Motherhood & Why I’m Done Having Kids

I always find it odd/annoying how people give their opinions on 1. Whether or not you should have kids 2. When you should have them 3. How many you should have, and 4. How many years is appropriate between each of them.

To be blunt, ain’t nobody’s business but your own and your husband’s. BUT…I do enjoy hearing other people’s stories and their own reasons for those things, particularly when they decide to be done. So I’m going to share my own haha ūüėõ

From 2012 to 2016, I was pregnant 5 times. I had a miscarriage (2012). I had Gwen (2013). Surprise! I had Ivor Baby (2014). I had another miscarriage (twins- 2015). Then I had Fiona (2016).

Friends, I am done.

The last 5 years have been insane. Amazing. Beautiful. Lonely. Devastating. Joyful.

Pregnant. Nursing. Pushing out babies and feeling every bit of it because my body rejects epidurals apparently (yeah…).

Sleepless nights. Tears. Laughter. Isolation. Connection.

Discovering how wretched I can be when little people push my buttons. Discovering the depths of a love I never knew possible (3 times over).

I remember a fleeting thought once (most likely during a very rough night with Ivor Baby), where I thought maybe¬†we could be done. I had the “perfect” family. 1 girl and 1 boy. Though lots of people probably wouldn’t think having them 14 months apart is “perfect”. But after a little while I realized that “nope…someone’s missing.” So we eventually started trying again. And then miscarriage #2 happened. At that point I REALLY thought “maybe we should be done”…but only because I was terrified of going through the pain of another loss …AGAIN. But no….our family still felt incomplete. In fact, that loss confirmed even more how badly I wanted just 1 more.

A friend said something recently about having a 3rd baby (but really it could apply to lots of things)…

“If you don’t do it, you’ll always wonder. If you do, you’ll never regret it.”

That’s exactly how I felt before Fiona. Was I risking the pain of another miscarriage? Yes. But was she worth it? Um, absolutely! Without her, I’d always wonder what it would be like to have 3 kids. And now¬†that I have her, I would¬†never ever regret¬†it. Even though 3 kids, ages 4 and under, is a circus most days ūüėõ

But now I have contentment in my heart. It feels complete. I don’t have that same wonder about 4 kids as I did about 3 kids. And quite honestly, I’m just done with the highs/lows of pregnancy and those early baby days. The crazy hormones. The weepies. And I really don’t want to go through the anxiety of pregnancy again, wondering “will it stick?…will I lose this one too?” I’m just done with the season of having¬†babies, and now I’m ready for the season of¬†raising them.

Don’t get me wrong, God COULD have other plans and miraculously gives us another child, even though it’s not our plan. And I might freak out. And have a nervous breakdown. But I’d certainly love that child as much as the first 3 and never ever regret him/her either. But as far as MY plan goes…we are done lol.

I guess it might seem like an odd subject for a Mother’s Day post (“Why I’m done having kids”) lol…I don’t mean it to be negative in any way. Just a reflection on my journey into motherhood (becoming a mother), and embracing the NEXT¬†season of motherhood ūüôā

So to all the mamas out there with their own unique and beautiful stories, from my circus to yours- HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!

Motherhood & Why I'm Done Having Kids

 

 

Fiona’s Birth Story!

Ok. Took me a little while to sit down to write this because…holy crap I have 3 kids now (still adjusting to even saying that). Any “free” time I’ve had up until now I just wanted to spend doing absolutely nothing, if not napping. Or trying to be somewhat productive around the house because that actually makes me feel more like a normal human (and not JUST a milk-dispensing, diaper-changing, baby-snuggling machine…though I am a big fan of the last one!) Sitting down to write a blog post usually takes quite a bit of time and thought. I go back and re-read, re-write things, etc. before posting. So it’s somewhat time-consuming and I just haven’t had much of a chance until now (or a willingness to use my brain more than necessary lol). And even now, before finishing this first paragraph I’ve been interrupted at least 5 times. But I will press on! Anyway, I’ll get more into what life at home has been like in my next post. For now, this one’s all about the arrival of BG3- miss Fiona Joy!

Things actually began on July 21st. In God’s crazy timing, that’s exactly 1 year to the day since Ivor’s accident and¬†the miscarriage of our twins. Now, you’ll have to forgive me because I’m about to get all sentimental and spiritual up in here. From the day I found out I was pregnant and realized what¬†my due date was, I couldn’t help but marvel at God’s goodness and be overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessing of this little “rainbow baby”. ¬†A tangible reminder for our family of the beauty and joy that can come after pain and suffering. I think it’s a really beautiful and powerful parallel actually to physical childbirth. There is a great pain involved, but it’s productive pain. And the¬†end result is LIFE…a living, breathing child entering the world. Instead of fighting against the pain, you embrace it and let it move through you because you know what’s coming at the end. Doesn’t make it any easier at the time and you may ask for some meds to help you through it. But it’s always worth it. I think we can¬†view grief and suffering in the same way. It sucks and it might be a really long road, but God can and will redeem it. It’s never in vain. He can bring something beautiful out of it if you let him. I don’t believe God causes the suffering, but he allows it and redeems it and uses it. I’ve seen it happen.

“Weeping may¬†endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5)

I’ve included a music video at the end of¬†this post that means a lot to me. I heard this song after my first miscarriage and the tears just immediately started to flow because I could relate to the lyrics¬†so much. I’m sure Paramore didn’t write it about a miscarriage, but it’s generic enough that it could apply to many different situations. For me, it’s about how I felt after my miscarriages and that transition from fighting against the pain to embracing it and just “letting it happen”. It was also going through my head during every contraction while in labor.

So now, back to July 21st, 2016.

