When a baby is born, it's a mother's instinct to protect her baby. When a baby dies, it's a mother's instinct to protect their memory. --- Unknown Author
For some moms, protecting their baby's memory happens when they release pink balloons into a blue sky, or plant a tree that blooms each spring. For others, it comes when they donate backpacks filled with necessities to a child in need, or a Cuddle Cot to another family who has just lost their own. It also comes when they create a non-profit, like Healthy Birth Day, whose sole mission is to save babies, and thus, save families.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and we are very aware that there are moms and dads all across this country who are missing the babies they never got to know. This is how we remember our babies and invite you to write about how you remember yours.
This fall, my son Milan would have turned five. I often remember him by talking about him, just saying his name helps me claim him as mine. I really like when other people talk about him as if he's a part of the family, rather than ignoring that he ever happened. I means a lot when someone consciously says something like "your three children" rather than only counting the living two. I pray every night for Milan to know how much I love him and to watch over our family as our angel. --- New Jersey Count the Kicks Ambassador Karina Bennett
Not a day goes by that I don't think about my daughter, Lydia Jaelle, who was stillborn on October 13, 2014. My heart constantly yearns to talk about her and tell the world that my baby girl existed, that she was gorgeous, perfect, and so wanted. She was the first baby for me and my husband - the daughter I had dreamed of raising all of my life. Lydia may no longer be here with us today, but we will always keep her memory alive and remember her in ways both big and small. From telling her little brother, Luke, all about her, to using her name for my drink at Starbucks, hanging her stocking at Christmas and writing her name in the sand, our precious daughter is remembered and loved every single day. --- South Carolina Count the Kicks Ambassador Danielle Barkley
Every year on Madeline's birthday our tradition is for our family to release balloons. As they float up in the air we shout "Happy Birthday, Madeline! We love you," and we watch until we can't see the very last balloon any longer. We follow our balloon release with angel food cake or cupcakes and sing Happy Birthday. --- Healthy Birth Day Co-Founder Tiffan Yamen
As Alfy's first birthday began to emerge on the horizon, my husband and I decided sharing his birthday with family and friends was one of the most impactful ways he could be remembered. On April 6, 2013, on Alfy's first birthday, we held a balloon release at the cemetery in which he was buried. Prior to releasing the balloons, we sang happy birthday to him. After the cemetery everyone was invited back to our home for cake and ice cream. There were nearly 70 family and friends who attend to show their love and support and most importantly, remember our son, Alfy. --- Nebraska Count the Kicks Ambassador Shannon Vaccaro
We lost our son, Miles Fergusson Petty, to stillbirth on September 21, 2012. While September 21st is a solemn day for our family, we celebrate almost like any other birthday. We go to a special friend's memorial pocket park, the Barbara McNew Hummingbird Garden, with cupcakes, candles, and balloons in hand. We sing happy birthday. Our children rush to blow out the candles, and we eat cake. We share a moment of quiet where we can say or think special thoughts about Miles. Then, we count down together and release our balloons in tandem. We hold our kids extra tight and watch the balloons disappear in the sky. --- Tennessee Count the Kicks Ambassador Meghan Petty
Typically near our son Garett's birthday, our family donates bereavement bags to a local hospital. These bags provide resources and comfort items to families who also experience a stillbirth. We try to spend Garett's birthday as a family, celebrating his short life and the huge impact he had on our lives. We hold our daughters a little longer and a little closer. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us, something my family understands too well. --- West Virginia Count the Kicks Ambassador Kristy Edie
It's been a little over three-and-a-half years since we lost Harper. Three birthdays come and gone without our little girl. Each year we try to something special to remember her. On her first birthday, we released a Chinese lantern and took treats in for the doctors and maternity nurses at the hospital where Harper was born to thank them for the kindness they showed is during the most difficult time of our lives. Each year since we make sure to buy her a card and release a balloon on her birthday. We also talk about Harper every day. She is still very much a part of our family and lives on in our hearts. --- Ohio Count the Kicks Ambassador Kari Davis
I am grandma to Harper Elizabeth. Harper was born still just a couple days before her due date. We held her, kissed her sweet little face and loved on her for two days at the hospital, and she is and always will be part of our family. Every birthday grandpa and I get her a card. We send up a birthday balloon into the sky for her. I made a picture album of the days we had with her, and the cards go into the album. Christmas gifts are bought for a little girl close to Harper's age. I go to our combined community services and pick a child from those that need assistance that year. The gifts are given in memory of Harper and I take a picture of them to add to her album. Grandmas and grandpas never forget these little ones too! They are part of our heritage. --- Indiana Count the Kicks Ambassador Joanne Simpson
Not a day goes by that I don't remember and miss my son Zach. He would have been six this past July and I am constantly reminded of his absence. I know this will be the case until the day I die. Over the years I've come to accept that being Zach's mom is one of my greatest purposes in life. His death has put me on a path that will help save other babies. I remember and honor Zach every day in my work as the Arizona Ambassador for Count the Kicks by teaching expectant moms about the importance of tracking their baby's movements in the third trimester.
