Baby Steps Walk to Remember in Edmonton honours babies that were lost too soon. It started seven years ago with the goal of 20 people showing up, but co-founder Cheryl Salter-Roberts said more than 100 grieving parents and family members came to honour their lost babies.
Now the event has tripled in size. On Sunday, 300 people came and 200 baby names lined the pathway.
“It’s very important for our families because we know that our babies mattered and although they’re not present they still had an impact on our lives,” Salter-Roberts said.
She has four grown children now, but it was difficult. Between each pregnancy she had six miscarriages and two still births. It happened more than 20-years-ago, and Salter-Roberts said the experience felt isolating and people didn’t want to talk about it.
She started the walk to help those suffering to cope with the loss. The event is run through the H.E.A.R.T.S Baby Loss Support program.
Amanda Bearchell attended the walk. She lost her son Declan in 2017.
“We were pregnant with our first child and around 22-weeks, I went into pre-term labour. So we did a procedure, where they tried to keep him in for a couple of weeks, but inevitably he came early,” Bearchell said.
“He was born at just about 24-weeks and he lived for about a day and half in the NICU, before we had to let him go.
“When you lose a child it’s hard to find ways to honour them,” Bearchell said. “So days like this when we are given freedom to honour our lost babies, are so important.”
This is the first year Bearchell has come to the walk, but she has been accessing support since Declan’s death. She now has a rainbow baby, a child born after infant loss. Finley is six-weeks-old.
“(The pregnancy) was full of anxiety and hope and a little surreal honestly.” Bearchell said. “The minute they put him on me after he was born, was so surreal I just cried the whole time.”
“It’s kind of crazy to be here with him and know that had we not lost his brother, maybe he wouldn’t be here.
“I hope it’s something we can come do year after year, and eventually explain to him that, ‘You did have a brother before this and this is how we honour him.'”
Bearchell hopes sharing her story and support walks like this will mean no one copes with the heartbreak alone.
“There’s lots of us who don’t exactly know your story, but know the emotions of what it’s like to lose a baby.”
“So connect with someone and talk about it because it really does make it a little bit easier to cope when you know you’re not alone with all those feelings,” Bearchell said.
The next memorial day is Oct. 15. The High Level Bridge will be lit up for International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.