“The purpose of this free inaugural event is to raise awareness for pregnancy and infant loss within our community,” said Staines, who along with Dowdy, is a student at Shorter University. “We chose to name our event Footprints on the Heart because of the fact that the loss of a baby forever changes the lives of parents and those in our community as it leaves everlasting ‘footprints on the heart.’ Both of our immediate families, as well as many of our extended family members and friends, have been affected by pregnancy and infant loss. [My] granddaughter, Natalie Staines Mcfalda, was delivered stillborn on Feb. 9, 2011.
“It was through this experience that I wanted to find out more information about pregnancy and infant loss. That search led me to [the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep] and First Candle [organizations],” she said, referring to two nonprofits that will be highlighted during Footprints on the Heart. “We wanted to create an event to honor the memories of those who were called to heaven much too soon. In preparing for this event, we have met many who have been affected by either the loss of their child [children] or that of a loved one’s child. We have met with parents who have suffered losses as recent as three weeks ago as well as one mother who suffered the loss of her full-term stillborn daughter 56 years ago.”
To be held at the former Emmie Nelson Library building at 108 Covered Bridge Road S.W., the event also will consist of songs, poems, speakers, materials from local organizations and the opportunity to create an ornament that will be featured on a memorial tree for pregnancy and infant loss at the Euharlee Festival of Trees offering. Staines encourages those who are unable to attend to email — firstname.lastname@example.org — information, such as the name and date, in order for their loved ones to be recognized during the gathering.
“I had a miscarriage on Aug. 25, 2006,” Dowdy said. “The day I felt my body betraying me was very painful. What I want mothers and family members to gain from this event is the hurt, anger and sadness they feel is real. Getting together with people who can share similar experiences can help individuals in the healing process.
“People that haven’t experienced miscarriage may think it’s no big deal, the loss isn’t real but my God tells me, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…’ — Jeremiah 1:5. Even though I never got to hold my baby he/she was very much real.”
National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month was implemented by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, followed by the U.S. House of Representatives designating Oct. 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in 2001.
Emphasizing that infant and pregnancy loss is a widespread issue, the Footprints on the Heart’s new release stated, “According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the American Pregnancy Association:
• 18,000 babies pass away each year within 28 days of birth, and 27,000 within 1 year
• 26,000 women experience pregnancy loss through stillbirth each year.
• 670,000 women experience pregnancy loss through miscarriages, ectopic, or molar pregnancy.”
Along with sending an email to email@example.com, more information about the Euharlee event can be obtained on the Facebook page “Footprints on the Heart.”