DES MOINES, Iowa – It’s a heartbreaking reality that impacts too many of us. The statistic of losing a baby is one in four, meaning 25 percent of pregnancies end in grief.
Every October, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month honors these families and allows them to share their stories, with hopes of ending the silence that surrounds this type of loss.
MercyOne is making sure these families are supported, and their babies are never forgotten.
The Angel Garden outside of MercyOne is a peaceful place for families to remember the children they’ve said goodbye to before they could even say hello.
Flipping through photos helps the healing process for Christine Carstensen who lost her baby, Emily.
“It happened fast. I mean, just a few pushes and she was there,” Carstensen recalls, “and when they lay her on your chest, and you can’t believe that she’s not alive because she’s just so warm still. That’s probably the hardest part.”
As a doctor, Carstensen has taken care of patients who have experienced the same type of loss. As a mother, she joins them in never forgetting their names.
“Just because she’s gone doesn’t mean she wasn’t here, and she still mattered,” Carstensen said.
For 20 years, families with similar stories used MercyOne’s “Walk to Remember” to honor those they’ve lost. With the pandemic putting a pause on public events, those who care for these patients had to find new ways to shine a light on the topic and continue their care.
“These families just need support, No matter how long it’s been,” Connie Thompson, the labor and delivery bereavement coordinator at MercyOne, said. “It could be recent, it could be years ago that they had their loss, but these children exist to them and they exist to us.”
Recognition and remembrance mean so much to these families not just for one month, but always.
“Those types of things like the rocks we have here, and the trees, and the ‘Walk to Remember’ are such an important part for us to kind of say to the world our children matter,” Carstensen said.
While MercyOne is unable to host the “Walk to Remember” this year, there are several community events that honor these families throughout October.
Throughout the end of October, the trees will be lit up at MercyOne’s Easter Tower Angel Garden in honor of the babies and families they’ve cared for.
Through Oct. 15, the No Foot Too Small Angel Wing Sculpture will be displayed in the MercyOne East Tower Lobby.
The Global Wave of Light event will take place on Friday, Oct. 15 at 7:00 p.m. Join other families across the world simply by lighting a candle at 7:00 local time and leave it burning for one hour in honor of all babies who left us too soon. This can be done individually, in a group, privately at home, or in a communal space.
Locally you can participate in the Wave of Light event on the Capitol steps in Des Moines. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by No Foot Too Small.