EDISON - October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. Two New Jersey mothers are on a mission to get more attention and research for these cases.
Debbie Vijayvergiya and Stacey Dinburg have formed the 2 Degrees Foundation. Its goal is to improve stillbirth outcomes in New Jersey by advocating for better training for medical professionals, more research, and education.
The cause is very personal to News 12 New Jersey’s Marisa Brahney, who lost her daughter Charlotte last year shortly after her birth.
According to statistics, one in four women will experience pregnancy or infant loss.
In the United States, 26,000 babies are stillborn every year - that’s one in 160 births - a number higher than SIDS and prematurity deaths combined.
Vijayvergiya and Dinburg say awareness isn't about scaring women, it's about empowering them to know about their care and ask more questions and advocate for themselves and their babies.
“After the first trimester, I was pretty much convinced that nothing could happen,” says Debbie Vijayvergiya of Maplewood.
Vijayvergiya had a healthy three-and-a-half-year-old daughter at home and despite two previous early miscarriages, her pregnancy with her 2nd daughter in 2011 was progressing perfectly, until a routine check-up after five months.
“They could not detect a heartbeat. I was left in such a state of shock and devastation and confusion,” says Vijayvergiya.
She says the delivery experience in the hospital was a big heartache.
Vijayvergiya got the attention of legislators and last year, Gov. Christie signed the Autumn Joy Stillbirth Research & Dignity Act. It aims to establish a standard of care in hospitals for suffering families, and improve data collection to find out why stillbirth is happening. Many times families are never given a cause.
Dinburg connected with Vijayvergiya after her own daughter, Rhyan, was stillborn in 2014.
Dinburg says awareness is the key for helping families who often feel isolated because of stillbirth's taboo nature.
“When returning the gifts I had received for my baby shower, the way the stores handled the situation, I said to myself, these people have no idea,” says Dinburg. “Something has to be done, somebody has to educate these people and let them know what mothers go through, what families go through.”
The 2 Degrees Foundation has several fundraisers planned over the next few months.