FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Weed Army Community Hospital hosted Light the Night, a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month remembrance event on Oct. 15 at Fort Irwin.
Sgt. Monique Knox, a preventive medicine noncommissioned officer with WACH, spearheaded the planning for the event and said it’s important to acknowledge pregnancy and infant loss awareness events because it isn’t healthy for families to suffer in silence.
“It is strong and brave to be vulnerable and release that pressure and pain of your little loved one’s life lost before it eats away at you until you are no good to help anyone else.”
WACH staff set up a table with educational resources for families and a memorial frame where parents could write the name of their baby on a little, wooden heart and place it in the frame that will be displayed at the hospital entrance the rest of the month.
During the event, 1st Lt. Tiffany Mendez, a registered nurse with WACH, shared her story of loss.
Mendez had just arrived at her first duty station in Germany when she found out she was pregnant with her first child.
However, at one of the first routine checkups, she and her husband received the news that no parent wants to hear.
“The ultrasound technician informed us there was no longer a heartbeat,” she said.
After that, Mendez said she buried her emotions and tried to rationalize why she didn’t deserve to feel so sad.
“I always compared my loss to other people who had a loss maybe at birth or in the third trimester and it was like my pain wasn’t as great as them …I don’t need to make it that big of a deal,” she said. “But now looking back, I realize I shouldn’t have done that.”
Her pain re-emerged 16 years later when she started working at WACH and cared for someone in a similar situation.
“As a nurse I found myself caring for a young mother in her first trimester who had lost her first pregnancy,” she said. “Those feelings didn’t really come back until then, when I saw her in the spot that I was in 16 years ago.”
Mendez empathized with the grieving parents who thanked her for sharing her story with them.
“I realized how powerful that was just to face it and share my story and that was important,” said Mendez.
The WACH event where Mendez spoke about her experience gave families an opportunity to share their grief with others who had similar loss and create a safe environment to remember those lost.
“This is the first [a pregnancy and infant loss awareness] event I’ve ever been to,” Mendez said. “It took me 16 years to acknowledge it and I think it’s about time.”