The babies born sleeping
Those we carried but never held
Those we held but could not take home
Those who came home but could not stay
Moncton teacher Kim Nelson knows the power of those words. She lost her son, Landen, when he was born. Kim delivered just shy of 39 weeks, after what most would consider a perfect, uncomplicated pregnancy.
“I didn’t know what to do,” she recalls. “I delivered, then hours later I was home.”
Kim describes it as fleeing the hospital. It was only home, hours after Landen’s birth, looking through the memory box given to her by the hospital, that she started to consider what she could have done to honour her son.
“Lucky for me, despite them saying he’d be sent right away for an autopsy, he was still there when I went back in the morning,” she says. “We got to have a second day with him.”
It was that second chance to spend time with her son that allowed Kim to feel empowered about the situation, to take control of how she intended to deal with her son’s death.
“I said to myself, ‘How many don’t get a second day?’ I was lucky, in that sense, so I decided ‘I will make this positive’.” That’s when the idea of a walk started to take shape.
October is recognized as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month; it was first celebrated in 1988, with a declaration from U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Here in Canada, New Brunswick was at the forefront of declaring October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in 2005; other provinces have since made official declarations and proclamations about the day.
This year, Kim and her colleague Amy (who lost her son at 19 weeks, a few months after Landen’s death), are hosting A Walk to Remember. The event takes place October 18th, 2016 at The Moncton Hospital. Registration will begin at 1pm, followed by opening remarks at 1:40pm. The walk will take place around the hospital from 2pm until 2:30pm, with refreshments being shared in the hospital atrium until 3:30pm.
While donations will be accepted, the walk is not focused on fundraising. “This is a place to go for your child to be remembered, talked about” says Kim. She also wants people to understand how important it is to come out to support those who have lost. “People who have lost a baby, especially an infant that no one else got to meet, they want support. And the number of people at the walk is what will make people feel good, feel supported.”
Money raised at the Walk to Remember (there will be an on-site auction for West Jet tickets and t-shirts for sale) will be donated to The Moncton Hospital’s Maternal Fetal Care Unit, which follows hundreds of high-risk pregnancies each year, with patients coming from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and parts of Nova Scotia and Quebec.
Kim stresses that the walk, which she and Amy hope will become an annual event, is for everyone. “We want to provide support to families who have lost late term, still birth, early miscarriages, and families who are unable to conceive. Your baby is your baby. It doesn’t matter if you lost them at 6 weeks or 26 weeks, you become a mother when you choose to be a mother.”
If you are unable to attend the walk but would like to join in honouring the thousands of Canadian babies who are stillborn or die during infancy each year, you can talk part in the International Wave of Light on Thursday, October 15th. People are asked to light a candle in honour of those lost, starting at 7pm local time, and leaving it burn for one hour. The result is a continuous chain of lights glowing around the world for a 24-hour period.
Image and quote via Placerville Doula Facebook Page