Every year, 26,000 babies are stillborn in America. In 2003, one of them was my son.

Monday, October 17, 2011

This Looks Like Progress

I'm hesitant to say it, simply because I'm a cynic and because the issue of stillbirth, and raising awareness and working towards prevention of stillbirth, is so dear to my heart. However, I've been impressed and surprised to see a little more awareness of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month in more traditional media venues, acknowledged by people and groups we've actually heard of.

For example, on Facebook, as well as on their website, the natural cleaning products company Seventh Generation posted a note about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, October 15th, in recognition of the millions of women who lose a baby every year. Would we have seen that a year or two ago? I think not, though I am curious as to what, if anything, prompted the company to add such a post to their wall. I am both surprised and very grateful to them for mentioning the day itself. It gives me hope and makes me feel proud that I have used their products in the past. Not sure if they are here in England, but if they are, I will be supporting them as a customer again.

The Washington Post included a blog post about October 15th in their online forums in a column by Janice D'Arcy. I can't say if this ran in the print version of the paper, but I'm pleased that it ran in online under the headline of one of the US's larger papers (so many notices are in small venues; this one is likely to pick up more notice).

If you get a chance and feel so moved, thank the people and companies you see making an effort to acknowledge stillbirth. These are small but positive steps in the right direction, and they deserve our thanks if we are to continue making strides in education about grieving and loss.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stillbirth Statistics

From the recent series of articles printed in the British medical journal The Lancet, which coordinated a study with the World Health Organization:
  • 2.6 million third-trimester stillbirths worldwide each year;
  • 1.1 million could be prevented, The Lancet estimates, with simple interventions like folic acid supplements before conception, diabetes management in the mother, and detection of hypertension, among others;
Stillbirths are an invisible public health epidemic, with no national or global initiative to track or prevent.

I don't speak out because I am grieving, or because I am depressed, or because I am dwelling on the fact that Ben is dead. I speak out because I love him, and because if more people know that almost 50% of stillbirths can be prevented, if society has the will to research, fund, and educate the population, (as with SIDS research and education), we can make a huge difference in many, many lives. We can spare parents the sorrow my family has experienced.

Let me make it clear: yes, I still grieve for my son, it's only natural. There are a lifetime of moments I will never experience with him. I miss him, always, every day. I'm here now because I want to make a difference, not because I am dwelling in my loss. You don't get over it, but you learn to incorporate it into your life. That's what I've done.

I can make a difference. That's why I'm here.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

It's that time again...October. I wasn't going to bring it up, much, over here, but today I was reminded, yet again, that I am supposed to be over losing Ben.

And so, let me ask you this, those of you who think I should be "over" it. If your husband of 40 years died tomorrow, how soon would you be over it? If your 3-year-old grandchild died next week, how soon would you be over it? If your 35-year-old son died today, how soon would you be over it? Do you not think you would carry it with you for the rest of your days? Do you think you would not think about that particular beloved every day?

I lost one of the three best things I have ever done. And I will talk about him (though I barely talk about him I know you think I dwell on his absence far too much) because I love him. And he is my child every bit as much as the two I have here, living and breathing. And if talking about Ben, and advocating for stillbirth research and support can change the outcome positively for that 50% of babies whose lives might be saved, then no, I will never get over it.