before 20 weeks, with an additional 900 lost after 20 weeks. On top of that, nearly 1,000 babies will lose their lives within the first year. These numbers will forever send shivers down my spine. For many of us, the second we see a “positive” pregnancy test, we start dreaming of a future for our babies. What will we name them? What should we make their nursery theme? What will they look like? Therefore, a loss at any point can be so devastating and life changing.
How to Help Someone Going Through Loss
With the odds of 1 in 4, if you have not been directly affected by loss, I would be willing to bet you know someone who has gone through it. So, why is the subject of pregnancy and infant loss so taboo? Why is it not often talked about? Why do people shy away from helping PAIL parents through their grief? I can’t say for sure, but I think a large part of it is because it makes people uncomfortable, and they do not know what to do or say.
Let me start by saying, don’t put so much pressure on yourself to say or do the “right” thing—NOTHING will take the pain away, so nothing you say is going to “fix” this problem. A “I’m so sorry for your loss” will suffice if you aren’t really sure where to begin. Also, never underestimate the importance of simply being there for them. Even if you’re sitting in silence with them, your presence can mean the world. Here are some special ways to help someone who is going through a fresh loss or whose loss has been years ago:
-Say their babies’ names-Remember their baby’s birthdate/date they passed and send them a message on that day
-Ask them about their babies and/or pregnancy
-Validate that they are a mother, even if they don’t have a baby in their arms
-Make them a meal
-Give special keepsakes with their baby’s name and/or quotes memorializing their loss
-Make a donation or do a random act of kindness in honor of their baby
-Send them a message just to check up on them from time to time, especially after the initial shock has worn off
-Join them for an event they will be attending to remember their babies (there are often events throughout the month of October for PAIL awareness)
-Light a candle for their babies on October 15 at 7pm locally, which is the International Wave of Light. This is an event that is celebrated across the globe, where people light a candle in honor of all babies gone too soon, as a way to honor and remember them
When my sons died, I promised them their little lives would not be in vain. One of the ways I hold up my end of the bargain is by making others aware about Pregnancy and Infant Loss. With so many mamas affected by this, we need to make sure they don’t have to suffer in silence. Sending all of my love to those who have walked a journey of loss.
“I cannot think of anyone stronger than a mother who has lost her child and still breathes” – Robyna May