September 11, 2001 will always be an emotional day for much of our country. It was devastating and awful and unreal. For my husband and me it has an additional horrible memory of losing our first child to stillbirth.
It was my first pregnancy and we were all super excited. My parents, his parents, my grandmother, all of our friends and, of course, my husband and me. We had waited to have children to make sure our marriage was strong and we were ready for our little girl – Sydney. I had a perfect pregnancy – everything looked great.
At 38 weeks I was still working full time in advertising and public relations, and everything looked great. Then September 11th happened. We were all in shock. One of my clients was the National Championship Air Races. No Air Races. No planes at all.
On September 13, I had my scheduled doctor’s appointment. It was too late. He sent us straight to the hospital. It was the worst day of my life. I didn’t know anyone who had lost a baby. Everyone came home from the hospital with a baby. We didn’t. I didn’t know how to react. I was in shock.
I was surprised to hear the statistics regarding stillbirth. A baby is born still in the United States every 22 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I found an online community of women who were like me and that helped. I was lucky – we got pregnant again and I have my rainbow baby. She is 14 but still my baby. I have two girls and they are the light of my life.
I heard about Count the Kicks from best-selling author Glennon Doyle Melton. She spoke at their annual Every Woman Counts fundraiser luncheon and the founders’ stories spoke to me: five women in Iowa who lost little girls in the early 2000s to stillbirth. I felt like these were my people. I wanted to help. These women got to work to try to help reduce the number of stillbirths. They found studies that showed if expectant moms track their baby’s movements starting at 28 weeks, they will significantly reduce their chance of stillbirth.
Count the Kicks has a free app in the iTunes and Google Play online stores or you can use an old school chart and pen. The system works by having expectant mamas begin monitoring their baby’s movement in the third trimester. Expectant moms should pick the same time of day, every day, to count baby’s movement. Mamas should sit with their feet up or lie on their side. Then, they should count each of their baby’s movements as one kick, count until reaching 10 movements, and record how long it took to get to ten. Pretty soon moms will start to notice a pretty consistent pattern in how long it takes their baby to get to ten. If the amount of time it takes to get to ten changes significantly, moms should call their provider right away. Kick counting histories are useful for visits with providers.
The women created Count the Kicks in Iowa in 2009 and spread the message to a grassroots network of supportive hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices in Iowa. Since then, they’ve watched the state’s stillbirth rate drop by 26 percent. Iowa has gone from 33rd in the country in stillbirth rate to 3rd lowest.
Today Count the Kicks has gone global — the five Iowa moms are literally trying to save babies around the world. This year moms as far away as the South Pacific and the Middle East are downloading the free Count the Kicks app.
Count the Kicks is growing every day to save more babies. There are passionate ambassadors advocating kick counting in 18 states. I’m happy to be the Ambassador for Nevada – a small part of the team that’s spreading the baby-saving message as far and wide as we can send it.
Count the Kicks Nevada Ambassador