Toronto·Point of View

Bianca Colle lost 3 babies in childbirth, now she's raising awareness about infant loss

I never could have imagined that after giving birth to a perfectly healthy baby girl in 2012, I would go on to give birth to three more babies in two years, all of whose hearts would stop beating before their first breath.

Daughter of Liberal MPP Mike Colle speaks out on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Bianca Colle, daughter of Mike Colle, the Liberal MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence, gave birth to a healthy baby girl in 2012. Three subsequent pregnancies, however, ended in stillbirths. (Bianca Colle)

Editor's note: Ontario will mark the first annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day Oct. 15. Several women have shared their perspectives with CBC News in the hope that it will encourage wider communication. 

I never could have imagined that after giving birth to a perfectly healthy baby girl in 2012, I would go on to give birth to three more babies in two years, all of whose hearts would stop beating before their first breath.

First a brother, Edward, born still at 23 weeks. Then Thomas, stillborn at 31 weeks. And then a sister, baby Violet, stillborn at 18 weeks. 

I never could have imagined that these three babies would change my life forever.

My experience may seem extremely uncommon, but my story is not. As I began to share my story, I started to hear from other women — so many families — who have experienced the same things. We share in the grief, trauma, heartache, social isolation, financial burdens, and inner conflict.

These tragedies happen every day, all around us, and we still only talk about them in whispers, if at all. Society does not adequately care for women grieving this kind of loss, and we are often alone. 

The numbers are staggering.

As many as one in four pregnancies end in a loss. That is 37,000 pregnancy losses each year in the province of Ontario alone.

Inspired by my shared experience with others, I asked my dad — who is a Member of Provincial Parliament — to make a statement in the legislature to recognize  Oct. 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

This time last year, he did that, and then much more. He began to research and discovered that there was virtually no infrastructure to care for and support families experiencing pregnancy and infant loss. To address these major gaps, he created Bill 141: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, Research, and Care Act.

In December 2015, Bill 141 was unanimously approved by all political parties and passed into law. This major breakthrough is the first legislation of its kind in North America and marks a shift in the way this issue will be addressed in this province. 

'Their lives were not lost in vain'

The Ontario Ministry of Health must now undertake research and analysis on pregnancy loss and infant death, and establish programs to better support families. The bill also will raise public awareness by declaring October 15th as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in the province of Ontario.

One year later, we will be commemorating the first official Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in Ontario. We are celebrating the first funding to support families in need and are anticipating future funding for research, analysis and better standards of care within our healthcare system.

I never could have imagined that our three babies, Edward, Thomas and Violet, would have inspired such a change in this province.

I never could have imagined their short lives could make a lasting impact on other families. I am so proud of them.

This will never mend the heartache; nothing can ever bring them back, but their lives were not lost in vain. They existed, they were loved, and I can only hope that this change, inspired by their lives, will ripple out across the country to other provinces, to the federal government, and internationally. 

It is what any parent hopes for; that their children will make a positive impact in the world. 

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