New Dreams

It’s 24 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

After I received the terminal prognosis for Izzy when I was about 19 weeks pregnant, I not only started to mourn the loss of a child that I desperately wanted, but also the loss of a dream. I imagined that I would be the mom at the park pushing a stroller with a newborn, while a preschooler and a toddler tagged along on both sides. I wanted stair-stepper children—one right after the other. I wanted to just push them all out now so that I could focus on myself later, professionally and personally.

But after a first trimester miscarriage and Izzy being diagnosed with bilateral renal agenesis (Potter’s Syndrome) right after that, I began to wonder if my dream of a swarm of little people hanging on me would come true. That’s when I started to dream a new dream—the dream of myself as a small business owner doing something creative that would eventually impact the lives of others someday through providing jobs and philanthropy programs.

On November 6, 2015 when I was about 22 weeks pregnant, Popped Handmade made its debut. It’s a luxury, yet affordable, line of natural skincare products for the everyday positively optimistic and powerful person. So far, I’ve only been focusing on whipped body butters, but my goal is to have a comprehensive line of moisturizers, scrubs, soaps, and more. Popped Handmade has kept me sane through all of the disappointment I’ve felt over the past few months. It’s a work in progress, but I’m so grateful for it. It has shown me that there are always new dreams to pursue even when one particular dream doesn’t seem to be working out. 

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The top picture is my table set-up at my very first vendor fair for Popped Handmade on November 6, 2015. The picture at the bottom is my set-up at a recent vendor fair on March 16, 2016. It’s only been 4 short months, but I feel like I’ve learned so much and have made so much progress. I’ve come a mighty long way 😉

 

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Little Birds

It’s 25 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

I always liked the song “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley like most of the world I imagine but in the first few weeks after I lost Izzy this song nearly brought me to tears every time I listened to it. The lyrics are so simple, yet so beautiful and true. Everything really will be alright.

Three Little Birds Lyrics

There were times when I didn’t see a way through my grief. I thought that I would never be able to smile or laugh again. Just the thought of feeling anything but sadness made me feel a little guilty—as if I would be betraying my son by feeling anything other than the pain of losing him.

Listening to “Three Little Birds” reminded me of the truth that after dark always comes light. No matter how dark and bleak the night is, it simply can’t last forever. The sun must shine again. That’s just how God created things to be. Izzy will be in my heart and spirit when I laugh and when I cry. There will be good days when I think about kissing his soft cheeks and I smile and not-so-good days when I remember kissing his little cheeks and I break down and cry because I will never be able to kiss them again (at least on this side of heaven). Both types of days are inevitable and even necessary. Even on those rough days, Mr. Marley reminds me that every little thing is gonna be alright eventually.

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

1,440 Minutes

It’s 26 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

Sade said to “Cherish the Day,” but I would go so far as to say “cherish the minute.” A day is full of 24 hours, which is 1,440 minutes. I may have only gotten about 15 minutes or so with Izzy while he was still breathing so he taught me that each minute is invaluable.

I remember the delivery doctor saying, “One more push will do it.” I took a deep breath and pushed on the exhale and there he was. I didn’t know he was a he until my doctor with the big poufy twist-out (yes, I had hair envy even in the delivery room) quickly looked between Izzy’s legs and said that this long, wrinkly baby was my son. I looked at my husband. He looked at me. And for a few long seconds it seemed like the whole room held its breath to see if we would hear anything from Izzy. His heartbeat wasn’t being monitored during the delivery because the medical team thought it might be too stressful for me if I heard the baby’s heart become distressed (or stop altogether) during the delivery. But after those long, uncomfortable seconds, we heard Izzy’s shrill little cry. He only cried out once, then it was silent again. He wasn’t anything like his older sister who just wailed and wailed when she was born, making it fully known that she was indeed born and not at all happy about it (but that was already evident by the fact that she was born nearly 2 weeks after her due date).

No, Izzy was calm and quiet. He kept his big, round eyes closed as I held him close and told him all about his big sister and all of her stuffed animal friends. I knew in those moments with him that I had to be completely present because I didn’t have long with him. I had to tell him I loved him then because I didn’t know how many times I would get to tell him. I had to sing “twinkle, twinkle little star” to him then because I didn’t know how many other opportunities I would have to sing to him. I learned the value of each minute from trying to hold on to that time with him. A minute can be a long time if we really focus on it and give it the treatment it deserves.

