Commit to Happiness No Matter What

It’s 19 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!

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So I’ve heard that Tony Robbins is the stuff, but today I listened to an interview with him on the School of Greatness podcast with Lewis Howes in an episode called, “Tony Robbins’ Key to Success, Wealth, and Fulfillment” and now I see what all of the hype is about. There were so many great quotes and insights from this interview so I highly suggest that all of my POP people check it out, but one of my favorite quotes was “Commit to happiness no matter what.”

Robbins talked about how it’s inevitable that something will happen in our lives that deeply upsets us–loved ones will die, we may have health scares, we will make horrible mistakes in business, etc. His philosophy is pretty much that we know the road will be difficult, but we have to make the choice to be happy regardless. Even if the worst possible thing we can imagine happens to us, we have to choose to be happy because happiness is a decision. Happiness will not come when everything is perfect–if we get the job we want, a successful business, or a new house. Life will never be perfect.

So, I am challenging myself and I challenge all of you as well to take Robbins’ advice and “Commit to happiness no matter what.”

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!

3 Ways to Show Support to a Parent After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Loss

It’s 20 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!

Grief in general can be an isolating experience. I imagine that for even the most well-connected and supported person, it is difficult to grieve the loss of a loved one when the rest of the world seems to keep on going while the world of the bereaved seems to be falling apart. Grief may feel especially isolating when it’s due to loss from miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss because of the taboo of discussing these issues. Unless someone has suffered from one of these losses themselves, they may not know what to do for a friend, family member, or acquaintance that has undergone one of these experiences. I would like to share three things that got me through the initial few weeks after losing my son, Izzy, as well as some things I would’ve liked others to do (or not do).

If you know someone who has recently dealt with miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss…

  1. Be with them.

Realize that nothing you do or say can take the pain away from someone who is grieving, but you can show them that they are not walking through the darkness of grief alone.

I will be forever grateful for a close friend of mine that came to the hospital before I gave birth to Izzy. I’d texted her that I was in labor. She was in the area and offered to come by the hospital to show support. Immediately, my first response was, “No, I’ll be fine. Just pray for me.” I felt so vulnerable. The labor seemed to sneak up on me. I was 33 weeks and 4 days pregnant and about to give birth to a baby that doctor’s said may not even survive the labor and who would most likely not live long even if he or she did. My automatic reaction to stress and heartache is to shut people out. My friend, no, sister kept asking me if I was sure that I didn’t want her to stop by. I kept texting that it wasn’t necessary. But the next thing I knew, my nurse was telling me that there was someone there to see me. And I was grateful. She sat and talked with me, then with me and my husband, about nothing and everything until we basically had to kick her out so that she wouldn’t be going home on the train too late. It was refreshing and encouraging that she chose to just simply be there.

Couples that deal with miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss just want to feel as if what they are going through is just as tragic as any other circumstance when a loved one is lost. All that’s really needed is for someone to be there. Texts and phone calls are great, but when you are going through the unimaginable, it helps for someone to be present. Couples that are grieving a loss may not know how to accept your support so sometimes you just gotta show up!

  1. Feed them.
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My thoughtful “grief basket.”

They say good food is good for the soul and I don’t doubt that is true, especially when you’re grieving.

 

Last Fall, I joined the Chicago chapter of the national Mocha Moms organization. It’s a support group for moms that focuses on sisterhood, service, and strengthening black families. I am still a newbie to the group, but these ladies came through like lifelong sisters in such a difficult and dark time of my life.

Exactly a week after losing Izzy, a few of the ladies came over to provide my toddler and me with lunch and even brought a care basket full of both healthy and comfort snacks alike. This basket was everything! It had a potted flower, peach bellini wine, and all kinds of Trader Joe snacks that I’d never had before. It’s because of this basket that I’ve been craving dried seaweed with wasabi! More than the goodies, it was the “we care” message behind it all from women I barely knew that really helped calm the bitterness that was growing inside of me.

Whether you bring lunch, give a care package, or invite a grieving family over for dinner, know that no act is too small. Food may not be able to heal all wounds, but it definitely helps.

  1. Avoid saying things like, “It’s ok. You’ll have more kids.”

Please do not tell someone that has lost a child—regardless of whether they lost their child at 6 weeks or 36 weeks—that they can always have more kids. If you wouldn’t tell a parent that has lost a teenager that they will be fine because they can have another child, please do not say this to a parent that has lost a child from miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. For some mothers, life begins from conception or from the moment they are aware that they are pregnant. Motherly instincts and attachment can kick in right away. There is no child that is replaceable to a mother. Losing a child (yes, even in the first trimester) can be devastating because there is not only the loss of the child, but a loss of possibility. A mother may mourn all the “what ifs” or “what could’ve beens.” That mother may mourn not being able to hold the child that was lost, not seeing that child learn to walk, start their first day of school, or graduate from college. It’s a loss of all of the possibilities of that child’s life. Saying that another child can replace the one that was lost is disrespectful and insensitive.

I don’t claim that the three suggestions I’ve mentioned apply to every parent that has suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. I can only speak from my own experience. However, I do believe in risking showing too much attention to grieving mothers and fathers rather than too little. It’s not uncommon for anyone who is grieving to suffer from severe depression and may even contemplate suicide. I encourage friends, family, and even acquaintances to lean in instead of pulling back. We don’t always know how to best show someone that we care when they are going through things that often seem unimaginable to most, but that’s why awareness of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss is so important. If we can erase the secrecy, shame, and stigma that surrounds talking about these issues, we may learn how to care for those suffering and provide much needed support.

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!

Ms. Jackson If Your Nasty

It’s 21 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!

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So I am a huge Janet Jackson fan! I love her classics and I can play many of her newer albums all the way through without skipping a track. When I heard that she was stopping through Chicago on her Unbreakable tour on November 4, 2015, I had to be there. The tickets were purchased months before we found out that there was any trouble with Izzy. About 3 weeks before the concert we found out that Izzy had a fatal birth defect, bilateral renal agenesis. I’d nearly forgotten about the concert until receiving an email reminder about it in my inbox. Neither I or my husband really were in the mood to go and I thought about trying to sell the tickets, but I’m so glad we decided to go in spite of how we felt. Ms. Janet put on a great show and even hubby wanted to hear her new album after seeing her perform. Thank God for those little moments of joy amidst the pain–as well as for distractions. Sometimes we all need a little escape!

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!

Turn LOSS into LEGACY

It’s 22 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!

In Your Loss Think of the Legacy Quote

Izzy taught me that every life is valuable and that we all have a purpose. He taught me to appreciate each moment that we have because the next moment is not guaranteed. He motivates me to keep fighting through the obstacles of life because if I can endure the pain of losing him, I can handle anything.

What did your lost loved one teach you by the way they lived their life? Focus on what you learned from their life to help you cope with the loss.

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!

Beloved

It’s 23 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!

Israel=one who wrestles with God and man and prevails

David=beloved

 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:28 (NKJV)

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Izzy’s name, Israel David, wasn’t decided upon until the day before he was born. Yet, the name fits him so perfectly. The doctors told us that there was a good chance that he wouldn’t be born alive at all because his condition, bilateral renal agenesis, caused very little amniotic fluid to surround him in the womb starting from the crucial period when his lungs were first developing, thus significantly stifling the growth and maturity of his lungs. Despite the odds, he fought with God and man just to briefly say “hello” to us on January 25, 2016–his grandma’s birthday of all days! We thank God that our “beloved” came to be with us even if just for a little while. This experience has shown me that every life is invaluable no matter how long it lasts.

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!