September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month. If you didn’t know this, it may because it is not talked about as much as the presidential elections, back to school sales, football season starting or simply because you haven’t had to bear the heart wrenching experience of losing a child. But those who support the two sided, pink and blue ribbon know it is the awareness ribbon for Pregnancy and Infant Loss. It is a hard ribbon to wear, I know from experience. My daughter passed away at 10 months old of a Congenital Heart Defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome on July 21, 2012. I am new to knowing and supporting this ribbon. To be honest, I cannot say that I would know what this ribbon means if I had not lost a child. That is when it becomes too late. The more people that support pregnancy and infant loss can help prevent it from happening.
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, Overall there were no changes in the ranking of leading causes of infant death, the infant mortality rate decreased for 2 of 10 leading causes of infant death between 2008 and 2009: maternal complications of pregnancy and unintentional injuries. The infant mortality rates associated with each of these causes declined by 7.5 and 8.5 percent, respectively. The leading causes of infant mortality were congenital malformations, followed by disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight, and third, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Every awareness ribbon started with someone having to go through the pain of suffering; whether it be themselves or watching a loved one go through it. Each ribbon has to raise its own awareness so that more people support it. When losing a child is explained as a parent’s worst nightmare and some may say it is the most pain anyone can experience, I would like to think that more and more people would support such a cause before they have to endure it.
The month of September has another importance for me. The 27th would have been my daughters’ first birthday. Instead of going out in search of presents and banners, I am purchasing balloons to put at her cemetery site. My family will also be having a balloon release, dinner and a Cinderella cake to celebrate it in her absence. Every family picnic we attend, every Holiday that will pass will always have an empty place where she would have made memories.
Since I have joined the pink and blue ribbon community, I have known eight children who have earned their wings and 16 parents that have had to say their goodbyes, including myself. I started a Facebook group for grieving parents and thought a possible ten members would have joined. In just over a month, I have received over 90 requests. Some had lost children from miscarriage, some the day they were born and some after fifteen months of life. Mothers had expressed that it had been ten years since they had lost their child and until this group had opened, they had never talked about it or grieved properly. If ten years can not erase the pain of losing a child that you only knew for a few hours, then I ask you to look at your children who are all starting school this week and know that some of us were not as lucky. Please raise awareness in September as Infant Mortality Awareness Month, if not every month, to ensure that other families do not have to go through the pain of losing their child.