My Struggle With “Awareness”

Among it’s various purposes, causes, and fulfilling the love of fall, October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The 15th of October, specifically, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

I, as a bereaved mother, am aware of this tragedy of life every. single. day. This isn’t a time where I’m suddenly reminded of the heartache we experienced over three years ago. This isn’t a time where my eyes are opened to new information or developments in infant loss.

This is a time where I know hundreds of thousands of families across the globe are wishing they could change their story.


Four years ago, we made the announcement social-media official, sharing Little Miss would be a big sister. We had no idea we would bury her baby sister six months later.

One in four pregnancies ends in loss. I didn’t know that until after Harlynn died. I assumed – as do so many other mothers-to-be – if you made it past the first trimester, you were good to go.

Miscarriage. Stillbirth. Trisomy 13. Trisomy 18. Anencephaly. LBWC. Preterm labor. Delivery complications. Uterine ruptures. Placental abruptions. Genetic abnormalities. Disease. Cancer. SIDS. The list is a long one, yet it’s still a list most people aren’t willing to acknowledge exists.

In 2016, continuing on from centuries before us, babies are dying. Thousands, every single year.

And yet we have a month of awareness. A month where sometimes, I feel as though we’re pitied for a time. “Let them drudge up their stories. November’s almost here…”

I struggle with the responsibility of raising awareness of pregnancy and infant loss. I don’t want to scare anyone. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade. I wish I still had my naivety. I wish I still thought healthy babies were a given once you were past the 13 week mark of pregnancy. More than that, I wish it were a reality rather than a naivety.

But it isn’t.

I don’t advocate simply for awareness. I don’t air my journey so anyone reading about it can simply be aware I’ve been through hell-on-earth. I don’t advocate for exposure or attention for myself.

I advocate for breaking the cycle. I advocate for praying for miracles. I advocate for doing whatever we find to do to prevent the death of babies. I advocate for research. I advocate for respect. I advocate for information and education and honesty.

Most of all, I advocate for other parents like myself, who are thrust into a world they couldn’t previously comprehend existed. I do whatever I can to ensure they get the care and compassion they need when their entire world has crumbled in an instant. I do whatever I can to make the medical community, funeral homes, social workers, coworkers, friends, family – aware of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of these precious people who just lost their precious baby. I advocate for support and companionship.

If you understood 26,000 babies in the United States alone are stillborn – every. year. – what would that awareness spur within you? Unless you’ve walked through it, probably nothing. It’s another number. Another statistic.

Every year, however, 26,000 little hearts that were beating one moment, stop beating the next. That’s stillbirth alone. Add to it the thousands of other anomalies we lose babies from each year. It’s mind blowing. It seems impossible. Made up. Wrong.

But it isn’t.

Anyone who knows me knows our story. I’m one of the vocal ones. There are thousands of families each year who go silent in their story, however, because they don’t know how else to cope with it.

This October, and every month, I implore you to go easy on these broken hearts. If you can’t understand what these families have gone through, and will continue to go through, don’t place expectations or limitations on their journey. Be their advocates, not their adversaries.

This October, and every month, I pray you’d support pregnancy and infant loss research. I pray you’d support the ones who are trying to prevent these losses from happening, and those who know enough to call these possibilities to attention.

This October, and every month, I ask you to understand everyone you meet has a story. A journey. A struggle. Show extra kindness. Offer extra help. Be encouraging. Look through lenses trying to find ways to serve others, rather than through lenses focusing on flaws or imperfections.

This October, and always, be aware there are a lot of broken hearts in need of a gentle hand.

Why Remembering Matters

It’s more than simply not forgetting. Forgetting is impossible. There are times I’ve wished for all of it to be untrue. For it never to have really happened. For this not to be the way my life exists. But it is. And I will never forget. But more than never forgetting, I will always make a valiant effort to really remember. Remembering matters – it gives life and voice to those who never had one.

Why Remembering Matters

I remember her movements. I remember how strong she was compared to her older sister. I remember my cravings for chocolate donuts. And Funyuns. Not at the same time, though there were occasions they were consumed in the same sitting. I remember the heartburn. (Probably from the Funyuns.) The sleepless nights because I couldn’t get comfortable. I remember the morning sickness that lasted until I was nearly 18 weeks along. I remember the sciatica that dropped me to my knees on more than one occasion.

I remember picturing what kind of little sister she would be. Would she have curly hair like her mama? Would she be a snuggler like her big sister or more of an independent soul? I remember how excited I was to introduce her to her namesakes and have them watch her grow up, being the ever-present reminder in her life of the “village” who loved her parents – – and her.

I remember when the doctor said, “I’m so sorry….”

I remember when my water broke. When they laid her on my chest. How the room was enveloped in silence. No baby cries. No squeaks. No coos. Silence.

I remember praying I would wake up from the nightmare I was having. There was no way any of this could be real.

I remember feeling God’s presence in our hospital room. I remember looking up and being surrounded by people who loved us – who ached with us. I remember the doctors hugging me. I remember the nurse who told us she’d been praying for us all day. I remember the longest walk of my life, from the labor and delivery door to the elevator. Without my baby.

I remember my best friend walking up the driveway, after driving 700 miles to be there by my side. The memorial. The burial. The loneliness. The sobbing that shook my whole body. The questions. The Google searches. The anger. Rage, even. Hurt. Bitterness. Compassion. Tenderness.

I still remember it all. What comes to the forefront of my mind, however, is her dark hair. Her cheeks. Her perfect fingers and toes. Her mini-me features that rendered her a spittin’ image of her big sister. How much love we showered her with in those moments as we held her. As we prayed for life to miraculously return to her heart and lungs. I remember clutching her in my arms. Smelling her. Kissing her. Loving her.

I remember our Harlynn.

And it’s important to remember her. April 10th, 2013, there were 70 additional stillborn babies delivered in the U.S. Seventy other families affected by stillbirth alone, that day. Then there were mothers who miscarried. Who received a fatal diagnosis on the baby or babies they carried. Parents who said goodbye to their babies in the NICU for the last time.

It’s important to remember all of them. Our world stopped spinning while it seemed everyone else’s carried on. Only now do I realize there were other families who had their world stand still the same day. The same week. The same month. So many families.

October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. The 15th is Awareness Day, and the “wave of light”, lighting a candle in remembrance of all the babies gone too soon.

We, as Harlynn’s Heart, organized a memorial service for the 15th. We lit candles and spoke our babies’ names aloud. We congregated in the safety of community. In the comfort of familiarity. In solidarity.

And we all remembered. Not because we can’t forget, but because we embrace any and every opportunity to breathe life into the legacy of our children. Because remembering them shows the world they existed. They matter. They live on through us.

Here is a video of some of the babies we were able to remember and honor last night. Please remember them with us.