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'Global Wave Of Light' Shining Attention On Pregnancy, Infant Loss



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Edmond Town Hall and a number of Newtown residents will be marking National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and are calling on residents to also be part of a “Global Wave of Light” supporting the cause and those most affected by it.

For Newtown residents Jessi Ruotolo and Kathy Gardner, this issue is deeply personal, so they have shared leadership responsibilities to promote this often forgotten and seldom discussed public health issue.

Gardner told The Newtown Bee that her late daughter, Tinsley, was stillborn on Dec. 4, 2017 at 32 weeks because of an umbilical cord accident. She participates in the New York Chapter of the Star Legacy Foundation and writes about her experience as a stillbirth mom at https://ltop.blog.

“I help manage the Peer Companion Program for the New York Metro Chapter (NY, CT, and NJ), which connects new loss moms to other trained loss moms for support,” Gardner said. “I am also a peer. Throughout the month we are running an #AlwaysAsk campaign that offers tips for a healthy pregnancy that anyone could benefit from.”

Gardner currently lives in Sandy Hook with her husband, Charlie, and sons Charlie, James, and Henry, and is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her fifth child in December.

Ruotolo moved to Newtown about a year ago. She and her husband Joe’s first child, Luca Gabriel, was born still at 34 weeks due to Trisomy 18 in Okinawa, Japan, on June 5, 2015.

They had received a fatal diagnosis one month prior. The couple also have a one-year-old daughter and four-year-old son.

Ruotolo has written about her experience at https://livingforluca.wordpress.com.

Thanks to Gardner’s advocacy, in 2018, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal proclaimed October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in Newtown.

Blue And Pink

This year, she said Edmond Town Hall will light up blue and pink the week of October 11 to help raise awareness of the issue and the families who experience it. In conjunction, Gardner and Ruotolo have organized a Facebook event to encourage local Northern Fairfield families to join the Global Wave of Light that happens all across the world.

Link to the event by visiting: https://fb.me/e/fgrzszcda.

As part of October’s National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, at 7 pm on Thursday, October 15, people around the world will light a candle on behalf of the babies gone too soon.

“This virtual event page is designed for local families and friends to have a space to share pictures of their candles burning, pictures of their children, to simply speak their babies names, and also hopefully connect and support one another,” Gardner said.

“Our hope is that this October, Edmond [Town Hall’s] blue and pink lights will also help de-stigmatize pregnancy loss so that families not only feel like they can freely speak their babies name on October 15, but that they can also talk about the babies they’ve buried on all the other 364 days of the year,” she added. “This page is for both family and friends of the babies that have died — it’s a great way for friends to show their support.”

Moms Reaching Out

Gardner said after The Newtown Bee developed a story on the issue in October 2018, she had many moms reach out about their own losses.

“Some miscarriages, some stillbirths, some infant loss — all looking to share their stories with someone that would understand,” Gardner said.

The issue of pregnancy and infant loss received global attention recently, Gardner said, when model Chrissy Teigen recently suffered a loss about halfway through her pregnancy.

Teigen, who is married to musician John Legend, expressed her openness on the subject by sharing pictures of her baby, and Gardner said the “raw pain of her experience has been met with mainly support, but also very unkind and ignorant comments.”

“That even one person thinks a picture of a dead baby is gross demonstrates the need for education and de-stigmatization around stillbirth,” Gardner said. “For stillbirth moms, a few pictures of our baby is all we have, and they are meant to replace a lifetime of memories.”

After Gardner promoted the Northern Fairfield County Wave of Light event to the Newtown Neighbors Unite Facebook page, it did not take long to reach others.

“A mom has already contacted me whose son was stillborn just a couple months before my daughter,” Gardner said. “She lives on the same street as me, and we never even knew the other one was a stillbirth sister. This is why this event, and others like it, are so critical in fostering connection around an issue that is extremely clouded in silence.”

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