Reality TV actress Jamie Otis has shared images of her baby, lost at four months gestation, in the hope of raising awareness about pregnancy loss, and offering support to women who have shared her experience.
There are plenty of people sharing their baby joy, but it’s rare to see images, or hear stories of loss. According to the Australian Department of Health, “one in five confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks, and even more women miscarry without having realised they were pregnant.” That’s a lot of people mourning quietly.
15 October marked Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and it inspired Otis to speak up. She wrote on Instagram, “I realise there is a great stigma associated with sharing photos of your baby who was born too early and has already gone to heaven so I want to say sorry if this offends you … I hope by me sharing my sweet boy Johnny, you’ll realize that he’s a harmless, helpless baby who deserves to be remembered, not hidden away.”
She goes on to encourage women who have lost babies to talk about their grief. “… if you’ve lost your baby early please know that you’re not alone … no one talks about it. I hope this can change. I’ll be the first in my circle. You be the first in yours. My prayers go out to everyone who has lost their sweet baby too early.”
Women responded to the call, sharing their tragic stories in the comments.
@thecrochetcase wrote, “You are not alone. Halo Joseph Hope, my son was stillborn at 20 weeks, having passed away (probably) a few weeks prior. Much love to you both and little Johnny.”
@sassafrasvint said, “Thank you for sharing your story. My husband and I just lost our 18 week old William this past Wednesday. I went into early labor and we were blessed to hold him in our arms for nearly two hours before he passed away. Our hearts are forever changed. Sending much love to you and others dealing with this heavy sadness and loss of a child.”
Others praised her courage. @natalie_lind commented, “I think this is one of the most touching and brave photos I’ve ever seen. I’ve never been through this myself but I don’t know what the future holds and if I ever find myself in this spot, it’s people like you who choose to make it feel ok to talk about. So thank you.”
If you’ve lost a baby and need to talk, Sands is a national service providing support to women and men who have experienced pregnancy or newborn loss.