Local Mom Helps Community with Child Loss

Local Mom Helps Community with Child Loss

It's National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, and Stephanie Nalley is a soon-to-be mom of three. She has a little boy, Chase, and a little girl due in a matter of weeks. But back in October, 2011, she lost another son.
HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- It's National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, and Stephanie Nalley is a soon-to-be mom of three. She has a little boy, Chase, and a little girl due in a matter of weeks. But back in October, 2011, she lost another son.

"The doctor walked back in and he had a box of tissues in his hand and he said, 'I'm sorry, Stephanie. Bentley's heart's not beating,'" Stephanie Nalley said about the day she found out her son had passed.

Nalley took the loss of her first born son, and turned it into hope. She's active with an organization called Stillbirthday, a network of people who help connect those who have lost babies with resources, like bereavement and other counseling, as well as help them cope.

She also is starting a new organization, alongside her husband, Blake, called Journey's. They'll kick start this group after Nalley comes back from maternity leave, sometime nearly next year. Journey's is a group designed specifically for couples who have lost a pregnancy or a baby. Nalley said this kind of loss "can make or break your relationship," and she hopes Journey's helps make it better.

Along with Stillbirthday and Journey's, Nalley is also involved locally with Faces of Loss and Faces of Hope, and another new venture using her doola and bereavement training, Hope Through Birth.

"My husband and I attended a local support group, monthly, after we lost Bentley, and we do still attend the support group," Nalley said. "We got to a point where we didn't want to just share our story in a circle, and tell our story, we wanted to do something to continue to honor our baby."

Nalley along with Stillbirth founder, Heidi Faith, have been organizing events around town to remember the babies lost, like Bentley.

Stephanie Nalley's next event, a candlelight walk to honor lost babies, is Saturday, October 12, at 7 PM at Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church in Williamsport.

And with National Infant Mortality Awareness Month this September, there's more to be positive about.

Infant mortality rates, overall around Maryland, have decreased. In 2012, the rate was 6.3 per 1,000 live births, that's down 6% from 2011. In Washington County, the number is even lower at only four.

"It has been getting better across the state. Actually, infant mortality has been decreasing fairly significantly," Rod MacRae, Public Information Officer at the Washington County Health Department said.

This compares to West Virginia's 7.6 infant deaths per 1,000 births, a number that is higher than the national rate of 6.7, ranking West Virginia 37 among the United States in infant mortality.
Pennsylvania had 7.3/1,000 in 2011, and Virginia had 7.2 per 1,000 babies die before their first birthday as of 2009.

But MacRae said prevention, like prenatal care, and things like proper sleep are important pieces to this puzzle.


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