One in six

by Claudia Ravaldi

60,656,000 people live in Italy, spread across 20 regions and 7998 municipalities.

Approximately 500,000 newborns are born alive each year, while another 120,000 die during pregnancy or within a month of birth.
This means that for every 6 pregnancies started, one stops.
This means that of six women who go for the first ultrasound checkup, one will lose her baby, most often in the first trimester or early second, more rarely at term of pregnancy or after birth.

Translated into raw numbers: when we go in front of the exit of a kindergarten, and we meet six mothers, the possibility that one of them has lost or will lose a child in the future is high: in our country, for about twenty years, these numbers are “incompressible”, they do not fall below certain rates.
We expect, year after year, a “fixed” number of spontaneous abortions in the first trimester, so-called late abortions in the second trimester, stillbirths and postnatal deaths. We know there will be. Istat confirms it, year after year, the Cedap certificates confirm it, when they exist, they are correctly filled in and read.
One in six .

After ten years of CiaoLapo, after ten years of work in this parallel world, of mothers with half-full and half-empty, or entirely empty arms, I wonder what our institutions do for the 120,000 women every year who are “that pregnancy on six “that stops.
I wonder what institutions do for women who fail to be part of this statistic, because their pregnancies don’t even start (there are three million, the statistics tell us).

Where are these women? And their comrades? And the children already present, when present, also overwhelmed by mourning?

Is there a place for them that is not a “place-on-place” like CiaoLapo, a virtual place that people have to go looking for, often hundreds of kilometers away from their city of residence?
Can we “occupy”, as citizens, our countries, our cities, our places of life with our stories, without being ignored?
Can we make a difference for the next army of women with empty arms, what Istat will tell us next year in the form of graphs and numbers and of “population decline”?

Alfredo and I in 2006, we thought about peri-natal mourning (starting from full-term death in utero that struck us and gradually including all peri-natal mourning, around birth, including infertility) thinking about people.
Thinking of all those involved, first and foremost parents, but also relatives, friends, employers, health workers and professionals, pedagogues and teachers of bereaved siblings.

Our vision was social right from the start.
We did not want a “niche” association, detached from the context in which we live, but an association of women and men with a deep civic and social sense inserted in the context, an integral part of citizenship.
We wanted a community (we have it, partly virtual, partly true and true, and we are very proud of it) capable of opening up to the whole community, and merging into the social fabric.
1 out of 6. In our opinion, this is too large a number to pretend that those are not citizens. To pretend that they do not need space, support, culture and hospitality.
And therefore, ten years after the foundation of CiaoLapo and close to the tenth Babyloss Awareness Day on October 15th , a consideration for all of us.

What can people, municipalities, regions, hospitals, consultants and local, regional and national institutions do?

How to give space to the sixth woman in the statistics, and her family?

We could start with the recognition of October 15, taking note that there are 120,000 women every year and as many families, who desire, conceive, wait and forgive.
They are all around us.
They are our sisters, friends, teachers, cousins.
It was us.
It could be us.
We give space to their stories. To the stories of those to come.

We know from experience that awareness is not easy.
It is a bumpy path, that of awareness of perinatal bereavement.

It is a path with gritted teeth, the search for space for these women and sisters, who live a traumatic experience in social and institutional indifference .

It is a path that requires foresight, firmness and patience.

Promoting awareness is ” stuff for strong stomachs” , we tell ourselves, for ten years now, after every door in the face we take from fellow doctors, psychologists, midwives, politicians, administrators.
Not all, of course and fortunately, but many.
Still too many.
Blind and deaf to literature, experiences, data, graphics, art, even.
Blind and deaf to the people who suffer, and to what, if duly welcomed and supported, they can return to being. Brilliant resources for themselves, their families and our community.
Blind and deaf, locked inside their hospitals, their universities, their retro schools. Closed in a parallel world, in which 1 out of 6 is “the clinical case”. In which 1 in 6 is not a person in its entirety.
That people, taken whole, for better or for worse, are frightening, annoying.
Thinking of 620,000 cradles every year, and thinking that 120,000 remain empty, is too distressing.

