Since 2019 Bothwell Regional Health Center’s staff in the Women’s Health and Newborn Care unit have organized a local event to mark National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, which is held annually on Oct. 15.

This year’s event will take place outside at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, on the southeast side of the Bothwell Education Center at 600 E. 14th Street in Sedalia.
During the first event in 2019, a lilac tree was planted near the Bothwell Education Center, and last year, a plaque was added to the tree. Attendees also lit candles in remembrance of their losses. At this year’s event, more ways to recognize and remember are planned.

Dr. Michael Carozza with Bothwell OB/GYN Associates will give remarks and the lilac tree will be lit. In conjunction with the Wave of Light, a global observation for parents, friends and family to remember all babies who are no longer here, attendees may light candles to honor their loss. Refreshments will be served.

October was named National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. In 2006, Oct. 15 was declared a specific day of recognition following efforts by a group of miscarriage awareness activists led by Robyn Bear, who had six miscarriages of her own from 1997-1999.

Pregnancy loss, which includes miscarriage and stillbirth, along with sudden infant death syndrome are sad and common realities for many families. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicates that about 1 in 100 pregnancies ends in miscarriage and each year more than 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States.

For Christina Oelrichs, a labor and delivery nurse at Bothwell and one of the event organizers, the day is not only important but also personal.

“I experienced early loss when my husband and I were trying to start a family,” she said. “For me, this event is important because we want those who have been impacted by the loss of a baby to know that we remember their babies, and we are here to support them.”

Oelrichs said “We Remember” T-shirts are available for purchase by Sept. 13 on the Bothwell website at www.brhc.org/PILRD or the Remembrance Day event on the Bothwell Facebook page. T-shirts also will be available for purchase at the event.

“The funds from T-shirt sales are going to help us create a paved brick path around the tree,” she said. “We want to make the pavers available for engraving so people can memorialize their loss in a tangible way.”

The loss of a baby comes with a great deal of heartache and the Remembrance Day event is one way to help acknowledge that loss, Oelrichs said.

“It’s more than just losing a baby; it’s saying goodbye to birthday parties and never getting to walk your child into the first day of kindergarten or see them graduate or get married,” she said. “All of these exciting things that parents get to do, are taken away.”

According to the American Counseling Association, grief is a natural reaction to loss or change. Grieving takes time and looks different for everyone. Seeking help and support from either friends and family or professionals is an important step to learning the best ways to cope. Oelrichs hopes people who need support and those who can offer support will attend the Oct. 15 event.

“While pregnancy should be a positive experience for mothers and families, there are times when that is not possible and those who experience loss need empathy, respect and support,” she said. “We will remember their babies with them.”