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Maynard Children's Hospital joins the International Wave of Light in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

October 14, 2014 posted by Amy Holcombe

GREENVILLE- “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses his or her partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world.” President Ronald Reagan spoke these words 26 years ago, when he proclaimed October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. 

This tragedy affects thousands of families all across the world every day. Whether it is a miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy, a still birth, or the loss of an infant, the pain is very real for the parents. 

Reagan Askew, a patient at Vidant Medical Center, has experienced this pain firsthand. She says, “I believe it’s important to acknowledge the loss. Our babies did exist, they do count, and they will never be forgotten.” 

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is honored every year on October 15 at 7 p.m. People are encouraged to light a candle in memory of the lives lost. If a candle is lit at this time and keeps burning for at least one hour, there will be a continuous wave of light over the entire world. 

The James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center is joining in this effort by changing the light wall from blue to white on October 15. 

“I hope people will ask why the color on the light wall has changed,” said Askew. “I hope this will help people remember the ones who have experienced a loss and to support them as they struggle through this bittersweet day.”

She reminds us that the tragedy not only affects the mother, but an entire family. “Everyone in the family is suffering a loss—the ones that would have been a father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle or grandparent,” said Askew.

Dr. Keith Nelson, associate professor for department of OB/GYN, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, says losing a pregnancy is “a silent epidemic.” Mothers who lose a pregnancy, even very early on, can shut themselves off to others. “They are sometimes reluctant to talk about their loss,” said Dr. Nelson. “They might feel like other people don’t regard their loss the same as losing an older child.”

Bringing awareness to this very real experience is a way to show other mothers that they are not alone in their grief. “Hopefully, the awareness will encourage mothers to reach out to other mothers suffering the same type of loss,” said Askew. Dr. Nelson adds that losing a pregnancy is “a very real and tangible grieving process for mothers to go through.”

Askew says that if she can offer any advice for other families who’ve experienced what she’s been through, it is knowing “each and every life had meaning and to find peace in knowing their souls are in heaven.” She also encourages families to seek counseling to help through the healing process. Though her children’s lives were short and taken so soon, Askew said “I would rather have had them, than not to have had them at all.” 

Askew will join Dr. Nelson outside the Maynard Children’s Hospital on Wednesday, October 15, just before 7 p.m., and watch as the lights change from blue to white.
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