UAMS Remembers Those Mourning Infant and Pregnancy Loss

By Linda Haymes

Posters accent the ceremony

Posters accent the ceremonyEvan Lewis

 

“Parents, grandparents, siblings and other family members want to know that their children are loved and remembered,” said Sara Peeples, M.D., medical director of the UAMS Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). “Their lives had value, meaning and purpose, even if they were brief.”

The UAMS Love Lives Bereavement Program organizes an annual Day of Remembrance ceremony to observe Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and to remember grieving families.

 

Nearly three dozen floating lotus flowers illuminated with tea lights created by the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub lined the garden’s circular fountain.

Nearly three dozen floating lotus flowers illuminated with tea lights created by the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub lined the garden’s circular fountain.Evan Lewis

Rebecca Young, chaplain resident, welcomed those gathered, and Peeples read a poem, “The Little Snowdrop.”

“I once read that you can die twice, once when you take your last breath and again when your name is spoke for the last time,” Peeples told those gathered. “So tonight, as our families cannot be here to speak the names of the children they have lost, we will do it for them.”

Six attendees – Becky Sartini, DNP, RN; Hyelim Kim, Dora Smith, M.D.; Nirvana Manning, M.D., chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Elizabeth Kim, M.D., and Michelle McFail MSN, RNC-OB – each read a portion of the 260 names.

Those attending, representing the UAMS Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and its clinic, the medical center’s

inpatient Women and Infants Service Line units, and neonatologists from the Department of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine each held a candle. This was the second year the ceremony was closed to the public due to COVID-19, and this year marked the first time all the names of those lost were read aloud. A recording of the song, Precious Child by Karen Taylor Good was played for those gathered.

The UAMS Love Lives Bereavement Program organizes an annual Day of Remembrance ceremony to observe Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and to remember grieving families.

The UAMS Love Lives Bereavement Program organizes an annual Day of Remembrance ceremony to observe Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and to remember grieving families.

“We want our families to know that we care about them and their children,” Peeples said. “And we want our staff to have this opportunity to support one another in this very difficult but very important work.”

UAMS also participates in the Wave of Light ceremony on the state Capitol steps, held every year on Oct. 15, which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Holy Sews, a group of volunteers who make handmade infant burial clothing for families who experience the loss of their baby at a very early gestational age, organizes the public event.

An estimated 15-20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, which is a loss prior to 20 weeks gestation, and every year in the United States, there are between 20,000 and 30,000 stillbirths, a loss at or after 20 weeks gestation.

“The loss of a child is something a person will carry for the rest of his or her life,” Peeples said.

“And people don’t talk about miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death. I think a lot of people do not realize how common it is. Every year in the U.S, there are more infant deaths during the first year of life than in all other pediatric age groups combined. And those statistic do not include stillbirths and pregnancy losses,” she said.