Our Stories: Reflections of the 2018 DSDN Rockin' Mom Retreat
After last year’s DSDN Rockin’ Mom retreat I wrote about the power of our hands. (Linked here). This year I leave with the importance of stories. Our stories. Everyone who has heard Bethany Van Delft's story was very excited to hear from her. Even though I was two years removed from our diagnosis and therefore past the initial processing of our diagnosis and the accompanying emotions, it brought me to tears when I listened to her story.
Every time I share our story or hear a story that I connect with at such an intense level it brings a sense of release. Sometimes it's those stories of our tough times, times when we feel so alone, that people relate to the most. That when we bring ourselves to share, we realize how truly similar we are to what others have felt and we connect to those stories. Those stories can bond us. They can change us. They can empower us.
At the retreat Bethany spoke about the events surrounding the sharing of “the story.” It added more of her chapters for us to understand about her own story. She served as evidence that it isn’t easy to share your story. Ask anyone who speaks or writes about their journey, they will tell you the emotions that goes with it. It requires you to be vulnerable and opens yourself up for people to witness your heart and eyes. This can be uncomfortable. It can leave you worried about criticism or if people will get it.
I had the opportunity to be an exhibitor for the retreat and have a table for Mighty Miracles Foundation. I didn’t know what I would think about doing it. I didn’t want to miss out on time to connect with moms. However, I thought I'd give it a go and I’d try to have fun with it. So I made stickers for moms to place on their name tags to help identify other moms with similar experiences. They were stickers that helped share a part of their own stories. I LOVED it. Yes, I shared with many about our story with Kaleb, but more than that I got to hear THEIR stories. I got to hear so many stories as they got their stickers. Stories that often came with hard memories, tough times, uncertainty, and sometimes tears. However, what I heard and took from each one I was privileged to hear, were stories of strength and love. I was left humbled and inspired.
Occasionally with the stickers I would hear a mom some they weren’t sure they should get one, that their heart issues aren’t weren’t as bad or their NICU stay was not as long and only a couple of weeks. It wasn’t a measuring contest. Each story matters and each belongs. Each story is important. Because it is your story. There’s is no one else with a story quite like it or with your perspective.
In the medical outreach training they spoke how now with our bigger numbers we have the ability to go to these conferences. It’s not only the numbers and money that are important. The numbers also give us a louder voice. A chorus of voices in harmony as they share and advocate for their children.
DSDN could not be more accurate with their retreat description; connect, inspire, recharge. There is something so incredibly powerful about a big group of mamas coming together. It was also a chance for us to take time to not only connect but recharge ourselves. Yes, there were quite a few memories and stories from all of the fun and shenanigans. Then finally it leaves us inspired and ready to take on the next phase of our stories.
On to the chapter...
"If I told you my story, you would hear hope that wouldn't let go. And if I told you my story, you would hear love that never gave up."
-My Story, Big Daddy Weave