Marriage with Kids

As we’re quickly approaching the birth of our 3rd baby (in less than 4 years), I have to be a little honest. I’m concerned about the strain it might put on my marriage. In the 3+ years I’ve been a mom, talking to other moms, hearing other moms’ struggles and prayer requests, a common theme that comes up frequently is marriage. The struggle between the SAHM and the working husband. Resentment. Bitterness. Competition (who works harder, who deserves a “break”, etc.) It typically looks something like this (more or less): the overworked, overwhelmed SAHM struggles to keep her sanity as she juggles all the responsibilities/expectations of staying at home. Being a good mom, a good wife, a good housekeeper, the one who everyone needs SOMETHING from at all times, etc. And doing it all by herself the majority of the day, every day. Then there’s the working Husband who has a stressful, demanding and challenging job. A job that’s not necessarily a 9-5 either (because you KNOW being a mom is NOT just 9-5) and could sometimes involve travel, etc (especially Bay Area jobs). He may or may not actually enjoy his job and in most cases he certainly doesn’t enjoy or desire to be away from his family so much, he just feels obligated to do so because of his responsibility. Husband comes home from work at the end of the day and Wife wants a dang break, or help from the Husband- to either completely take over the caring for the kids thing for the brief period of time before bedtime, etc. or just lend a helping hand and “tag-team” while they’re both at home. But the Husband probably just wants a break too…to come home and relax after a long day. Or he’ still busy working hard to provide for his family, even though he’s not physically at the office. Because that is his role and responsibility and he feels pressure to provide financially for his wife and kids. But the Wife wants the Husband’s work-life balance to lean more toward “life”, while many men are wired more toward “work” BECAUSE of life or SO THAT his Wife and kids can have a good life. If that makes sense. Sometimes Husband and Wife may even start to envy each other, believing the grass is greener on the other side. Husband “gets to” leave the house and be away from the kids and have actual adult conversation that doesn’t revolve around poop, or sippy cup colors or Daniel Tiger and then can actually enjoy being with the kids because “separation makes the heart grow fonder”. But the Wife has more freedom and flexibility and can stay in her pajamas or workout clothes all day and “gets to” play with the kids and not have the pressure of deadlines or dealing with really difficult clients, etc. (Unless of course you consider demanding toddlers “difficult clients”..which, I do).

That’s the general picture I get from others. And I understand all of those feelings. Because I’m there too. It’s a tough season to navigate.

So how do you survive? And not just survive, but thrive, in your marriage during this stage of life? I know that might sound cheesy or cliche, mostly because it rhymes (the “not just surviving, but thriving” thing) but it’s something I do feel strongly about. Marriage isn’t meant to just be okay or mediocre or barely getting by. Yes, marriage is hard and there are seasons of mere survival. I understand that. But that’s certainly not the goal. It should also be life-giving- a beautiful, earthly reflection of the relationship between Christ and his Church. It’s a big deal. The ONE person on this earth that you are to have the closest and most intimate relationship with is your spouse. The person who knows you inside and out, better than anyone else- every line, curve, and flaw on your physical body, and every flaw/short-coming in your personality. While I do recognize and accept that there are just difficult seasons of marriage (having small children is one of those) and it’s a season that will pass- that doesn’t mean we should put marriage on the back burner and just get back to it later after the season has passed. I think it can still be a time of growth (as a lot of trials and tribulations can be). A time where, in the midst of total and complete chaos (hello 3 year old, 2 year old and a newborn), where we can find calm and peace and intimacy in each other. To fight AGAINST the attacks that will surely come from Satan- “oh, you have 3 small children that you’re taking care of at home, by yourself, let me fill your head with negative thoughts about your husband as he leaves you to go to work every day”. Satan looooooves these vulnerable times. And let me tell you, the Internet and the world doesn’t always help. I have to avoid certain groups of people who love to complain/vent about their husbands not helping out more with the kids or around the house, because it can easily create a sort of angry wife mob mentality….”Yeah, you’re right….they SHOULD help out more, and it shouldn’t even be called ‘helping’, it’s called parenting because it took TWO people to make these kids”, etc. etc. “Down with the husbands!” You may think I’m exaggerating…..I’m not. And yes there is truth to it….it takes 2 to tango, there are 2 parents who should be parenting, but what that looks like and how it all plays out in roles/responsibility and who does what when, is what I’m talking about- and I just don’t like the mob mentality thing. Anyway.

