This Mother’s Day, Charlestown’s Janelle Bruno will likely have her two boys and husband swarming around her – treating her like a queen and taking care of her every need for that special day.
That, of course, only comes after many long and lonely days on Mother’s Day when she and her husband quietly grieved due to a long history of infertility and miscarriage. Mother’s Day this year will be a happy one for Bruno, but she said she also knows how mothers and those intending to be mothers feel about the pain left behind when trying to have children and not being able to.
She said many women – even herself – still carry that pain on what is a happy day, and those that still haven’t been able to have children actively grieve. To ease that pain, she decided to use her talent as a photographer to bring some sort of healing on Mother’s Day to what is often an unspoken issue for mothers.
“I just remember one or two Mother’s Days being the worst days of my life because I was so sad,” she said, recalling the days when she was suffering from infertility and miscarriages. “Everyone is celebrating around you and it’s important to know holidays are happy for some and not for others…specifically here for infertility issues. Mother’s Day felt like the right time to do something. It ended up being therapeutic for me and others as well. When we were going through this, I always thought if I can get to the other side of this situation, I wanted to somehow help other people also going through it.”
This year, she was motivated by an annual project conducted by Charlestown’s Sean Boyle of Baby Boyle Bouquets. Boyle makes free arrangements each year for mothers who have lost their children to overdose and substance use disorders. Using his talent, he has been able to heal that group of grieving mothers, and Bruno said she took his example and ran with it. Using her talent of photography, she reached out through her networks in Charlestown to offer free outdoor portraits to any mother who has experienced infertility, is going through the difficult process of adoption or has had miscarriages – a grieving group of mothers she said she feels inexorably tied to, even though now she does have her own children.
On Monday evening, with the warm sun in the background, she and about 25 volunteers gathered on City Square Park to take the photographs. All of the volunteers agreed to go public with their stories as an act to finally heal from the pain some have carried for a few years and other for decades. This Sunday, on Mother’s Day, Bruno is going to produce a Tribute video to them.
While many mothers experiencing infertility have been the focus, and rightly so, Bruno said there have also been some mothers show up that she wouldn’t have expected. A neighbor with older children volunteered and shared her story too, saying she went through years of suffering miscarriages and infertility until “science” helped her to have two children.
“I really had no idea that she had gone through that,” said Bruno. “I remember when I was going through the same thing it, I really didn’t know people’s stories. You just look and see them with their kids. In your mind you say they didn’t struggle; they have kids. But in reality they went through a very rough time, just like you did. Now, they are bringing to light that even for them it wasn’t an easy journey.”
The project, Bruno hopes, can be a bit of a support network in the Town for such mothers, and that’s because the subject is so taboo. Many find it embarrassing when they go through it, and others who have found success tend to try to just move on and forget. However, those unaddressed emotions fester, Bruno said, and it is especially hard for women as they are affected not only emotionally, but also physically.
“Miscarriage and infertility happen so often and you survive that silently and there isn’t a lot of support for it,” she said. “This project can show they are not alone and don’t have to suffer silently… My goal is to unite a community that has suffered, and provide hope for those who are currently suffering.” Bruno plans to post the Tribute video and stories from Monday’s photo shoot to her Instagram account on Mother’s Day weekend. That can be found on Instagram @janellecarmelaphotography.