Singer and actress Christina Milian took to social media yesterday to announce the passing of her newborn nephew and sister Danielle’s son Richard, according to People Magazine.
In March, Christina’s sister Danielle Milian was told that the baby she was carrying in utero was suffering from a condition known as ‘omphalocele’, a congenital anomaly that causes internal organs to develop outside of the wall of the abdomen. Danielle Milian, who appears on her sister Christina’s show Christina Milian Turned Up, told US Weekly in June that she was informed there was a 53 percent chance her son would not survive. While physicians advised Milian to terminate the pregnancy, Danielle insisted that she couldn’t imagine not giving baby Richie the opportunity to live.
“No matter how long he has in this world, I could not imagine taking his chance away,” Danielle Milian remarked. Milian clung to the hope that her son would beat the odds.
Though Danielle and Christina Milian’s hearts are undoubtedly, irreversibly broken by the death of baby Richie, it is the Milian’s willingness to share his short life and imperfections with the world that makes his brief existence that much more meaningful.
According to the CDC, it is estimated that one in 33 babies born in the United States each year are affected by a congenital anomaly. Though Danielle Milian’s son Richie’s condition was more rare than others such as Down’s Syndrome, heart anomalies, or cleft palates, these anomalies are a leading cause of death in infants in the first year of life and account for a large number of stillborn births.
There is an often forgotten population of grieving parents out there…the bereaved parent of an infant child. I know it all too well because in December of 1999, I, like Danielle Milian, became a member of the club that nobody wants to join. I wrote about it. I spoke about it. I volunteered to mentor other grieving families. But the truth is, my loss was like tossing a grain of sand on the surface of a lake.
Danielle and Christina Milian’s willingness to speak out publicly on the loss of baby Richie and their grief brings an awareness of significant magnitude. While I grieve for Milian’s loss of baby Richie, I also am filled with hope…hope similar to the kind that Danielle Milian held as she carried her baby to birth.
Because of the fame associated with the Milians, perhaps baby Richie’s tiny life will be like tossing a boulder on the surface of a lake, and the ripples of support will carry over to others, proving that a life, no matter how brief, can still be significant.
[Milian sisters image courtesy of Gabriel Olson/Getty Images]