To many, a shirt with a rainbow heart placed on the belly means very little. But to Courtney Mixon, it was everything.
Mixon was at a store in Arkansas when she saw a woman wearing a rainbow heart maternity T-shirt that read, "You're looking at a rainbow!" Mixon teared up when they made eye contact, and that's when the woman with the rainbow shirt, Autumn Tolliver Safley, walked over.
"I know what your shirt means … my husband and I lost our baby last year, and we’ve been trying to conceive,’” Mixon told Safley.
Safley, who is 30 weeks pregnant, shared with Mixon her back-to-back miscarriages, one of which was in late 2015 and the other in January 2016.
“I bought (the shirt) after my first miscarriage with intentions of wearing it when I was pregnant again, but I lost the second baby and never got an opportunity to wear it,” Safley tells Today. “I found it in my closet … and I was like, I’m going to wear this.”
At first Safley's husband was hesitant for her to wear the shirt because people wouldn't understand it.
"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," Mixon writes in her viral Facebook post, which now has more than 34,000 shares.
According to Medline Plus, studies estimate that 15 to 20 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage, which is defined as a pregnancy loss before the 20th week. Though the rate is substantial, there has long been a culture of silence that treat miscarriage and pregnancy loss as a shameful secret and a mark of failure. We don't usually hear about miscarriage until after a woman successfully conceives a baby. Take Priscilla Chan's and Mark Zuckerberg's, or Beyoncé's or, more recently, Ashley Williams' stories as examples.
It's important for women who have suffered miscarriage to know they're not alone. And that's why Safley's rainbow baby (a baby born after a pregnancy or infant loss) was so touching for Mixon.
Mixon and Safley are also both inspired by all the comments and support that came after posting on Facebook.
“My husband and I had prayed for a way to be able to uplift others that have gone through the same thing,” Safley tells Today. The loss of her two pregnancies may have been hard and heartbreaking but she's grateful for the experiences.
By sharing their stories, the two women unexpectedly helped give women who've suffered the loss of their babies a community and voice.
Note: Just in case you want a rainbow baby shirt like Safley's, we made it easy and found one for you!