I am NOT an expert nor do I claim to have it all figured out. What I do know is that I will fight for my marriage with every fiber of my being, even in the difficult seasons of life, as long as it depends on me. And it certainly works better when both spouses are on the same page in that regard. I don’t mean to make it sound simple either. What I share is from my experience and my marriage. If it’s helpful to someone else, GREAT! But if it’s not, that’s cool too.  I’m sure there are plenty of other blog posts out there that you can relate to more. But I feel called to share what I’ve learned because I don’t think it happens enough. We were fortunate to have really great mentors at our old church in Philly who shared stuff like this and invested in young adults/couples. If this happened more often in churches, perhaps the need for actual counseling would be less? Just a thought…

I post this “list” every so often and it keeps evolving over time, because circumstances change (more babies come into the picture, etc.) and you have to adjust and do what works best for your marriage at the time. But these are some things we’ve done or tried to do to keep our marriage a priority during a really stressful and chaotic season of life. I’ll start with the newest one to the list:

  1. Making “me” time a priority. Because “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” That might sound counter-intuitive or productive to the goal of making marriage a priority. But I assure you, it is not. ‘Self-care’ is vital to my role as wife AND mom. It doesn’t mean I’m being selfish. It just means that if I’m not taking care of myself, I can’t take care of my family well. Period. In a very logical, practical example: I remember one day shortly after our 2nd kid was born- I realized it was lunch time and I hadn’t eaten anything all day. I was sleep-deprived and taking care of the needs of my kids all morning. It was hot and I started to feel very faint (I do actually have a history of passing out) and it occurred to me “If I don’t stop everything and eat right now, I’ll pass out and there will be no one here to take care of my kids”. So with both kids screaming, I said to myself “let them scream, they’ll survive…you need to EAT”. So that’s the idea. If I don’t take time to get refreshed and re-energized somehow (both spiritually and physically), my husband and my kids will suffer. Specifically in regard to marriage- NOT doing this started to create resentment toward my husband. As I mentioned earlier, a common thought can be “my husband gets to go have adult conversation and get a break from the kids” and as moms we complain about never being able to do that. So….DO THAT. Actually have the conversation with your husband. Not to ask permission, but to inform and schedule the logistics of it. Whether it’s going to a coffee shop by yourself, getting a pedicure, hanging out with other mom friends (kid-free!), schedule that time. Once a week, every 2 weeks, whatever. Just make it happen. I’ve only recently started making this a priority and I really wish I would’ve started sooner. I come back from that time better equipped to love on my husband and kids and I don’t feel that resentment whenever he leaves the house. Because I get my time too.
  2. Acknowledging and recognizing that you are not in a competition with your spouse. Communicate to each other, lovingly (that’s the tough part), what it’s like in your shoes, with the purpose of giving each other grace. It amazes me how well actually communicating something verbally helps our marriage. Seems obvious, but as women we tend to want our husbands to be mind-readers. “Why doesn’t he just KNOW what I want or need or how difficult my day was!” 9/10 times, they just don’t. Not because they don’t love you, but because they’re wired differently. They don’t see what we see all the time or how we see it. Just tell him. He’ll be more receptive than you think (depending on the delivery of course). Again- my experience…everyone’s different. But you won’t know until you try!
  3. Going on date nights. Cannot stress this enough. I know it’s difficult with a newborn, especially if you’re nursing- you may have to get creative. But either invest in a regular babysitter (if you don’t have family around) so that you can get out of the house, alone, with your spouse. Or do a babysitting exchange with a friend if finances are an issue. That’s what we do. Once a month- a friend watches my kids so we can go on a date. And then I do the same for her and her husband. There’s something about going out on an actual date- out of the house, without kids, that reminds you “hey…you’re husband and wife, you once didn’t have any kids together, and romance was a thing”, that is so necessary. It doesn’t always have to be a romantic thing, it can also rekindle the companionship/friendship with  your spouse too. But that needs to happen without kids around 🙂
  4. Waking up early and spending time together before he leaves for work and before the kids get up (again, this was only a thing once the youngest was sleeping through the night). It sets a much better tone for my day to spend that quiet time alone with my husband, before the chaos of the day begins. And then…
  5. Going to bed at the same time. Note: doesn’t necessarily mean falling asleep at the same time. Recently, it’s been me falling asleep while he reads until he’s actually tired. Because I’m 8-months pregnant and tired by about 8pm….ok, more like 7pm…ok, I’m just tired ALL THE TIME. But being in the same room together, in the same bed, at the end of the day, is crucial. Beginning and ending our day together reminds us that we’re in this together- it was just the two of us at the start, and it will be just the two of us at the end (once this season has passed and the kids are out of the house). Keeping our bedroom a sacred space, that kids are not allowed in, also helps. I know not everyone agrees with that and co-sleeping is a big thing for some people, but just not for us. Our kids have taken over the entire rest of the house. Our bedroom is the only space that’s ours. And we like it that way. Perhaps that’s why we’ve had 3 kids in such a short amount of time 😉

