I love quotes. There are so many really good, meaningful quotes about the importance of community. “It takes a village to raise a child.” “We rise by lifting others.””Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Community is not just important, but valuable to the human experience. If I believe one thing only about people, it is that we are powerful when we come together for a common cause. You can see it in volunteerism, in disaster recovery… or in my case, in making life a little easier for a mama with her baby in the hospital.
I’m a part of this amazing community. Most of us have never met each other. We have every spectrum of income, education, politics, and religion. Just about every style of parenting, relationship, career and lifestyle can be found in our group. We are all so different that we likely wouldn’t be friends if we hadn’t met through this group. But the silver line of beauty of it is that we did meet through this group, because we all share one dark thing in common: we’ve suffered a miscarriage/still birth. We know what it is to lose a child before they even make it into the world, so the joy of pregnancy has been stolen from us. We were all due in March or April 2016 with a Rainbow Baby, and we went through pregnancy together in this online group; all of us scared, slightly crazy, and trying to just make it to the end and get the gift of a precious, healthy baby at the end. We are “Rainbow Mamas.”
Because of the size of our group, it was impossible for everyone to successfully make it to the end. We all grieved not just for, but WITH those who suffered yet another unthinkable loss. We cried, prayed, vented about the unfairness of it all. We lifted each other up on tough days, celebrated every tiny victory that many people just don’t understand who haven’t gone through a loss. Now that we’ve had our babies, we have carried each other through post-partum depression and anxiety, issues with breastfeeding, relationships struggles, and the difficulty of balancing work and family. We celebrate together birthdays, milestones, personal and family achievements. Over a year later, those women who lost yet another child are coming back, pregnant AGAIN. And we celebrate, and cry happy tears together, and pray hard to God, the universe, whoever may be listening that they will get their miracle at the end this time.
In a group this large, the odds are unfairly against us that every single baby born will be completely healthy. We’ve got temporary developmental issues, preemies, Down Syndrome. We also have something that most, if not all of us, had never heard of before: Hyperinsulinism. Now, I am not a medical professional, and if I tried to explain it, I’d probably get it wrong. But let’s just say, it’s life threatening, there’s no cure, and the medicine to treat it comes with some pretty rough side effects. The seizures that lead to diagnosis can cause brain damage before a parent has an opportunity to take them to a doctor and figure out what’s wrong. It’s scary.
One amazing mama in our group has a little baby with hyperinsulinism. She is amazing in and of herself – her strength, dedication as a parent, her ability to persevere through her fear – she is one of my heroes. When something scary happens to someone we know, it’s natural that we turn inward – we focus on our own family, hug our babies a little tighter, worry a little more, pray a little harder. It makes us more grateful for what we have, but also makes us hyper aware of how quickly it can be lost, and we go into protective, mama bear mode. I know I do.
But our group did something different. We didn’t just turn inward… we turned towards this mama and her family. Yes, we prayed, sent good thoughts, checked in via our Facebook group. But then something amazing happened – we took things to a deeper, more personal place. NONE of us had met this woman or her son, but we organized and had meals sent to her and her family at the hospital day after day. We sent gifts to help her take care of herself during this trying time, and gifts to her baby to make the hospital more comfortable. Here is a picture of just some of the gifts that they received while in the hospital from the Rainbow Mamas group.
This is just one example of the wonderful things this group has come together to do for the mamas in the group. This is the power of a village/community/group/collective. You choose the word, the feeling is the same. It’s the power of people coming together in love for someone’s moment of need. This is not giving a damn about our differences in the face of something so much more important – the health of a child. This is love. The power of women coming together to make a difference. We are powerful – we bring a different type of strength and love to the table. When we take action, we bring others with us, and we can change the world. Even if it’s just in the small way of making a mama and her son comfortable in the hospital during their scariest moments – we change the world with our love, when we find our tribe and work together.
(Before anyone thinks otherwise – I don’t hate men. I’m married to a wonderful man, have 2 amazing sons. This community just happens to be built upon pregnancy – something that is unique to women. So I’m focusing on the power of women.)
“It takes a village to raise a child” has never been more true. This group has taught me a deeper truth though – if you can’t find your village, build it. Instead of turning inward – turn out. Step outside of your comfort zone, move past any fear of rejection, and bring people closer. When you find amazing women to bring closer – then bring them to each other. Create community. Build a village that isn’t based on location. You will be amazed at what you can do with the power and love of a tight knit group of supporters.