A recent Facebook post by Courtney Mixon of Little Rock, Arkansas, is quickly going viral for the best reason.
Courtney was standing in line at her local Hobby Lobby when she saw a pregnant woman wearing a shirt that read, “You’re looking at a rainbow.”
Courtney tells Babble, “I saw the rainbow heart printed on her belly, and I automatically knew what it meant. She had suffered a miscarriage and was now carrying a beautiful rainbow baby.” The term “rainbow baby” comes from the concept that reflects the tragedy of losing a baby and the joy of becoming pregnant again — the rainbow after the storm.
Indeed, Autumn Safley of Jacksonville, Arkansas, lost two babies back to back — one just before Thanksgiving and one right after the New Year. But she’s now pregnant with a healthy baby boy, due to arrive in early December, and her outing to Hobby Lobby was the first time she’d worn the shirt in public. Autumn shared that she had hesitated to wear the shirt, since her husband had said he didn’t think people would know what it meant. Little did he know the conversation it would spark.
“As she passed me, I had to speak up,” says Courtney.
Autumn tells Babble, “As I was walking into Hobby Lobby, I saw Courtney. We made eye contact and I noticed she had big tears welled in her eyes. I walked over to her and asked if I could hug her.”
Courtney then shared her story of how her and her husband, Jon, were ecstatic to find out they were pregnant the day after their fifth wedding anniversary in August 2015. Later that month, their hopes were destroyed when Courtney miscarried.
“I told her to not give up, never lose hope, and that God had a perfect plan for her and her little family,” Autumn continues.
After struggling to conceive since the loss, Courtney has since been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that makes it difficult to get pregnant. “I’m still learning how to cope,” she says. “My husband has to remind me that when others announce their pregnancies, ‘It’s not our story, stick to our story. Our time will come.’”
After Autumn shared her initial misgivings about wearing the shirt, Courtney told her, “It’s so taboo to talk about miscarriages. I’m proud of you for wearing it!”
The ladies hugged and promised to keep each other in their prayers. Before parting ways, Courtney asked to take a photo of the shirt, but she left her phone in her 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!” she wrote in her Facebook post, which has already been shared over 33K times.
Courtney tells Babble, “I wanted Autumn to know she was so strong. The whole taboo surrounding it is just awful. We need to end it. People shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells to talk about it.”
Neither of the women could ever have guessed how far the positive message of their meeting would have spread. “I’ve had so many women message me and simply say, ‘Thank you!’ I love the fact that women are speaking up about their losses. It shows we’re not alone,” says Courtney.
Autumn adds, “Miscarriage and infant loss is nothing to keep quiet about or suffer in silence with! I am thankful that walls are being torn down and awareness is being raised for this very common and very prominent issue!”
When we asked Autumn what piece of advice she would share with other women who have gone through loss, she told us, “Never, ever give up or lose hope. I encourage others to keep open hearts and open minds and to trust fully that God’s ultimate plan and will for their lives far supersedes their own.”
These two women are sparking a national awareness, and their positive message is spreading hope and encouragement to those who have suffered in silence for too long.
“My inbox is flooded with messages. I’ve had complete strangers reach out to me, and opportunities to connect with people all over the world,” Courtney tells us.
Both women agree that they never could have imagined the amazing response to their fortuitous meeting, but we’re certainly glad it’s getting the attention it deserves!
If you’ve suffered a miscarriage and are looking for more support, visit Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS).