In 1988 President Ronald Reagan announced that October would be known as pregnancy and infant loss awareness month (or PAIL month). The month encompasses all forms of pregnancy and infant loss, from miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies to stillbirth to neonatal death due to prematurity or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). And because October is also breast cancer awareness month, PAIL Month doesn’t always get the same recognition it deserves. It's vital that we, as a country, support bereaved parents, especially during PAIL month. After all, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), one in four pregnancies will end in a loss. Chances are, you know someone who has experienced this pain. Someone like me.
Before I lost my first baby to prematurity, I'd never heard, thought of, or observed pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. I had no idea so many pregnancies end before parents are able to give birth, and I was completely clueless about all the different ways infants can die just after birth. This was not information I was given when I first got pregnant, and there were few media portrayals, if any, about these types of losses. And while no one is under any type of obligation to share and articulate this pain with others, the only person I’d known to have a miscarriage was completely silent about it.
So when it happened to me I was alone and unable to find the support I needed. Eventually, and thankfully, that changed, though. Over the years I’ve heard so many stories and met so many bereaved parents. I’ve taken it upon myself to write about pregnancy and infant loss as much as I can (until it gets to be too much and I need a break). It’s my way of supporting others like me, in the hopes that no one ends up feeling as alone and lost as I did. So if you’re wondering how you can support those you know who are going through this type of loss, here are a few ideas: