I have always had a fondness for the new year and made a nearly annual resolution to lose weight and get in shape. All with this vision in mind of what my life would “be” and how it would feel to finally get there.
And then on October 17, 2015, my daughter Madison was stillborn and my life and perspective and body image changed forever. I was 34 weeks pregnant and was considered full-term with the body to match. When I came home, among all the other emotions that accompany the loss of a child, I began to face the anger I had at the body I felt had failed both me and my little girl.
And I had nothing to wear.
Now I know what you’re thinking – you just lost a baby. Who cares about your clothes? Stay with me, because it matters. To more than just myself as I’ve found in the years since.
The very first time I got up the courage to go out in public, I had to wear maternity clothing. Again. Following the loss of a child, this is cruel and unnecessary. Maternity clothes make you feel pregnant and make you look pregnant. I screamed inside as I saw people smiling lovingly at me and my firstborn son. I could see them thinking about the little one they thought we would soon welcome to our family.
I retreated to my house and spent months wearing clothes that didn’t fit to avoid wearing maternity clothes again. I gained twenty pounds and refused to buy new clothes because I couldn’t face clothing a body that I hated. The absolute last thing I wanted to do was go to a store and try on clothes and buy something in a size I didn’t want to be – a size that reminded me I was left with a mother’s postpartum body but empty arms.
Madison’s Closet was born from this pain and sadness. In my heart, I knew that I was not alone in these feelings and I wanted to serve myself and my sisters in loss.
The idea was simple – we would take donated clothing from women who would give knowing this is who they would be serving. That clothing would help these brave women feel as beautiful as they are, whatever size and weight they are. They would feel the strength and the love of this tribe of women surrounding them every step of the path ahead. These women would have a place to go where they could order clothing completely free of charge from the comfort and safety of their homes.
As this new year begins, I encourage you not to wait on the weight. Love and accept yourself as you are, right now. Embrace your strength and beauty, because believe me when I tell you that you are overflowing with both. Do something today, right this minute that pays tribute to you and your body.
If you are a woman who has faced the loss of a child or infertility, Madison’s Closet would be honored to welcome you to our tribe.
Henderson Lafond is the founder of Madison’s Closet. Our mission is to comfort and clothe moms who suffered a perinatal loss by providing complimentary donated clothing to help them reclaim their self confidence. Please visit Madison’s Closet to learn more about receiving or donating clothing.