My braxton hicks contractions felt different this day. They weren’t more¬†painful, but instead of an all-over tightening feeling in my abdomen, there was pressure much lower and it radiated around my lower back. So that made me take notice of them and start tracking them. I did this for a few hours that evening while we were watching Netflix. They were pretty consistent and not going away. But not getting any stronger either. So we went to bed. Of course right before falling asleep I finally told Ivor that I thought I *might* be in early labor, but that he should try to get some sleep anyway. Apparently that was a mistake and he couldn’t fall asleep after that lol. I did though ūüôā

Until about 3:15 ish-am (now July 22nd) when I woke up to a contraction and my water breaking! But this was much different from when my water broke with Gwen. This time, there was quite a bit of blood involved and it freaked me the heck out. So we left for the hospital in somewhat of a panic. Thankfully I felt her move around in the car on the way there so that was reassuring. We checked into the hospital shortly after 4am. The nurse assured me that the bleeding thing was totally normal. I had just never experienced that until after being in labor for quite awhile and in the hospital AFTER my water had already broken, not at the same time (in my previous pregnancies).

She checked me and I was 5, almost 6 cm dilated and 80% effaced. She confirmed that my water did indeed break. So I thought “hooray! this will go quickly!”

Until it didn’t. Things were not progressing quickly at all. We started pitocin. Still…no progress. We increased the dose of pitocin and still…not much progress. Contractions were still frequent and started to get more painful. So much so that I did end up getting an epidural (more on that later),¬†but not enough to dilate more and move things along. So the nurses determined that it was likely a sort of “partial” water breakage that happened in the middle of the night. Or, it broke, but then baby was in the way of full drainage. If that makes any sense to you. So the plan was for my doctor to come in and break it the rest of the way because that would likely get things moving big time (especially with my history- once they broke my water with Ivor Baby, he basically popped out 5 mins later).

But the on-call doctor¬†was apparently super busy with patients all day and took forever to show up. I still don’t understand why another doctor couldn’t have just come in and taken care of¬†it, but whatever. So to recap- we got to the hospital around 4am and the doctor didn’t arrive to see me until 6pm. SIX PM. This baby could’ve¬†been born so much earlier in the day. Anyway. Once my doctor finally arrived and broke my water, sure enough, things got crazy fast. My epidural basically stopped working and¬†I started feeling the contractions again, and mostly on just one side. Even after having them “top off” my dosage. All¬†that did was increase the numbing on one side of my body and do absolutely nothing to the other side. I apparently have bad luck with epidurals. That’s what I get for trying to fight against the pain and keep some control ;-P

I then got really hot and sweaty and faint. I know this feeling well- this is what happens right before I’m ready to push. The doctor came back in shortly thereafter and checked me and asked if I was ready. Yes. Yes I was. I gave my first push with the next contraction and then¬†the doctor got dressed and everyone else¬†prepped for delivery. Then 3-4 more pushes later, she was here! At 6:34pm. 8lbs 0oz, 20 in. long.

After confirming that she was really a girl (I’m always paranoid that the ultrasound tech is wrong), one of the first things I said was “omg look at all her hair!!’ And that’s basically what everyone says when they see it haha. I love it. And I love her. I love our new family of 5.

We are so thankful to have her in our lives. Our 3rd rainbow baby (since my very first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, I consider all 3 of my kids little rainbows).

Thank you all for the well wishes on her arrival <3 She’s so sweet and snuggly and soft. Despite the sleep deprivation, I’m enjoying this “simple” newborn stage (eat, sleep, poop) before she starts talking back and throwing tantrums and peeing on the floor ūüôā

Coming Soon…..”Life with 3 Kids, Ages 3, 2, and brand new!”

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Redeeming July

Many of you are probably already aware of what took place in our lives last July. I wrote a post called “Goodbye July” because it was a pretty sucky month for us and I was glad it was over. To catch you up if you didn’t know, my husband was in a very bad bicycle accident (broken bones, neck brace, nerve damage, etc.) and we suffered our 2nd miscarriage… on the very same day.

So now let me tell you a much happier story!

As terrifying as it was to try again for another baby after suffering 2 miscarriages, we did it anyway. We knew our family felt incomplete and we both desired to have one more baby. It took just a few months before it happened.

It was the day before Thanksgiving. My period was late. I was in a sort of “funk” emotionally and thought something might be up. So I “instacarted” a pregnancy test (because I can) and it showed up within an hour. I peed on that stick as I’ve done so many times in the past. And I swear, this one took the longest time for the results to appear. It says something like¬†3 minutes on the box, and I think it took every last second of those 3 minutes before it appeared. It felt more like 10 minutes at the time, but there it was:

IMAG0394

As expected, I was overwhelmed with a lot of different emotions. Mostly fear and joy. Fear that it would end in a miscarriage again. Joy that a new life is growing inside me again. Then I did the math and realized when the baby would be due. Late July.  Then came even more tears (mostly of joy).

We’ll be in the hospital again this July, but for a much happier reason ūüôā The accident and miscarriage happened on July 21. Our baby is due on July 23.

But that’s¬†just the beginning of the story!

Because of my “history of miscarriage” my doctor wanted to me to have a blood test to check hcg levels before even coming in for an appointment. In a normal, healthy pregnancy your levels should double every 2 days (in early pregnancy). So this was just to check that everything was developing normally so far. Well, of course, my numbers didn’t *quite* double. They were good and my doctor said it was normal for how far along I was, but she still wanted to do an early ultrasound just to be sure.

So I went in a few days later for the ultrasound. There was a gestational sac, a well-formed yolk sac….and nothing else. There was no visible fetal pole. The sac was measuring about a week earlier than they expected based on my dates. Based on the date of my last menstrual cycle, I should’ve been about 6.5 weeks along at that ultrasound (early enough to see something usually) But I was only measuring 5.5 weeks. So they scheduled me for yet ANOTHER ultrasound a week later.

