GUEST COLUMN: One family’s devastating experience with infant loss

Holly Barnes

Recently my grieving daughter presented me with a ‘Rainbow Hat’ to wear this October to observe Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

Her beautiful baby boy, Griffin, was born “sleeping” on Jan. 17, 2020. Because of her many struggles with fertility, he was considered her Miracle Baby. His arrival was anxiously anticipated with complete joy by all the family. Mommy was the happiest she had ever been.

One month before his expected birthdate, Griffin received his best report yet from the doctor. He was deemed extremely healthy, no worries.

But two days later our daughter felt he hadn’t been moving and decided to have him checked. Tragedy had struck.

She was told he no longer had a heartbeat. The umbilical cord had wrapped around his neck and strangled him.

We, her family, watched as her world crumbled around her. All the hopes and dreams she had for him were dashed. Her heart shattered and her spirit broke. On the day we were set to attend a baby shower to celebrate Griffin’s arrival, we said our goodbyes at a Memorial Service with a small gathering of family and friends.

We, her family, supported her wherever we could. We helplessly watched her fight to find a reason to live, to try to drag herself out of the deep depths of despair. It is a personal, emotionally exhausting journey — one she must go alone.

Our daughter has been seeing a therapist who has been instrumental in helping her work through the overwhelming emotions. She has come to an acceptance of what has happened to her little Griffin. She will carry him in her heart for eternity.

With the worst behind her now, she will cautiously move forward, for there is much more to overcome. She will be forever changed by this loss, but she now feels his presence in a spiritual way and he is her Guardian Angel.

I will wear my “Rainbow Hat” for the month of October in memory of our cherished, handsome little man.

I will wear my “Rainbow Hat” having been a witness to our daughter’s grief and knowing her journey and horrible fight.

I will wear my “Rainbow Hat” remembering the thousands of COVID Masks she has made, with her sister helping, and other family members, for the $6,800 raised for the Memory Box Program at Bluewater Health in Sarnia, to help support other families who have suffered the same loss.

I will wear my “Rainbow Hat” in sympathy for every Mom who has lost a baby through miscarriage or stillbirth, in recognition of how painful and devastating this loss can be. My heart goes out to you!

Do not be afraid to seek out a therapist to help you navigate your feelings and emotions! I believe it to be a crucial part in your recovery.

And if you see someone wearing a “Rainbow Hat” this month — please know what they are observing, and share a kind word.

Holly and Ken Barnes are residents of Corunna