What does the mother of two dead babies look like?

This past weekend I had an amazing, once-in-a lifetime opportunity and I wanted to tell you about it. One of the women I’ve met through Bschool is an incredible, top-tier photographer named Tanya Malott. She saw my story in one of the Bschool groups and reached out to me, and we instantly clicked. She is amazing.
This past weekend, she offered a day of FREE headshot photos to anyone from Bschool who could make it to the shoot. I pounced on the opportunity. She got access to this glamourous photo studio in Manhattan owned by Heike Grebenstein – who makes jewelry that is simply gorgeous and she arranged for our hair to be done by the incredibly talented Joshua Barrett, and fellow Bschooler, celebrity makeup artist Michelle Coursey did our makeup. I mean, the whole thing was like a dream.
But beyond all the pampering and how fun and inspiring it was to was to meet other bschoolers face-to-face, something profoundly emotional happened to me that day, and that’s really the reason I’m sharing this story….
After getting my pictures taken, I was talking to one of the other women there and I found myself telling her a story that I’ve been meaning to share with you but just… haven’t. So, I’m sharing it now.

After the twins died, everything in the world just literally became gray. It was all I could see. I’d wake up in the morning, my face puffy from the tears that had dried on my cheeks the night before. I’d drag myself into my closet and pull something out that felt like I felt. Something gray. Something brown. Something stained, ripped, dirty, overwashed and ill-fitting. I really didn’t care. I’d walk from the bus station to my office, sometimes crying the whole way. Not caring that people were looking at me strangely. “If they had two dead babies, they’d be crying too” I said to myself.

I’d get to the office and do my work, feeling like shit, looking like shit. I wasn’t worried what my coworkers thought of my appearance. That just never occurred to me to matter.

Then, one day, my boss unexpectedly called me into a sales meeting. The women who sat at the table looked polished and fresh in the bright display lights of our showroom. I stood before them, completely mortified. I remember clearly what I was wearing that day. Jeans that were unwashed and way too big, saggy on my tush with an actual patch in the seat to cover a hole. Gray sneakers. An olive green t-shirt stretched over my muffin top and post (dead) baby belly with a graphic of The Beatles stretched across my chest. Over that, I wore a brown vintage button down polyester shirt. I believe it was missing a button. My hair was in a messy, unwashed ponytail.

My boss introduced me as the head of design. “The genius who makes magic happen.” he said. I stood before them feeling like something that crawled out of a sewer. I pasted a smile on my face and answered their questions. When I walked out of the room I thought to myself “Well, they’d look like shit too if they had Two Dead Babies.”

And when I heard myself think that, that’s when I knew. Enough Was Enough.

It was up to me to make the choice to sink or swim, and I decided to swim. The only way I knew to start was with the outside. And so I did- No more gray, no more heavy disgusting clothing. I was going to infuse my outside with color and shine that was so bright and so bold it could break through the wall of gray that surrounded me. And, you know how that story unfolds. That decision ultimately found a name, and it’s name is The Muchness.

When I look at pictures of me before the twins, I feel like it is a different person– a naive, innocent, opinionated girl I no longer know. And when I’ve looked at pictures of me after, it’s felt like a kaleidoscope of bits and pieces of me in the middle of some kind of reformatting process.

This weekends photo shoot felt like a culmination of that journey and that decision to swim. Tanya knows my story and understands the path I’ve traveled to get here. She saw my dress and it was her suggestion to take pictures in this setting. Pictures of a woman who has not drowned in her grief, but has been able to push through to a brighter, even more beautiful place of light & joy. I mean, really. Who wears a party dress in the bathtub?

I looked at the pictures Tanya took of me- beautiful, incredibly muchy pictures of a woman with two dead babies, who has found happiness and beauty and joy again. And those pictures Tanya took, they were pictures of a woman I do know. The woman I am learning to see myself as. Me. 20120703-105429.jpg

Love & Muchness, Tova


56 thoughts on “What does the mother of two dead babies look like?