Well, you can imagine at this point I’m convinced that I’m having another miscarriage. Between my levels not doubling and not seeing a baby on the ultrasound, I was sure this pregnancy was doomed. The next morning I woke up and didn’t even want to get out of bed. My husband and I were supposed to go out to breakfast, but I just laid there, depressed, sad and pissed that this could happen to us AGAIN.

Eventually, I got myself up out of bed, got dressed and was about to go drop Ivor off somewhere when all of a sudden, I ran to the bathroom and puked. And now I was confused. Morning sickness? That’s usually a good sign. Yesterday there was no baby on the ultrasound screen, and today I have morning sickness? But I brushed it off because I know that morning sickness isn’t always a guarantee that all will be well and I was sure that if¬†I Googled “morning sickness and miscarriage” I’d find stories of it happening. So I quickly went back to my “woe is me” attitude.

We went back for the 2nd ultrasound a week later. The room is set up so that the ultrasound screen isn’t visible to the patient, just the ultrasound tech. She was in a hurry because they were running super late. She seemed friendly and talked to us and asked questions. But it wasn’t until she was done, at the very end, that she finally turned the screen so that I could see. There was a baby! And a heartbeat!

::Cue the tears::

For the first time since I found out I was pregnant, I felt calm. Mind you, all of this took place BEFORE I even had my regularly scheduled “first OB appointment”. Had it not been for my “history” I would’ve never had those early tests/scans. I would’ve just showed up for my first appointment on December 17, when I was 8 weeks along, and saw this little bean:

IMAG0465

Checking up on things too early in pregnancy just¬†causes unnecessary worry/anxiety I think. And worry¬†and anxiety took over A LOT in those first few weeks. I couldn’t just enjoy being pregnant. I was constantly afraid that every time I went to the bathroom, I’d see blood. And that we’d have that¬†ultrasound and hear those words from the doctor again, “there’s no heartbeat”.

Even now that I’m almost 13 weeks along and everything has gone well so far, fear still creeps in occasionally and reminds me of all the things that could STILL go wrong. Late miscarriage. Genetic disorders. Stillbirth. What a miserable way to live though, constantly worrying about all that could go wrong. God did not give me a spirit of fear. That comes straight from Satan himself and he feeds off it it. No matter what happens, God is still in control and He will not abandon us. I will not let fear steal my joy!

Finding Nemo is my son’s favorite movie and we watch it A LOT. But there’s one scene in particular that hit home¬†when we watched it recently. If you’ve lived under a rock and haven’t seen it, let me set the scene for you. Marlin and Dori are on their journey to find Nemo. They’re almost to Sydney (where they know Nemo is, somewhere), when all of a sudden they get swallowed by a giant¬†whale.

And that’s about where I am right now ūüôā Letting go and trusting God, even though I don’t know exactly what will happen.

Aside from the fear/anxiety issue, this pregnancy has been rough in other ways too.¬†I’ve had horrible¬†nausea. The “all-day sickness” has stuck around since the¬†first morning it arrived. I’ve lived with near-constant wooziness for about 5 weeks straight. There has been A LOT of vomiting and overall¬†I’ve felt the worst I’ve ever felt with any pregnancy. My doctor said that I’d experience all the discomforts of pregnancy much earlier this time around and man was she right! In addition to nausea/vomiting, there’s the fun mood swings and irritability (pray for my husband and kids please), back pain, boob pain, heartburn, headaches, gas/bloating, etc. Pregnancy is soooo glamorous isn’t it?? ūüôā

As miserable as those things are, they’re all a reminder of the little life growing inside me. So it’s hard to complain (though I still do….).

We’ll find out the gender at the end of February, so get your guesses in now ūüôā And stay tuned for more pregnancy updates and……STITCH FIX MATERNITY!!¬†¬†It’s 99% likely that this will be our last baby so it might be weird to buy all new, nice maternity clothes now,¬†but¬†I’ve decided that since I’ve felt so miserable, I’m going out in style with this one (and then I’ll sell it all) lol.

Anyway, we’d appreciate your prayers throughout this pregnancy. That BG3 would be strong and healthy and that I’d be able to experience the peace of God and really enjoy the rest of this¬†pregnancy (to the extent possible). Thanks!

 

 

 

 

2015.

It would be really easy to look back on 2015 and focus on the worst month of our lives, July. There’s no denying it sucked big time. But 2015 wasn’t just one month. There were good things that happened too and they’re worth remembering and jotting down. Especially since the events of July did have the biggest impact on our lives, it’s easy to forget everything else. So here’s my attempt at mentioning everything I can remember…the good, the bad and the ugly.

*My kids turned a year older. Gwen turned 2 and Ivor Baby turned 1. I forget sometimes how close in age they are. It’s just so normal to me now.¬†It’s not until someone asks me how old they are. I tell them and then they look at me with wide eyes and say something like “OMG! They’re so close!” Oh yeah, they are aren’t they? ūüôā 14 months apart, in case you were wondering.

*My blog audience grew big time with all the Stitch Fix (and later, Trunk Club) posts. You people love fashion. Who knew?! Seriously. I would’ve never thought that pictures of me in new clothes would be so popular. But…I ran with it and don’t intend to stop anytime soon ūüôā

*As a result, I got invited to a private launch party at Stitch Fix headquarters in San Francisco, back in March when they launched Petite & Maternity. It was a really cool experience, but I wish I would’ve been more outgoing and social and talked to more of the bloggers who¬†were there. Ya know, got my networking on. But I still wasn’t sure how I even got invited and just hid behind my camera most of the time lol.

*We took our first trip back to Philly since having kids (and survived the plane ride!) For a lot of our family and friends, it was their first time meeting the¬†kids. We celebrated their birthdays, went to a friend’s wedding, ¬†had a date night in the city, went to Sesame Place, experienced wonderful thunderstorms (you miss it sometimes), and overall really enjoyed our time there. Not sure when we’ll be back again yet. It’s everyone else’s turn now to come visit US ūüėČ

*I joined the leadership team and became a table leader at my MOPS group and have met some amazing ladies/friends as a result. I’m so happy to be surrounded by other like-minded “let’s be real” women who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable and¬†share their struggles with each other. They are such a blessing. #teamWestgateMOPS!

