Courtney Mixon and Autumn Tolliver Safley were both shopping in Hobby Lobby last Saturday. Courtney knew what Autumn’s “You’re looking at a rainbow!” maternity shirt meant, so she reached out to Autumn. Before the ladies said goodbye, Courtney snapped a picture and posted it on Facebook with this message,
Alright standing in line at NLR Hobby Lobby I see this a rainbow heart printed on her belly. I automatically knew what it meant. She had suffered a miscarriage and now she was carrying a beautiful rainbow baby. As she passed me I had to speak up. I said I love your shirt! She replied that her husband was hesitant for her to wear it (because people wouldn’t know what it meant) I then told her it’s so taboo to talk about miscarriages and I was proud of her for wearing it. I told her my story and she told me hers. We hugged and said we would keep each other in our prayers! Me for her baby’s continuing good health and her for me to conceive. I asked to take a pic and realized I left my phone in the car. She handed me her phone and sent that picture to me. She’s such a beautiful woman and mommy!!! A complete stranger….Thank you Autumn for making me and my husband’s day! Please share this so maybe she can see how much she touched our hearts…❤️????
Since posting, the photograph and message have been shared over 33,000 times. Several online publications have also picked up the story and shared it with their communities. Autumn was interviewed by KARK news. I got a chance to chat with both Courtney and Autumn yesterday, and I am inspired by their courage to reach out to each other and make that connection. That connection has clearly resonated with thousands of people.
Courtney Mixon and her husband, Jon, were ecstatic to find out they were pregnant the day after their fifth wedding anniversary in August 2015. But, that excitement was dashed when they miscarried later that month. They’ve been struggling to conceive since the loss, and to further complicate things, Courtney was diagnosed earlier this year with PCOS. When I asked her how she copes, she responded, “I’m still learning how to cope. Jon, my husband, still has to remind me that when others announce their pregnancies, ‘It’s not our story, stick to our story. Our time will come.’”
Courtney learned the term, “rainbow baby,” from a meme she saw on Facebook, and she said, “It really hit me in the heart.” When she saw Autumn at Hobby Lobby, she immediately knew what her shirt meant and needed to reach out.
Autumn Tolliver Safley was at Hobby Lobby that day buying items for her son’s nursery. Her son is due to arrive in early December. She has had two miscarriages since August 2015. When she was pregnant the second time, one of her friends told her, “Oh, this is your rainbow baby!” She liked the sentiment but had never heard the term before. After she researched the term online, she found the “You’re looking at a rainbow!” maternity t-shirt and ordered it. But she never got the chance to wear it during that pregnancy, as she miscarried for the second time.
Last Saturday, Autumn decided to wear the shirt for the first time. She’d hesitated because her husband, Addison, didn’t think people would know what it meant. But, she was working on the nursery, and she thought it would be fun to wear. Autumn had no idea the shirt would spark such connection and conversation! I asked her what she thinks of all the attention, and she said her friends tell her she’s famous. She laughed, “Famous? For going shopping?”
What does her husband think of the shirt now? He says, “You wear that shirt!” She also plans to get some rainbow baby onesies for her son. “Now everyone will know what they mean!” she told me.
The ladies made a special connection that day in Hobby Lobby, and it has connected them to a larger loss and pregnant after loss community, all because of a t-shirt.
I asked PALS founder, Lindsey Henke, this morning how this story has impacted her. She said, “Hearing that the shirt went viral brought me a great sense of pride. It’s super rewarding to see that one little act you do for others can make such a big difference. When I designed the shirt, I never imagined how it could convey an almost code-like message to other parents about their journey through the loss of one pregnancy, infant, or child, as well as the hope for another. Reading about how the shirt brought two loss moms together reminded me of how Franchesca Cox and I came together to design and launch Pregnancy After Loss Support, which included designing that shirt. It helped me realize just how important the work we do at Pregnancy After Loss Support is. Bringing together loss moms who are pregnant again and creating community over an experience that is so often hidden makes my heart happy. It means PALS is reaching the moms who need it and offering support during the challenging time that is a pregnancy that follows a loss.”
We celebrate these Courageous Mamas, Courtney and Autumn, and wish them well on their journeys. Thank you for telling your stories and connecting with loss moms—even strangers—to let them know they’re not alone. We hope to stay in touch with Autumn and Courtney, and I can’t wait until the day I can send Courtney her own “You’re looking at a rainbow” maternity shirt.