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!

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!

Happy New Year from the PBWB!

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Happy New Year from the Popped Black Woman Blog!

Don’t you love the sense of promise and hope that’s in the air at the start of a new year. Yet, we all know that mid-January/February rolls around and many of us still feel stuck in a rut and forget about all the new habits and plans we had for the new year. Let’s not let that be us this year. Let’s make a realistic ambitious plan for 2016 that includes deadlines and monthly/quarterly goals to help us stay on track.

For me, my biggest project will probably be setting a solid foundation for by new business, Popped Handmade, and really turning it into a “business” (as in having profits and such lol). It’s only been about 2 months since my first vendor fair when I burst out my handmade whipped body butters at a school where I used to work. It seems like ages ago because I’ve learned so much since then. But, at the same time the amount of work that needs to be put in, the knowledge and experience that needs to be gained, and the contacts that need to be made in order to turn this thing into something that really makes an impact for my family and for social causes that are important to me are almost overwhelming at times. However, that overwhelming feeling lets me know that I’m going to have to grow in faith in order to surpass the challenges in front of me.

In fact, 2015 has been so challenging as far as believing in myself and trusting God’s plan for my life that I’ve declared 2016 to be the year of belief. I refuse to have limiting beliefs that limit my joy and personal success this year. Last year was a year for the history books in many not-so-good ways, but it’s clear now more than ever that we grow the most when we go through some things.  

A Few Things 2015 Taught Me

 1.      Bad things can happen to anyone. An unfortunate situation can leave us paralyzed or propel us forward. It all comes down to our response.

2.      Sometimes your dreams have to be denied (even if for a short time) in order for you to realize your full potential.

3.      You have to decide to win even if you don’t have a fan club to lean on.

4.      You have to find ways to encourage yourself on a daily basis. This is true especially if you don’t have a strong support system. Motivational podcasts have really carried me through the low moments of 2015.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.”-Zig Ziglar

5.      Accept when you don’t fit in or feel like the oddball. That should let you know that you’re on the right track. You’re called to be the agent of change, not to conform.

6.      If you have the ability to inspire others, you’re a leader—even if you don’t have any titles or don’t feel like it’s true. We all have the ability to lead.

7.      Growth requires expanding your knowledge, experience, and network. It can’t happen with you staying stuck where you are.

8.      Just show up. You may not feel prepared. You may be running late. More than likely, you will be glad that you showed up and will learn a thing or two.

9.      Life is happening now. It’s the struggle/the process/the journey. Life is not waiting until you have accomplished all of your goals; it’s what’s going on while you work at your goals. Don’t wait until sometime in the future to enjoy the life you have right now. Only this very moment is guaranteed to anyone.

10.   We have to change our mindset in order to change anything that we’re dissatisfied with in our lives. No change in circumstances can take place if our thoughts and perceptions don’t change. The change starts inside before it’s manifested outside.

Honestly, I could go on and on about the little nuggets of wisdom that I’ve picked up from my experiences and observations in 2015, but I’d love to hear about your mantras, goals, and affirmations both that you’ve gained from 2015 and that you hope to ring true for 2016. Do you believe that 2016 can be your best year yet? Do you have a specific plan for how to make that happen? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook. We got this!

Review: Lush Cranberry Festive Face Mask

Greetings all my Popped Ladies & Gentlemen! You all have been on my mind more than you know. It’s been a while since I’ve published a full blog post. I’ve been preoccupied with launching my handmade, natural beauty product business, Popped Handmade, so I’ve been out at various vendor fairs or hunting for my next one via Facebook.

One cold Sunday evening after one of these vendor fairs, my husband decided to be spontaneous and suggested that we take our little family of three downtown to have dessert at Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Now since we hadn’t chilled downtown as a couple or family since 19-hundred-insert-a-year-a-long-time-ago, I closed my mouth (because it was hung open) and said, “Most definitely!”

After our delicious and diabetic-coma-inducing brownie sundae, we walked to Water Tower Place where I stumbled on the most beautiful display window I’d seen in a long time. There were handmade soaps of different colors, fresh face masks sitting on top of ice cubes in a long cooler, and people inside who were smelling beauty products and trying creams on. I was in front of the Lush store (Lush Handmade Cosmetics). My husband encouraged me to go in and I assured him that I wasn’t buying anything; I was only going in to get a little inspiration for new products and recipes to try out for my new, little side-hustle.

However, this incredibly gifted saleswoman of a sista got a hold of me and started rubbing different face and body scrubs on my hands and I walked out not only inspired to make my own beauty concoctions (and maybe even apply for a job at Lush), but also with a little red and white Lush Handmade Cosmetics bag with their Cranberry Festive Face Mask (and a few free samples of other products!) inside.

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I must say that I really had no interest in buying a face mask. My skin is in better condition now than it’s probably ever been (except for maybe pre-puberty). I used to struggle with managing acne as a teenager and even in my early-mid twenties, I dealt with a few flare-ups around that special time of the month that all of us ladies love. But now, thanks to a few different things that I will share in a separate post, my skin is doing great in my opinion. It looks bright, soft, and smooth with the exception of a few acne scars. However, because my Lush homegirl was so great at her job, I decided to buy something so I chose the Cranberry Festive Face Mask.

Things I Love about the Lush Cranberry Festive Face Mask:

  • Love, love, love the SMELL of this stuff. It has a floral and kinda fruity fragrance. It has a very feminine and pampering scent.
  • Liked the thick, mud-like consistency of the mask. This made it easy to put on and spread without making a mess.
  • Really liked how my face felt after rinsing it off. My skin felt soft, but clean. I didn’t have that really tight feeling that I’ve had with some facial masks in the past.

