OCTOBER 15TH
Pregnancy and Infant loss
Remembrance Day
Brian Roche
[email protected]
Our Story….
In January 2006 we finally got the news that we wanted and waited for so long. We
had already one child Lynn who was then 6, just the right age to become the big
sister that she longed for. In February we had the first scan at 12 weeks, everything
seemed fine but the baby was a bit small so they asked us to come back again in a
few weeks. On March 13th we went for this scan, we had brought Lynn with us this
time to get her involved After about 10 minutes of scanning we were asked to put
Lynn outside and told something wasn’t quite right and to come back in an hour to
see a specialist. We didn’t know what to think, the longest hour ever went passed
and we were called in.
We were told that firstly we were having two babies and then in the next breathe
that they were conjoined, both sharing a single heart. Our world just fell apart. We
were told that nothing looked good at this stage and that nature would probably
take its course soon. Also because of the rarity of conjoined twins we were advised
not to tell anyone.
A week later we got an appointment to see two consultants and given a bit more
detail. Our babies were joined at the upper chest, sharing a single heart and a pair
of lungs and the chance of progressing pass 16 weeks was very unlikely. But they
continued to grow and at 18 weeks you could feel them move. At 20 weeks we
found out that it was 2 girls, we named them Lucy twin 1 on the left and Ellen twin
2 on the right.
By now we had told everyone that Liz was expecting twins... Even though we knew
what the outcome was going to be, it still was our great news that we were going
to have two very special daughters. These girls were fighters, they were beating all
odds and jumping over every hurdle that they came up against.
We were up every two weeks for a scan and we couldn’t wait to see that tiny heart
beating and to see the girls getting bigger and bigger. One week you’d be told that
fluid was developing around Lucy’s brain which could be the start of the end but 2
weeks later it would be gone. At 22 weeks Liz had an MRI scan to get more detail
and a team from Great Ormond Street hospital in London got involved but the
outcome was still going to be the same.
Once the magical 24 weeks was reached it was weekly for a scan. This was a week
we were never supposed to reach.
Lucy and Ellen always put on a show for their mum and dad. Even one time you
could see Lucy slap her sister in the face. We brought Lynn up with a few times,
she was delighted to see them move. We told her that they were a bit sick but left
it at that. How could we explain the truth to her when we couldn’t grasp it
ourselves?
Over the next few weeks we continued leading our double lives because to the
outside world everything was fine but we knew what heartache lay ahead.
As Ellen and Lucy grew bigger we made our memories of their lives. They used love
dance music on the TV and having a bath where you could hear Lynn laughing all
over the house at the sights of legs and hands sticking out at all angles. Lucy was
always the first to wake and within a few minutes have her sister awake. They
were surpassing all odds and determined to say hello to us. We were told that they
might live for 5 minutes or an hour they just didn’t know but their time would be
short.
On August 3rd at 33 weeks the girls decided to say hello to us, they were due to be
delivered on the 14th but as throughout this pregnancy did everything their own
way. Our girls were born, weighing just over 7lb 2oz. Ellen officially been first but
Lucy got her say in too, her hand was on Ellen’s face.
We had them christened then anointed and 35 minutes later they passed away in
our arms.
Our girls had lived their lives.
Liz was in hospital for 6 days. Over those days Lynn was able to hold her sisters,
doing ring a ring a rosy on their hands and doing this little piggy went to the
market with their toes. We took tons of photos.
We brought them home in Lynn’s mosses basket and kept them at home for 2
nights before saying goodbye. .Lynn drew pictures for them and we all placed gifts
in with them. We had a private mass at home and then to the grave yard. Lynn
released two pink balloons. They weren’t tied together but the both floated off
side by side just has our girls had been for their lives
Our two girls, even though their lives were so short they showed us so much
courage and strength and put up such a fight for life that any parent would be so
proud to have them as their daughters. And with all the sorrow they gave us so
much joy.
Later the following year, we had two sequent miscarriages but for us a couple
never gave up hope and in November 2008 our daughter Abbie as born.
As a parent, one of the most unimaginable things ever to happen to you is the loss
of your child, there isn’t any words to describe that feeling inside of you and the
emptiness that you feel. I’m a dad to six children, four of whom have passed.
I remember in the early stages after losing our daughters in particular, two things
that had me in a major panic…one was that I’d forget them, how they looked, their
smell, that sense of holding them. I remember meeting a couple in their late 7o’s
at a remembrance service and it struck me how they comforted each other
remembering their loss from so many years ago and strangely enough I got great
comfort from that knowing I never forgot them, no matter how many years would
pass.
The second was the feeling that we were alone in this journey, even knowing our
family and friends where around us but in my mind, this never happened to no one
else, it was just us. October 15th quickly showed us that we weren’t alone, this day
and the event of lighting a candle showed us the worldwide support for families
was there and it was been openly acknowledged by this one simple event.
This day allows bereaved parents/families to unite together in the remembrance of
their loved one and also for non-family members to show their support.
