WBAMC remembrance comforts parents suffering from loss

Capt. Cynthia Turner, chaplain, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, and Capt. Christopher Stone, clinical nurse officer in charge, Special Care Nursery, participate in a prayer during WBAMC’s annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day at the WBAMC chapel, Oct. 15. Photo by Marcy Sanchez, WBAMC Public Affairs.

Capt. Cynthia Turner, chaplain, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, and Capt. Christopher Stone, clinical nurse officer in charge, Special Care Nursery, participate in a prayer during WBAMC’s annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day at the WBAMC chapel, Oct. 15. Photo by Marcy Sanchez, WBAMC Public Affairs.

By Marcy Sanchez, WBAMC Public Affairs:

(El Paso, Texas, Nov. 2, 2017)

William Beaumont Army Medical Center’s Maternal-Child Health Services participated in the worldwide recognition of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day at WBAMC’s chapel, Oct. 15.

The remembrance provided support, education and awareness for families suffering from miscarriage, fetal demise or the loss of an infant.

“It’s not really a means to an end but a grieving process to help turn the page and move on to the next chapter,” said Capt. Christopher Stone, clinical nurse officer in charge, Special Care Nursery. “There are multiple levels of grieving that happen, not just (one day) but for months and years at times.”

During the remembrance, patrons participated in prayer, a brief history of the day and shared words of encouragement amongst each other.

“Whether it’s eight or nine weeks of gestation or one week, once (parents) see that positive pregnancy test, their lives change,” said Stone, who is also a bereavement education coordinator at WBAMC. “Even if (a miscarriage occurs) to that family, it’s still a baby; it’s still their baby.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stillbirth affects about 1 percent of all pregnancies. Other sources state miscarriages, loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy, are far more common with figures as high as 20 percent of known pregnancies ending in miscarriage. That estimate is thought to be higher for miscarriages amongst women who may not even realize they were pregnant.

Stone, along with other faculty members, went through specialized bereavement training enabling them to provide support and follow-on management for families suffering a loss. Although bereavement management at WBAMC is focused in the perinatal setting, the specially trained staff is also capable of providing support through the entire lifespan for families of young or senior family members who have passed.

“Discharge is not the end of it,” said Stone, a native of Shawnee, Okla. “We have follow ups, chaplains get involved, behavioral health gets involved if needed. We follow up with them to assist in the grieving process which they may continue to grieve for the rest of their lives.”

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day Campaign of 2002 solidified Oct. 15 as a day of observance.

In the tradition of the International Wave of Light, patrons participated by lighting a candle at 7 p.m. The wave of light is an effort to light a candle, in remembrance, around the world in each time zone, to create a continuous wave of light on Oct. 15.

WBAMC is a Level II Neonatal Care Facility denoting the Special Care Nursery as a nursery capable of providing care for stable or moderately ill infants born at or after 32 weeks gestation or weighing at or over 1,500 grams at birth with problems that are expected to resolve rapidly without the requirement for urgent subspecialty-level services.