8 Helpful Resources for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, but the entire month is dedicated to raising awareness.
At RMA Long Island IVF, we focus daily on helping infertile couples overcome their particular obstacles to biological parenthood. And while advances in assisted reproductive technologies like in-vitro fertilization, or “IVF”, have been the answer to the prayers of so many patients, there are some patients who have unfortunately suffered unspeakable losses along their journeys. Losses like ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, still birth, sudden infant death syndrome, and more. Whatever the cause or the timing, the unthinkable has happened. And the world cruelly expects you to go on.
No one should have to suffer the pain of losing a child and no one who hasn’t experienced such a loss first-hand could possibly understand it. For infertile people, that devastating grief --coupled with anxiety over whether they can-- or will even try to-- have a “rainbow baby” after their loss can be too much to bear without intensive support and healing.
In an effort to acknowledge the pain and raise awareness of pregnancy and infant loss-- and to support our patients and others who may be suffering-- we offer the following eight helpful resources*:
RMA Long Island IVF’s professional counselors. Sometimes, a professional therapist is the best option to help you after such an unbearable loss. As a practitioner in the RMA Long Island IVF Mind Body Program, Bina Benisch, R.N., M.S. is a uniquely-qualified counselor ready to support you through infertility and pregnancy and infant loss. She offers individual and group therapy sessions.
Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support An online community for anyone who experiences the tragic death of a baby. Share is a national organization with over 75 chapters in 29 states (including New York) that serves parents, grandparents, siblings, and others, including professionals who care for grieving families. It offers online and in-person support groups at several locations on Long Island.
For Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, Share hosts several events, including the global movement The Wave of Light. On October 15, 2019, at 7:00 pm local time, bereaved parents across the world will light a candle of remembrance for their babies who died too soon and leave it lit for an hour. According to Share, “if participants in countries around the world light a candle at 7 pm local time, keeping the candles lit for at least an hour, a Wave of Light will rise and propagate around the world for the whole day.”
Compassionate Friends. With a mission of supporting families after a child dies, Compassionate Friends is a national organization that provides bereavement materials specific to different types of loss and offers in-person support groups in your local area. If you plug in your zip code, you’ll be connected to a local chapter. Not counseling, but a bereavement support group of others who have experienced child loss, Compassionate Friends has multiple locations across Long Island, as well as sibling sub-groups.
StillBirthday.com Founded on the premise that “a pregnancy loss is still a birthday” this online and Facebook resource for bereaved parents covers pregnancy loss at all stages of pregnancy and birth. Each year, there is a free global event during October for National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month called StillBirthday Hearts Release where “tiny degradable hearts with our beloved babies names individually handwritten by Stillbirthday founder Heidi Faith” will be released by hot-air balloon in Lake Havasu City, Arizona on October 10, 2019. A separate, special ceremony is also planned the next day at the Grand Canyon. Contact the organization if interested in adding a name to a heart for free or for more information.
Still Standing Magazine This online magazine is exclusively related to “Surviving Child Loss and Infertility”. You can navigate your way through subjects like: Grief, Infertility, Parenting after Loss, Faith, Siblings’ Grief, Pregnancy after Loss, and more. Everything is written by someone who has somehow survived and is “still standing”.
Molly Bears. Started by an angel mom to comfort other families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss, Molly Bears creates and shares the gift of a weighted handmade bear. Recipients of these custom-made keepsakes may find some measure of comfort in having something soft to hold which can be made to order at the specific weight of the infant that was born sleeping or who passed shortly thereafter. Loved ones who are looking to do something for a grieving couple to acknowledge their loss and pain can inquire about a Molly Bear. This organization was started by a woman who was given a 3-pound weighted teddy bear by a good friend after her daughter, Molly, was stillborn at 34 weeks. For more information on volunteering, donating, or ordering see the site above.
Carlymarie Project Heal. A Baby Loss Community support group, available online and through Facebook. The moderator, Carlymarie, suffered the loss of her son, Christian. She hosts an annual free month-long “Capture Your Grief” event during October in honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month with 31 writing prompts one for each day for people to share a photo, artwork, written words and more in an effort to promote individual healing.
“Capture Your Grief is a Worldwide Community Project designed to help bereaved parents mindfully document their grief experience and discover other ways, perspectives and ideas on healing after the death of a baby or child of any age or gestation.”
FacesofLoss.com An online place that is “putting a face on miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss” by offering a space for those suffering to share their stories and help heal themselves while helping others feel less alone in their grief.
An internet search will reveal several sites that offer hand-made and/or customized jewelry, memory items, prints, and other things especially for those who are suffering infertility or from pregnancy or infant loss. Some people who have suffered a loss may find comfort in wearing a piece of jewelry or having an item that commemorates or acknowledges that lost life.
Other parents may find peace by creating a memorial or tribute for their lost child in the form of planting a tree, a memorial public or private garden, a scholarship fund, a charity foundation, and any number of other positive and beneficial acts. It is never too late to memorialize your baby when the time feels right.
These resources are offered merely as starting points for consideration in finding help and support in the processing of unspeakable grief and loss.
Those interested in raising awareness and getting a free memorial twibbon to use on social media during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month can access one here.
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If you have suffered from pregnancy or infant loss, do you have any advice to share or any resources to recommend to help others?
*RMA Long Island IVF has no affiliation with any of these seven other sites and offers them for informational purposes only. Use your own discretion when reaching out or considering making any purchase or donation.