The benefits for acknowledging October 15th as Pregnancy and Infant Loss
Remembrance Day would be far reaching. It allows us to come together as a
country to celebrate the lives our children. It would be a platform for breaking the
silence on pregnancy loss and the isolation that families feel at the loss of a child.
For those who were bereaved many years ago, it also gives them an opportunity to
openly express their loss that for so long may never have been dealt with.
As a Dad, I fully believe that things happen to us for a reason and our children
choose us and for that alone, I’m so proud that I was chosen to be their dad and
that they came into our family albeit too brief. By acting to get October 15th passed
here in Ireland as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, it would be an ever lasting legacy
not alone our children but to all other families and their children.
From a parents point of view
'When our little girl died it was so unexpected and sudden that sometimes it
doesn’t feel real, it is so important to us to keep her memory alive, to acknowledge
her life albeit brief, in whatever way we can. Lighting a candle on October 15th
means we can keep her memory alive forever and give our little girl the recognition
and respect she deserves. It also makes it acceptable for people to talk about the
loss of a baby and be supported in that loss'.
Paddy and Maria Cahill.
Its History......
Robyn Bear, Founder, and Lisa Brown, Co-Founder, of www.october15th.com
envisioned a day when all grieving parents could come together and be surrounded
by love and support from their friends and families, a day where the community
could better understand their pain and learn how to reach out to those grieving.
This would be a day to reflect on the loss yet embrace the love. While our babies’
lives were so brief, they were also very meaningful. Yet, there was not a time to talk
about them. Our society seemed to forget or perhaps, simply didn’t know how to
reach out. Since October had been proclaimed “Awareness Month”, she chose a
day, in the middle of the month to become, “Pregnancy and Infant Loss
Remembrance Day”. They then asked everyone in all times zones, worldwide, to
join them in a candle lighting ceremony at 7pm on October 15th, allow your candle
to burn for an hour thus as the time move forward in each time zone it creates a
circle of light around the world.
As a result of the American campaign effort, headed up by Robyn Bear, Concurrent
Resolution 222, supporting the goals and ideals of National Pregnancy and Infant
Loss Remembrance Day, was passed in the House of Representatives on September
28, 2006. House Concurrent Resolution 222 proclaims October 15 of each year to be
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in the United States.
The Canadian Foundation for October 15, also known as the CFO is the official
foundation of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day Canada. The CFO is
leading the federal campaign to recognize October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss
Remembrance Day Canada.
The goal of the CFO is to obtain an official day of remembrance, October 15 of each
year, to ensure that all Canadian families who experience the loss of a child during
pregnancy or shortly after birth are given the opportunity to acknowledge their loss,
seek support, and honour their child’s memory in an understanding and supportive
atmosphere.
The CFO works to promote national and international pregnancy loss and infant
death awareness, remembrance, and support enabling the larger community the
knowledge and skills required to assist and meet the needs of families who
experience pregnancy loss and infant death.
History
The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Movement began in the United States on
October 25, 1988 when then-American President Ronald Reagan designated the
month of October 1988 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
The October 15th Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (PAILRD) Campaign
began in 2002 as an American movement started by Robyn Bear, Lisa Brown, and
Tammy Novak. Together, they petitioned the federal government, as well as the
governors of each of the 50 states, and by October 15, 2002 (the first observance of
PAILRD) 20 states had signed proclamations recognizing the date as such.
As a result of the American campaign effort, Concurrent Resolution H. CON. RES.
222 Supporting the goals and ideals of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss
Remembrance Day was passed in the House of Representatives on September 28,
2006.
To date, all 50 American states have yearly proclamations, with Arkansas, Kansas,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island, and South Dakota enacting
permanent proclamations.
The Director of the Canadian Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Awareness and
Remembrance Campaign, Terra-Lynn Coggan, joined the American movement in
September 2004 and took on the role as the Canadian Director for October 15
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and began the Canadian Campaign.
The Organizer of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness “A Walk to Remember” in
Vernon, BC Canada Jennifer Patrick started her fundraiser campaign in October 2004
after the Stillbirth of her son Connor. In October 2005 Jennifer worked with the
Attorney General to help get a Proclamation approved. October is now declared as
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in British Columbia, Canada.
On October 12, 2005, when New Brunswick received official recognition of October
15 Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, Coggan resigned as the Canadian
Director for the American Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Campaign and
independently launched The Canadian Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Awareness
and Remembrance Campaigns.
Since New Brunswick’s Declaration of October 15, Pregnancy and Infant Loss
Remembrance Day the province of Nova Scotia has followed suit with a similar
declaration. The provinces of Ontario and Manitoba are currently considering a
declaration.
The campaign for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in Australia began in
May 2008 when Nicole Ballinger of the State of New South Wales (NSW) approached
her State and Federal MPs to request their help in establishing this Day. Although
aiming for a nationwide declaration, Mrs Ballinger took this two-pronged approach
as she had been advised that federal motions often get passed once they are first
passed at the State level. Guided by her MPs, Joanna Gash (Federal) and Shelley
Hancock (State), Mrs Ballinger lobbied both levels of government beginning in 2008:
utilizing petitions, the internet and social media, and repeated correspondence with
Australian Prime Ministers, NSW Premiers, Health Ministers, Senators and other
MPs. In support, Mrs Gash and Mrs Hancock continued to present this motion in
parliament at the State and Federal levels.
