Today was a very special day. I travelled up to Washington DC to meet with leaders from the First Candle Organization, among others, in support of a Bill that is in front of Congress in support of Stillbirth Research, Education, and Awareness. When I was invited to speak, I was honored and I felt very humble. The date happened to be Savannah's 1st Birthday in Heaven and I could think of no better way to honor her or her life than to share her story and try to make a difference in preventing such a tragedy from happening again.
I left my house around 3AM. The seminar started with a breakfast meeting at 7:30AM in the Capitol, and it was about a 3 hour drive. I have only been to DC just a few times before and never by myself. We had just recently moved to a new home so I was taking a route I have never driven before. It was mostly rural and there were no major freeways until I got actually into DC. It was dark and pouring rain when I left the house.
I arrived and was welcomed by everyone involved. The speakers at the breakfast really opened my eyes about this bill and about so many other issues. I know quite a bit about Stillbirth, because that was my experience. However, I was shocked at how little I knew about SUID and SUDC. SUID stands for Sudden Unexplained Infant Death. This category includes SIDS and accidental suffocation. SUDC stands for Sudden Unexplained Death in Children, primarily ages 1-4. I had no idea that there were over 200 deaths per year in the US in children that were unexplained. Probably not the best information for an already overprotective mom of a toddler, but I always said with Savannah, I wished I would have known better and I could have saved her life. I met parents of all of these categories and I was shocked at how there is no collection of data or studies of these statistics in an effort to trace trends and work towards prevention.
Remember the SIDS - Back to Sleep campaign of the early '90s? The rates of SIDS dropped dramatically within years because someone took the time to do some reasearch, study the statistics, and come up with an easy message to communicate to everyone. And it worked! Wouldn't it be great if preventing stillbirth was that easy?
Our large group broke and we met with groups from our State. Then we were off! First, we visited with Senator Jim Webb's Office. It was interesting because right down the hall is Senator John McCain's Office. I was a HUGE McCain/Palin supporter, and I almost was in shock and I walked past him. I was so close I literally could have knocked him down. You would have thought I was a teenager meeting N'Sync or some great movie star. I had my camera in hand too but I couldn't register until I got into Senator Webb's Office. I texted my husband and tried to re-focus on the task at hand. I did peek back out to make sure it was really him. It was.
The meeting with Senator Webb's office went really well. I had done some thorough research into Senator Webb and his family. Interstingly, he has a daughter who is 4, a very cute girl named Georgia. How tragic to think that even his daughter could fall victim to a totally random statistic of SUDC. Then we met with Senator Mark Warner's Office. These meetings were fairly routine. We talked about the Bill, then told our stories, and emphasized why becoming a co-sponsor was so important. I tried not to think about how we were meeting with Democrats. I have thick Republican Blood running through my veins but I had to put all that aside for the greater good of this Bill.
We had lunch and then it was off to meetings with the Congressmen. We met with around 4 or 5 different offices. The meeting with my Congressman, Rob Wittman, was the last one of the day. Wouldn't you know that it was probably the most successful meeting AND I got a photo opp!
As I drove home (quickly so that Eric could make it to work), I thought about the day and all that had been accomplished. I will never know if my making the journey did anything, but I know it did more than if I had spent the day at home crying in bed. No matter what day it is or what's going on, I strive to be a good Mommy to Savannah and to make her proud. She deserves nothing less. While her death could have easily been prevented, so many others are not. I just know if we could get this Bill passed, it would be a great start and doesn't everything have to start somewhere?
Please read this link to the Bill and email your Congressman or Congresswoman as well as your Senators and let them know how these issues have impacted your life. Please urge them to support and co-sponsor this bill. Every little bit helps make a difference.
Happy Birthday, Savannah. You are so loved!