This is an extra special blog post being shared today. It is written by Yvette Bowling, our one-and-only graphic designer of our gorgeous materials since our launch in March 2012. I met Yvette and her husband, Harlan, when they took my childbirth class when they were pregnant with their son in 2011. Harlan does all things website for Birth Boot Camp. They are a very important couple around here! Their company, Paradigm Creative, continues to do amazing work for us, year after year, despite the challenges they have faced in having another child. We have tender feelings for these two. We couldn’t do what we do at Birth Boot Camp without them. Thank you, Yvette, for sharing your journey with our readers. ~ Donna Ryan, Founder and CEO, Birth Boot Camp, Inc.
This is why.
These are the words I heard in my heart after driving away from a fellow mama who had just had a miscarriage. She was broken and hurting and feeling so very alone. Just as I had felt so many times before.
You see, I’ve been through the heartache of miscarriage seven times. Seven times I’ve had a positive pregnancy test that didn’t result in a baby in my arms. Each time was unique, and I didn’t want to let past losses ruin what could *possibly* be my rainbow baby. So, every time I’d allow myself to be excited. I’d start the planning. And feel the feels…
I do have one perfect, healthy, miracle boy who made it. In fact, he’s snuggled up next to me as I write this. His birth story is a complex and challenging one itself – but a story for another time. When he was four years old, we were expecting a new bundle of joy. I was still in the dreamy stage, full of hope. All was right with the world. We were living in the UK at the time but preparing to move back home to the US. For some reason, this one felt different – like, it’s really happening this time. I even told some friends – something that I didn’t normally do. I was just so excited and wanted to share it with someone. A couple of days before we were set to fly back, I started spotting. I kept telling myself, “It’s fine. This happens all the time in pregnancy.” But the next day it was worse, and I knew what was coming. I didn’t want to tell our friends. Somehow telling them made it real, and I didn’t want to live that story again.
I lost that baby on our flight home.
To say “it hurts” is a massive understatement. It’s an empty ache that I can’t describe. The joy and hope are ripped from your arms, and you’re left there in that horrible fog trying to figure out how to move forward. You can be surrounded by people and feel so completely alone. I didn’t want to talk about it or answer questions. I didn’t want to replay it again and again. I wanted to hold onto hope. I’d just tell myself, “Maybe this isn’t the right time.” “Maybe God has something else in mind.” Lots of hypotheticals in my head. I wanted there to be a reason. A way to make sense of the pain and loss. But after another particularly hard loss, I stopped. I started asking why. Not in a gentle just-wanting-to-understand way. But a cry from the depths of my heart, “WHY???!! Am I a bad mom?! Is this some sort of punishment??? What did I do?!!!”
Over the years, I became an unwilling poster child for miscarriage. Anytime a friend heard about someone who had lost a baby, they would send her to me. I would sit and listen to these women who were hurting and broken and feeling all the emptiness and isolation that I was all too familiar with. To be completely honest, I didn’t love being volunteered to do this. Of course I wanted to help and be there for them – I just didn’t want to retell my story over and over. Sharing your story hurts. It causes you to dig up those emotions and live them again and again. Even writing a blog post years after the fact can do that. It’s a feeling that never fully goes away.
But I’m not sure that I want it to go away. As weird as it is to say, I want to keep those memories, and those feelings. Sure, I don’t want it to be as painful – but I do want to remember. I want to remember because it helps bring healing – and not just for myself. I discovered that people (myself included) need to hear that they aren’t alone – that someone else has been there and actually understands what they’re going through. Sometimes they just need to cry with someone else who knows that pain. Even if you don’t have any magical words to make the pain go away.
I now believe this is part of the “why” I had to go through that – so I can be that shoulder to cry on and so they can share with me when they’re drowning in that horrible empty feeling. Miscarriages happen to so many women, and so many of them suffer in silence. I’m hopeful that my willingness to share and be available will give that strong, beautiful woman the courage to share her story the next time its needed as well. No woman should have to do it alone.
With that in mind, I wanted to share a resource that has helped me in my journey as well. I highly recommend checking out Gathering Hope. (Please know this is no advertisement, just something that’s helped me.) Gathering Hope is an organization made up of women, most of whom have suffered miscarriage and infant loss. They have Facebook groups and put on events – an evening of speakers, worship, connections and healing. To find out more about their next event or to see ways to connect with other mamas, go to gatheringhope.net.
I’m grateful for my experience, as difficult and painful as it was, and I especially grateful for my own rainbow baby that came in the middle of it all. My hope and prayer for whoever is reading this and struggling is that you’ll find peace and hope regardless of the outcome. I can’t begin to know exactly what it’s been like for you in this journey, and I don’t have any magic words to make the pain go away. But I do have hope – and a shoulder to cry on. ❤️