I would LOVE to hear other ideas/thoughts. Please do share. What are some things you’ve done to keep marriage/your spouse a priority? Or what are the biggest challenges you face in making that happen?

And because when I share this post on social media, it always looks better with a picture attached, here’s my gorgeous husband/click-bait (yes, I cropped myself out):

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Dear Ivor Baby

I wrote one of these for your sister when she turned 2, so it’s only fair I do the same for you 🙂 You’re about to turn 2 next week and I can hardly believe how fast those 2 years have gone by. Everyone always says that, but it’s true. Coming so soon after your big sister was born just added to the speed I think. You came into this world quickly and intensely, leaving everyone in the room wondering what just happened. But it was the best way to start a Monday morning! And even though having you so quickly was unexpected, we couldn’t imagine life without you or having done it any differently.

Much like the day you were born, you continue to brighten everyone’s day with your lively, energetic, jolly self. You always have a glimmer in your eye and a smile on your face. Your dimple has been melting mommy’s heart since day 1 which makes it really difficult to discipline you when you’re in trouble…because you’re so dang cute and you know just what face to make to either make me laugh or wanna give you a great big bear hug. Speaking of hugs, you are the BEST snuggler a mama could ever ask for. Not just with me, you like to snuggle with others too…and that’s cool. I can share.

I have a feeling you will be a “class clown”, as you’ve already started to enjoy making faces and being a goofball to make other’s laugh…and you feed off of the laughs.

Like your big sister,  you can be passionate and loud and very impatient when it comes to food. I know Gwen went through that phase too, but man…you’re not going to starve kid, I promise you. Oatmeal IS coming.

You are a daredevil. You climb, you jump, you dive. You have no fear. You are the reason we can’t have nice things 😉 I mean, your sister is too…but you take it to another level. You get into stuff Gwen never had any interest in. When we visit other people’s homes, we’ve discovered that even if they’re toddler-proofed…they are rarely ever “Ivor-proofed”. But you’re just in that stage of life filled with curiosity and exploration…you’ll learn that there are boundaries. And you’ll get better at listening and understanding consequences as you get older. Right? Right.

You enjoy playing with your big sister and you’re getting better at standing your ground and not letting yourself be pushed around by her (we’re working with her on this, but she will always be your big sister and I’m sure she’ll remind you of that for the rest of your lives) 🙂 I suppose it will get better when you’re old enough to play properly with things, instead of just destroying them. That’s what makes her mad right now.

