One Woman’s Miscarriage Gives Birth to Her Life Purpose as a Mama to Thousands

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“The love I had for her was no longer contained on the inside. I watched as every dream of our life together disappeared down my leg.”

The story of Sepulveda began way before her life started and has continued long after she left this world. I think its time you heard about a beautiful soul gifted the world through her short, unborn life.

Siobhan Neiland was 15 when she had her first vision of Africa. At the time Siobhan was badly bullied at school, her home life was in shambles and under she despite battling confusion over the cards she was dealt, she knew one thing, “I would somehow make the world a better place.” She began taking her pain and redirecting it—a recurring theme that manifests itself throughout her unlikely journey. “I didn’t want people to go through what I was going through. I felt very drawn to go to Africa, and to go be a help to people who had it worse than me.”

Siobhan’s early on that would resurface in later years

After her vision of Africa, life sadly continued to lead her down a different path – one filled with more abuse and challenge. “There was a turning point in my life when I decided to transform my lifestyle. I wanted to make sure if and when I had a child I would do it differently than what I had experienced in my childhood. I did a lot of personal healing to change all the damaging beliefs and habits that I had been programmed to believe since my childhood.”

After years of low self-esteem, Siobhan had finally found her way to financial stability and personal success. When she and her partner became pregnant during this time, Siobhan was determined to give this blessing a life full of everything she had wished for as a child—a home full of love, compassion, support, and guidance. They named her Sepulveda.

Siobhan felt her life was where she had always dreamed it could be. She had taken the broken pieces of her childhood  and transformed them into a life off health, spiritual routine, and deeply invested genuine relationships that strengthened her. She was living a life of joy, and now, ready to experience that joy as a mother.

That is, until her life came crashing down again. Siobhan and her partner experienced a loss barely suited for words – they had a miscarriage. It was devastating loss.

“I’ll never forget the day I lost Sepulveda, and the tremendous pain physically and emotionally. It was grief beyond measure and from that moment it consumed my whole life.”

Siobhan spent the months following this miscarriage overtaken by postpartum depression and the sad end of her relationship. The pain that consumed her was so unbearable, that in the bleakest of these times she even had thoughts of ending her own life.  The horizon felt dark. It was during a ceremony to honor Sepulveda that Siobhan felt a faint whisper in her ear that said, “use this pain.” Siobhan was once again revisited by a vision of Africa. It was from this moment on that a new plan began to bloom—both for Sepulveda’s life and for Siobhan’s.

It was six long months after her devastating miscarriage that Siobhan bought a ticket to Africa. “I needed to go help others who were in pain to get out of my own.” Gently reminded of her vision at 15, Siobhan knew in her heart that now was the time it would all play out.

“It felt terrifying stepping out into the unknown even though I am usually courageous. My finances weren’t in a place where this was something you ‘should’ do. I had never been outside the U.S. for that long before. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t do much research. It was all I could emotionally handle at the time—just buying a ticket.”

While meeting the people in Africa, Sepulveda led Siobhan right where she needed to be, “I followed the path of her encouraging whispers to Uganda and right into the arms of a traditional midwife named, Mama Jamira.” It was there that for the first time since Sepulveda’s passing, “I felt my heart open up again.” Siobhan spent time on this journey working with various people in community organizations, but it was Mama Jamira who captivated her wounded heart.

Midwife Mama Jamira performing a prenatal checkup for a mama in the village

“As she was showing me around her clinic, I noticed the deplorable conditions that many Westernized women would be fortunate enough to never experience. While Mama Jamira did all she could with her knowledge, experience, and wisdom, she did not have the cleaning supplies necessary to maintain sanitary conditions. Additionally, she did not have the medical tools to protect herself, the mamas, and the babies from blood-borne pathogens, which could easily transmit to HIV/AIDs among other illness and diseases. As I talked with Mama Jamira, I came to realize that hundreds of women had come to her for support. Walking barefoot for hours, they travelled to birth their newborns on this single 20-year-old blood-soaked birthing pad without access to any medical supplies. It all of a sudden hit me as I remembered the devastation of my miscarriage. I just knew I had to find a way to help them.”

Dancing with JOY in the OneMama village

In 2008, only two years after her first trip to Africa, OneMama was born, and with it, what Siobhan believes is her true life purpose: to ensure the mamas and babies of the world know they are loved and matter. Following the whisper of a child whose life was tragically ended before it could begin, Siobhan was lead down the path that has brought joy not only to her own life, but the lives of others. “Looking back it was all meant to unfold that way,” Siobhan recalls,

“It was only through living in that place of unimaginable darkness and pain that I arrived at a vision of OneMama. It’s through OneMama that I transmute the memory of Sepulveda into something greater than myself.”

Every year Siobhan takes her self back to a beach in San Francisco to honor the memory Sepulveda, thanking her for the guidance over the years, and celebrating what she has given to the world. As they part ways each time Siobhan hears Sepulveda whisper, “go be a mama to thousands.”

 

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