October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a time to open up and share our experiences with this difficult subject.
Losing a baby, whether before or after they are born, is an experience that no family wants to have. It’s devastating and also far more common than you would expect. It’s estimated that 1 out of 5 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage. Infant loss is far less likely, but the infant mortality rate in the United States is still 5.8 out of 1,000 children.
Sadly, pregnancy and infant loss can happen to anyone. Many couples turn to surrogacy as a way to grow their family after infertility. However, while surrogacy is a highly successful path to parenthood, there is always a risk of miscarriage even with perfect embryos and a healthy surrogate. Miscarriage in surrogacy can carry an extra layer of pain because we often expect surrogacy to be the solution to pregnancy loss.
In the face of loss, it’s hard to know what to do. There are no right or wrong ways to respond to grief. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some important points to take away.
It’s okay to grieve
A loss is a loss. It’s okay to grieve. Grief is a normal human response to loss and can take many forms, from anger to sorrow, from shock to depression. Take time off work to process and heal from the experience. Intended Parent(s), while not physically impacted by a miscarriage of a surrogate pregnancy, also need space to recover. It’s important to manage expectations about how quickly grief resolves. Everyone is on their own timeline – there is no need to rush yours.
Talk about it
One of the most helpful ways to process a loss is to talk about it. Finding a therapist who specializes in infertility and pregnancy loss can help you work through your feelings with the help of someone who has a deep professional knowledge of the topic. However, less formal conversations are beneficial, too. Support groups, both in-person and online, provide much-needed community when you’re feeling isolated.
Try not to let feelings of fear or shame get in the way; once you open up about your experience of loss, you will likely find that many other people – even those you know but haven’t discussed these things with – have had similar ones.
Plant a tree. Light a candle. Create a special memorial space in your house or yard. Donate to a meaningful charity. Share your child’s name and story with others. Or simply take a few quiet moments to sit with your thoughts and feelings. There is no wrong way to mark your experience.
Events & Resources for Parents and Surrogates
After a loss, knowing what resources are available to you can make a huge difference. Thankfully, there are many. Here are just a few of them.
Events for Infant Loss Awareness
- Remembering Our Babies: The official site of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (October 15th). Check their website for walks and activities in your area to help spread awareness and foster a shared community of experience.
- Wave of Light: October 15th is the wave of the light event. At 7 pm (all time zones), light a candle in remembrance of lost babies. The idea is that if the candle stays burning for at least an hour, there will be a continual wave of light across the world all day.