Against the Grain, Part 2

*Warning, the subject matter of this post may be upsetting to some as it poignantly addresses pregnancy loss


The spring of my fifth pregnancy we took the kids to Washington DC to see the sights, the capital, museums, monuments, the zoo, etc., For some reason I had a bad feeling that something was wrong with the baby. My husband said I was being silly. When we got back to Vermont I called the midwife and went in for an impromptu appointment. She got out the Doppler machine and began searching for the heartbeat, you know the sound, it’s arguably the most beautiful sound ever heard to an expectant mother. 

She could not find a heartbeat with the Doppler and sent me to Dr. Malcolm's office where Bob met me in the parking lot. We were both crying. He asked me, "So there's no hope?" and we embraced. The ultrasound devastatingly confirmed my worst fears; my baby's heart had stopped beating. His words still ring in my ears, "I"m looking for cardiac activity, and I'm not seeing any.."

We opted to go through labor and delivery as opposed to having surgery. Everyone thought I was crazy. I was in shock, and utter sorrow, despair, depression, you name it. I wanted this baby so badly, and everything seemed to be going so well.

We told the girls later that night. Bob is really sad too. He's (Jason) gone to heaven in spirit, but his little body is still inside me. I'm sorry if it’s politically incorrect or disturbing to say so, but I HAVE A DEAD BABY IN MY BELLY!!! Knowing this made the pain even more unbearable. I didn't want to even look at my belly, or touch it. God was surely giving me grace to get through this because I knew I didn’t have the strength to carry on, on my own. Part of me wanted to run away and jump off a cliff, part of me wanted to stab the heart in my chest-just to make it stop hurting. I felt so numb. I had a feeling a few weeks ago that I'd lost the baby and I wanted to be wrong! I wanted to be so wrong! Heck, we laughed about it, Bob said I was being silly. Part of me wanted to crawl in bed and never get out.

I was 19 weeks pregnant. After twelve hours of labor I did get to hold my baby boy. We named him Jason Russell. We had a small memorial service at our little country church in Panton. My father, a carpenter had made me a tiny coffin, just bigger than a shoe box. We buried him a pasture on my husband’s farm near Mill Pond, a place where Bob has fond child hood memories at.

Two months later I would become pregnant again, and after a zillion ultrasounds due to my panicked state of fear that history would repeat itself, we discovered that this baby too, was a boy. The remainder of the pregnancy was experienced with bated breath, with hope, with fear laced faith. Praise God, our soI started using baby carriers, or "babywearing", shortly after the birth of my eldest daughter. I found that lugging around the heavy and awkward infant car seat was difficult at best, damaging to my back at worst. Babywearing allowed me to be mobile, hands free and pain free, all the while having the added benefit of bonding with my baby. Babywearing was empowering to me as a young mother on the go.

With each child we added to our family, so too did I add to my babywearing "stash".  I discovered the mei tai carrier, the soft structured carrier, the pouch sling, the ring sling, the stretchy wrap, etc., I not ashamed to admit that my babywearing journey began with a simple harness style carrier called the Bjorn, (it was steely grey with pinstripes and toggle closures). But, (clearly), it is woven wraps that have stolen my heart.

Recently, I have been increasingly fascinated and in awe of traditional babywearing practices of other cultures all over the world. Particularly, the women in the French Congo, who have a nifty little term for babywearing my family and I have adopted, "au dos", literally translated meaning, "on the back". Beau au dos has become a common phrase in our home as of late. The coincidental rhyming has been just the cheery on top!n Beau Robert was born healthy in the wee hours of the morning two days past his due date.

I became a local babywearing group co-facilitator, (September 8th, 2012 was our first meeting; pictured at right are Amanda and I doing our very first "Intro to Babywearing" demo!), and later tried my hand on the retail end of the babywearing business, helping to found and establish an on-line babywearing store. When that chapter closed, I carried on and waited for the next door to open.

And so the journey to create an American woven baby wrap company began to take form in the summer of 2013.

