Silencing the stigma: Northland couple shares story of loss at birth

To lose a loved one is hard. For parents, losing a child is unimaginable.

One in four women experience a miscarriage during pregnancy. Though miscarriage and loss at birth are common, apart from the pain, those situations can carry a lot of stigma.

Anndrea Ploger and Mark Johnson, a couple who has experienced the unthinkable not once but twice, says it’s time to change that stigma.

After the loss of baby Penny and their first son, River, they gave birth nine months ago to a happy and healthy baby, August Snow Johnson.

Now, Ploger and Johnson want other parents who are going – or who have gone through- the same thing to know they are not the only ones.

"Know that you’re not alone," said Ploger. "Again, it’s a common thing to lose a child but miscarriages are easily hidden and the stigma is there. If we as women can speak up about that more comfortably we will make it better for the years to come."

Both Ploger and Johnson say that the St. Luke’s medical team that helped them deliver August was crucial in getting them get through what was a stressful experience.

Ploger notes that a lot of self-blame can come into play when losing a child and for mothers and partners, it’s vital to speak up and ask for help when healing.

"In the healthcare setting, even though many medical conditions and miscarriages are common, these are horrific events that people go through and have to grieve the loss of," said Dr. Melissa Miller, who delivered the couple’s son, August.

Johnson notes, "your mental health really is important and there are people that can help you get through challenging times."

With October functioning as Perinatal Loss Awareness Month, Ploger and Johnson hope that other parent’s struggling with loss can seek resources they are comfortable with in order to heal and grow.