Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This day was designated by all 50 states in the US through the efforts of Robyn Bear (a lovely fellow-Texas girl!)
On this day, at 7 p.m. your time, grieving families light a candle for their babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, or early perinatal death for one hour. As each time zone extinguishes their candles, the next one will light theirs, creating the continuous Wave of Light across the world.
Some families opt to do this alone at home. Others will invite friends, family, or fellow baby loss moms to come over. Across the world, official walks and candle lightings are formed. To see if there is one near you, check this page: http://www.october15th.com/activities-walks/
Here in Austin, Texas, I have hosted the candle lighting for many years.
We will be down at the pond behind the Long Center. (This area is called Butler Park and is near the lighted fountains, at the base of the hill.) We will light our candles between 7 and 8 p.m.
Parking is easiest along Riverside or in the lot off Dawson Road. Most of the runners are leaving, so you can usually find a spot if you see someone heading to their car. You should be able to spot us by our candles and signs. I will have candles for everyone, and many parents will bring theirs too.
Here is a map.
If you need music to play during your hour, I have compiled a list of YouTube videos that will play in order and be long enough for your hour.
Two new things this year:
- I started the Butterfly Project, which is a social media movement to post butterfly images to the pages of families who have experienced a loss to show them you remember.
- My newest baby loss book, Forever Innocent, was released October 1 and has hit all the bestseller lists at the retailers. It’s been a phenomenal year for getting the story of baby loss into the mainstream awareness.
Watch the book trailer to Forever Innocent here to get a sense of the book (double click to see large):
Peace and love you all of you lighting candles tonight.
I first learned about October 15 in 2007. I posted a hurried message about it, encouraging proud angel mamas to spread the word and light their candles at 7 p.m. their time. I didn’t know a lot about the day or the founder, but I knew it was a good thing, the sort of big event I was looking for.
My own web site was already nine years old, the time when you start to try and shake up what has become routine. I wanted to keep growing and moving us forward. I remember feeling frustration (and I still do) that mothers felt they had to “hide” their losses and that talking about their babies was still such a taboo. We’d gotten nowhere.
And along came Robyn Bear and her site for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. She and a team of volunteers took the measure to the legislatures of all fifty states and got it passed federally as well. I was amazed at their effort and the years they spent making this happen.
Naturally I reached out to Robyn pretty quickly. Someone with that much staying power, already seven years post-loss and still going strong, was going to be a big part of the baby loss community. Turns out, she was also very generous and friendly.
This year I decided ENOUGH, and packed my family in the car and drove four hours to where Robyn lives to deliver a box of books she had ordered from me personally. We had lunch in a little restaurant in her home town, and she was amazingly just as wonderful as I thought she would be! Our miracles babies (okay, tweens and teens) sat at one end, and the husbands chatted about work and weather, while we reviewed our two journeys through loss and the determination to actually get involved in the lives of other grieving mothers, and to carve businesses from this so that we could continue working with the community full-time.
Yes, that is a rooster behind Deanna Roy and Robyn Bear!
I think our partnership in making sure the needs of baby loss moms are met has only grown stronger by meeting face to face. We may have our separate web sites and support groups, and she may focus on Oct. 15 candle lightings as well as remembrance items and jewelry (and man, does she find some beautiful stuff), while I focus on books and information and support groups, but we are definitely united in one thing — making sure women facing these impossible losses have a place to go, a community to talk to, and ways to memorialize and remember their babies.
I see a day twenty years from now when we’re little old ladies, and still holding the virtual hands of the young women who need us. We’re here for the long haul. We’re here for all of you. I can’t imagine a more perfectly suited partner or a more beautiful person, inside and out.
My girls at our first Oct. 15 candle lighting in 2007.
I’m writing a new book! Just like back in the day with Baby Dust, I’m hoping you brave mamas will share some of your stories so that this book will be as real and as helpful as my first one was.
We’re off to an amazing start, with some 500 mamas already coming over and some 50 comments already in place on the early posts.
I hope you will join us, and as we go along, I’ll be sharing what I hope can be helpful about the book, plus we’ll be giving away more prize and memory boxes (two have already been won!)
Come see us!
My first Mother’s Day is gone from my memory, fried out, no doubt by several factors.
- My only baby had died just 10 days before.
- At church that Sunday, all the Mothers were told to stand, and while I have no idea if I stood up or not, I’m pretty sure I probably did something awkward, embarrassing, and uncomfortable for everyone around me. In fact, I’m pretty sure I left sobbing.
- Nobody knew what to say or do. Card or not? Flowers or not? I had to hole up and wait for sunrise Monday before I felt it was safe to communicate with anyone without disappointment or upset.
Here’s what I wish I had known that first Mother’s Day, and what I’d do differently.
- Remember that I am a mother. A nice piece of jewelry would have appeared with a lovely birthstone, even if I had to order it myself. It’s easy. Here’s an excellent place.
- Spend the day with my child. Fill out a memory book. Or write in a journal. Or just go to a place I might have gone when baby was ready for parks or picnics.
- Send notes to all the mothers I know, regardless of their baby status — to let them know I remember who THEY are.
What I would not have done.
- I wouldn’t have made reservations at some restaurant where my lack of a high chair might make the waiters ignore my status.
- I wouldn’t have gone to church. It’s painful when they have the children come up and take things to their moms or give them a hug. It’s hurtful when they ask the moms to stand, and you don’t know whether to do it or not (and for the women who are infertile or single and older but wanted children–I mean, come on. Let’s stop this.)
- I wouldn’t have been silent. I know not everyone is willing to put themselves out there. I wasn’t either, at first. But now, you can be for darn sure I’d be sending out e-cards and posting graphics like these to my page. I’m a mother and I won’t let anyone forget it.
As you go through this day, silently and at home, or publicly and with a mission to help others learn how best to be around other baby loss moms, remember the most important thing:
A mother isn’t counted by the number of diapers she has changed, the car seats in her mini van, or the crayoned pictures on her fridge.
It’s counted by the memories in her heart, the love she carries, and the protection that surged inside her from the first moment that she learned a new life had begun within her.
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One of my life’s works it to keep Casey close by expanding my reach to families who have lost a baby. It’s hard to imagine that this year, Casey would be getting his learner’s permit and start driving!
This year, I’m starting a new book and a new page for couples who are having trouble with their relationships after their baby dies. I get so many letters from women asking, “Is it normal for my husband to act like nothing happened?” So many feel betrayed by the one person who seemed to have been as invested in the pregnancy as them, and this cuts the hardest.
It’s hard to explain that the law of relationships is at work here — only one person can fall apart at a time. And that they don’t intend to make you feel more alone. It’s just what happens.
The new page on Facebook is called Forever Innocent, which will be the title of the book I’m writing. There I will be listening to your stories. We’ll be helping each other. And hopefully, in the end, we’ll work together to make a book that will have the resonance of Baby Dust. While that book deals a lot with the loss itself, this new book, which has a couple reunite four years after losing their premature baby and walking away from each other, will be for those couples who have struggled with how to manage their love for each other when so much of it was caught up in the goal of building a family.
Go visit the page and leave your experiences! I can’t wait to talk to you all!