|October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month|
In 1988 October was declared Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in the United States with a Presidential Proclamation from Ronald Reagan (see below for a short history of the month). This month is dedicated throughout the world to raising awareness of infant and pregnancy loss and to honouring and remembering babies and infants who died due to miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, SIDS and all infant deaths.
The growing energy to join in the global "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month" can help us all in our efforts to make a difference for families who have had babies die and to do our best to reduce the risk and the numbers of these bereaved families over time.
Various activities, walks, and services are held across the globe on different days throughout the month in support of this cause. To learn what activities organizations, groups, hospitals, and individuals are organizing throughout the world, visit www.pregnancyandinfantloss.org.
The site will also tell you about the Wave of Light candle vigil on October 15th, something everyone can participate in. A short list of events is provided below.
In September, 2008, ISA officially launched our ISA World Circle of Loved and Remembered Babies as part of the many events held throughout this month. This is a wonderful way to remember a loved baby, support others in their grief journey, and to raise awareness and understanding about stillbirth in the broader community.
By Sherokee Ilse, Minneapolis, Minnesota
As one of the creators of October as our Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in the US, I was recently asked by the ISA Parent Advisory Committee to write about the history for our newsletter and to put it up on the ISA website. I agreed wholeheartedly, and then began to wonder if my memory could really recapture it accurately.
Thankfully, I recently found the entire set of ‘Loving Arms’ Newsletters from the national organization I co-founded in 1983, the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Center (the Center closed its doors in 2002). The newsletters chronicled the story, and now I will share a shortened version of the history. (May I suggest that those of you who have similar missions may want to consider writing down your group’s history. You just never know when you might want to recall it only to find the memories have become fuzzy.)
1983 - During the first year of the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Center’s (PILC) existence, plans were made to select a week in October and call it our First Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Week. I specifically chose October because the SIDS Alliance had previously made October SIDS Awareness Month, and I had hopes that one day we could work with them, learn from them, and benefit from their fine work in promoting SIDS and seeking causes and preventative strategies. (Happily, that time has arrived and they have adopted stillbirth as a serious cause helping to elevate it nationally in the legislature, in scientific circles, and elsewhere).
With the teamwork of our Assist. Director, Susan Martinez and our volunteer staff and board of over 50 people, we secured the first Governor’s Proclamation in the nation when Governor Perpich named October 1-7 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Week.
We held our first Memorial Service, a fundraising event, and two training sessions during that week. And we decided that one week was not enough time. We committed to make it the entire month of October the next year.
Our purpose and goals at the time were to – Reach out to more bereaved family and friends and to teach the world about this type of pain and encourage them to be good care providers and supportive family and friends.
1984 – We invited groups and organizations in all other states to join in this idea, but we expanded it to the entire month of October. Many groups throughout the United States did, indeed, use the month for special activities.
1985 – We were not satisfied with each state doing their own Awareness Month. Instead, we began banging the drum for a Nationally recognized month. The National slogan we put forth was – When Pregnancy Fails, we are here, we care. We worked hard with the media and had good success locally, regionally and even had a few national opportunities. The SHARE organization, Springfield, Illinois, joined the effort and helped tremendously by having people around the US write and visit their Congressmen.
1986 – RTS of La Crosse, WI (Rana Limbo and Sara Wheeler) sponsored a National Perinatal Bereavement Conference (the first was held in Mpls, MN in 1983). Prior to that conference, we worked with the RTS team and came up with the idea to hold the first “Walk to Remember” at the conference. In addition, we encouraged groups throughout the country to also hold such walks during the month. The purpose of the walks was to remember those special babies who had died and to promote education, awareness, and support.
We also began to seek a Presidential Proclamation.
1987 – PILC led a massive drive for the Presidential Proclamation and held a National Awareness Event in Washington, DC. Hundreds of people marched down the Mall towards the Capital carrying 500 baby quilts from all over the country and Canada. A beautiful Memorial Service was held, organized by Connie Furrh and her Okalahoma team on the Capital steps where all the quilts were displayed. Sadly, no press attended the press conference, but the seeds were sown for big things as groups worked tirelessly around the country with their legislators seeking the Presidential Proclamation.
1988 – President Ronald Reagan issued the long-awaited proclamation on October 25, 1988. (visit www.pregnancyandinfantloss.org to see the Presidential Proclamation wording). The celebration would have to wait until the next year, given when it was issued.
1989 – The activities throughout the land grew with the first official declaration for the October National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
1999 – Robyn Bear and Lisa Brown began a grassroots campaign and found state leaders for every state in the USA.
1999-2003 – Robyn Bear, Lisa Brown and 50 state leaders around the country succeeded in receiving Governor Proclamations in EVERY STATE proclaiming October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
2006 – Robyn Bear began promoting the October 15th Wave of Light after receiving Governor Proclamations from all 50 States around the USA . The creative Wave of Lights concept asks everyone to light a candle at 7 pm for one hour in their time zone on October 15th which will result in a wave of light around the globe honoring all babies who have died.
September 28, 2006 – Robyn Bear, along with the help of Congressman Tom Latham succeeded in having House Resolution # 222 passed in the House of Representatives supporting the goals and ideals of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
2008 – Robyn Bear and her website expand their mission and offer to be the official collector of all pregnancy and infant loss events during October throughout the world. When people want to know what is going on in their community or in some other country they need only go to: www.pregnancyandinfantloss.org to find out.
We invite you all to join us in seeking worldwide recognition for the Month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and October 15th as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day which is intended to promote the Wave of Light Celebration
(7-8 pm in every time zone, light a candle to honor all babies who have died.)
For a full list of activities and events please visit www.pregnancyandinfantloss.org
Also, please visit our members page for links to organizations who have participated in Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.