Miscarriage and infant loss happen. A lot.
Neither are talked about enough.
It wasn't until I became part of that community earlier this year during the first of two consecutive miscarriages that I realized how frequently miscarriage and infant loss occurred, and just how little people address it.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth and "10 to 25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage."
What's lacking isn't awareness by the medical community.
It's the discussion.
Kate Scheurich and her fiance, Adam Gregory, had a relatively normal pregnancy with no complications. At 37 weeks, only days after seeing their daughter, Annabelle Elizabeth, on an ultrasound, her heartbeat had stopped.
"You don't think nowadays that something like that could happen that far along and especially for us that we had a sonogram a couple of days before that and we had no issues," said Scheurich, who delivered her stillborn daughter Nov. 1, 2013.
My own experience initially eliminated miscarriage completely off the map, as my first pregnancy with my son was relatively average — albeit tremendously nauseating — and he was born perfectly healthy at 39 weeks. I was never warned that pregnancy loss doesn't discriminate.
For all of my pregnancies, I planned to wait until the 12-week mark to announce to anyone that my husband and I were expecting. Like so many, I had the unreasonable fear that if I didn't let anyone know about the pregnancy, I wouldn't have to let anyone know about the devastation that I didn't know I would eventually face.
The "If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it ..." thought process.
I was six weeks and three days pregnant, and then I just wasn't. In my moment of grief, I had to decide if I would share my emotions or remain silent like so many others.
"There is somewhat of a stigma about it, to where people don't talk about it," Scheurich said. "But now that it happened to me, I'll talk to people and find out so many people have experienced it and just how prevalent it really is. It's unfathomable that it's happening so much and it's just not talked about."
Luckily, support exists. Ways to remember the babies we never got to hold or kiss or cuddle exist.
Brandon Regional Hospital will hold its ninth annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Ceremony on Thursday, which is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
Scheurich and her fiance have gone in the past and find the event helpful in remembering Annabelle.
"The thing that I liked about that ceremony was that there were so many different components to it that it really could resonate with people based on how they do grieve, because there were so many different perspectives," Scheurich said.
Brandon Regional perinatal bereavement coordinator Heather Brightwell, one of the organizers for the event, believes the event can be healing for local families.
"It allows their children to be acknowledged because a lot of times, especially in the olden days, you didn't talk about it and just act like it didn't happen and get over it," Brightwell said. "But the culture now is that we try to make it known that these children were important and they were people, regardless of if they were here or not."
The ceremony, which hopes to draw more than the 500 people who attended last year, will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Adam's Garden at Brandon Regional Hospital. Anyone who has experienced pregnancy or infant loss is encouraged to attend.
Grief is a unique experience. People have the right to mourn as they choose, but eventually, I chose to be loud about my loss, including posts on Facebook. When I talked about the perpetual punched-in-the-gut feeling I was walking around with, an entire secret community surrounded me and thanked me.
It's nice to know I'm not alone.
Contact Kelsey Sunderland at firstname.lastname@example.org.