CLEVELAND — A Wave of Light is a global event each October that honors babies gone too soon. 

 What You Need To Know 
  •   October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month  

  •   One common kind of loss is miscarriage. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 10 to 20% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage  

  •   One northeast Ohio woman experienced infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and three other miscarriages before giving birth to her now 15-year-old son  

​“That’s one of the hardest things when you don’t hear the heartbeat,” Yolanda Hilliard Lucas said.

Hilliard Lucas said, acknowledging her loss has been healing for her. She lit four candles, each symbolizing a miscarriage.

“I was even told that I probably wouldn’t carry a baby to term," she said.

Today, she’s a proud mom to her son, Harper, 15. 

“I’m just so thankful,” Hilliard Lucas said.

Hilliard Lucas created a book of memories for Harper that tells the story of his childhood so far.

“He was our happy ending, and this was our first holiday card that we did and we entitled it ‘Miracle’ because he was truly a miracle,” Hilliard Lucas said.

She always wanted to be a mother. She dreamed of having lots of children with her husband, Jason.

Her journey to motherhood spanned a decade.

“I just felt like I was all alone in the process,” Hilliard Lucas said.

“I just felt like I was all alone in the process," she said.

Since then, Hilliard Lucas had fertility treatments and surgeries, but experienced three other miscarriages. 

Loss after loss put a strain on her marriage. It was especially devastating when Harper’s twin sister, Hannah, did not make it.

“I was about 10 or 11 weeks with Hannah. Then we didn’t hear the heartbeat,” Hilliard Lucas said.

She said she suffered in silence.

“So many people didn’t even know I was losing babies,” Hilliard Lucas said. “I wasn’t talking about it because I just couldn’t even get it out. It was just that painful.”

“So many people didn’t even know I was losing babies. I wasn’t talking about it because I just couldn’t even get it out. It was just that painful," she said.

She joined the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Society, part of First Year Cleveland, and connected with others who have gone through something similar.

“Just been amazing. It’s really been a lifeline,” Hilliard Lucas said.

First Year Cleveland is a community movement that was developed out of alarm for Cuyahoga County’s high infant death rate. It’s a collaborate effort that brings together various organizations and nonprofits to address infant mortality and helps families affected by pregnancy and infant loss.

The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Society, or PAIL, has been around since 2018. Birthing Beautiful Communities President and CEO Jazmin Long serves on the First Year Cleveland committee. She explained why group therapy is so beneficial. 

“This kind of society is helpful because it allows the families to begin to heal from their trauma,” said Long. “You never get over the loss of a child. However, to have a safe space that you can come to with people who look like you, people who care about you, with families who are providing and needing the same support, oh my gosh, that is just incredible.”

Hilliard Lucas said it helps her to assist others in dealing with their grief. She regrets not confronting her pain head on initially.

“Not wanting to just sit down and just grieve, which is what you should do,” Hilliard Lucas said.

Now she’s able to talk about it, even with Harper.

The mother and son are close. Harper’s got the whole family into his passion: NASCAR. They said they also bond over their faith and share affirmations and prayers each day.

Hilliard Lucas said she hopes others can learn how to cope after hearing her story.

“I would like to tell everyone who has experienced the loss of an infant or miscarriage or stillbirth not to hold your pain inside,” Hilliard Lucas said. “You need to talk, seek counseling, go to a support group, but don’t hold it inside.”