As it happens6:20 a.m.After 5 miscarriages and a stillbirth, a Quebec MP draws attention to perinatal loss
Every October 15, Désirée McGraw and her family visit the grave of her stillborn daughter, Catherine.
But this year, the Liberal member of the National Assembly of Quebec will make her annual trip knowing that her colleagues of all political stripes support her.
Thursday, McGraw’s bill for Quebec to officially recognize Perinatal Bereavement Awareness Dayalso known as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, was passed with unanimous support.
“Most people know me as the mother of three very active and healthy boys. And I am very grateful for that. But I am also the mother of a daughter,” said the MP. As it happens host Nil Köksal.
“For a lot of families, when they experience the loss of a child, we often blame ourselves. And I think in my case, and for these women who have experienced loss in their own body, it’s very, very difficult. And so recognizing today, and providing support to families, I think it’s very important to go through the grieving process.”
Quebec now joins several other provinces and territories in officially recognizing the annual day of remembrance, including British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories.
Before McGraw’s bill passed 115-0, she ran in the provincial legislature and told her story of losing Catherine eight years ago at 36 weeks pregnant, just days before her scheduled C-section.
The baby had been deemed healthy in an ultrasound a week earlier, she said, but died of asphyxia when McGraw contracted a virus due to a long-standing, but undiagnosed, autoimmune disease previously.
Before her stillbirth, she said she had five miscarriages.
At first, she says she didn’t intend to go into detail about her deeply personal health care story in front of her fellow lawmakers. But about five minutes before her speech, she changed her mind.
“It’s been a process,” she said. “I think it’s important to destigmatize such difficult loss and grief.”
100,000 Canadian families
Every year, almost 100,000 Canadian families experience perinatal deathaccording to the Quebec-based Center for Studies and Research on Family Health Intervention, which defines the term as ranging from miscarriage early in pregnancy to death of an infant up to six weeks old after birth.
“For our family, we call it Catherine’s Law,” McGraw said. “We also believe that this is a law that would honor all the children of the many families in Quebec who are affected each year by a perinatal loss.”
Although official recognition does not come with specific policy changes, McGraw says she sees it as a “very important first step.”
She says she hopes that this bill will be followed by “more concrete measures” in Quebec to support families, in particular bereavement support services accessible to all parents, regardless of their financial situation, better training for health care workers. health faced with perinatal deaths and paid leave, for both mothers and fathers, to grieve after a miscarriage.
“There’s a whole bunch of grief and impact on the couple, because you’re blaming yourself, you’re blaming the other person,” she said. “It’s quite a heavy task, and so you need a little time.”
Although there is still much to be done, she says she is hopeful for the future after receiving bipartisan support for her bill.
“Some of the most significant moments in the legislature are when we overcome partisanship and, in a kind of shared sense of our common humanity, we come together around unanimous motions.”