I want to tell you how it is proceeding, in Italy, where our bill has been wrecked in the coils of the government and where the ministry of health is extraordinarily deaf to our requests to take into consideration the sixth woman in statistics (and also the three million couples infertile).

I want to tell you why we continue, year after year, to weave networks, to smile with our volunteers, to light up with hope every time I open an email, like the one today, in which an operator tells me: “I want to do it too. be awareness “.

Some regions have been present in the CiaoLapo network from the beginning, thanks to the efforts of parents and lone operators who have approached CiaoLapo by marrying its social vision, cultural and development project in the area.

In these regions a lot has been sown, and it is still sown today, despite often adverse climatic conditions, ferocious resistance from Hospitals reluctant to change, freelancers and other detractors, who unfortunately see us as a punch in the eye (and we get it right, of course).

We cannot please everyone, also because we ask for things that perhaps are not for everyone: to study and fully understand a phenomenon in all its multiple facets, internalize it and promote an organizational, structural, cultural and social change that shortens the distance between us and other developed countries, where feeling part of a community is the rule and not the exception.
I am well aware that this is a frightening request for defenders of the status quo. I’m sorry, but we continue to sow, and we continue to reap, making sure that what we reap is enough for everyone

Some regions are absent today, despite the mourning parents there too, they suffer, even there, often in total solitude and with the perception of being abandoned by everyone, even by God and by the institutions. Serie B citizens, as a mother from Abruzzo once wrote to me: “we don’t count, we don’t exist for anyone”. We want to get there too, and start sowing awareness. You are not alone, I hope autumn brings us a couple of bright and enlightened operators.

Other regions have started well, but today they are experiencing a moment of crisis: leaving a small group of people to always organize for everyone, without ever offering any help, neither moral nor material, can create a lot of effort and a certain perplexity (Who am I doing this for?, a colleague from the Marches wrote to me), especially if the institutions play a role, pretending to be interested only to abandon the projects halfway through, lose the donated material, do not provide any support to those who voluntarily organize meetings for their community.
One would think of not belonging to any community, if we did not know that couples affected by bereavement during pregnancy or after birth are distributed throughout Italy.

Then there are the surprises, the ones you wouldn’t expect, the ones you tried to cultivate with patience, between a laugh and a tear, with a small army of tenacious women. They are the women who run alone with the wolves, and maybe they don’t even know it. They are the women who, after having lost what they held most dear in the world, after being bent by grief, got up, and started asking, as citizens, their place in their community. There are many, they are more and more, uncomfortable and beautiful, precisely because they are uncomfortable.
Disruptors of the status quo, courageous to the point of looking straight at anyone and claiming a right that other women and mothers have already claimed and obtained decades ago in other European and non-European countries.
It is to these women that my thanks go today. Those women who take the time it takes, sometimes even a decade, but when they leave, they start looking straight and shoulders open and # noncenèpernoone .

Because whoever marries a cause, who fully understands a cause, feeling an integral part of it, marries it to the end, and carries it forward, with the means he has, with the few human resources he has, as he can and with a generosity that most people today #selasdream .

So thanks to mothers, fathers, associations, individual professionals, groups of women who will celebrate BabyLoss Day side by side with CiaoLapo in a lot of cities, towns, villages and villages, creating beautiful networks of synergy, and above all, opening the door to families in difficulty. By embracing the pain of today, or the old pain that has been frozen for years, and starting to transform it.

The center of Babyloss Day, for how it was born many years ago, and for how we promoted it in Italy, is precisely this: to unite under the sign of awareness and welcome parents of today and yesterday,

operators wishing to improve assistance, institutions capable of really being at the side of citizens and promoting a substantial change in the relationship with those who suffer from the loss of an expected child.
October 15 belongs to citizens, to small towns and it concerns everyone. Who has been through it and can offer support, who is going through it and feels lost, who for work meets that woman out of six and her family every day.
October 15th is welcome and resilience.
It is #knowledge that protects.
We are.

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