Ok, I guess we’re getting to the point now where I can’t help but mention what happened in July. But I’ll try to focus on the positive and the good that came from it. I can do that now that I’m reflecting back on it, and not in the middle of going through it. Quick aside: please don’t expect someone in the MIDST of suffering to see the “good” in it. Grief and suffering is a process…it changes over time. Give it time. Don’t rush it. I preach it all the time because I’ve lived it. The most helpful people in my life during this time said something like this: “Hey…I’m so sorry, this sucks. Here are some cookies. Can I do your dishes?” You can talk¬†all¬†about how God used this trial for good later. For now, give me the dang cookies and let me eat.

So, here we go. The biggest good I can think of that came out of the experience is this: a much stronger relationship with and appreciation for my husband. I could’ve lost him. Or he could’ve been paralyzed and what we experienced in the 2 months or so following the accident could still be my reality today, and for the rest of our lives. He was helpless. Totally dependent on me. And if you know anything about my husband, that is the complete OPPOSITE of who he is. He is an extremely active, hard-working, get-sh*t-done type of guy. So it was certainly an adjustment for both us (to say the least) to have him not be able to care for himself, let alone me or¬†the kids. All the while, grieving the loss of our twins. Our 2nd miscarriage. I remember one particular evening, in between the ultrasound and the D&C, while I still had remnants of life inside me. We’d been home from the hospital for only a few days. The kids were in bed. We were alone on the couch. It was silent. And¬†I finally broke down. Like, majorly broke down. I cried a little at the ultrasound, but held myself together for the most part, because I’m strong like that (hah). But not this night. I sat on the couch and wept while he held me and we talked about the hopes/dreams we had for those babies. It was an extremely raw and intimate moment between us. As heartbreaking as those¬†circumstances were, looking back on our 5 years of marriage…that’s the single most intimate¬†moment I can recall. Being that vulnerable and broken…and being held. That’s marriage. Intimacy isn’t just a physical thing. Now that things are back to normal and I get mad at him for whatever stupid reason, I look back on this time and remember….”man, I love this guy.”

The¬†other major good was the outpouring of love and support we received from others. I’m still overwhelmed just thinking about it. His coworkers. My MOPS group¬†(some of whom¬†had never even really met me before). Friends and band-mates. So many people offering to bring food, clean our house, watch our kids, or just come over to hang out and keep us company. Talk about “the hands and feet of Jesus”. We experienced it in abundance and we will be forever grateful.

That trial, and our whole year can really be summed up in one verse (well, 3 technically). It’s the one that’s been popping up in my head a lot recently…

“Through the Lord‚Äôs mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.¬† They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness.¬† ‚ÄúThe Lord is my portion,‚ÄĚ says my soul, ‚ÄėTherefore I hope in Him!‚ÄĚ Lamentations 3:22-24

 

Is his voice not ridiculous?!

Anyway, whether in big or little circumstances, God is faithful and he is good to us. As this year comes to a close and we look forward to what the New Year is going to bring, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness for God’s constant faithfulness. Ivor’s accident sucked. Our miscarriage sucked. But God never left. He held us together and we survived.

See you in 2016, friends ūüôā

It Sneaks Up on You

By now we probably would’ve made the announcement. Not just that we were expecting our 3rd baby, but our 3rd AND 4th. Twins! I’d be into my 2nd trimester now, passed the “risky” stage ¬†and ready to go public, letting the world know that the Griffiths twins were due to arrive mid-March 2016 and our life was about to get a whole lot crazier. They were due just before Gwen’s birthday, so for a very brief period of time, we would’ve had “4 under 3”. Can you even imagine?! It would be utter chaos. But I’d give anything for that chaos.

Grief over a miscarriage really does come in waves. You go several days in a row feeling pretty good emotionally, and then one little thing reminds you. “Oh yeah, my babies died…my womb is empty….well, this sucks.”

It’s nobody’s fault. Pregnancy is a wonderful thing to be celebrated, so of course we make fun facebook announcements and spend the next few days receiving a million facebook notifications with¬†“likes” and comments. Then again once when the big day arrives and you post that first photo w/the stats.¬†As I’ve been seeing those “due in March” announcements recently, I’ve been reminded. I wonder how we would’ve made the announcement…

I’ve also seen this image shared a few times recently and¬†found it incredibly moving.

sculpture2_645_469_55

This sculpture is called “The Child Who Was Never Born” by Martin Hud√°ńćeka. Some things I’ve read on the Internet say it’s supposed to depict the grief and sorrow of a mother who aborted her child, and the unborn child comforting her/offering forgiveness. I don’t know if that’s the case or not- but it doesn’t matter. Any¬†parent who has lost a child (whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or a¬†regretful abortion) can relate to this image. That’s the beauty of art, right? You interpret it through the lens of your own life and circumstances.¬†When I look at this¬†I see 3¬†little ones. The¬†first one we lost in April 2012- the one touching my¬†head, and our twins lost in¬†July 2015- I see them crawling around at my knees, looking up at me).