So now when I have a bunch of things on my mind or things that I’m trying to do around the house, I try to remember to slow down and read when Izzy’s big sister, the Wailer, asks me to read her “Close Your Eyes” book for the millionth time or asks me to help her build a train with her Duplo Legos–help meaning build it for her. I try to remember what’s really important—each minute that we have on earth and with the people we love and who love us because we don’t know how many more minutes we’ll get.

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Izzy’s big sister, the Wailer 😉

 

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

How Losing My Baby Strengthened My Faith

It’s 27 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

I have always been a bit of a doubting Thomas (see John 20:24-29) throughout much of my Christian walk. I didn’t grow up going to church or in a Christian home. My dad was a skeptic of Christianity, maybe even agnostic, and my mother believes that all church folk are hypocrites (which half the time we are—let’s keep it real here). Considering the disbelief of my family and me being critical and analytical by nature, it surprised my parents, and even myself at times, when I became a Bible-toting and fervent believer of God in the middle of my high school years. Even though I had periods when I felt like I was “on fire for God” as church folk say, I had my moments of doubt, especially when times got really hard. I even considered myself an “ex-Christian” for a while after my dad died from cancer in 2008. I graduated from my small, conservative Christian college depressed, disillusioned, and wondering if I’d wasted the last 4 years of my life getting a liberal arts education.

Israel collage 4x4 memorial pic with name and PBWB websiteBut (there’s always a “but” in a testimony) on January 25, 2016, my baby boy, Israel “Izzy” Miles, died from a birth defect called bilateral renal agenesis (known as BRA or Potter’s Syndrome) and I had no choice but to cling to God and trust Him. I felt powerless and lost—like my heart was literally ripped from my chest, stomped on, and shattered in a million pieces. I can’t imagine any pain that was worse than delivering a baby that I carried for 33 weeks and 4 days, spending just a few precious minutes with him, and having to leave his beautiful, little body at the hospital and go home with nothing but a memory box and the blanket he was wrapped in to show for it. I felt like a part of me died. And it did. I will never be the same person that I was before this happened, but I’m learning that that’s ok.

You may ask, “how could you believe in God more after losing a child when you had doubts before?” The answer is…real trials and tribulations reveal what you’re really made of and I realized how weak and how powerless I really am when I could do nothing to save my son’s life. I am a woman that needs a relationship with God. There’s no other way that I can go with life after watching my very first son take his last breath in my arms and not believe and trust in a Being higher than myself. Over the last several weeks, there were moments when I didn’t want to live, times when I hated everything and everybody, times when I didn’t know how I would make it through the night because the emotional pain was so strong. There were times when I was so angry, pissed really, at God that I wanted to scream and break everything in sight.

Yet through all of the pain, I realized that He was with me in a way that nobody else could ever be. As anyone who has suffered from miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss knows (and I’ve been through 2 of the 3 within the span of 12 months), it can feel like you are completely alone and nobody understands or cares about what you’re going through. Family and friends that have never experienced it (and even some that have) often don’t know what to say or do to comfort you so they distance themselves. They may not say or do anything. Or they may say things that hurt you even more, making you feel like someone is pouring salt on your open wounds. Or they may not do as much to support you as you think they should or as much as you feel like you would do if the shoe was on the other foot. It was the times when I felt like I had no one else to turn to and I managed to not lose my mind that I knew that God was carrying me through it all.

2 Corinthians 1 3 and 4 for the blogEven in my questioning of why this happened to me (and even why there are so many horrible things happening in the world every second), I know that God is alive and still working. I’ve met people who knew about what happened to me and opened up about their own loss and felt comforted because they felt like they had no one else that would understand. I’m a firm believer now that God allows us to go through the most challenging circumstances to show us that we need Him and so that we can support others that go through the same things we have, but feel alone. Lord knows I don’t wish infant loss on anyone, not even my worst enemy, but I appreciate that it is now when I feel so completely broken that I’m witnessing the miracle of God putting the pieces back together, strengthening my convictions and my faith.

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here to donate and know that we’re so thankful for you!