Jordan Owens and her husband were expecting their seventh child this fall.

 

"He stopped moving and I was worried, but I had just gone into my third trimester, so I was just thinking maybe he wasn't as active. I went to the doctor to see, and there was no heartbeat," Owens said. "It's the worst thing anybody can ever experience."

 

Many families experience the same tragedy. October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and she wants to make others aware of how many people it affects.

 

Owens was sent home overnight before returning to the hospital the next day for a cesarean section. Imais King Owens was delivered at 28 weeks.A twisted umbilical cord was found to be the cause of death.

 

The Owenses had just a few hours to hold Imais and take photographs before his body was taken to the funeral home.

 

"The only car ride I got with him was from the funeral home to the cemetery," Owens said. "When we left the hospital, it was just me and my husband."

 

Donations and gifts poured in from friends, coworkers and complete strangers, which helped the family cope with the unexpected expenses of a funeral.

 

"We stepped into something we weren't planning at all," Owens said. "Things have definitely changed a lot in our household."

 

Owens takes medication for her depression, remembering how a friend's mother committed suicide after losing her baby.

 

"I see how painful it was and the hurt that she felt, but I also see the pain that it caused to those kids that she left behind," Owens said. "There has to be a way in between — to be a mother to your children who are alive and be a mother to your children who are in heaven. That's the only option."

 

Explaining the death of their brother to her other children has not been easy.

 

"They've been affected by it a lot," Owens said. "They always came and touched my stomach, because he was such an active baby."

 

Through her worst days, she had friends who called, sent her messages, invited her out to lunch and gave her hugs.

 

"A grieving mom needs to be comforted like a newborn baby. She needs to be held. That's all you can do," Owens said. "The quickest way to make a mom mad is to say 'he's in a better place,' or 'it was God's will.'"

 

Losing a child can be a root cause of depression, divorce or substance abuse.

 

"It's something people don't talk about, which is really sad, because those are the people that need the most help," Owens said.

 

Fathers, grandparents and other extended family members are affected by an infant's death as well.

 

"Don't be afraid to mention the child's name. They want them to be remembered. They don't want you to act like they're not there; that they never existed," Owens said.

 

Owens shares her experience and feelings through an online support group and encourages others to do the same.

 

"When I'm depressed and sad about him, I try to do something positive for him," Owens said. "Imais isn't here, so the best way I can shine a light in the darkest, darkest place is through him."

 

She is making handmade memorial items for people who have lost a family member.

 

"A lot of that stuff you have to order online. You never see them at the craft fairs," Owens said.

 

By selling memorial items at local events, Owens hopes to raise enough money for the babies buried in Greenwood Cemetery to have a headstone, just as her son does. She knows of at least nine infants who do not have a marker.

 

"I know there are some at the cemetery who don't have stones and people don't even know they exist and it's really bothering me," Owens said. "I'll make sure people know who they are."

 

She also put a sign in her front yard at 502 Meadowbrook Dr. for people to sign with the names of infants they have lost. After a week, there were dozens of names added besides Imais King Owens.

 

"I'm raising awareness. I'm going to continue," Owens said. "I'm going to always speak about Imais. He's always going to be remembered. There's always going to be something going on in his behalf through me."