Reflections on Pregnancy

My pregnancy, from the beginning, was both hard and miraculous. Nearly 8 weeks in, I started bleeding heavily in the night and thought I was having my third miscarriage. Bri and I stayed up all night begging God to save her, to change his mind, to give her a chance. We went into see the doctor first thing the next morning and she confirmed our worst fears. That I was indeed losing her to a miscarriage. My doctor pulled a bloody thumb sized lump off my cervix believing it to be the placenta. We were devastated. I was in shock that it was happening again. Angry that even after the joy of seeing our baby’s heartbeat mere days earlier, all was now lost. My doctor proceeded with the ultrasound to make sure everything was out, and a mere moment later, gasping with unbelief, said, “wait a minute…..there’s a heartbeat…..and there’s your baby. Your baby is ok. Your baby is alive.” Dumbfounded I turned to look at the ultrasound machine and there she was, sure enough, heart pumping fire and life into her tiny but strong body. Our tears of mourning literally turned to tears of joy in a wondrous instant, and I knew we were in for quite the journey.

 

And quite the journey it has been. Days after our that life changing experience, I was hit hard with extreme nausea and morning sickness. Or all day sickness is a more apt description. The throwing up and nausea lasted 7 months. I was put on bed rest during my first trimester and lost over 10 pounds. Despite the miracle growing inside, and the miracle of our little girl’s life, joy was dampened by sickness and depression and isolation. It was difficult even to get out of bed at times. But as always, there were glimpses of grace in the pain, grace found with each beautiful ultrasound picture, each beautiful beat of her heart, and feeling her kick and move.  

When I finally got over the nausea and throwing up and started feeling better, our baby was diagnosed with Intrauterine Growth Restriction or IUGR. Basically, our little girl’s belly was growing at a much smaller rate than the rest of her body and over all she was small. There’s nothing a person can do make it better. You can’t eat more to make it go away, or rest more, or exercise less. Doctors aren’t really sure what causes it, but there was fear that she wasn’t getting all the nutrients she needed and had to be monitored closely with two non-stress tests and a Doppler every single week. If she didn’t catch up on her next genetic scan, I was going to have to deliver at thirty-four weeks.

 

But again, miracles happen. After a month of hospital visits, tests, ultrasounds (and worry and prayers) little babe hit a growth curve and completely caught up! The IUGR diagnosis was reversed. And I got the awesome news that I can carry her to term. Our little girl is such a fighter, from the very beginning when we were told she was gone and up until now as we wait patiently through our final days.

 

I have felt so weak throughout this pregnancy, but reflecting back, I realize that she makes me strong. In fact, there are times where I can feel her strength and beauty inside me, and it is both humbling and overwhelming. I couldn’t have done this pregnancy without her. I couldn’t have done it without her kicking me into shape quite literally as she does all day and all night. And I know that I can’t deliver without her either. Her fighting spirit inspires the fighting spirit in me.

We named our daughter Lila Vienne. Lila after my grandmother who is tiny in stature but exudes grit and grace, fortitude and wisdom. And we named her Vienne which means “alive” because we were told she was dead and then she was alive.

I wanted my maternity pictures to show how extremely beautiful and miraculous this pregnancy has been, so we did the first set all color. My hope is that it reflects the strength I feel with Lila Vienne growing inside me, heart beating strong, regardless of all we have been through.

The second set is in black and white, because I wanted to find a way to authentically and tastefully celebrate the struggle we’ve had for the last 9 months.  For so many mothers, pregnancy isn’t this gorgeous, airy, light-filled, picture-perfect reality. It’s difficult, hard to get out of bed some days, and scary too. But we all pull through and celebrate the miracle that comes.

Lila Vienne, you are our miracle.

 

All photos shot by Brian. Location is at Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs where we baby-mooned, a welcome, quiet, and safe place that allowed us the chance to process the IUGR diagnosis we received the day earlier. We are so grateful for their hospitality during our stay. 

Love to you all, Johanna (& Brian)

Empowered Women Empower Women

Empowered women empower women.

Clothing certainly doesn't change us intrinsically, but it's amazing how what we choose to wear can either enhance or diminish our personalities. 

I know that I am strong, but there are days where I struggle with depression or anxiety. If I get up and get dressed and put on an outfit like this, I immediately feel that strength returning. Then I can go out and give and serve. 

I believe the stories behind our clothes add to that as well. These pants are made by thriving women rescued from sex trafficking. Call me crazy, but I can literally feel their strength and courage when I wear them. And I too am empowered. 

Every purchase in this post goes toward empowering women. And I truly believe, they will empower you too. 

Top is from TWENTYTWO|FORTYFOUR's Black Ash Collection; Pants are Punjammies from Sudara, available at Enrou; Necklace is available at Enrou; Bracelet is available at Tribe of Dreamers; Clutch is from Hayden Harnett, sold out but get a similar one here; Shoes old


Conscious Closets + Botanica Workshop

Saturday's in. That's my dream. It rarely happens these days with all that's going on around me, work, relationships, events, travel, etc. All these things are wonderful, but can pull one in so many directions. When I think of vacation and rest now, I think of home. I think of a quiet morning in bed with coffee from the French Press and a good book. I think of dancing in my living room to Blue Suede Shoes, or let's be honest, anything Taylor Swift. These pictures are a reflection of a Saturday well spent, at a home I love surrounded by people I love.

