Kate, Lily, Jordyn, Josie, Greta, Jack, Adam, William, Matthew, Logan – names mothers do not want forgotten even though their babies are no longer here.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and the mothers of those babies have come together to honor their children and help make a difference in the lives of other families who are grieving the loss of a baby. They also hope it will make others more aware of the thousands of families affected by pregnancy and infant loss each year.
In the United States, roughly 24,000 babies are stillborn every year. Crestwood resident Jane DeLong, who lost her baby Kate in 2013, put that number in perspective.
"Out of the 6,000 babies that are born at Mercy Hospital (in St. Louis) every year, 60 of them are born dead ... that's a lot of babies," she said. "We just want to bring awareness to this issue. We want people to be aware that this happens – and that it's OK to talk about it."
The mothers are doing a lot more than talking about it. In partnership with Mercy Hospital HeartPrints – a support program for parents who have experienced the loss of a baby through stillbirth, miscarriage, neonatal death or ectopic pregnancy – the group of area moms has raised thousands of dollars through a trivia night.
"The support from the community and local businesses has been amazing," said Kirkwood resident Liz Burke, who lost her baby Lily in 2015. "I just wanted to do something to help others who have also lost their sweet babies, and in doing so we got to honor our own babies."
The second annual Mercy Hospital HeartPrints Trivia Night last month raised roughly $17,000, which will help support dozens of local families affected by pregnancy and infant loss this year at Mercy Hospital. Last year's trivia night raised more than $12,000.
HeartPrints uses the money to support newly bereaved families through a support group, providing keepsakes in remembrance of their babies and the purchase of special cooling devices called Cuddle Cots, which allow parents of stillborn babies to spend more time with them after delivery. The funds raised last year allowed HeartPrints to purchase three Cuddle Cots.
"The HeartPrints team steps in at a family's darkest hour to try to help make your most awful moment as gentle as possible," DeLong said. "They dress your baby, take pictures of your baby ... they're just there for you and will do anything they can to help you remember your baby."
DeLong said the HeartPrints' monthly support group and the friendships formed through it have been essential for her survival in the years since her daughter was stillborn.
"I would not be where I am today in my journey with grief without HeartPrints," DeLong said. "They have helped me learn the new normal. I've learned that I can live with the pain, and that I can do this with the support of the other moms and very good friends."
DeLong said she and the other moms hope that talking about their journey helps other moms and families who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss.
"When you're brave enough to share your story, that makes others brave enough to share theirs," she said.