February of 2013 and the months that followed was one of the darkest periods of my life. A miscarriage plummeted me into a deeply emotional place and I had never felt so low or lost in all my life.
I had two amazing sons already, nearly 2 and 4 years old at the time, and an adoring husband who was supportive, caring, and provided for our family without fail.
Soon after the miscarriage, our family spent a month in Papua New Guinea doing volunteer work at the hospital and a local preschool. When we returned, my house was usually in relative order (or able to be so if anyone gave me 20 minutes notice of coming over). I still participated in all our family’s regular social activities.
On the outside, it probably looked like I was leading a pretty fantastic life. And, in most ways, I knew in my mind that I was.
On the inside, however, my heart was shattered. I wondered how I could have so much yet feel so hopeless, so betrayed, and so incompetent. My body had let me – and my baby – down and I wasn’t sure how I would ever recover.
In retrospect, I know that what I went through was a normal part of the grieving process.
But this is actually not the purpose of my post today.
I want to share with you how facing my miscarriage was a turning point in my life, and how this dark period led to a bright future I never could have imagined.
How it happened
A few months after the miscarriage, I had a fleeting idea. I had always done a lot of activities with my sons to teach them about virtues. That is truthfulness, helpfulness, love, forgiveness etc. We read stories, drew pictures, played games, and I created little hands-on lessons, like pulling a trolley of blocks around to discuss what it means to carry unnecessary emotional baggage (ironic, right?), to learn and remember the names and value of these virtues.
I had seen quite a few blogs sharing books for kids, craft ideas, preschool activities and the like, but no specific website dedicated to character education activities and resources. What if I started one?
It would take a lot of work and dedication to learn the skills necessary but, as I mulled over the idea in my mind, I think I selfishly imagined that if I gave enough to the world perhaps this would fill the gaping hole in my heart from the loss of my baby.
I finally figured that dedicating myself to a useful project I could pour my heart into was a way to change my current habits of feeling sorry for myself and wondering where I went wrong. (I knew, according to science, I had done nothing wrong but it wasn’t easy to accept that.)
So I decided to give it a go.
I called the blog “Moments A Day” because it was based on the idea that learning about virtues (or concentrating on personal growth) can take just a few minutes a day but these moments add up over time to create big change. I knew this because I had experienced it first hand. I was amazed by what my young sons retained and could understood after months of brief discussions on these themes.
So I wrote blog posts about our activities and soon started writing more articles about seeing life experiences as opportunities to grow. The post in which I shared my miscarriage experience and what I learned from it was, and still is, one of my most popular posts.
Growing through my difficult experience
Whether it was the blog or time that healed me I will never know, but eventually I began to cry less, laugh more, and feel like myself again.
That was a little over three years ago now. Since then I have written several ebooks, a children’s storybook, attended numerous blog conferences and events, and been signed on as one of Nuffnang’s talent group Bloggerati. I eventually became pregnant again and gave birth to our daughter, my rainbow baby. I now make a part-time income from my blog and our family is currently travelling around Australia for a year during which I am reading my storybook in schools and libraries as we go along.
More recently I started studying for a Diploma of Counselling which is enriching my work here on the blog as well as paving the way for more future work with children and running holiday programs (stay tuned for details next year).
All those years ago, I could not have imagined I would be happy again. Who would have guessed that taking the first step towards climbing out of that awful slump would bring me to where I am today?
A few days ago as both my sons stood beaming at the library’s advertisement for my next book reading (featuring a picture of yours truly), I felt a wave of encouragement run through me. I still struggle, yes of course I do, but I feel that I am doing what I am meant to be doing and going in the direction that I want to be going. Stepping stones and road blocks will get in the way, but I know these are hurdles that will make me stronger in the long run.
I will never forget the precious baby we lost, and I will always remember her part to play in inspiring my work here. Although originally a distraction from the pain I was experiencing, this blog has become a source of inspiration for millions of people across the globe. The story of what she taught me alone has been read by over a hundred thousand women who have hopefully found comfort in it being shared. And for that, her memory will always be honoured.
What my story means for you
To me, this story is proof that unexpected gifts can be given through the toughest of challenges.
If you are struggling through a dark period in your life, I hope you will find hope in my story. Is there a way you can give back through the grief? Sometimes taking a first step will lead you to places you never knew existed.
Whether your action is supporting a friend in a similar situation, raising awareness about your struggles on social media or starting a blog to work through the feelings or grief so that others can benefit, each of us has our own unique role to play in this world and only you can choose to embrace that journey.
It is not easy, this life, but I truly believe that paying it forward helps pave the way for healing.
I put this Shoebox slideshow together sharing this message and featuring a few photos from our family’s year-long trip around Australia. May it inspire you to work through your challenges and find opportunities to grow within.
Sending all my love. xx
P.S. This blog post was written as part of a competition sponsored by ProBlogger, Shoebox Timeline and The Good Guys. You can see more details here. As always, all opinions are my own. To find out more about this type of post on my website, visit this page.
Gorgeous video Chels! Congratulations on being a finalist! All that travel of yours sure has given you tons of great photos! (Not to mention the memories of course)
Chelsea Lee Smith
Thanks Debs! Yes it’s such a beautiful country!!
A beautiful and inspiring post and newsletter. Thank you for sharing your heart and your journey with the world!
Chelsea Lee Smith
Thanks for the feedback 🙂