The following nine months would include research, taking classes at the Women’s Small Business Center, more research, writing a business plan, applying for a business loan, contacting vendors, working with designers, etc.

Starting a business is no joke. I don’t think I knew exactly what I was getting into, but I took it all with joy. The long nights, the early mornings, business trips and setbacks, determination and the unwavering belief in your dream, that what you are embarking on is truly worthwhile, that is what keeps you going.

Below is the progression of our logo: 


What I did not account for, what I did not know how to handle was cyber bullying. That’s right cyber bullying. And not just from random people on the internet, but from other babywearers, other mothers. They began a smear campaign that would rival the most contested political campaigns, in fact, they could all easily find employment in this field. They would go to wherever babyweaerrs gathered on Facebook and in other various forums, and spread lies about me and my company. It was devastating.

When it happens to teenagers we call it “Cyber Bullying”; and if a teen, tragically, takes their own life as a result of the emotional damage resulted from the bullying, news is made. Debates are fraught. School board meetings are held. Parents and community members are outraged. And rightfully so.

But what happens when these acts happen to adults, from adults? Well, let me just say that you had better have a thick skin. You had better be ready to pull your sleeves up and trudge through the murky waters ahead. I could have cowered in the corner and continued to cry. I could have thrown in the towel and given up on this fledgling business of mine, but I did not, I will not.

I will carry on, because I know this clique is the minority, and that the majority of the community is loving, generous, compassionate, inclusive, caring and devoted to helping parents discover all of the joys and benefits that come with babywearing. Over time, I pray that the on-line the babywearing community will see these bullies for exactly what they are, and I pray that they well come to know the truth, the real me.

*I am a real person, a woman, a mother, and a fledgling small business owner. If anyone has any questions or would like any clarification on any issue, I urge you email me or call me personally on the phone. I would love to get to know you and personally answer any questions you may have: (802)758-6826 or nancy@poewovens.com

 

 


14 Responses

Christy
Christy

December 28, 2014

Nancy- I am so sorry the loss of your precious baby. I am also sorry to hear about the cyber bullying. Thank you for sharing your story. Many people love Poe Wovens!

cari
cari

May 06, 2014

I am not here just to say that adults should not be bullying each other, that should have been left in high school, I would imagine the people that life their lives in such a way already know this. I do want to say that I have know Nancy for about 7 years, she and her husband were in our wedding. We were married on a beautiful spot on their farm. Nancy is all the great things people should be. She is a kind and caring person, she has devoted her life to raising and taking care of her family. It has my been pleasure to know Nancy and her family.

Jaime
Jaime

May 04, 2014

I have known nancy a long time now, well she is married to my brother..lol she and my brother have given me beautiful nieces and a handsome nephew. You nancy are a very strong person, you and bob went through something very hard and it hurt everyone in the family. Don’t let people get to you and stay strong. I think what you do is great. I wish I had gotten into baby wearing. You are a great mom,wife and sister. Love you nancy

Lindsey
Lindsey

May 03, 2014

My partner grew up with Nancy’s husband and we’ve known the Sunderland family for many years. I was going to write and say that Nancy is a normal person, no hidden agendas, just kind, thoughtful, intelligent, ambitious, capable, fun-loving…then I quickly realized my list of adjectives will bring her firmly into the category of “exceptional” human being. She impresses me for many reasons. She came with a huge dinner for us when we’d returned home from the birthing center with our baby. She had 4 kids and Beau on the way and she’s out delivering three-course meals! She gives freely of her time and expertise, even welcoming us to her farm for gatherings to learn more.
I have to say that the baby wearing community is NOT one I want to be a part of. Wear my baby? Yes. Join the hornets nest? No thanks. It appears online as a nasty little exclusive club in which you have to know the jargon and be prepared for vocal judgement from others. Why would anyone aspire to join a group of people that includes such immature negativity?
Despite this, Nancy forges ahead to bring this wonderful practice into our culture as a norm for the good of littles and their families. Mudslinging hurts the movement! Keep baby wearing exclusive by intimidating would-be Babywearers? Treat each other as you hope others will treat your child.

