October 15th has long been known as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. We at BabyGaga recognize the strength of the one in four women who experience pregnancy or infant loss. In honor of the babies lost to stillbirth, miscarriage, SIDs, or newborn death, we would like to remember our angel babies on the first official Angel Baby Day. Angel Baby Day invites families to celebrate the joy and love that our angel babies brought into our lives. On a day marked by grief for so many families, Angel Baby Day is a reminder of the light every baby brings to its world. Light a candle tonight at 7 pm (in your time zone) and join the Wave Of Light for National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Leave your candle burning past the first hour in celebration of angel babies everywhere on this first annual Angel Baby Day.
Feature image credit goes to Jessica Young.
California photographer Whitney Billings went viral last year for her special family photo session. Like so many family photos, mom and dad stood on each side of their two kids. Look more closely and you’ll notice Whitney is also holding the hand of a shadowy outline of a young child. Not just one child - but seven children.
Whitney created the image so she could have a true family photo - one that included her living children and all seven of her angel babies lost in miscarriage. “I want people to know that being a mom of angel babies means my babies DID EXIST and they are real!” explains Billings.
Photo credit to Emily Grace Photography.
“No matter how far along you are, 6 weeks, 12 weeks, 27 weeks, that’s a little person you created living in your body. They are real!”
Parents who experience pregnancy or infant loss may feel a huge range of emotions. Grief is complex and varied and there’s no right or wrong way to process those feelings. The Mayo Clinic suggests some parents, especially those who bring a stillborn angel baby into the world, may benefit from holding a memorial service. A friend of mine and bereavement doula, Kirsten O’Leary, held a service for her stillborn son Philip. The whole family visits his graveside during holidays and birthdays. As they are devout Christians, Easter’s promise of life after death is especially comforting to Kirsten’s family.
One in four women will experience some form of pregnancy or infant loss. I am that one in four; my very first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. While my friend Kirsten had celebrated and planned for and watched Philip grow, I had barely realized I was pregnant before my body showed signs of trouble. Her grief in many ways felt more tangible, visceral, even justified. How could I be sad about an angel baby, a baby I never met or named or got to hold?
Kirsten herself will be the first to tell you that any loss is a real loss.
October 15th at 7 pm (in your respective time zone), light a candle in remembrance of angel babies during the global Wave of Light. Embrace their grieving parents, console the heartbroken mother. Walk boldly into the gutwrenching rawness of loss and bring light with you. Leave your candle burning past the Wave of Light hour to celebrate the joy brought by each angel baby.
This day can be filled with sorrow; it can also be filled with hope. Many who have experienced a pregnancy loss go on to have healthy babies afterward. These rainbow babies often get the bulk of the celebration; they are the joy after the rain. But angel babies also deserve to be remembered for the delight they brought to our lives, even if it was only for a few moments.
Today I light two candles. One is in honor of the grief felt by one in four women; the other in joyful remembrance of angel babies (and my own angel baby in particular).
We didn’t get a chance to dream up names for that baby, our very first. My mamagut tells me this baby was a girl - a spitfire too bright for this world. Each week we marked off our baby’s growth from two tiny cells, to a poppy seed, to a peppercorn. And then I started bleeding and it didn’t stop until our baby was gone and I wasn’t pregnant any longer. I called her our Peppercorn. Pepper for short. I still love that name for a fiery daughter.
Pepper introduced me to a world of grief and loss I never wanted to visit. She also brought me hope. In a world of uncertainty, I suddenly knew I wanted to be a parent and I was so excited to meet this new person and already felt so in love. Everything was rosy and I felt like I was walking on clouds, floating around with the most amazing secret that life was inside me.
I light a candle for that memory. For the hope and sweetness she brought out of me when I had tried to make them unreachable. Her short life and her eventual loss made an indelible positive impact on my marriage. She brought us closer. Our love had created mind-blowing, breathtaking, miraculous life! Together we mourned our loss. Sometime later, my husband gently broached the topic of trying again. “Do you think you want to try again?” Resolutely, I said yes. Without a doubt. No hesitation. Let’s start trying again right now.
Our angel baby, Pepper, clarified a lot of issues for each of us. Her short life obliterated any doubt about wanting to become a parent. Yes, we both wanted to be parents. Now. Yesterday. I wanted to still be a mom to her, my angel baby. (Was I still a mom?) Yes, we wanted to raise kids together. Stephen would be (and is) such an amazing father!
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There is still a lot of hush hush around pregnancy and infant loss. Those who experience it are expected to pick up the pieces and just move on. The loss can be devastating. I am 1 in 4 women who have suffered a miscarriage. I am also a woman who has lost a baby in infancy. If many more of us spoke about our experiences, others wouldn't feel so alone if it happens to them. Tomorrow, the 15th of October at 7pm, join others around the world as we honor the memory of the babies we have lost. If you are in Lagos, you can join @thehealingcradle support group at The Podium Event Center in Lekki to light a physical candle. Or wherever you are, join @beibeihaven support group and millions around the world to light a candle even if it's in your heart. xoxo, Olori Coitus . . . . . . . . . #pregnancyandinfantlossawareness #infantloss #miscarriage #babyloss #grief #pregnancyafterloss #infertility #stillbirth #babyloss #ivf #miscarriageawareness #stillborn #fertility #miscarriagesupport #pregnancyloss #ttc #grief #ivfjourney #infantloss #stillbornstillloved #infertilitysucks #loss #rainbowbaby #griefsupport #ttccommunity #childloss #pregnancy #infertilityjourney
Today we’re celebrating National Angel Baby Day. Because the joy Pepper brought me is just as real and valid and worthy as the grief of her loss. In ways I couldn’t have anticipated, my angel baby prepared me for the arrival of my rainbow baby. Shepard is the sweet, cuddly, boisterous goofball that he always will be - but would I have been the mom that I am today if not for my angel baby? I don’t think I would. For making me the mother I am today: Thank you, Angel Baby. I know you’re somewhere beaming with light and love. This Angel Baby Day is for you.
Resources For Those Experiencing Pregnancy & Infant Loss