Any woman who’s suffered the heartache of losing a baby knows how it feels to share your grief. Will it make other people feel uncomfortable? Will people say the wrong thing and make it worse? And then, once you become pregnant again, are you allowed to still grieve? How do you have room in your heart for both joy and pain? One mom from Baltimore, Maryland was facing such a painful reality a few months ago, but when she entered her prenatal fitness class one day, everything changed.
As reported by TODAY, Alicia Lewis was pregnant with her third child and still mourning the loss of her second child, Frankie, who died the day before his due date. Lewis had signed up for a prenatal fitness class, but “left the first workout in tears,” and feared that the other moms in the group might consider her a “jinx” if she told them about Frankie.
But something in Lewis’s heart told her to go back — and to not be afraid to tell her story anyway.
One reason? To perhaps help another mom in pain.
“I really wanted other mamas that have lost a baby to know that they are not alone,” Lewis tells Babble. “I remember feeling so guilty and alone after the loss of Frankie. Nobody talks about it. I wanted to break that stereotype.”
And it turns out that sharing her story was the best decision she could have made.
“I knew this group was safe after a couple of weeks of class,” she says. “I slowly warmed up to each mommy and began talking about Charlotte (my baby-to-be) and Frankie (my baby that died) and I didn’t receive any judgment. All I received was love and support from these women.”
As they all neared their due dates and new babies began to join the world, these moms — many of whom had also lost a baby — had an idea. And that’s where photographer Jessica Carr of Jessica Carr Photography comes into the story.
Carr tells Babble that she had already been a long-time photographer for one of the women in the group, so when they came to her with their idea — a birthday photo shoot featuring all of their babies born within one month of each other — she was quick to say yes.
This project was ultimately personal to her, as well, as she shares with Babble that she too suffered a late-term loss several years ago.
“Working on this project was emotional in a bittersweet way for me, but it was also so beautiful to see a great group of ladies rallying to support Alicia,” Carr tells Babble. “When we went through our loss, I didn’t have a strong emotional support group outside of a couple friends who live out of state, and I wish I’d had a strong knit group of women to go through that with!”
Carr explains that at the time, it felt too difficult and even awkward to open up about the topic to anyone; but Alicia’s candor was inspiring to her.
“I had only recently been able to share our experience prior to meeting Alicia and it’s been three years!” says Carr. “It felt serendipitous that I had met another momma on this similar journey to my own.”
Lewis adds that several of the other babies in the photo are rainbow babies, too.
“The colors of the rainbow are in birth order of our children,” she shares. “It was very fitting for us to do this shoot. It was a celebration of our love for our children, our friendship and our accomplishments over the past year.”
Although she still carries the ache for Frankie in her heart, Lewis says that she felt joy the day the babies were photographed.
“The day we took these pictures I was happy,” she shares. “These women feel like family to me. I think of how far I’ve come in my journey as a mama and how much I’ve learned and will continue to learn. I’m a lucky person and I hope I’m making Frankie, my son who died, proud.”
Both Lewis and Carr hope that their pictures will help other moms feel less alone, and encourage them to seek out the rainbow as they walk through the rain.More On