Jodie Castanza
Jodie Castanza

May 02, 2014

I met Nancy at a babywearing workshop in January. She was humble (she probably could have taught much of the workshop :), kind, and a wonderful teacher and learner. She joined my family for dinner (or was it lunch?) and happily chatted away with my wife and daughter about her life’s experience and time spent in the military. As a small business owner myself I wish her only the best and hope that the wraps she is bringing to the babywearing community only add to the wealth of great carriers out there. They are beautiful, and I know she has worked hard to get them “just so”.

Leticia
Leticia

May 01, 2014

I feel very proud to say that I lived with Nancy and her wonderful family for a year. Nancy is a very dedicated woman, caring, kind, responsable, brave, manage her house, her business and raise 5 kids with so much love. I can say clearly that Nancy does not deserve to go through any kind of bullying, It is not right that people she barely know disrespect her and try to make her feel bad about anything. Nancy, your family and friends are always going to be by your side. We know who you are and we are very proud of you!

Kate Bierschenk
Kate Bierschenk

May 01, 2014

I know Nancy through the online babywearing community. We have come to find out we have very similar values and a strong faith to guide us. We both have a connection to our country, through Nancy’s selfless service and my husbands, knowing the person that stand behind this company is a genuine, honest, and down to earth, such a refreshing though. I look forward to what the future holds for Poe Wovens.

Kathleen
Kathleen

May 01, 2014

As a business owner myself, I can relate to the competitive nature of others in a similar field. As is demonstrated by by your story, you are a strong woman, a caring mother, and a thoughtful friend. Do not let the ideas and comments of others get you done because you have an adoring fan club that love you and your wraps! ;)

joyce sunderland
joyce sunderland

May 01, 2014

As your mother in law I have seen your snuggles,with losing Jason I have also seen the happy times of you starting your own business .you are always willing to help people with anything they need .you don’t deserve to be bullied by people that are jealous of you and your business.you are a wonderful daughter in law and I love you and your five children and I’m proud of you and all you have
haveE done

Kat
Kat

May 01, 2014

Nancy, you are an inspiration, and I’m proud to call you my Babywearing Friend. God has given both you & I angel sons who are rejoicing in Heaven right now. We’ll be reunited with them one day . . . and none of this earthly pettiness will matter then. God has called you to something higher than what these other women can imagine . . . you know that so let them play their little games. When all is said & done, you are storing your treasure up in Heaven anyhow – “where moth & rust do not destroy.”

Tanya Tougas
Tanya Tougas

April 30, 2014

Bullying in the baby wearing community is absolutely real. I am so sorry you have felt targeted. I wish you all the best with Poe Wovens (and btw, I really like the new logo!). Keep on trucking Nancy :) <3

Afton Shearer
Afton Shearer

April 30, 2014

I meet Nancy a few months ago, we both attend a babywearing workshop for three days. Nancy was full of fun energy and kindness. I am glad that we have stayed in contact since the workshop and I have enjoyed watching her build her business. (Also I’m excited to be testing out when of the Poe wraps!) Glad to see she is doing well and wish her and her new partner nothing but the best!

Danielle
Danielle

April 30, 2014

You are an amazing and strong woman. You’re also a great friend and appreciate your friend and counsel that you’ve given me over our time in the community together. What you’ve gone through recently is difficult but you have always handled with grace and courage. I’m very proud of you and what you’ve made. Keep on going! <3

Kim
Kim

April 30, 2014

First, thank you for sharing your story. I can not imaging what you went through. Secondly, it is absolutely UNREAL how cruel other mamas can be to each other. It makes me so sad! We all want what’s best for our babies and instead of lifting each other up, supporting, or at the very least, respectfully educating each other on our views, some mamas brutally tear each other down! I’ve seen it the worst in the babywearing community and that’s unfortunate! You have my support! Can’t wait for my pp to build up-I’ll tell them all what they are missing ;-D I’ve already started spreading the word about Poe!! Best of luck!!!

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