William Beaumont Army Medical Center's Maternal Child Health Services (MCHS), held an observance in honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day at the WBAMC chapel, Oct. 15.
The observance is held annually on Oct. 15 to remember pregnancy loss and infant death which includes but not limited to miscarriage, stillbirth or death of a newborn while also providing support to families who have suffered a loss.
This year's observance kicked off with a brief history led by Maj. Laquincyia Key, clinical nursing officer in charge, Labor and Delivery, WBAMC. Soldiers also passed out candles to be lit at 7 p.m. in the tradition of the Wave of Light Ceremony, which invites families and friends around the world to light a candle at that time to create a continuous wave of light across the world for 24 hours in remembrance.
According to studies by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 10-25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage (under 20 weeks of gestation) with risks intensifying depending on several factors.
"For our journey, (loss) wasn't so sudden and sporadic," shared Jaime Walker, an Army veteran and military spouse. "When I was 21 weeks pregnant I went to my regular family care practice, my uterus was measuring 9 weeks ahead, so we went in for an ultrasound."
In 2012, Walker, one of many guests during the ceremony who shared stories, was excited for her pregnancy and had previously underwent genetic testing to check for disorders for safe measure. While stationed in Hawaii, her ultrasound revealed her daughter had spina bifida, a birth defect which occurs when the spine and spinal cord don't form properly.
After contemplated surgery for her baby in utero, Walker and her husband decided to wait until after birth to treat her.
The couple started planning for the birth with a multidisciplinary team to treat the spina bifida when she went in for a regular checkup and the physician noticed her baby no longer had a heartbeat. Labor was induced and Walker delivered her baby on Oct. 5, 2012.
"She was a pound and a half, almost a foot long and I spent four hours with her," said Walker. "Now I wish I would have spent more time with her, but there is no text book on what to do (after a fetal demise)."
Ten days after her baby's birth, Walker attended her first Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day observance on Oct. 15, 2012.
"I've met mothers who've had molar pregnancies, whose babies passed away at 16 weeks, so I just want to thank you guys for putting these (observances) on for the past few years and giving everybody a chance to honor their babies and speak about them," said Walker.
In addition to Walker's story, others shared similar experiences with some even pursuing a career in healthcare to help others who have suffered a loss.
"People forget that you had a loss but you still hurt," shared one guest.
WBAMC services include a group of specially-trained nurses, called the bereavement team, which offer parents who may experience such a loss, support and education about stages of grieving, emotional upkeep and the level of care necessary for such sensitive circumstances.