I grieve over having never met them. Never knowing who they would’ve resembled more- mommy or daddy. That they’ll never¬†get to play or fight with their crazy siblings. I’m sad for Gwen and Ivor baby too, that they just lost 2 siblings. Right around the same time I was miscarrying, Gwen suddenly took an interest in her babydoll. Rocking her and feeding her in the rocking chair, “I feeding the baby mommy”. And Ivor Baby who one day randomly gave the babydoll the sweetest, most gentle kiss, right on the lips. It¬†was out of nowhere. And it stabbed me in the heart. They would’ve taken such great care of their baby brothers/sisters/or brother and sister. In my mind, it was a boy and a girl. I’ll know for sure one day…

I am thankful for the 2 kids playing around me right now. Gwen is sitting at the table coloring and doodling, Ivor Baby is being his usual curious self, getting into things. They make the grieving process a little easier. They both distract me, and bring a lot of joy and laughter, which is incredibly healing. When we had our first miscarriage we didn’t have any kids yet. So that was wrapped up in the emotions of uncertainty “will we ever be able to have kids?” But we knew miscarriage was pretty common, and not “likely” to repeat itself, so we immediately tried again and then there was Gwen, less than a year later. And then Ivor baby, another year later! I didn’t think it would happen again, but it did. And so the odds increase.

Coming home from the most recent heartbreaking ultrasound, I told Ivor, “I’m not sure I can do this again”. Because in my head I¬†knew that the solution to never having to go through this again, is to just be done having kids for good. But my heart still very much desires another one,¬†and¬†so I was relieved when Ivor said that he wanted another one too and that he wanted to try again as soon as possible. But it’s scary.¬†I’m terrified to get¬†pregnant again because we¬†have no control over what happens. It could¬†happen again, even though my doctor says it’s still “not likely to repeat itself”.

So, we’re being courageous and not calling it quits just yet.¬†What happens happens. It’s in God’s control. For now, we still mourn the loss of our babies, love on the ones we do have, and just live life!

 

 

 

 

Yet It Did Not Fall

One of my favorite passages of Scripture, that I personally declared as the passage for our marriage (though of course it’s applicable to all of life really), is Matthew 7:24-27, “the wise and foolish builders.” It’s the conclusion to¬†the Sermon on the Mount where¬†Jesus¬†explains that those who put into practice all that he has said, will be like the man who builds his house on a rock. Well, instead of paraphrasing it for you, I’ll just copy it in full here:

24¬†‚ÄúTherefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25¬†The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26¬†But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27¬†The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.‚ÄĚ

Yes, I realize Jesus wasn’t speaking specifically of marriage here, but the illustration still works. You face a lot of crap in a marriage and if your foundation is weak, it’s likely to come crumbling down with a great crash. But if your foundation is strong, it can withstand the beating that is¬†sure to come.

But this isn’t meant to be a sermon on marriage or a declaration that it’s that simple, or a “hey look at us, we’ve got it all together” post. I just want to share a little deeper about what life was like during the¬†most recent “storm” that hit our “house” and give thanks to God that¬†it’s still standing!

Looking back on the last 5 years of marriage (and it’s only been 5!) our hardest times seemed to draw us closer together, but this time especially. I’m grateful though, because I know the opposite could’ve happened. Renovating a house together during our first year of marriage, living out of 1 room and doing dishes in the bathtub. Job and financial struggles. Moving away from our family, across the country and basically starting a new life together. Suffering miscarriage #1. Having 2 babies 14 months apart. And now, an accident and another miscarriage- losing twins. All in 5 years of marriage!

So here’s just a little glimpse of what life has been like recently…

You may have heard the overview of injuries that Ivor suffered after the accident: broken collar bone, 2 back fractures and a spinal cord contusion in his neck which caused nerve damage, but you might not realize the effect of those injuries on his daily life. In the beginning,¬†he was in so much pain, it took a few days before he could even stand or¬†walk for more than 10 minutes. The nerve pain was debilitating. He had a hard time feeding himself. He needed help going to the bathroom. He couldn’t bathe himself or get dressed by himself. Getting him comfortable was a constant struggle and he still has yet to get a good night’s sleep. So for the past month or so, but especially in the very beginning, he was as dependent on me as our 2 kids are. (And I can now say that I know that man more intimately than any other person on this planet. Helping your spouse go to the bathroom is something you might expect to go through in old age, not this soon.) But who can expect or predict things like this? Life is going along swimmingly and then you hear screeching brakes in the form of a phone call from a number you don’t recognize, with a sinking feeling in your stomach when the person on the other end asks, “are you Ivor’s wife?”

It could’ve been so much worse. I am thankful that my husband is still alive. And not paralyzed. But I will still rightly recognize the last month or so as being really sucky and really difficult. It’s easy to dismiss things and¬†try to make yourself feel better by comparing yourself to others worse off than you. There’s nothing wrong with a little perspective, but you can still have perspective and valid feelings of grief for whatever it is you’re going through at the time.

Anyway. I wish I could say that I’ve handled every moment with grace and self-sacrificing love. But that would be a self-righteous lie. There have been several times over the course of the last few weeks that I’ve wanted to scream “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CAN I JUST GET 2 MINUTES TO MYSELF WITHOUT SOMEONE NEEDING ME????” (and all the moms of world said “amen!”) After all, I was miscarrying at the time too. I was going through my own personal struggle of grief over having life begin and end inside my body ….for¬†the 2nd time. And dealing¬†with the emotions of having and losing twins. But I barely had a moment to dwell on those feelings because of everything else going on. Because of Ivor’s injuries, he was unable to help me with the kids. I’m used to being on my own with them during the day while he’s at a work, but not¬†24/7. It’s been exhausting (to say the least). Single parents- you have my utmost respect and admiration.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing” (Philippians 2:14)? Fail. I’ve grumbled. I’ve argued. But God’s mercies are new every morning, and each day He has given me a renewed, supernatural strength to care for my family. And has reminded me what a privilege it is to be needed, and why I do what I do for my family. It should not be out of obligation or duty (though, it is my duty), but the motivation should be out¬†of love. Oh, I’ve had my weak, selfish moments. But I’ve also had a full heart absolutely bursting with love for my husband and our kids- where taking care of them wasn’t even a question in my mind. It was automatic. Not a burden. Yes, I took vows and take them seriously. So of course I will care for my husband when he can’t care for himself. But I also do it because I love that man, and I want to take care of him. It’s a much better feeling, personally (and to those who are receiving it), when you’re fueled by love, and not obligation. And that is a daily prayer of mine as a wife and mommy because it doesn’t come naturally. Any good that I’ve done for my family, all the right attitudes I’ve had- – – it’s not because I’M so strong…it’s because I have a strong God holding me together. And it’s only by the grace of God that this “house” is still standing.