  1. Tanya

    You are amazing, Tova! To think you showed up worried about your hair! You were such a rockstar…a very muchy rockstar! xoxoxoxo

    Reply
    • Tova Post author

      I showed up a frazzled mess about my hair!! That didn’t last long when I saw how gorgeous they made me. :)
      Xox

      Reply
  2. Chinh

    Love your story Tova! You are so amazing and strong. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your story with the world. And of course, you look magnificently BEAUTIFUL in your pictures and not at all the person you described prior to your decision to “swim”. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  3. Brandy Donough

    Oh Tova, once again you have shown your true colors and I love you even more for that! Your muchness is the best for me and many other women “in our shoes” and many not in them, you know what I mean!! Keep that chin up and keep on keepin! Your story hits home to many I’m sure! Your photos from this weekend are amazing, well done!! Bring on the Muchness Girl!!

    Reply
    • Tova Post author

      Thank You Brandy! You know I just wanna fill the world with Muchness. :) It’s not just baby loss- everyone could stand to have a little more Muchness in their life!!

      Reply
  4. Noa

    I totally teared up reading this Tova……. So blessed to have met you and to be introduced to your muchness. Sending love!!!

    Reply
    • Tova Post author

      Love You Noa- I’m so glad we met and I got to spend that day with you— and many days in the future, I’m sure!! :)

      Reply
  5. Nina

    Tova, OMG you look GORGEOUS!!!!!! I love the pix of you at the edge of the tub… AMAZING!!!!

    Love the new haircut!!!! You look absolutely fabulous …

    Reply
  6. Beth

    I feel totally the same way about the photos of myself from before my daughter’s death — it is a different person in those photos, naive and innocent and someone I no longer recognize. And the woman I see in photos from after my loss? She is sad, yes, and hurting, but there is also a richness to her, a depth, a different, weightier kind of beauty than before. I am okay with this. I am even grateful for it. If my daughter had to die, then I want her death to change me for the better. I want her death to mean something, and something good.

    Your photos are absolutely STUNNING. Thanks for sharing. xoxo

    Reply
    • Tova Post author

      Beth- I feel the same way… their death needs to mean something good in this world… Even if just for me and my husband and other daughters, or for whomever can be touched by their existence. I look forward to reading your blog.

      Reply
  7. Tine

    Amazing, stunning and beautifu….the team of Tova and Tanya is a success and I can’t believe how perfectly she captured YOU! LOVEIT!!!

    Reply
  8. Heather

    All I can say is holy mother of Muchness! The pics are brilliant, you as always are inspirational and the Muchness is clearly in its way toward grandeur! I’m so thankful and honored to have been one of the first challengers and I am beyond thankful for this electronic and phone friendship we have developed. I know my little Sawyer has two kick ass playmates to run around heaven with. I love ya pal.
    Xo
    H

    Reply
  9. Vadim

    These are really amazing photos. I’ve sent this post to other people, who agree. Are there any more?

    Now, of course, if I were styling this shoot, after these photos were taken, I would’ve spilled some blood on your for some more…ummm…avante garde looks. You would’ve looked equally terrific in this dress, but bloodied. Oh well. Regardless, I love these photos and no one is laughing at you! :) :) :)

    Reply
  10. Beryl Young

    We haven’t even met or chatted yet and I already think I love you!! BEAUTIFUL images and I know your story. I’ve lived it. Not with two babies, but with my very special little one. You are simply radiant!

    Reply
  11. julie

    3 months ago, finally decided to come out of the gray-zone after 9 years. Love knowing I’m not alone. Love your courage!

    Reply
    • Tova Post author

      Julie- Welcome. There are so many benefits to getting out of the gray zone. so many. the least of which is ‘getting out of the gray zone!’ :)

      Reply
  12. L'via

    your are glowing with the same light and joy and hope for a bright new future that i saw on your wedding day and in the pix of that day.
    love you and always proud of you, even when you were gray, but now more than ever.
    love
    L

    Reply
  13. Nicola

    Tova,

    You gave me tears followed by a warm fuzzy moment. Thank you for telling your story, and what an amazing, generous gift from Tanya! Your pictures are stunning (especially sitting on the bathtub) and so are you <3

    Reply
  14. Tabi(tha) Jayne

    Wow what fantastic photos! Not only do you look amazing but joy shines from you. I once interviewed a women who’d had a miscarriage towards the end of her pregnancy and lost her baby. She told me that one of the things that kept her going was the thought that even though she’d lost her baby she was still a mother and as such had a responsibility to be the best mother ever and make her child proud. I have no doubt that could your babies see these photos they’d be so proud of you. Much love.