Your vocabulary is growing slowly but surely every day. You’re not nearly the talker Gwen was at this age, but that’s totally fine by me! Not sure I could handle that lol. Though the screaming really does need to stop 😛 Here are some things you can say:

“Mommy”- or “MOMM-AY” when you’re whining

“Daddy”

“Gwen”- used to be “Gway” but you’re now pronouncing the “n”

“Mootin” (Milton, the cat)

“Guys”

“Hey”

“Hi”

“Are you?” (where are you)

“bank you” (thank you)

“peas” (please)

“c’mon”

“no”

“owside” (outside)

“books”

“yay”

“wet it go” (let it go)

“elsa”

“anna”

“olaf”

“nemo”

notice a pattern?

And you have a very interesting and unique way of asking for more food. It goes something like this “amama-dayee?” ….sounds like “mommy daddy” but it’s not. And it’s only when you’re in your high chair, wanting more food. I’m sure there are other words you can say now that I’m not remembering, but those are the most common ones.

You know a few numbers and letters. You still LOVE bath time, and being in or near the water. Finding Nemo is still your favorite movie and a surefire way to calm you down in just about any circumstance. We love you so much and can’t wait to watch you learn and grow and become a big brother very soon 🙂

Happy 2nd birthday little man!

Love,

Mommy, Daddy, Gwen, and Fiona

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BG3 (Fiona) Pregnancy Update!

Just now as I sat down to write this I realized I’m nearing the end of my 2nd trimester already (in about 2 weeks). The 1st trimester dragged on, this trimester flew by. I wonder how the 3rd will feel (I’m hoping for another fly-by). We shall see 🙂

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Due Date: July 23, 2016 (nothing’s changed here)

How Far Along: 26 Weeks

Next Appointment: April 28th

Gender: GIRL!

Total Weight Gain/Loss: Close to 20lbs now….It must be the lifting, right? Yes, all muscle and baby (that’s what I’ll keep telling myself…as I stuff my face with chocolate)

Exercise: Still lifting but nearing the end sadly…doctor says no more than 20lbs once I hit 32 weeks (which means I wouldn’t be able to lift my own children soooo, we’ll see :)….)

Stretch Marks: No

Swelling: No

Maternity Clothes: Yep, all the maternity clothes.

Belly Button: About to pop

Sleep: Not terrible, could be better

Food Cravings: Lately, sweets. And still with the Indian food.

Food Aversions: Nothing anymore really.

Symptoms: Lower back aches, leg cramps….meh.

Movement: Yes! I feel her move quite a lot now. Loving it 🙂

Labor Signs: The occasional braxton hick. When I’m dehydrated and really active…but I’ve got it under control now for the most part.

What I Miss: The ability to sneeze without peeing myself a little. And apparently coughing too hard may also cause the peeing….sigh.

What I’m Loving: Feeling the her move and seeing her little kicks and jabs from the outside too.

What I’m Looking Forward To: Same as before- meeting her for the first time! Can’t wait to kiss her little cheeks 🙂

Best Moment This Week: I ate a lot of Indian food…that made me happy.

Words of Wisdom: Pregnancy hormones are not to be trusted.

Until next time, here’s another picture from her ultrasound back in February (cause I like looking at her pictures):

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Our 1st Disneyland Trip: Part 1

If I don’t sit down and write this now, it won’t happen. And I need it to happen. This was a very special and memorable trip and I must document it in as many ways possible 🙂 So I’ll recap it, share some photos/videos and some lessons learned/tips for future trips. Because I tend to ramble and I know most blog readers have a short attention span, I will probably break this up into several parts (with separate posts). Because there’s just SO much to share.