 

 

 

 

Goodbye, July

July 2015 proved to be one of the most eventful months of our lives. Good events, and very bad events. We started off the month with a fantastic day trip to Paso Robles for wine tasting (just my husband and I), as part of an early anniversary celebration. Then we spent a few days in¬†Tahoe for a family vacation. Overall, our Tahoe trip¬†was awesome. We loved it there and can’t wait to go back again (I have an entire post in my drafts folder all about it). However, bad event #1 happened there. On our 3rd day, Ivor Baby had a pretty serious allergic reaction to something and we had to take him to the ER. It was a “moderate” reaction. Eye swelling and hives all over his body. But no respiratory distress, thank God. We didn’t¬†figure out what caused it until recently after taking him to an allergist. Food allergies tend to be the most common occurrence in babies, but we didn’t introduce anything new while we were in Tahoe. We DID, however, expose him to something for about the 3rd time ever, eggs. Little Dude is allergic to eggs (and milk as it turns out, but eggs are likely what caused the bad reaction in Tahoe). Now we know what caused it, and what to avoid in the future. We even have an epi-pen just in case. But we’re hopeful that he’ll outgrow the allergy¬†eventually.

Moving on to later in the month….

We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. Yay marriage! Yay us! Good times.

But then,

July 21, 2015- my husband was¬†in a serious bicycle accident on his way home from work. While riding downhill at¬†20+mph, his front tire failed, blew out completely, sending him flying into a chain link fence, breaking his collar bone, fracturing 2 bones in his back and bruising the¬†spinal cord in his neck (injuries¬†that were confirmed much later at the hospital). A random stranger who stopped to help him called me with the news. Well, he called and then handed the phone to Ivor, who then told me what happened. Fortunately, my mother-in-law was visiting at the time so I left¬†immediately to go get him. The plan was for me to take him to the hospital. But when I got there¬†and we realized he couldn’t get in the car because of how much pain he was in, I called 911 and an ambulance showed up a few mins later. When the paramedics arrived and started poking and prodding him, cutting off his bike shirt because he was in too much pain to move his arms, I started to get sick to my stomach. Sure he was awake and talking, but he looked so pale and in so much pain. And so I started assuming the worst (serious internal bleeding that we don’t know about yet, etc. etc. etc.) I had to sit on the back bumper of the ambulance with my head between my knees to keep myself from passing out or vomiting. I kept telling myself “pull it together, Krystal…they don’t need 2 patients right now. Pull yourself together”. After what seemed like way too long, they told me to meet them in Trauma at¬†Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. So I got in ¬†car, prepared to follow them. But then they sat there for what also seemed like FOR-EV-ER, before they finally pulled away and started driving. I was *this* close to laying on my horn, beeping¬†at them to get their lazy as*es moving. Again, “pull yourself together woman”.

Once we arrived at the hospital, he had a ton of x-rays done and a CT scan, and was given morphine to help with the pain. We waited around for quite a bit, wondering if he’d be able to go home that night or if he’d need to stay for awhile. While waiting out in the hallway in the trauma area, I decided to finally take a bathroom break. While in the bathroom, I discovered that I was bleeding.

What I failed to mention earlier was that shortly after our Tahoe vacation, we found out we were expecting our 3rd baby.

And now we’re in the trauma center of Santa Clara Valley Medical, my husband is laying on a gurney out in the hallway in a neck brace, with broken bones, in excruciating amounts of pain, …and now in typical, “when it rains it pours” fashion, it appeared that we were losing our baby too. All on the same day. I walked back out to Ivor and told him what was happening. He held my hand, which was all he could do.

“Worst. Day. Ever.”

They kept him¬†in the hospital overnight and I stayed with him, in¬†the most¬†horrible uncomfortable chair ever, not being able to sleep for obvious reasons. 1. the chair 2. I was freezing 3. I was bleeding 4. I kept checking on Ivor making sure he was breathing…watching the rise and fall of his chest, much like you do when you first bring home a baby. Because I’m paranoid like that. When the doctors made their rounds first thing in the morning they discovered that Ivor had quite a bit of neck pain, so they ordered an MRI for later in the day (the MRI is what eventually showed his spinal cord injury). While he was getting his MRI, I was on my way to the OB for an ultrasound to try to figure out what was¬†going on with my pregnancy, expecting the worst of course.

It was in the OB’s office, sitting there by myself, while my husband was in the hospital, that I finally could NOT¬†hold myself together anymore. The nurse asked me “So, what’s going on, when did the bleeding start?” And the floodgates opened. I was one hot mess in that office. And then came the ultrasound. We discovered 2 things. 1. There were 2 visible sacs on the screen. Twins. I was pregnant with twins. But one of them didn’t appear to be growing well, and starting to disintegrate, which was probably the cause of the bleeding. 2. The other one appeared to be in better shape, with a little baby inside. But I wasn’t far enough along for them to be able to tell for sure if everything was okay or not. So they sent me away to get a blood test (to check¬† hCG levels) and another ultrasound the following week. So there was a small sliver of hope. While it was pretty clear that we were losing one of the twins (one I didn’t even know we were expecting until we were losing him/her), there was still hope for the 2nd one. The hCG test showed that my levels were rising, which was a good sign, but since¬†I was having twins¬†my levels were “unpredictable”, according to the doctor. So ultimately, it would ¬†be¬†the 2nd ultrasound that would hopefully give us a clear answer one way or the other.

