October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and Comanche County Memorial Hospital wants families to know they aren’t alone and there is support.

Tonya Defoor, a board-certified lactation consultant, said a remembrance tree is set up by the cafeteria each year for anyone who wants to hang up a butterfly in honor of the loss of their baby, whether it’s a stillbirth, miscarriage, SIDS, or any other cause at any point during pregnancy or infancy.

“We want people to remember their babies, and we want them to know that we remember them too,” she said. “So, each year, we set up a booth downstairs, normally by the cafeteria, where people can come and hand a butterfly in remembrance of their baby.”

Defoor said due to COVID, the last few years, they only had butterflies from hospital staff, but it still filled the tree.

The loss never goes away, so they leave the remembrance tree up year round.

“We actually leave our tree out there, in front of Labor and Delivery year around, so that way anybody that wants to put out a butterfly they can do that,” she said.

Defoor said there is a stigma about infant losses, and she’s hoping to help change that.

“People like to make comments of ‘it was too early’ or ‘ oh you can have another baby’ things like that,” Defoor said. “That’s just hurtful, and these moms need all the resources to be able to cope with their losses and with us having this awareness. It helps them to hopefully be more comfortable talking about their losses.

Since CCMH started the infant and pregnancy loss committee roughly three years ago, Defoor has seen the conversation change.

“Even then, there were lots of people that I work with, and have worked with for years, that I had no idea they had an infant loss, and making this more out in the public, people are able to be able to talk their losses,” she said.

If a loss happens, they try to help their families feel supported and give them the resources they need. Defoor said they give their moms a chance to have pictures with their babies.

“They can hold their baby,” Defoor said. “We have our caring cradle, which is a cooling cradle that looks like a bassinet that they can keep at their bedside so they can keep their infant loss in the bassinet, so that way, if somebody was to walk into the room, they would just see a bassinet laying there. It helps preserve their baby at their bedside versus having to be kept in a cool room in order to preserve the baby.”

Defoor said they try to make molds of the baby’s hands and feet along with a bracelet with their name on it. She says parents are always welcome to come by the hospital and talk about their loss if they need to.

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