On October 14, 2011, Mrs Hancock and NSW Health Minister Gillian Skinner
announced the official declaration of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day
in NSW.
To date, Mrs Ballinger continues to lobby the Australian government with the
support of Joanna Gash, to get Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day
officially declared across Australia.
Ideas for October 15th
• Light candles and display them in your windows.
• Contact local Radio and News stations and have them announce that it is October
15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
• Leave your porch lights on. Have radio and news stations announce this as well.
• Release butterflies (Can be expensive, but is very beautiful, Use a search engine
such as yahoo and type in butterfly release)
• Release Doves (You can rent doves that are trained to fly back to the owner)
• Sponsor a candle lighting ceremony in a park, church, or local hospital.
• Send off a pink or blue balloon with your Angel’s name and/or picture. (Warning
Please: If you do this, only send one balloon per child. This is very dangerous
For birds and wildlife. The animals can eat the remnants of a balloon and die) (As
Beautiful and wonderful as it is, I can’t personally recommend it due to my love
For animals)
Letters of Support
October 2014
To whom it concerns,
As the bereavement support nurse in the maternity department in Cavan General
Hospital I wish to show my absolute support to Brian, Feileacain and their team in
seeking to formalise the 15th October as Baby Loss Remembrance in Ireland.
I support families within the north-eastern region who have suffered the unfortunate and
heart wrenching loss of a baby during pregnancy or shortly after birth. This loss creates
a unique set of grievers as they do not only grieve for the loss of that physical little being
but also for all the hopes, dreams and aspirations they had for their baby.
I see, daily, the physical, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual pain that these
families carry with them for the rest of their lives. I watch the dynamic of the family
change and readjust to a life that is forever changed for them.
One of the less obvious losses many of these families encounter is that they have no
remains to bury (in terms of miscarriage) which leads to lack of a physical place to go to
express their loss. Often they don’t have a particular day of which their baby died
(especially in Intra Uterine Death) so there is uncertainty regarding anniversaries and
special times of remembrance.
Many of the families who I meet have had losses spanning back over decades, many of
which, were never formally recognised and therefore never formally grieved. And often
times these families find it difficult to talk to their own families as the grief they express
is so enormous it is often overwhelming for outside families to understand.
Within our culture we sometimes, in an effort to protect from hurt, instead avoid all
together the issues. Families often feel unable to openly grieve for their baby,
particularly if some time has lapsed and they assumption is that they should ‘be ok by
now’.
The key to the care of parents and families who have experience perinatal or neonatal
death is communication and community support.
The service of remembrance which I have run within this community for the past 9 years
is based entirely on these 2 principles. We offer these families a safe place to grieve
and remember, within their own community and amongst families who have similar
losses and therefore journeys of grief. For families who are unable to attend this space
of remembering, we have radio interview and advertising in local newspapers, parish
bulletins and in health centres in order to open channels of communication and in some
way de-mystify grief and baby loss.
Formalising the remembrance of these babies sends a clear message of support,
compassion and hope to these parents. It allows the boundaries of communication to
open to these families and in turn the burden of their grief to be uplifted from them and
taken on by the community as a whole.
I have no doubt that Ireland should, recognise and acknowledge these losses and this
particular group of people on a formal level in keeping with international practices.
I wish to formally recognise the work and dedication of Brian, his family and the team at
Feileacain who are an inspiration and an invaluable support to these vulnerable
families.
Louise Dempsey, RN(Child),ENB405, MSc.Bereavement
October 12, 2014
Brian Roche
Ballymacoda, Cork
Ireland
Dear Mr. RocheI am so very excited to hear of your upcoming audience in front of the Health and
Children's Committee petitioning to recognize October 15th as the official
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in Ireland.
I don’t have to tell you how important, validating and healing such an official day
can be for so many grieving parents. It not only provides a launching platform for
healing ceremonies, events, walks or candle lightings but it also lets parents know
it is ok to mourn and grieve openly which is so very important to the healing
process. In addition, official days help to unite and rally support around those
who need it ultimately increasing the sense of community and wellbeing in a
population.
In closing, best of luck to you and your team and thank you for helping heal the
hearts of grieving parents in Ireland.
Lori Esteve
SOBBS (Stories of Babies Born Still) Founder
USA
Dear Mr. Roche and Members of The Minister of Health,
I am very excited to hear about the possibility of Ireland participating in the success of October 15th, Pregnancy and
Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In 2006 the House of Representatives here in the USA unanimously passed October
15th as a day of remembrance.
It has helped many families in their grieving process.
You and your members have our full support and are happy to share any information you made need to help pass
this in Ireland.
Sincerely,
Robyn Bear, Founder of October 15th
http://www.october15th.com
[email protected]
[email protected]
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October 15th Pregnancy and Infant loss Remembrance Day