I'm so thankful to Botanica Workshop for letting me spend my dream Saturday in their beautiful loungewear. Consciously made pieces I will treasure. Ladies, do yourself a favor and put one of their items on your Christmas list. And when you wear it, let it remind you of the importance of surrounding yourself with beauty and rest. 

All images by Brian Tropiano

Conscious Closets + ETHICA

Re-blogged from Shop ETHICA

Mere hours before we met Johanna Tropiano on a sunny Tuesday morning, the L.A.-based blogger, stylist and anti-human-trafficking advocate had been overseeing a packed house at the Highline Ballroom in New York City, where Natasha Bedingfield and Questlove respectively took the stage to toast the launch of Made In A Free World.

Tropiano is the newly minted VP of Strategic Partnerships for the nonprofit, which aims to eradicate modern-day slavery through a mix of awareness campaigns, field work and business solutions. (Ethica is one of 34 companies working with Made In A Free World to examine our products’ supply chains and identify areas potentially at risk for the use of forced and child labor.)

Despite her late night, Tropiano was lively and infectious as we took a walk down the High Line. Within minutes of conversation, she’d had us check our cosmetics for mica (an ingredient that is mostly mined by young girls in India), added The Locust Effect to our reading list, and created an Ace & Jig layering situation that was pretty darn perfect.

Hear about the disturbing conversation with a stranger that led Tropiano to commit her life to fighting human trafficking, and how she went from being an admitted shopaholic to a champion of #consciousclosets.

Certain issues are so overwhelming that our tendency can be to think of them in conceptual terms rather than as realities. Whats one thing that you want people to know about human trafficking and how very real it is? In 2009, I took a trip to Nicaragua to visit a child I sponsor at an orphanage in Leon. I struck up a conversation with a young man living in New York and teaching middle school P.E. I asked him what he was flying to Nicaragua for. He told me he wanted to hike the volcanoes. Then he looked up at me and, straight-faced with no emotion, said, “All my buddies have been there. They say the sex is cheap. You get young girls for cheap.” That conversation changed my life forever, and I’ve been fighting for human dignity ever since.

There are evil people like that school teacher from New York who seek to prey on the vulnerable and poor. I experienced it firsthand. Trafficking doesn’t just happen in movies. We are incredibly blessed to be born here. We can’t take that for granted.

Youve written–bravely and beautifully–about how attached we can become to our clothes. How long has it been since your big closet cleanout, and whats the best part about having a less-than-half-full closet? Thank you! I cleaned out my closet in a huge way in March of this year. I got rid of over half my clothes. It is a relief. I feel like a weight has lifted in a lot of ways. My husband I recently moved to a new home with small closets, and I was actually thrilled to see that all I had left took up half my closet. That’s a very different mindset from when I was proud of owning 50 pairs of designer jeans.

I continuously ask whether an item of clothing will bring me joy and only purchase something if it fulfills that. I also try to adopt a one-piece-in, one-piece-out mentality. There’s something to be said about having a small amount of beautifully curated, quality pieces rather than a closet full of fast-fashion throwaways. A friend of mine says, “Happy people make happy things.” I truly believe that. I want everything I own to be made by happy people. I’d rather spend money on something good and have less to make that happen.

“A friend of mine said, ‘Happy people make happy things.’ I truly believe that. I want everything I own to be made by happy people.”

Do you think your #consciousclosets journey would have been different if you had gone through it privately rather than sharing your progress on Instagram–and now on your new blog? I’ve always been a passionate, wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve kind of person. I’m super inspired by people who are vulnerable enough to share their stories and what they are learning. So I thought if I can help someone who is in a similar place as me through sharing my story, that’s awesome!

I believe my personal journey would have remained the same whether I shared it openly or not, but if even one person starts to think differently about fast fashion or shopping addiction or human trafficking, it’s worth it to me to be public. I live to inspire change in myself and in others. That motivates me more than anything. When I see small changes in friends or family taking place, that’s a real win.


Visit Made In A Free World’s Slavery Footprint calculator to discover how your choices might be impacting people around the world. Keep up with Tropiano on Instagram (@johannatropiano) and at consciousclosets.co.

Outfit details all available at Shop ETHICA; Striped Dress by Study NY; Cardinal Lake Pants and Westside Pants from Ace and Jig.

How Many Slaves Work for Me

The heart behind Conscious Closets is people. I firmly believe everyone is valuable. Everyone is worthy from fashion bloggers to celebrities and athletes, to the little girl in India mining for the mica that goes into all our sparkly makeup. We all have something good to offer this world. We all have a story to tell. We should all be able to live our lives in freedom. This is 2015 after all. 

So one brave day I asked myself the question. Based on my lifestyle and my closet, how many slaves work for me? Can I know? Do I want to know?

The answer was yes. Because truth brings change, and I was ready for change. 

I went to www.slaveryfootprint.org, it's an enlightening tool started by my company, Made In A Free World, that can literally tell you how many slaves work for you based on the way you live, how many cars you drive, TVs you own, how many pairs of shoes you have or blouses or dresses hanging in your closet. The site takes about 6 minutes to input all the data and then spits out the number.

The most meaningful and terrifying number I've ever seen in my life.

How many men, women, and children toil in horrific conditions so I can have my $20 boots or $5 tee or even a $1000 Chloe bag. No company is immune. But what I learned going through this process wasn't just the amount of slaves working for me, but also that I had too. much. stuff. Period. I was shocked and frankly surprised at how extravagant my lifestyle was. No one needs as much as I have. And especially not on the backs of children. 43 to be exact.

43.

How many do you have?