'People just don't want to talk about it': Helping parents who've lost babies

Locals come together to support one another through infant loss remembrance day

TAMPA, Fla. -- Jenna Ogle wears a constant reminder of what she's lost.

"These are my daughter's ashes," Ogle said, as she clutched onto a silver teddy bear on a chain around her neck. Her daughter had a musical bear she loved, she said smiling.

Ogle's daughter, Emersyn, died on July 2, 2017—just five months after she'd been born.

"She had a lot of medical conditions when she was born so we spent the first three months in the hospital and when we came home she had oxygen, she had a feeding tube and just one morning I woke up and she was gone," Ogle said.

The Lakeland mother says she's found comfort in talking about what she's lost.

"It does help to talk about it, I don’t want people to forget about her," she said. "A lot of people just don’t talk about it, they don’t want to think that some babies just don’t make it."

At Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park in downtown Tampa on Sunday afternoon, Ogle was among dozens of other families with similar stories of loss and heartbreak.

They gathered to mark Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day—October 15—and to raise money for a local non-profit support group called AMEND (Aiding a Mother/Father Experiencing Neonatal Death).

"Until it happens to you, you’re not aware of how many women are suffering and have gone through the same thing," said Aurora Fernandez of Tampa. 

Fernandez, who was accompanied by family and friends, said her 4-month-old daughter died in March. She's found comfort in sharing what's happened to her with others.

"It's helped me heal and it helped me accept what it happened," she said. "It's made my faith stronger because you lose your faith and you question.”

Sunday's event was to show families they aren't alone.

Statistics show one in four pregnancies will result in a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death shortly after birth.

Karen Frazier founded the AMEND Florida chapter after experiencing her own loss. She's set out ever since to help others experiencing the same grief.

MORE: Meeting locations and schedule information for AMEND Tampa

"We lost our daughter in 1975, she didn’t have any functioning kidneys but we didn’t know because they didn’t do ultrasounds routinely then," Frazier said. "But the more you talk, the easier it becomes. You need to talk about grief.”

She estimates she's worked with thousands of families in the decades since she started the non-profit group, which works with area hospitals and physicians.

"The hard part is going on with life no longer pregnant, without that baby and that hole is always there," Frazier said.

But with groups like AMEND offering resources, she hopes support will always be there too for families in need.

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