Pregnancy and Infant Loss: Raising Awareness, Removing the Stigma

by Nneka Hall

NnekacollageNo mother-to-be ever wants to hear the words, “I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.” Sadly, on August 26, 2010, those words became my immediate reality. I went in for a routine appointment and found out every dream that I had for my third born would remain a series of dreams. Annaya Marie Edwards entered this world at 39 weeks gestational age during the early morning of August 27, 2010 amidst the tears of the attending medical staff, a Great Aunt and me. August 27th will forever be a bittersweet day as my daughter was born still on my 37th birthday.

I suffered in silence for nearly six months. Then, I began giving back. I gave back by donating time to various organizations and the community which embraced me when others told me to “get over” or “move beyond” my loss. I watched and waited. I watched as each organization and group worked individually on event after event. I waited, as with baby steps, they made progress and continued to welcome newcomers into the fold. It was during this time that I began to wonder what we, as a loss community united, could accomplish.

October 15th is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. In the three years since my daughter’s stillbirth, I have watched the local and world news to see if one grieving family’s story would be told, or if a cause of pregnancy or infant loss would be highlighted. I have been disappointed time after time. My disappointment led to disgust. Disgust led to a desire for action.

My action plan began with my recollection of the 1984 AIDS quilt project. I was 10 years old at the time. Some 29 years later, I remember watching the coverage of the event. Seeing the masses of panels representing lives lost to this epidemic made me take notice that something was truly wrong with this picture. I began to think that if one quilt project had such an impact on my life, then why couldn’t a similar project do the same for all causes of pregnancy and infant loss to another person?

My vision for October 15, 2014 is one which includes thousands of families touched by the loss of an infant come together in Washington, DC to march from the White House to the National Mall where our memorial quilt will be on display. OUR quilt will tell the stories of our Angels while at the same time educate the world about the various causes of death among infants. If we can save just one child, educate one person or provide comfort to one person who is grieving alone, I will consider this event a success.

quilt

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my youngest, Annaya, I began to dream. I dreamed of the day I brought her home from the hospital, pictures with her older siblings, watching my middle daughter and Annaya develop the close bond that only sisters can have, etc. Since her death, I dream of raising awareness and lifting the stigma that is attached to pregnancy and infant loss. Please honor the memory of an Angel by marching with us on October 15, 2014. For more information, contact Nneka Hall at quilt@yahoo.com.

Nneka Hall Mom of Angel Annaya Marie Heaven Born: August 27, 2010

If you would like to follow the progress for the October 15, 2014 Quilt Project and March in Washington, DC, please subscribe to the Bereaved Parents newsletter and the Pregnancy Loss/Quilt Project 2014. This is for anyone who has experienced the death of a child from conception through the first 24 months of life for any reason.