Breaking the Silence: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness
Shattering the Stigma
1 in 4 women are affected by pregnancy and infant loss.
You may have heard about us. You may even know us. We are your neighbors, your coworkers, your teachers, your friend of a friend. We shop at your grocery store and go to your gym. We are all races, religions, and ethnicities. We are rich, we are poor. We want our children’s stories told and we need you to listen. We are the one in four.
Lori Donaldson is a 49 year old mother who works as a paraprofessional in a school for children with special needs. She has been married for 24 years and enjoys reading, distributing essential oils, and singing broadway show tunes! On Christmas Eve in 1997, Lori suffered a miscarriage at 10 weeks pregnant. She became pregnant again but this time with triplets! On October 1, 2000 Lori gave birth to daughters Ashlyn and Kaylee. Unfortunately the only boy, their brother John Robert (J.R.) was born still due to “unknown reasons.” Lori says, “The happiest and saddest day of my life are all tangled up into one. It is difficult to strike a balance between joy and grief for every milestone my girls meet, knowing that my son did not get those chances.” Lori’s living daughters, now 18 years old, love and respect their brothers small but meaningful part in their lives. They feel that J.R. is their very own special guardian angel. Lori holds a Teddy bear in her photos along with the one and only photo she has of her triplets together. The bear is a symbol of the memorial program the Donaldson's started called "Joined in Remembrance". Through this program, they provide families who have suffer a loss a teddy bear as "An understanding hug for empty arms" as well as a short note, to let them know they are not alone. These teddy bears are distributed at Morristown Memorial Hospital.
Brianne Szep lives in Hoboken with her husband Greg and 19 month old daughter Reagan. She is a former elementary school teacher who is now a full-time stay at home Mom. The Szep family loves taking walks, and visiting the local parks and restaurants. On June 22, 2015 at 24 weeks pregnant, Brianne went into early labor and delivered a sleeping baby girl, named Mary Grace. Brianne and her family were able to spend precious time with their sweet 1 pound 2 ounce daughter while in the hospital. After much testing, it was discovered that Brianne has a rare condition called antiphospholipid syndrome, a disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks normal proteins in the blood. This is believed to be the reason for their loss. Brianne is pictured with her Molly bear which weighs 1 pound 2 ounces, the same weight as Mary Grace. They used this bear in little sister Reagan’s newborn photos and stays in her room, watching over her.
Natalie Santos describes herself as “domesticated goddess”. She is 37 years old and loves to read, laugh, and spend time with her family and friends. Natalie is the proud mother of Ruby Valentina who is 22 months old. In 2015, Natalie suffered a miscarriage at 10 weeks pregnant. She says, “I felt like a failure. I questioned myself and my faith.” Natalie recalls feeling alone no matter how many people surrounded her. Natalie states that people “expected her to get over, it and not be so emotional, because she was only 10 weeks pregnant.” But Natalie and her husband lost their child, a child who’s heartbeat they had heard. It is important to try not to “blame yourself” and to remember that your “spouse suffers” the loss as well, Natalie advises. “Allow yourself to feel” and to grieve.
Tomeia Thornton is a 37 year old stay at home Mom who loves to cook and bake. She has been married to her husband Timothy for 10 years and has 2 step children and 2 adopted children (Tim 18, Tamia 16, Samara 9 and Dekota 5). Tomeia also enjoys, traveling, playing softball, and helping others.
On March 4, 2018, a mere 7 months ago, Tomeia lost her daughter Ariella Christine, at 5 months gestation due to an infection. Group B Strep is a common bacteria found in the body that is harmless to adults. However, if passed to the unborn child it could be fatal. This was Tomeia’s first and only pregnancy. Tomeia shared Ariella’s tiny foot prints with us. A treasure she holds dearly. With the help of her family, Tomeia is “pulling through” this devastating time “together”. “There is no foot too small, that it cannot leave an imprint in this world.”
Reva Judas is an early childhood educator and director of Nechamacomfort. She has 4 living children and 4 grandchildren.
Reva and her husband Danny lost their son Pesach born April 16. He passed away at only 12 hours old, due to a congenital heart defect. Reva also suffered 6 miscarriages between the years of 1989 through 1999.
“Our son died at a time when silence was the answer. We were told to get past it.”, Reva recalls. Determined to create change, Reva created a non profit organization called Nechamacomfort. She serves all family members who have dealt with the loss of a baby from early miscarriage until the age of one. Nechamacomfort provides counseling, support groups, educational programming for medical personal and clergy as well as sensitivity training for community members.
Reva wears a stunning bracelet with the names of all of her children, including Pesach written in Hebrew. For more information about Reva’s organization visit http://nechamacomfort.com/
Dominique Rice is sales manager in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and 2 children Lena and Tyson. Dominique enjoys running and spending time outdoors.
On May 29 2017, after a healthy pregnancy with no complications, Dominique gave birth to a baby boy. TJ, her son was born sleeping at almost 37 weeks gestation due to an umbilical cord accident.
Dominique cherishes a special photograph of her husband holding her son TJ shortly after his delivery. She also has a tattoo on her arm dedicated to her son.
Dominique and her family celebrates TJ by making “TJ love rocks”. They cut fun fabrics into a heart and place them on rocks they collect. They then leave the decorated rocks in places that remind them of TJ for others to to enjoy.