Let’s start with a history…

Going to Disneyland wasn’t really on my radar until very recently. I always said to myself “maybe when the kids are much older so they remember/enjoy it more.” However, in February I took Gwen to see Frozen on Ice as a mommy/daughter date and early birthday present. Frozen is one of her favorite movies of all time (like 2397429 other little girls), so I figured she would enjoy this. And I wanted to see how she’d do at her first “show”. Well, to say she loved it would be an understatement. Her face was lit up the whole time. She sang. She danced. She clapped at the appropriate times. She excitedly exclaimed “MOMMY, LOOK! IT’S _______!” (fill in the blank with every character she saw). I texted Ivor during the show and told him how much she was enjoying it and said something like “We are SO going to Disneyland!” Of course I wasn’t expecting to do it anytime soon, but then he responded with a comment about trying to book it before the baby comes. So let it be known, while I may have been the one to put the bug in his ear at that Frozen show, it was my husband who suggested actually going before Baby #3 comes. So of course, I ran with it 😉

I then started doing research, asking friends for advice, reading blogs, etc. about going to Disneyland (where to stay, when to go, what rides to go on, where to eat etc.) Since we live in California, almost everyone we know who has kids  has been there and it’s a very popular place to visit. So there is no shortage of Disneyland experts/veterans to seek advice from! We ended up booking it fairly last minute, during a peak time of year (spring break/Easter). I’m thankful we got a room at all, let alone at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels (places were selling out quickly during the dates we wanted, but we wanted to be able to go while Ivor’s mom was still here). While staying on property (at 1 of the 3 resort hotels) is definitely more expensive than staying off-property, we decided the convenience was worth it for us right now. When you stay at one of those hotels you get the advantage of the “Extra Magic Hour” every day of your stay. That means you get into the park an hour before it’s open to the general public. The 2 parks (Disneyland Park and California Adventure) alternate which one has the magic hour each day. With 2 small kids (and a husband who LOATHES crowds), this was extremely appealing to us. Other advantages of staying on property is the convenience of the location- everything within walking distance, really nice pools, restaurants, etc. and that little bit of “Disney magic” that each of the hotels have. I wanted to truly feel like I was on vacation and staying somewhere where everything is right there, helps me feel like I’m really on vacation. Maybe that’s just me. But I loved it! The Disneyland Hotel is the one we stayed at.

Anyway, we stayed for 6 nights- but only purchased 3-day park hopper tickets. So we had 2 days of rest, which I highly recommend. 3 days in the park(s) was about perfect.  We arrived on a Wednesday. We did Disneyland Park on the first day, Thursday (because it had the extra magic hour that day), California Adventure on the 2nd day- Friday, then had 2 rest days (Saturday and Sunday- which is when the park was probably more crowded) Then on Monday, our final day in the park, we went to California Adventure first (for the magic hour) and then “hopped” over to Disneyland park for the rest of the day. Drove home on Tuesday.

Here’s a quick breakdown/summary of each day (and by “quick” I probably mean “detailed”):

Day 1 (Disneyland Park): If I had to rate each day in the park, this was probably the worst. We didn’t get in line as early as we (my husband) wanted to, even for the magic hour- the line was already crazy long when we got there. So the crowds were there early, lines for rides had already started, blah blah whatever. Despite all of that, Day 1 was always going to be the “break-in/warming-up” day, no matter what. The kids have never really been to any amusement park and have never seen characters up close and personal. So it was a little overwhelming for both of them at first (understandably). It took Gwen some time to really get into the rides. And that’s ok. I expected that to happen. It was also really really hot, which didn’t help things. But we still managed to go on a decent amount of rides before noon, which is when we planned to go back to the hotel for lunch/naps. The ride highlights from this morning: the carousel (which ended up being Gwen’s absolute favorite) and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage ride (very cool). We went on more rides obviously, but those were the best (most enjoyed by all). After lunch, naps (which didn’t actually happen, so let’s just call it a “rest” period) and dinner, we went back to the park for the Paint The Night parade and the Fireworks show, both of which kind of redeemed the whole day for me. Because they were AMAZING. We let the kids stay up and watch both of them, which was a little rough- but they were troopers. For their first full day at the park for the first time ever, they were EXHAUSTED by that point. But it’s vacation…bedtime shmedtime.