Every year on his birthday, we do some sort of drive or donation to charity. When Zach turned five in 2015, we did "Backpacks for Zach" and collected 10 backpacks for new kindergartners and filled them with needed supplies. My mother in law also made hats and scarves for each backpack. I'm already looking out to his 18th birthday and creating a scholarship for one incoming freshmen going into the medical field. The soul of my boy is pure love and light. I will continue to honor him by doing things that help others. --- Arizona Count the Kicks Ambassador Shawn Soumilas
She was born on October 9, 2003. Jayden was our first child and only daughter. We remember her with the color pink, sparkles and princesses. We eat angel food cake with pink frosting. We sing Happy Birthday to her while looking up to Heaven. We decorate her headstone with fun tiaras. The boys enjoy sending pink balloons up to Heaven from them. This photo makes me smile because the clouds look like a heart with a cross underneath it. We try to make the day special for her and the boys. We always want our boys to know about their big sister and we try and do it with joy. --- Healthy Birth Day Co-Founder Jan Caruthers
We remember Grace each time we look into the blue eyes of the three healthy children that we were blessed with after she was born still. When our children were smaller we would say our prayers, and they would blow a kiss up to heaven. We would tell them we were the luckiest mommy and daddy in the entire world, because Grace hand-picked each of them just for us. I remember Grace when working for Healthy Birth Day, whether it's in a meeting, conference call, reading research, at an event or just talking to others about Count the Kicks; I know that time spent is when I get to actively be her mother. I deeply remember Grace and her four heavenly friends each time we are told about a baby save, knowing they are smiling down at us and also rejoicing in the good news. My heart believes that Count the Kicks has grown from the divine intervention of five special little girls. I remember Grace and thank her each time I spend time with the other four founding mothers, whom I love like sisters. Their friendship is one of the greatest gifts Grace has given me. I remember Grace Biondi Morlan every single day with profound love and gratitude. She is always with me...always. --- Healthy Birth Day Co-Founder Kerry Biondi-Morlan
When I was pregnant with Grace, her big brother Charlie would put his hands on my belly and say, "I love you, little baby in there." She died of a true knot in her umbilical cord, just days after this picture was taken.
Grace would be 13 this year. I'm sure she'd be busy snap chatting friends, taking selfies, requiring parent chauffeur services to various activities, and giving me grief about nearly every move I make. I would have loved that. I would have loved to raise Grace with her dad and three siblings.
But, Grace is still with us - in a big, intangible way - teaching our family more about love and giving than I could have ever imagined.
We carry Grace in our hearts and remember her by giving Grace in as many ways as we can:
- in quiet, hard ways when we sit with another grieving parent who doesn't know how to keep going and how the world can keep spinning after losing a baby,
- in strong, visionary ways through our volunteer work with Healthy Birth Day, the nonprofit we founded with four other grieving moms, to help prevent other families from experiencing the heartache of losing a baby to stillbirth;
- in bold, life-saving ways like when we set a goal of saving more than 6,000 babies in the U.S. every year through Count the Kicks, a public health campaign focused on preventing stillbirths. --- Healthy Birth Day Co-Founder Janet Petersen
We invite you to write about how you remember your baby in the comment section below or on our Count the Kicks Facebook page. We also invite you to learn more about how Count the Kicks, a public awareness campaign that teaches the importance of, and method for, tracking fetal movement in the third trimester, by visiting our website at www.countthekicks.org. Count the Kicks WORKS and is saving babies all over the country. Keep coming back to learn more about a new campaign we are creating with a goal of saving 6,000 babies in the U.S. every year.