Things That I Wasn’t Too Crazy About:

  • My face felt a little too tingly when I first put the mask on. I felt a somewhat burning sensation for a few seconds, but the sensation went away after a while. I know that my skin has been very sensitive lately, even after washing I get some redness on my cheeks every now and then, so I don’t think this necessarily says anything bad about the product.
  • As the mask dried, little powdery crumbles of the mask fell off of my face every time I moved my facial muscles. This wasn’t a big deal because I was able to brush it right off my shirt and I was only in PJs anyway but I just thought I’d mention it.
  • However, the major concern that almost stopped me from buying the mask in the first place is the fact that “talc” is in the ingredient listing. Talc has been under scrutiny by a few organizations in the natural cosmetic industry for sometime because it can possibly be contaminated with asbestiform fibers, which has definitely been linked to cancer. While the FDA considers talc safe in cosmetics, talc is restricted/prohibited in Canada because of organ system toxicity concerns. According to an article by the American Cancer Society, talc used in U.S. cosmetics has been asbestos-free since the 1970s. However, there is still a possible connection to ovarian cancer for those ladies that still put talcum powder (baby powder) in their underwear (if it were to travel up the vagina).
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Overall, I love that for the most part Lush tries to use all-natural ingredients that are good for your skin and overall health (the fact that my mask needed to be kept in the fridge shows that it wasn’t loaded up with synthetic preservatives), but the company does use a few questionable ingredients from time-to-time (parabens come to mind here).

Yet, as someone who continues to research ingredients and create recipes without any of the questionable stuff, I can see their dilemma. They produce mostly natural beauty products on a mass scale so it has to be extremely difficult to keep products free of bacteria/yeast/fungi, aesthetically appealing, and convenient to use while still making enough profit to grow the business, use fair-trade/ethically-sourced ingredients, and keep people employed. I applaud them for what they’re trying to do and have been doing for the past 20-plus years.

Have any of you tried the Lush Cranberry Festive Face Mask? Let me know your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook 😉

On PoppedHomemade: Body Butter Goodness

So incredibly grateful for my new labor of love, Popped Handmade, to be featured by Shahidah from Properly Improper. I know that she and her family make their own handmade beauty concoctions every now and then so if my body butters get her approval, I feel like I’m doing something right here 🙂

Please check out her review and if you live in the Chicago area, join me tonight from 6:30-9:30pm at Zubar (8436 Brookfield Ave in Brookfield, IL) for a ladies’ Sip and Shop Holiday Shopping Extravaganza. I’ll have 3 different body butters on deck for you to sample and purchase: Minty Tangerine (orange mint), Cacao Curious (chocolate mint), and Chocolate Makes Me Calm (chocolate & lavender). Here’s the url to the Facebook event invite: https://www.facebook.com/events/1491585511147489/

As always, stay POPPED 😉

Properly Improper

wp-1450272445447.jpegI love a good body butter with a light scent that does not overpower and keeps my hands and body moisturized for more than a half hour. I was lucky to get two samples from the fabulous creations of Popped Handmade and am over the moon with her Minty Tangerine and Chocolate Mint.

Poppedhanmade is the creation of Carla Miles from Chicago. I did a blog feature on her several months ago. I was drawn to her positive and inspiring post.

She is a woman with a family not content with the status quo but empowered to create and establish her own business in homemade skin care products. I wish her much success in her endeavors and plan to continue to support her efforts because…sistah to sistah we have to roll like that.

Please visit her shop on Esty and follow her on Instagram and Facebook

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Make Sure YOU Win

Hello all my popped loves! I hope that you haven’t forgotten about me! I know that I’ve been a bit M.I.A. but Lord, if you knew what I’ve been going through…I had some really bad news a couple weeks ago that really threw my world upside down. I’m sure that one day, I will share more details about it, but all that I have the will to say right now is that it was news that shook the very foundation of my vision for the next few years of my life. You see, I had a plan, but of course, it’s often said that God laughs at our plans and does what He wants to do anyway! Have you ever been there? Have you had something happen to you that shook the foundation for your future or maybe even made you question your identity?

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“Don’t let disappointment or tragedy be the end of your story. Use it to make you even more determined to win.”

If so, I want you to remember something, no matter how bleak things may look right now, your story doesn’t have to be over. You may not be able to control everything that happens to you or around you, which is frustrating to the control freak in us all. However, we have full control over our reactions to whatever does happen to us. We can let something defeat us and make us kiss the game goodbye. Or we can use the disappointment, frustration, or [insert expletive here] to propel us forward. Don’t let disappointment be the end of your story. Use it to make you even more determined to win.

The inner pain I felt due to my situation made me want to crawl under my bed and stay there forever. But, I realized that if not anything else, I have a family—a daughter—that is relying on me to keep my ish together to be there for them. Instead of focusing on the things I couldn’t control, I decided to throw myself into starting Popped Handmade—a luxury, handmade, natural beauty product line for the everyday positive, optimistic, & powerful woman or man like yourself. Do I feel completely ready to take on this venture? No. Do I feel a bit overwhelmed at the mere thought of it? Yes. Will those fears stop me from giving it a shot and doing the very best that I can to perfect my products and grow my business knowledge? Hell no. The thing about feeling like you’ve hit a rock bottom of sorts is there’s nowhere to go but up. If this project fails, I will be right back where I started in the first place, yet I will have gained knowledge about business and myself that I would never have acquired otherwise.

If you, like me, are going through a valley in your life right now, use your experience as motivation to flip the script and make your story have a better ending. Don’t let the struggle win; make sure YOU win.

Check out the Popped Handmade Facebook and Instagram pages and let me know what you think!