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Day 2 (California Adventure): Best day ever. We got in line early for the extra magic hour (and the lines weren’t nearly as long as they were at DP the day before), so we got in right at the start of it and went straight to Anna & Elsa. (I had planned out all of our stops in advance and knew exactly where they were in the park). There was hardly any line at all. We were maybe 3rd or 4th in line to meet them that day. Gwen was dressed as Elsa and she was SO excited but SO nervous. We walked into this royal room where they were meeting and greeting and there was a quiet “awe” sort of vibe in the room. Like the feeling you get when seeing a bride right after she puts on her wedding dress for the first time on her wedding day. That’s the best way I can describe it. Obviously, I know Anna and Elsa aren’t real, but Gwen doesn’t. And it was magical to her. And so it was magical for me (and Ivor). I may have teared-up a bit (and I wasn’t the only adult in the room who did ;-). Gwen was really shy but gave them her Frozen sticker book that she made for them to sign. They were so good with her (and Ivor Baby too- who took to Anna right away). We didn’t feel rushed. They took their time talking to her and taking pictures with us, etc. It was such a great way to start our day. I think that was the turning point moment for Gwen, and she really started getting into this whole “Disneyland” thing and wanted to go on rides and fully embrace all that the parks had to offer. The rest of the morning was just as wonderful. It wasn’t very crowded at all (compared to the other park) and we didn’t have to wait very long at all to go on all the rides we wanted to. Even the longest line (for the Toy Story ride) moved quickly. Also, we got to meet Olaf that morning too. We may have actually been the first ones to meet him that day, there was no line at all. Poor Olaf lol. Anyway, Gwen was actually a little afraid of him up close but Ivor Baby LOOOOOVED him. He was full of smiles and giggles 🙂 Definitely the highlight for him I think. We saw the Frozen Sing-A-Long show before, once again,  heading back to the hotel for lunch and “rest”, and I think I finally showered after several days (highlight for me). We came back later in the afternoon for the Pixar Play Parade, went on the carousel a few more times (Gwen preferred the one in this park because it was sea-themed with underwater sea creatures. She liked those better than the horses), checked out the Mad-T Party thing (cover band), then Ivor’s mom took Ivor Baby back to the hotel and the 3 of us (Gwen, Ivor and myself) headed to Cars Land, went on more rides, then waited around for the World of Color show, which was also INCREDIBLE. Then back to the hotel for Zzzz’s….

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To be Continued…. because this is getting way too long….

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BG3 (Fiona) Pregnancy Update!

We recently found out that little BG3 is a GIRL! Woohoo 🙂 It was fun watching her on the ultrasound. She was very active but not cooperative at times. The tech already saw the gender when she was doing her initial measurements and capturing the images, but when it came time to show mommy and daddy, baby was very modest…legs crossed, thighs closed lol….cause she’s a lady, after all. But we saw the girl parts eventually. We’re thrilled for another sweet little girl to join our family. Miss Fiona Joy Griffiths is her name 🙂

So, here’s the latest update (and if you missed the 1st one, you can read it here):

Due Date: July 23, 2016 (nothing’s changed here)

How Far Along: 19 Weeks

Next Appointment: March 10th

Gender: GIRL!

Total Weight Gain/Loss: About +10 lbs now (my appetite came back lol…and I’m lifting weights, so I’d like to think some of those lbs are from muscle)

Exercise: Yes! Now that I’m not miserable and puking all the time, I’ve started lifting weights with my husband, as I just mentioned. I’d like to start going for more walks too, especially now that the weather is getting nicer.

Stretch Marks: No

Swelling: No

Maternity Clothes: Yep, all the maternity clothes.

Belly Button: In, but changing shape a bit.

Sleep: What’s that? I have 2 toddlers.

Food Cravings: I can eat most things again which is wonderful. Still love my sweets and a good pizza. Newest craving though is Indian food.

