Newtown Couple Shares Poignant Story About Pregnancy And Infant Loss
Holding a picture of newborn Tinsley between them, Kathy and Charlie Gardner remembered the hours spent with their stillborn child who “came into the world at 32 weeks,” in December 2017, Ms Gardner wrote in a recent letter to the editor ("Pregnancy And Infant Loss Awareness Day In Newtown," October 5, 2018).
Tinsley had died due to a knot in the umbilical cord. Looking at the photo, Ms Gardner said, “She was perfect,” and looked like her brothers, James, 4, and Charlie, 6.
“They know that have a sister,” she said. She remembers her sons’ school classes where families “pulled together. They grieved with us.”
She and her husband met with First Selectman Dan Rosenthal earlier this month to receive a proclamation dedicating October 15 as Newtown Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
The first selectman’s proclamation states that he urges “all agencies and organizations to unite on that day in remembrance of all babies gone too soon, in support of all families grieving the death of their baby at any time during pregnancy or infancy, and in dedication to healthy pregnancy and the prevention of these tragedies.”
The Gardner’s daughter now rests in St Rose Cemetery. Other babies are buried there, the couple said when they met with Mr Rosenthal to receive the proclamation.
The Gardners now volunteer with Star Legacy Foundation, which promotes awareness, education, and research into stillbirths.
After losing Tinsley, Mr Gardner leaned through his discovery of the foundation that “you’re not alone at all.”
Ms Gardner wants to ask residents to honor “our children.” Part of the complications in handling a stillbirth is “pregnancy after loss.” The Gardners are expecting a baby this December.
“Most of us moms, we get back up after loss,” she said.
Mentioning that both “my mother and [Charlie’s] mother lost babies,” so the possibility was “on our radar, but for many families, it’s a shock,” Ms Gardner said.
On the day the family lost Tinsley, the Gardners did not know what to do. But she sees the Newtown proclamation as “honoring her,” she said, referring to the child. “We spent five hours with her — not enough.”
In their recent letter to the editor, the Gardners wrote, “Stillbirth happens more often than many people know, occurring 1 in 160 pregnancies. This amounts to 70 babies stillborn every day in the United States.”
Awareness will “increase the likelihood that bereaved families will receive the understanding and support they need,” after their baby’s death, the letter states.
According to the first selectman’s proclamation, approximately 26,000 families in the US learn their unborn baby has died, “and many of these deaths are preventable… experts have referred to stillbirth as the most understudied issue in medicine today…”
A day of remembrance “honors the lives of children taken far too soon and supports grieving parents …”
The proclamation also notes that in “1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.”
A day of awareness will “enable people of Newtown to consider how, as individuals and communities, they can meet the needs of bereaved mothers, fathers, and families and work to prevent the causes of these deaths…”, the document further states.
Learn more about the Star Legacy Foundation at starlegacyfoundation.org.