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Local couple raises awareness about pregnancy, infant death

Icon Orlando to light up pink, blue

ORLANDO, Fla. – The loss of a child is every parent's worst nightmare -- an unbearable thing to face that millions of expectant parents experience each year.

One couple in Longwood is sharing their story and the mission they are on to create awareness through the Icon Orlando, the 400-foot observation wheel at Icon Orlando 360.

A little over a year ago, Amber and Jonathan Shade were expecting their first child, a boy.

Throughout the pregnancy, everything was fine and doctors saw no indication that the baby was at risk. At 35 weeks pregnant, the mom-to-be didn't feel her baby move -- instead she felt a cramp.

"They believe I had a spontaneous placenta abruption, so it was just instant. Something we never imagined that we'd go through, but I think it's made us stronger," Amber Shade said.

The couple, who met in preschool, also found strength in their faith and family, but they realized something else.

"People don't talk about it. It's a taboo topic, people stay quiet, people don't say our son's name and for us it's about making sure Blake is remembered, you know. He is our first born. He'll always be our first son," Amber Shade said.

With photographs of Blake throughout their home, they make sure his memory stays alive. After their loss, they met Gary Vogel, of Angel of Hope of Central Florida, an organization that helps parents through their mourning process.

"We learned that we're not alone in all this," Jonathan Shade said.

Vogel said he experienced his own loss when his daughter passed away during a full-term pregnancy in 1989.

"Unfortunately, when you lose a child, especially a baby, we now have this need to parent but don't know how. So part of the journey of grieving the loss of a child, especially in pregnancy and infant loss, is that new parenting model and how to go about that," Vogel said.

Every year, Angel of Hope holds a candlelight vigil at Sunshine Park in Altamonte Springs to remember their children. 

"Everybody thinks once you make it to 12 weeks, you know, you're in the safe zone but there isn't a safe zone. One in four pregnancies ends in a loss," Amber Shade said.

To help create awareness about pregnancy and infant loss, Amber Shade contacted Icon Orlando officials and they agreed to light up the wheel pink and blue.

"She came up with this idea spontaneously, on her own and it kinda grew from there. I contacted the city and we were able to get the fountain at Lake Eola in pink and blue on the same day and also the Ginsburg tower at Florida Hospital of Orlando," Vogel said.

"We wanna make sure that every baby counts and a lot of people tend to maybe overlook or forget about that and we don't want that to happen," Jonathan Shade said.

Oct. 15 is national remembrance day for pregnancy and infant death. Angel of Hope organization will hold a vigil at Sunshine Park in Altamonte Springs.

For more information about Angel of Hope, click here


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