Stephanie, her husband Brett and their two children.
In December of 2013, I lost a baby during pregnancy. It was the most gut-wrenching, excruciating experience and I never understood until that moment just how much you can love a person you’ve never met before. To top it off, I was running a baby business at the time where I saw photos of cute, healthy babies every day. I didn’t know how to face that, and I quickly got behind on orders. There were days when I couldn’t get out of bed and just cried so the thought of sewing little baby garments was out of the question. I finally decided I had to tell my customers publicly that I had lost a child and to be patient while I caught up.
What transpired after that, impacted me in a way I cannot entirely explain. My inbox was soon flooded with women who reached out to me to share their personal stories of loss and words of encouragement. They expressed being grateful that someone finally spoke up about an often unspoken struggle. Their stories not only built our community of women in a lasting and beautiful way, but they also helped me heal and move forward. My decision to speak up opened up a new passion in my heart… to help other women to speak up about their struggles and encourage true healing in a place that often goes unaddressed. So the one thing I learned from my struggle and loss is that the longer I stayed quiet, the longer I stayed stuck in my grief. And had I stayed quiet, I never would have met Kelly.
When my husband and I made it on the show “Shark Tank,” I was faced with the decision of whether or not to share the loss of our baby and how our community of women helped me heal. I knew that if I didn’t speak up, I could miss out on touching someone’s life the way our customers had touched mine. That single decision resulted in an amazing chain of events. After airing on the show, I was contacted by a woman named Kelly who was pregnant with a baby that doctors said may not survive to birth due to severe heart conditions. Doctors recommended that she terminate the pregnancy but she shared that after seeing my story on TV, she was renewed with strength and determination to fight for her son. Our community of women surrounded that little boy in prayer and support. We even rallied around to raise money for her family and for the Ronald McDonald House, which supports families whose little ones are in the hospital for severe medical conditions, touching countless other lives.
Little ‘Finn’ was born on January 2nd of 2015 and is alive and well today. His story has gone on to affect thousands of others because his mom went on to share her story too! Finn is now the national ambassador for The American Heart Association and is affecting positive change everywhere he goes. This is just a small testament of what big and beautiful things can come from transparency and not being afraid to speak up!
Stephanie (Left), Kelly (Right) and Finn (Center).
I can look back and thank God for how He has turned my pain into purpose. If you have experienced loss, you may not be able to share right away, and that is ok. Take time to grieve for however long and in whatever way you need to. But remember that healing comes in the sharing. When you are more focused on pouring out to others, your grief begins to fade in the most meaningful way. You may not reach or touch the lives of 10,000 but your story might be meant for the one. The one woman who is lost in her struggle and needs someone to speak up to show her she is not alone. So go break the silence.
Stephanie Parker lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with her husband, Brett, and their two kids. She is the inventor of the Zipadee-Zip and the co-founder of Sleeping Baby.