Community Howard Regional Health is giving Howard County residents a chance to join an international day of remembrance for infant or fetal loss.
On Oct. 15, National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, a ceremony will be held at Millennium Park gazebo from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. There will be a candle lighting and opportunity for families to honor a life they lost in pregnancy or after birth.
Elisa Rose, a chaplain at the hospital, said she hopes the event will offer some healing to families.
“Grief is not something you get over like a cold. Grief is part of your life that becomes part of you, and this recognizes that for women, for families, for dads because it’s not only a woman who loses a baby, not only a woman who suffers the grief in the death of a new infant,” she said. “So we want to be able to allow that grief to be recognized and to help them in whatever way is possible, whether if it’s helping someone who was going through that grief immediately or is living with that grief over many years.”
Since at least 2013, the hospital has held a small ceremony in the chapel, but, this year, Rose is hoping to involve more people in the community through the public event. The ceremony, she said, gives people a chance to remember their infant and be around others experiencing similar situations.
“We are a mobile society, and people carry a loss with them. People grieve different and especially in situations where you are grieving the loss of a child or grieving the loss of a pregnancy. For a lot of people, it’s still the idea that this was a child that I almost had,” Rose said.
The day of remembrance is for pregnancy loss and infant death, which includes miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, or the death of a newborn.
According to Stacey Spence, manager for maternal and child services, approximately one in four women in the United States is affected by fetal loss, whether it’s the woman herself, a family member, or a friend.
The most important fact to remember, Spence said, is that “99.9 percent” of the time, a miscarriage is not the woman’s fault. There are many medical conditions, she said, that can lead to miscarriage.
“Some women might have problems conceiving in the first place, or they might have some anatomical issues that make it hard for them to get pregnant. Sometimes an infection, or if the woman gets really sick or anything like that, can lead to a miscarriage,” she said.
Spence encouraged women to call their prenatal provided as soon as they realize they are pregnant so that any co-existing conditions can be monitored or treated. Still, Spence said many women may not know they’re pregnant right away.
“Unless you are planning to conceive, a lot of women may not identify the fact that they are pregnant, especially women that have irregular periods. They may not identify that they’ve even conceived early on,” she said. “ … We definitely want to make sure women know that sometimes [a miscarriage] can be a common occurrence and not to blame themselves.”
And despite a woman having miscarried before, Spence said that doesn’t mean a woman still can’t successfully carry an infant to term.
As for infant deaths, Indiana is the 42nd worst state overall in terms of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). At Community Howard, a push is being made to encourage parents to participate in a safe sleep program that aims to educate on the causes of SIDS and how to reduce those risks.
“We are really trying to encourage a lot of education in the hospital, making sure that we provide that safe sleep environment, that every baby has a safe place to lay down that is separate from their parents at night,” Spence said.
Millennium Park is located at 159 E. Sycamore St. across from City Hall in Downtown Kokomo.