I sat in the kitchen at my laptop, determined to find help. While my one-year-old daughter played in our living room, I grimly typed “pregnancy loss support Columbia SC” in my Google search box and pressed the Enter key…
Over a month earlier, nearly nineteen weeks pregnant with my second child, I had been rushed to the hospital with severe abdominal pains. Over the course of the next two days, a raging infection spread, eventually killing our unborn baby, and threatening my life as well. I miscarried her the morning of Monday, March 9, 2009, and she was absolutely beautiful. Eight inches long, perfectly formed down to her tiny fingernails. We named her Naomi Faith. We marveled over her, took pictures, held her … and then said good-bye.
The hospital kept her for us until I was well enough to plan her funeral and memorial service. Once that was behind us, I was left with the impossible task of picking up the pieces of my life and moving forward – somehow.
My laptop screen flashed with the search results and I scanned them earnestly, only to be met with disappointment. Nothing. Articles about weight loss after pregnancy and a community health website that listed general pregnancy resources, but nothing for the momma whose pregnancy had ended in tragedy. Not even any mention of the hospital support group that I heard about. I knew I could go there, but it was a forty-five-minute drive one way. Surely in the capital city of South Carolina, there were other resources available, if only I could find them. Surely I wasn’t as alone as I felt.
The Idea of Naomi’s Circle Takes Shape
I leaned back in my seat, and in my frustration an idea began to take shape. I knew I wasn’t alone, statistically. In a city the size of Columbia, there had to be others – lots of others. What if I could find out what resources were available and put them together in some kind on online directory, so women like me could find each other more easily?
Over the next few months, as my physical and emotional healing got underway, I kept playing with the idea. First I started with Blogger, then I tried making an online forum, and next I created a website on a free website builder. I created brochures and started to tell others about it. Finally, in 2011, I felt ready to start our own support group in Northeast Columbia.
And then – I got pregnant. As overjoyed as I was, I was also in a quandary. I couldn’t see myself leading a pregnancy loss support group with a pregnant belly taunting those who came. But over the next several weeks, two other women approached me about starting a support group for women who were pregnant after loss, and so we did. The three of us met monthly to talk and pray each other down from crazy-high anxiety until, amazingly, each of us had given birth to a beautiful, healthy “rainbow baby.”
I wondered where the group would go after that, when we were no longer pregnant, but word began to spread. Another mom joined us whose rainbow baby had just been born, then another who had recently had a loss, then another … and gradually our Pregnancy-After-Loss group morphed into the general loss support group I had dreamed of having in Northeast Columbia years before.
Naomi’s Circle Today
Today, when you Google “pregnancy loss support Columbia SC,” Naomi’s Circle comes up near the top of the list. Several hundred visitors a day find our website where we share information about online resources and, most near and dear to my heart, a complete support group directory for the Midlands area of South Carolina. We also list counselors who specialize in grief counseling in general, or pregnancy loss specifically, and we share information about funeral homes. We have a Facebook page, our own support group still meets the second Thursday of every month, and from time to time we sponsor a weekly Bible study about pregnancy loss.
We have also had the joy of seeing our members reach out to other bereaved parents. Alexa Bigwarfe (also a writer here on Columbia SC Moms Blog) spearheaded the writing of Sunshine After the Storm, a book that has now been donated to hospitals and support groups around the country. Two other members who contributed to that book, Sarah Hackett and Rachel Raper, also began the outreach arm of our ministry, Mommy to Mommy Outreach, which provides care packages for recently bereaved parents in local hospitals and some OB offices.
Several years ago, we started to promote “Yellow Rose Sunday,” a day for churches to stand with parents who have lost a baby in pregnancy or infancy, and the numbers of congregations participating in it have grown each year. Both Palmetto Parent and Reach Out Columbia have had articles featuring the issue of pregnancy loss in the last several years. Slowly, the silence that typically surrounds pregnancy loss is being broken, not only in Columbia, but around the world.
If you have experienced the loss of a baby in pregnancy or early infancy, I want you to know what I was desperate to know five years ago — you are not alone. There are thousands of us here in Columbia with our own stories of loss and survival — because yes, you will survive. How that happens is each woman’s own journey, but there were two things that made it possible for me — my faith and the support of other moms who had been there and could tell me there was life on the other side of loss. If you would like to find that support, please look at the support group directory on the Naomi’s Circle website or contact us by e-mail at [email protected]
Ways You Can Help
October 1 begins Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Even if you have not experienced pregnancy loss, if you have a heart for those who have, there are so many ways you can help.
- Share the Naomi’s Circle website with doctor’s offices and places of worship.
- Tell us about support groups around the state so that we can include them in our support group directory.
- Ask your church to participate in Yellow Rose Sunday.
- Volunteer individually or invite a community group to help make items for our Mommy to Mommy Outreach.
- Donate copies of Sunshine After the Storm to support groups and hospitals.
- Learn more about loss so you can stand by others in a way that is helpful, not hurtful. Columbia SC Moms Blog also has helpful information on how to help a friend through the loss of a child and helping your child through loss.
Additional Information and Resources
- Support Groups
- Sunshine after the Storm
- Mommy to Mommy Outreach
- Naomi’s Circle
- A Letter to a Bereaved Mother
- Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Sunday
- A Columbia Moms Guide to Resources Available During Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
You Are Not Alone
Five years ago, I sat in front of my laptop, knowing that I couldn’t be as alone as I felt. Today, I know that I’m not. I’ve experienced the sweetness and power of community, and I long to let other women know what I have since discovered.
You’re not alone. You will survive. Your baby mattered to God – and so do you. I promise.
About the book: The complexities of pregnancy and infant loss are explored by survivors themselves rendering this must-read book a first hand personal narrative that invites people to feel less alone in the aftermath of such devastating experiences. A vital resource for anyone who has experienced this type of loss and those who love them.