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Pregnancy & Infant Loss Month: Actress Lela Rochon Shares Her Story, Trusting Your Body & Important Tips for Black Women

Sadly, despite all the modern-day medical triumphs, almost 16% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage or still birth according to CDC statistics compiled in 2004.  October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and this week we are sharing empowering personal stories, tips and resources on this important subject that affects millions of families every year.

We loved her as Robin in Waiting To Exhale, but actress Lela Rochon and her husband, director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), have a story of pregnancy loss that never made it to the big screen. Below, Lela shares her story about losing her child in the fifth month of pregnancy (the full interview appears in The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy).

This hard working actress (other credits include Boomerang, Harlem Nights, and Any Given Sunday) was in the midst of a rough work schedule during her pregnancy. Logging a 16-hour day, she was quite exhausted when she got home the night before her water broke. It was never determined why she went into labor so early in her first pregnancy.  She suspects fibroids, which were removed before she became pregnant with her next child, might have been the cause.  However, Lela has important lessons learned for all women.  Yet, after losing her son, and being forced to slow way down on her subsequent pregnancies, Lela is also mom to Asia born in 2002 and Brando, born in 2004.

“My pregnancy story does not begin as one of those happy-go-lucky stories.  I just want to tell it honestly.  Five months into my first pregnancy, my water broke while at work.  It was 4:00 p.m.  I had to deliver a little boy, but he was too young to survive.  It never occurred to me that something so terrible would happen to me.  I was healthy physically.  I was athletic.  But I was working too much and I was stressed. A week before I lost the baby, I was at the Golden Globes smiling and grinning on the red carpet.  I didn’t realize how stressed I was.

The point is that losing a child changes everything you feel and do from there.  After that, the next pregnancy was pins and needles for me and everyone around me.  Anytime relatives recieved a late night phone call, they worried I had bad news…Probably the biggest problem was me.  You always feel that it is your fault when something happens.

The most important thing women should realize is that you must listen to your body.

As black women, it’s not always easy for us to say, “No,” or “I can’t.”  But if I could give up the so-called success – the TV shows, the movies or whatever – to have that baby back, I would do so in a second.

I know everybody’s situation is different, but I also think you never truly get over that kind of loss and you never trust your body again until you see a healthy child come.  When my daughter came and she was healthy and happy, it made everything okay.”

Rochon’s next pregnancy was not without incident.  She had to stay on bed rest which was hard, but she gladly made the sacrifice.  She now has two healthy children.

Celebrities aren’t immune to the 16% of those who lose children as is evidenced by Rochon’s story; any one can be affected.

Coping with a loss of this magnitude is unimaginable, but this week we will share more stories of various ways pregnancy can end in loss and the strong mothers’ stories of how they are now healing.

For more information on SIDS and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness visit Women’s Health.gov.

This story originally appeared in The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy (Amistad/Harper Collins).

You can find Lela Rochon on twitter at @lelarochon.

Read Phyllis’ Story: Tears For Baby Adam & Fears In Her Next Pregnancy.

Read Erica’s Story: A Near-Death Experience With HELLP Syndrome & Losing Baby Grace.

 Read about coping: There’s No “Just Getting Over It” & 8 Other Things You Need To Know After Pregnancy And Infant Loss.
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