This is what los­ing a baby feels like

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY - BY FRAM DINSHAW

Paula Har­mon’s daugh­ter Grace had only a five per cent chance of sur­viv­ing when she was born in dis­tress at just 26 weeks.

After more than seven months in in­ten­sive care Grace re­cov­ered, one of two twins to sur­vive a lethal lis­te­rio­sis in­fec­tion suf­fered by Har­mon.

Three years later on Dec. 28, 2016, Grace was back in hospi­tal what seemed like a sim­ple in­fec­tion, but was re­ally an un­fore­seen com­pli­ca­tion from her trau­matic birth.

“Eigh­teen hours later she died,” re­called Har­mon. “After Grace died, I now had to find a new re­al­ity.”

Part of that new re­al­ity for Har­mon is her or­ga­ni­za­tion Gar­dens of Grace in Dart­mouth, which fights for Nova Sco­tian fam­i­lies who lose ba­bies to have the emo­tional sup­port, coun­selling and other ser­vices they need.

Har­mon is also join­ing forces with fel­low mother Ray­lene MacPher­son and Pic­tou East MLA Tim Hous­ton to re-in­tro­duce the Preg­nancy and In­fant Loss Aware­ness Act.

If passed in leg­is­la­ture, the bill will pro­claim Oct. 15 as Preg­nancy and In­fant Loss Aware­ness Day, which Hous­ton said would en­cour­age peo­ple to speak out and de­mand broader change to help griev­ing fam­i­lies.

“We all know a fam­ily that has ex­pe­ri­enced the dev­as­tat­ing loss of a preg­nancy or child,” said Hous­ton. “They’re heart­break­ing losses, but for many years peo­ple only spoke of them in hushed tones and the se­crecy at­tached to the sub­ject meant that too many women and their fam­i­lies suf­fered in si­lence, they grieved alone with no sup­port.”

MacPher­son, who suf­fered two mis­car­riages, said that lost ba­bies and in­fants were al­ready hon­oured in com­mu­ni­ties across the globe and urged Nova Sco­tians to do the same on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m.

“If you have suf­fered a loss, or know of a loved one who has suf­fered a loss, I en­cour­age you to find a vigil near you or light a can­dle in your home in mem­ory of our sweet ba­bies gone too soon,” said MacPher­son as she fought back tears.

Twenty-eight Nova Sco­tian mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and count­ing al­ready rec­og­nize Oct. 15 as Preg­nancy and In­fant Loss Aware­ness Day. Ac­cord­ing to MacPher­son, 25 per cent of preg­nan­cies end in a mis­car­riage, but Nova Sco­tian fam­i­lies can only access sup­port groups at the IWK in Hal­i­fax or in Sydney, leav­ing out many in smaller com­mu­ni­ties.

She said that Pic­tou County had to “set some stan­dards,” for doc­tors and other healthcare pro­fes­sion­als car­ing for fam­i­lies who lose a young child.

“The sub­ject is so taboo, I didn’t know it was such a com­mon thing be­fore I had my first mis­car­riage,” said MacPher­son.

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