    Reply
    • Tova Post author

      Thank You Tabi. It’s true. So many baby loss moms just want to know that their babies lives mattered, and the way many of us do that is by trying to lead a better lives for ourselves and our families and putting something good into the world in their memory.
      I actually wrote this post a few weeks ago about how I was feeling my girls around me letting me know they were proud. It felt a little “woowoo” 😉 when I wrote it, but I do believe it was real…
      http://findingmymuchness.com/blog/2012/05/28/no-good-post-title-for-a-good-day/

      Reply
  15. Tina Pruitt

    WOW! Your photos are amazing…and your story is as well. Sending you love and light on your journey, as you continue to unveil your muchness day by day!

    xo, Tina

    Reply
  16. Melanie Brancker

    Thank you for sharing your story. I cannot begin to imagine what you went through and how you got yourself out of it. But I am really happy for you that you found your way through it. And your photos could not be more stunning. You are simply radiant.

    Reply
  17. Jen

    Beautiful Tova! I think I need a plunge into your 30 day challenge. It’s too gray here. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Tova Post author

      Thank You Jen!! I hope you do! Or just blog your Muchness Moments! When you start to see them, and create them, they start to add up quickly!!

      Reply
  18. Cynthia Baker

    Dearest Tova,
    Thank you for sharing this lovely story and your photos. Your story really resonated with me. Before my daughter died, I was all about bright obnoxious color – I made myself a purse from the brightest swirliest rainbows of color I could find. I wore crinkle skirts and especially liked ones with tinkle sounding dangles. I’m not a small woman, but I didn’t hide away in blacks – always a bit on the loud side. After she died, my purse seemed so ridiculous. I lugged it around because it’s all I had to put my stuff in, but I despised it’s relentless cheerfulness. It made me feel like a ridiculous fraud and I glared at it. I’m in a rural area and I do door to door stops at businesses to see if they would like to advertise in our shopper. I was glad they all knew me, and that my daughter had died, because I cried through my sales for months. I couldn’t do a thing about it. I’d gravitate towards the shops with the awkward male owners that would pretend I wasn’t crying because they didn’t know how to react when things were really bad and we’d push through discussions about paint sales, etc. I ditched the purse for a plain black one and my clothes have gotten more and more frumpy. Looking at your photos, I wonder if I could find a dress that fun in a size 18 with a F cup…Watch out, world. I’m starting to feel Muchy.

    Reply
    • Tova Gold Post author

      I love how you write that you were all about obnoxious color. You owned it! I’ve always had a “tacky” streak and until my late 20’s, I owned it too, ya know? Then, I don’t know, a voice was born inside my head that asked me “um, is that gonna look tacky?” and instead I guess I just decided to look invisible. Not anymore. Now, when I feel like someone Muchless is looking at me with thoughts in their head of “ew. that is pretty tacky” I just give them and extra big, super sweet smile and decide that deep down, what they’re actually thinking is “damn, I wish I could wear that… (even if maybe it is a bit tacky)” :-)

      Reply
  19. Allison Veals

    I’ve not read this before. In fact, I think I’ve avoided most of your muchness. But I’ve hit rock bottom. I wrote about it early this morning. I signed up for the photo challenge and haven’t done squat. I too have been drowning in my sadness, my anger. I want to LIVE For my children here on earth. Thank you Tova.

    Reply
    • Tova Gold Post author

      Allison- Thank you for this comment… I want to connect with you…. You CAN and WILL get there. From our deepest pain is born our true strength… we just need the tools to connect with ourselves…
      I’ll be in touch. xox

      Reply
  20. Tine Post author

    Allison- I can relate. I think most, if not all of us here, can relate. Yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of my loss and I won’t lie, it still hurt and I cried. But if I’m being honest, it wasn’t as bad as last year. I know that’s hard to believe, it’s hard for me to believe. Getting up is hard. It sucks, it hurts and it drains the life out of you. But one baby step a day will get you there and we are all here to hold your hands and keep you steady. Lots of love and healing thoughts your way.
    xoxo Tine

    Reply

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