Fast forward to that ultrasound a week later (after we’ve been home from the hospital for a few days). Ivor was (barely) able to be there with me for this one. He was in a lot of pain,¬†but he was there.¬†The 2 sacs were still there but the one was significantly smaller than it was the week before, confirming again that we lost one. But then as the ultrasound tech began measuring the 2nd sac with the 2nd baby in it, I knew. I’ve been pregnant enough in the past few years and I’ve seen my fair share of ultrasounds to know what a beating heart looks like, even in the early stages, and there wasn’t one. The tech didn’t say much and asked again if I was still bleeding at the time. I wasn’t. She said to sit down¬†and wait for the doctor to come in to¬†talk to us about the results (again, we know what’s coming at this point). Still though, even with a week to prepare myself for it, and seeing it on the screen with my own eyes, it still hurt like hell to hear the actual words come out of my doctor’s mouth. “No heartbeat”.

That makes 2 miscarriages, and 3 total babies lost. Still as devastating as the first time, even with 2 beautiful, healthy kids at home.

I was considering passing the babies naturally at home, but decided against it given our current circumstances. I was taking care of my husband and our 2 kids and the last thing our family needed was for me to be in pain, cramping and bleeding and not being able to take care of them. So we opted for another D&C procedure.

That was yesterday. And now it’s over.

And it’s a new month.

There’s a lot more I want to write about this whole experience, with Ivor’s accident, and miscarrying for the 2nd time…and the twins. And I know Ivor wants to write about it from his perspective too. But for now, all I can say is that God is still good. And we have never before in our lives been more surrounded by the love and kindness of others. And have never experienced comfort quite like this before.

“Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4).¬†

 

 

Mother’s Day Hope

mothersdayflowernotext

There’s a story behind this flower that I’d like to share with everyone. I’ve written about the topic a few times, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this little flower that has a whole lot of meaning.

At this time 3 years ago, I had just suffered the end of my very first pregnancy. An early miscarriage. As if that alone isn’t hard enough, the timing of it added a little extra sting.

“Really, God? RIGHT¬†before Mother’s Day?” Ugh.

I was still in shock and trying to wrap my head around what had just happened. It was like my pregnancy ended before it even began. That’s how fast it happened. A drastic descent from the high of seeing a positive pregnancy test (after trying for about 9 months), to the low of that first ultrasound, when we were told it was over. Just, over.¬†All¬†of this happened within the span of a few short weeks.

My parents were in town over Mother’s Day weekend, so we wanted to bring them to our church then visit a local¬†winery afterward (I wasn’t pregnant anymore, so why not drink some wine?!) I knew church would probably be hard, as most of them always make a point to recognize the holiday and all the moms in the congregation. Which they did, at the end of service. They had little kids go around handing flowers to all the moms. At first, I thought, “well, this sucks”. Not that I would’ve expected a flower anyway. I wasn’t a mother yet, even if I wouldn’t have miscarried. But I would’ve been excited about becoming one soon. So, there was still something about it that caused my heart to ache.

Then right as we were about to leave the sanctuary, an adorable little boy came over¬†to me, looked up into my eyes with a smile on his face, and handed me a flower. I’m not sure what about me looked like a mother. I didn’t have any kids with me.But I took the flower from him anyway, said “thank you”, while holding back tears.

You’d think that would’ve been like throwing a heaping pile of salt into my open wound. But it wasn’t. It was like God gently telling me, “just because that little life is no longer growing inside you anymore, doesn’t mean it was never there.” You’re never just “a little pregnant”. You’re either pregnant, or you’re not. There is no in-between. And I was pregnant. It did happen. Even for those few precious weeks that I eagerly anticipated our first baby. Wondered if it was a boy or girl. Thought about names. How we would announce it. What the baby would look like. How cool it would’ve been if the baby was born on 12/12/12 (which was my due date). I started¬†researching breastfeeding. Childbirth and labor. All the stuff expecting moms do. And I loved and cared for that little life. Like a mom does. I was a mom.

But that¬†flower was also a sign of hope. God knew my desire to have kids¬†was still there, and would be fulfilled someday, even though I didn’t know it then. I had no idea in that sanctuary 3 years ago, that a year later I’d be holding my precious Gwendolyn. And that 2 years later, I’d be expecting¬†my little Ivor. And that today, 3 years later, I have my 2 adorable little miracles here to hold and give lots of hugs and kisses to. They are such a gift and I don’t take them for granted. I remember reading something somewhere that the more shocking statistic isn’t the number of miscarriages that occur, but the number of actual live births. The process is so very complex, intricate and delicate. So many things have to go right and fall into place perfectly for it to be successful. so it’s not that surprising that it doesn’t always go right. But when it does? That’s why they call it the “miracle of life”, right?

Mother’s Day is a nice¬†holiday. It’s¬†a tough job and it’s nice to be recognized and to celebrate with our families. But please remember the other moms¬†around you who are hurting, and be sensitive to them. In any given church congregation, there will be women¬†who have suffered a miscarriage, lost a child,¬†or struggle with infertility. And they deserve flowers too.

To those moms, I recognize you. I see you. I’ve been you. I wish I could give you all hugs.

Please don’t lose hope! Even when it seems all is lost…God can do a whole lot more than you could even imagine. He is faithful and he knows your tomorrow. He can see what’s ahead for you, when all you can see is darkness and hopelessness. Trust Him.

¬†“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, ¬†to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”- Ephesians 3:20-21

 

 

 

Is It Just Me?

This is something that’s been on my heart and has bothered me for a long time. I wanted to put it out there to hear other opinions and viewpoints. Because this might just be something that’s a matter of opinion. Not necessarily a “right or wrong” thing. But if it is, it’s worth discussing and bringing to light.