Alison Long is a 40 year old companion/caregiver who loves animals and watching the TV show “This is us”. She has a 9 year old son named Brandon who is her “rainbow”.
On June 14, 2007 Alison lost her firstborn son, Tyler Stratton due to severe preeclampsia at 30 weeks gestation. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, approximately 10,500 babies die from preeclampsia each year and it is responsible for approximately 18% of all maternal deaths in the United States.
After loosing her son, Alison quickly became a pregnancy and infant loss awareness advocate. She founded the organization “Parents of Angles United”, whose mission is to advocate for the use of and to provide, cuddle cots in every hospital in New Jersey. The organization has already funded and donated a cuddle cot to Chilton Hospital. Tyler was also honored at Newton Medical Center, when the hospital purchased its first cuddle cot, thanks to the advocacy of Alison.
Alison shared It is a beautiful heart shaped necklace which reads “our loved ones walk beside us every day.” Alison says she often feels her sons presence and knows that he always watching over them.
Megan Trexler is a 38 year old lawyer who enjoys running, reading, and spending time with her family.
At 38 weeks pregnant, Megan noticed a decrease of fetal movement. She quickly went to her doctor who informed her that her unborn baby’s heartbeat was strong. The next day at a routine ultrasound, Megan and her husband watched their son’s heartbeat stop. On January 30 2015, Megan gave birth to William George, born still due to a maternal/fetal hemorrhage.
Megan wears a special necklace with a heart charm and a honey bee charm. She received the heart charm from her aunt who also suffered from the loss of an unborn child. The honey bee charm was given to Megan by her husband on the first Mother’s Day after she lost William. The couple had planned on bringing their son home in a little outfit that read, “Buzz Buzz, you’re my honey”. But instead of bringing their son home in that outfit, he is now buried in it. The honey bee now reminds Megan of her sweet baby boy.
Megan has a biological daughter named Emmeline who is now five years old. She also has an adopted son named Ethan who is 2 years old. Recently, the Trexler’s were informed that their son’s biological mother gave birth to another baby boy in June of 2017. Megan and her husband have started the adoption process and will hopefully welcome Ethan’s brother home to their family in late 2018, early 2019.
Jennifer Minsky is a 41 year old basics skills teacher who enjoys cooking, biking, and hiking. She loves spending time with family including her 2 year old son Eitan.
Jennifer became pregnant shorty after she got married. Unfortunately, this pregnancy was ectopic, in which the child can not survive. Due to her age, Jennifer and her husband decided to seek fertility treatment and began the IVF process. During this time Jennifer experienced 4 chemical pregnancies. Determined to have children, Jennifer sought out further medical advice. She learned that she had chronic endometriosis and required surgery. After her surgery, Jennifer found out that she was pregnant again by natural means. Sadly, Jennifer miscarried a baby girl at 8 weeks. Though the help of IVF and further endometriosis treatments, Jennifer became pregnant in December 2015, and delivered her son Eithan in August 2016.
In January 2018, after an embryo transfer Jennifer experienced her 5th chemical pregnancy. Refusing to be defeated, she returned to her fertility clinic in May and had her last embryo transferred. Jennifer is now currently pregnant and due in January 2019. Jennifer is a true warrior despite having multiple losses. Congrats on your pregnancy!
LaToya Gantt is a 35 year old Christian minister who also works as a business analyst. She has a four year old daughter named Kaylynn and enjoys volunteering, teaching dance and writing.
In March of 2016, at 7 months pregnant, doctors informed LaToya of a grave condition in which her unborn baby had. Her sweet daughter Ananyiah was missing a chromosome, had a gap between her brain and spine and suffered from hypotonia. LaToya was told that her child would not survive due to these complications. LaToya carried her daughter for 2 more weeks before she passed away. “I enjoyed each kick and every little movement during those two weeks.”, LaToya recalled. She talked and prayed with Ananyiah each day.
LaToya holds a women's empowerment conference each year in honor of her daughter. “Walking Beautifully Strong” honors 6 women who have been through challenges such as HIV, cancer, child loss ect. LaToya says, “The beauty in their story is they decided to live,” despite being faced with adversity.
As a 30 year old mother of 3, Betty Babcock is kept busy caring for her children. She has an 11 year old daughter named Jazmin, a 8 year old son Nathan, and a 4 year old daughter named Abigail.
On February 1st 2006, Betty lost her daughter Jayden Freda Babcock to stillbirth. Her tiny heart stoped beating when Betty was 7 1/2 months pregnant for reasons which are unknown. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “despite efforts to find out why, the cause can not be determined in about one-third of stillbirths.”
“No parent should ever have to bury their child”, Betty states. Together, she has teamed up with other loss moms and began, “Parents of Angels United”, in memory of their children. Betty is an advocate for the use of cuddle cots in hospitals. A cuddle cot is an advanced cooling system which allows families to stay with their baby for longer time periods.
Betty shared photographs of her daughter Jayden with us. Having photographs of our children is very cherished memory to many mothers. There is even an organization named “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”, that sends professional photographers to hospitals to photograph families and their children free of cost. For more information visit https://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/
Create your own unique website with customizable templates.