October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month, which makes it a very special time for us here at Generations Midwifery. As much as we wish that every pregnancy and birth is the happiest time in a family’s life, the sad truth is that some don’t go as planned.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month is a time to think about those who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or the loss of their child. It also acknowledges those suffering from infertility. Many of you will know someone affected by one or more of these devastating events, or have gone through it yourselves. Sadly, statistics show that one in five pregnancies end in loss, and each year an estimated 37,000 Ontario families are affected by this heartbreak.
Throughout October, we support those who are struggling with their grief and reflect on the love for lost babies. It’s a time to open our hearts and reach out to the mums, dads, brothers, sisters and other family who need help and support.
In December 2015, a private member’s bill was passed proclaiming October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. The bill sought to promise resources and support, as well as better research into perinatal loss and infant death. This year Ontario marks the internationally recognized day for the second time, in the hope that awareness will continue to grow.
International Wave of Light
The day is observed with remembrance ceremonies and candle-lighting vigils around Ontario, and concludes with the International Wave of Light.
The International Wave of Light calls for people around the world to light a candle at 7pm (in their respective time zones) and to leave the candle burning for at least an hour. This will create a ‘wave’ of light spanning the globe for a 24-hour period in honour of the children who passed away in pregnancy or as infants.
We at Generations Midwifery will contribute to the International Wave of Light by lighting our own candle at 7pm on October 15, which will be displayed in our window. We encourage all our friends and followers to do the same in their homes.
Pinwheels for PAIL
Generations Midwifery also supports the Pinwheels for PAIL (Pregnancy and Infant Loss) campaign, which sends support to families going through their grief journey. PAIL endeavours to spread awareness about the prevalence of pregnancy and infant loss, and provide a means of support for families who experience this sad loss. Since its initiation in 2015, PAIL has sent more than 2000 pinwheels around the globe as a form of remembrance for lives lost. On October 15, pinwheels will be available on the front lawn at Generations Midwifery. Please feel free to come by at any time and take a pinwheel to commemorate a loved one.
PAIL also works to provide grief support to those who have experienced pregnancy loss or the death of a baby. Their services include free peer support for both groups or individuals across Ontario. Pinwheels for PAIL are available from Generations Midwifery now.
Aaron’s Butterfly Run
One of the most beautiful and inspiring causes to look out for this month is Aaron’s Butterfly Run. This incredibly moving appeal is dedicated to the memory of baby Aaron, who survived just 100 minutes after being born with no kidneys in 2016. His parents Rob and Rachel Samulack decided to set up Aaron’s Butterfly Run 2017 in honour of his memory, and as a way to support other bereaved parents and families in Ottawa and Gatineau. The Butterfly Run is the first charity of its kind in the area, and celebrates the lives of all ‘butterfly babies’, no matter how long or short.
Aaron’s Butterfly Run will be held on October 14, 2017 at Brewer Park in Ottawa, Ontario. Participants can enter the 1-mile walk/run or 5km walk/run through Old Ottawa South. By participating in the event, you’ll help increase community awareness of perinatal loss and encourage people to talk about an issue that is often shied away from. Having gone through the experience themselves, Aaron’s parents know how crucial it is for other bereaved parents and families to connect with one another and share their grief. Their aim is to bring these families – and the community – together, creating a network of care and support.
Funds raised from the not-for-profit event will go to Roger Neilson House, a hospice in Ottawa that provides palliative care for youth and their families. Roger Neilson House also runs a program of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and offers a variety of services for families affected by perinatal loss. One of the most important of these is the Perinatal Hospice program, which provides care and compassion for families whose babies are likely to die before, during, or shortly after birth. This program is run by both professionals and volunteers whose company is often invaluable during this difficult time. Support is available to affected families for the entire journey, from diagnosis, through the birth and death of the infant, and continues throughout the postpartum period.
Another service offered by Roger Neilson House is the Perinatal Loss Bereavement Support Group. This group is also available for those parents who have lost a pregnancy beyond 20 weeks gestation, or an infant aged up to 28 days.
All proceeds from Aaron’s Butterfly Run will go directly to the Roger Neilson House, in order to continue providing support for individuals and families who need it most.
If you’re not a runner, it’s also possible to sponsor someone else, or simply make a donation. For more information about Aaron’s Butterfly Run, visit http://www.butterflyrunottawa.ca/ .
If you are grieving because you have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss, please know that our hearts are with you.
Genia is a midwife with Generations Midwifery Care. Read more by Genia here.