October is upon us and that means people are starting to pull out their pink ribbons to spread awareness for breast cancer. However, among the crowds of people showing their support to find a cure for this deadly disease, there are other, quiet people donning a different kind of ribbon, a ribbon that is pink and blue. October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month was first established by Ronald Reagan on Oct. 15, 1988. He said, “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.”
According to the CDC, 1 in 4 pregnancies result in loss, and 1 in 100 babies die during their first year of life. This month is meant to remember their lives and the moments of joy they brought to their families. Ellis County resident Natalie Garcia opened up to the Sun about her own experience with pregnancy and infant loss – and the charity she started in memory of her baby daughter Sabrina.
Only a few days shy of turning 3 months old, baby Sabrina was killed in a car-wreck on July 21, 2017, by a negligent and unlicensed driver. Garcia, having already experienced two miscarriages, struggled to reconcile the loss.
“I went to numerous counselors, grief therapy classes and even a psychiatrist,” Garcia said. “I left each time more emotional than before. Although they were there to help me in my grieving process, I learned that none touched on the type of loss I had: infant loss. I felt alone and lost. I turned to friends and family but even though their intentions were good I ended up feeling worse. I thought to myself, ‘How can they help if they never experienced it?’ ”
Eventually, Garcia decided to take matters into her own hands. She became a certified Therapeutic Art Life Coach and started Baby Sabrina’s Mission. The goal? To spread awareness of pregnancy, infant and child loss and help families through their grieving process. Instead of watching videos and working out of a booklet, workshops by Baby Sabrina’s Mission are comprised of grief sharing (if participants want to share) and then therapeutic art.
“Art helps by relieving stress and focusing the mind on something other than grief,” Garcia said. “In certain workshops, we will create things in memory of our babies and I believe this brings some level of comfort because we are remembering our babies with love and memorable items we made just for them.
“The goal is to have a safe place to speak about our loss, share our stories and do hands on activities to learn a healthy way to process our emotions,” she said.
A special ceremony is also hosted during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month called the International Wave of Light. It is held Oct. 15, the same day Ronald Reagan established the month of awareness, with families around the world lighting candles at 7 p.m. in remembrance of their lost children. Baby Sabrina’s Mission recently gave away 100 customized candles for the event.
Garcia wants to make the charity’s services available for free for everyone in Ellis County and is hosting a fundraiser from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at Waxahachie Pharmacy, 401 N. U.S. Highway 77, Suite 23B.
All funds will go toward purchasing supplies for the Baby Sabrina’s Mission workshops. Garcia also does not want to stop there and is looking into becoming a Still Birth & Bereavement Doula. She wants grieving families to know that they are not alone and together they can get through these difficult times.
“I think what I really want people to understand that, as a grieving mother, we fear our babies being forgotten,” Garcia said. “So many people don’t know what to say and many avoid us to keep from that awkward moment. Even if you don’t know what to say, just sit with us. Sit with us in silence. It makes all the difference.”
For more information about Baby Sabrina’s Mission, visit its Facebook page or https://babysabrinasmission.com.