Every day when I wake up, the first thought to cross my mind has nothing to do with work, politics or celebrity gossip.
Every day, the first thought on my mind has to do with my son.
I wonder what he would be doing today. What kind of trouble would he be causing? What words would he be uttering? What funny moment would he be enjoying?
After 14 months, that hasn’t changed. Nor do I want it to change.
Today is infant loss and remembrance day. It’s a day that shouldn’t have to exist. But, it does.
It’s not the kind of day that garners a lot of attention. Politicians don’t include it in their talking points. Angry mobs aren’t lining the streets demanding action. It doesn’t make for the kind of story the media reports.
But there are thousands of people in this country who every day are struggling with the loss of an infant. For those who have experienced the loss of an infant, it is life-changing. It can shake your confidence, make you question so many institutions and, some days, struggle to find support.
It is difficult for many people to discuss. Trust me, I understand. In a perfect world, such a topic would not exist. But, our world is far from perfect, and this is a real issue, no matter how uncomfortable.
In 2016, 23,161 children less than one year old died. Our country’s infant mortality rate is 587 infant deaths per 100,000 live births.
These numbers are unacceptable. The problem is the people in charge who could make a real and lasting change. They refuse; their reasons varied.
Hospitals are more concerned with acquitting themselves of any wrongdoing. They respond by whitewashing any inquiry and making a mockery of any investigation. In talking to the chief medical officer of the hospital where my son died, he told me, “we decide whether we did anything wrong or not.”
If such an institution is empowered to act as judge, jury and executioner, why would it ever find itself guilty of wrongdoing?
President Ronald Reagan in 1988 proclaimed the month of October Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
The remembrance “offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies,” Reagan said in Proclamation 5890. “It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members and work to prevent causes of these problems.”
Sadly, three decades later, much work remains. But, we will never prevent the root causes as long as lawyers and risk managers rule the process and our elected officials decline to tackle real issues.
The loss of an infant is truly unfair. Sadly, there is no magic fix looming on the horizon.
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Today, we walked to remember Thomas at the Atlanta Walk to Remember in Alpharetta. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It may not garner the headlines that other months do, but it is no less important of a month. We don’t need a special day to remember Thomas; we remember him every day. Still, it is nice to pause and pay tribute to Thomas and the far too many others who left before their time.