I’ve been having a hard time figuring out how to word this without sounding self-righteous or judgmental. So, as the Bible says, “remove the plank from¬†your own eye first before removing the speck from your brother’s” ¬†(Matthew 7:5),¬†I will do just that. As an aside though, please note that the 2nd half of that¬†verse still exists. The condemnation in¬†this verse is to those who have a judgmental spirit–¬†always pointing out the sins of others, while ignoring their own. It’s not saying we should never exhort/rebuke others, or make a judgment. It’s saying to do it with the right attitude and the humility that recognizes sin in your¬†own life, and doing it in love with the purpose of bringing them closer to God, not to tear them down or make yourself feel superior.

That said—I do not always have the right heart and attitude when entering into the worship on a Sunday morning. My heart and mind are often distracted. I can go through an entire service thinking about all the things I have to do that day, leaving without any idea what the sermon was on. I can just mindlessly¬†go through the motions. Sing the lyrics to songs without paying any attention to the meaning, etc. I can get bored. I can get sleepy. Any number of things might distract me and cause me to not focus or have my heart in the right place. So please know that what I’m about to address applies to me too. However, all of that goes on in my own head, not visible to or distracting to others, which is why I wanted to bring this¬†up.

What has been bothering me is this really casual, laid-back approach to a Sunday morning service. Where it seems that the first 10 mins or so of the service is optional. Or serves as a time to wrap up conversations, and mosey on into the sanctuary and find your seat, whenever you’re ready. In my opinion, that’s extremely disrespectful and rude. To God and to others. Don’t get me wrong, relationships and connecting with others is vitally important. Fellowship should happen. Loving on others is what Christianity is all about. But it can happen before service, after service, and all throughout the week. But the time when we gather together in corporate worship should be approached with reverence, awe, and respect. It is sacred. And to me that means getting there on time (and believe me, I have kids, I know that’s a struggle and things happen, but we still at least STRIVE to arrive on time). And sitting down when the service begins. Not after the first 2 songs. I have a really hard time entering into worship when loud conversations are happening around me, and people are straggling in. Maybe that’s my own problem? I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking. Maybe I’m just a traditionalist when it comes to Sunday morning. Maybe it’s just how I was raised.

By the way, I’m not calling out just one particular church. I know California culture is very laid-back and casual, even within Christianity. But it happens in east coast churches too. And again, there are a lot of things I find disrespectful, that I am guilty of myself. And I also think there are exceptions. Things happen. I get that. If you’re in a conversation with someone before church and they’re pouring their heart out to you about a deep struggle¬†or something along those lines—of course you’d continue the conversation, pray with them, etc. (outside though, so as to not distract from the service going on). I’m talking about the casual socializing and the general attitude that everyone seems to be okay with.

We don’t have this approach to school. When class begins, we’re expected to be there on time, in your seat and prepared to begin. Or going to a performance of some sort. Wouldn’t it be rude to the performer, and those in attendance, to carry on a conversation when it begins? Or to show up late? Maybe it’s not a good comparison?

What if churches met¬†casually in someone’s home? Would it be the same there too? When a group gathers together to sing or pray in the living room, would you continue to carry on your conversation in the kitchen?

Maybe you believe that the sermon is the most important part of the service, which is why you don’t see the importance of being present for the whole music portion? I’m sure no one would ever find it acceptable to talk while the pastor is talking, or show up 10 mins into it.¬†But music¬†is mentioned in the Bible too as an important part of corporate worship (Col. 3:16, Eph. 5:18-19, James 5:13, Psalm 105:1-2- and plenty¬†of other Psalms too). Being the wife of a musician who has led worship and played in several worship bands…..I know they put a lot of time and effort into preparation (well, hopefully they do). Choosing the songs, working on musical arrangements, rehearsing, etc. So, isn’t it disrespectful to them to not be present for the whole thing? Why should¬†they even bother preparing 5-6 songs if people only hear the last two? Their¬†role is to help lead you into a place of worship, which is why it’s usually the first thing that happens in the service. It’s important. We’re told to do it. So why aren’t you present for it? Why isn’t that a priority too?

Is this not a big deal? Is it something I just need to accept and get over? Am I being too legalistic? I really want to know. Bring on your thoughts and opinions!

This topic kind of opens a can of worms for me though and makes me want to write another post about the casual, laid-back attitude within¬†Christianity¬†in general. How serving others becomes a “volunteer” thing that you make time for out of your schedule. Your “good deed” for the month if you can squeeze it in. But as Christians, shouldn’t serving others be a natural reaction to what Christ has done for us? Aren’t we on HIS time, all the time, and not our own? If we are in Christ, we are his.¬†That is our identity and it¬†affects¬†every part of our lives. It’s not OUR¬†life, where we just try to fit God into it. He’s not one of the balls we juggle. And I’m¬†not talking about the law or legalism here. I’m talking about grace-motivated service and obedience. That’s how “faith “and “works” work together, right? Saving faith works. You don’t just serve in a ministry as a good deed to put yourself in good standing with God or to feel good about yourself. That’s not¬†how it works. We can’t earn anything. We’ve been saved by grace, and so we serve and love and forgive, in response to that. When did it become something we have to make time for? This time I might actually be calling out California churches. There’s a prevailing sense of busyness out here for sure. It’s the silicon valley way. And it’s prevalent in the churches too. Some worship¬†teams don’t rehearse together on a weeknight because “no one has time for that’, so they throw something together quickly a few hours before service begins. What happened to serving with excellence? Can you do that when it’s just an after-thought that you don’t really have time for? Some churches need to hire professional musicians because they don’t have anyone in the congregation stepping up to play (or the willingness to learn and improve). Some people’s lives are filled up with so many extra-curriculars that they just “don’t have time” for ministry.¬†Did you know if you’re a believer you’ve been given a spiritual gift? (At least 1, possibly more), and that you’re supposed to be actively using it to serve the Church? Romans 12:6-8. 1 Peter 4:10-11. 1 Corinthians 12.

Food for thought. (and probably another post later…)