Food Aversions: Still not a big fan of chicken, but depends on how it’s prepared. Last night the hubby made a pesto chicken pasta and that was wonderful. I can also eat chicken in Indian food (like butter chicken for example), but chicken noodle soup? No thanks.

Symptoms: Nausea/vomiting has subsided, but I’m still a crazy emotional mess, with acid reflux, fatigue, gas/bloating, various body aches, etc.

Movement: Yes! I’ve been feeling the occasional little kick and jab for the past 2-3 weeks or so 🙂

Labor Signs: Nope

What I Miss: The ability to sneeze without peeing myself a little.

What I’m Loving: Feeling the baby move

What I’m Looking Forward To: Her birth! Seeing what she looks like and what her little personality will be, how alike/different she’ll be from her big sister and brother, blue eyes or brown eyes, etc.

Best Moment This Week: Obviously finding out the gender and seeing her move all around on the ultrasound.

Words of Wisdom: You’d think after this long I would’ve learned my lesson about Googling things. After the ultrasound I was concerned about what I THOUGHT looked like a very low fluid level (amniotic fluid) despite not being told that by anyone. Some of the images on the ultrasound just looked like Fiona’s poor face was right up against the placenta with little to no fluid in there. So I Googled it….bad idea. Turns out, I’m just a crazy person and everything was totally normal. GOOGLE IS THE ENEMY when you’re a concerned parent. (Yes, I know my husband works there). Just don’t do it, friends. Until you’ve heard something from your own doctor, you are NOT the expert…and neither are the people of the Interwebs. That is all.

Until next time, here’s Fiona saying “Hello from the inside!”

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The big gender reveal for the kiddos (and everyone else when we posted it) 🙂

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The Benefits of Vulnerability

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I’ve been thinking recently about how important and beneficial it is, to yourself and to others, to be vulnerable and share your story with people. Whatever that story is. But especially the hard stuff. The struggles. The sufferings. The trials. I’m not saying everyone should start a public blog and share it with the world or post it all in a facebook status. Though for some of us, that is what we choose to do (for some things). For others (including myself), we save certain things to be shared only with a select few, or a very small group of trusted friends. And that’s fine too. But how great the burden must be to never share it with anyone, ever. How lonely, isolating and miserable must that be? We tend to believe lies much easier in isolation. When just left alone with your own thoughts, feelings, and the whispers of Satan who takes full advantage of having your undivided attention.

I share my stories of miscarriage with others because I experienced the negative consequences of keeping it to myself, for a brief time. At first, when I decided to share, it was just a therapeutic thing for me to do (I’ve always been a writer/journal-er). But then God started to use my story to help others who have gone through similar situations. Not that I ever wanted or asked to be some “voice for miscarriage”, but that is one good thing that came from the situation. And then how God comforted, healed and strengthened my faith through the process…how could I NOT share that with others?

We share our struggles and experiences so that we know we’re not alone.

I’ve been going to a weekly prayer group recently that’s focused on praying for your spouse and I’ve seen the same sort of thing play out. I want to first explain that this group is led and directed in a very respectful manner and there is NO “husband bashing” or belittling going on whatsoever. That’s not at all what’s happening. Any struggles that are talked about are always brought up in a loving and respectful way, addressing common marriage struggles in general- not nit-picking or complaining about any one person. That’s gossip and it’s harmful and I would get up and leave if that ever started happening.  This is mostly about changing our own hearts and attitudes as wives and developing a habit of prayer for your spouse. Discussion is encouraged but not required. Anyway! As I sat there listening to a few stories shared the other day, I thought to myself…“huh…I guess we’re not the only ones.” We tend to think that we’re the only ones struggling with something. Or my husband is the only one who does this, or doesn’t do that. And everyone else has it all together. But once we start talking about it, out loud, we discover that’s not at all the case. We are not the only ones in the history of the ever to go through this specific thing. I’m not the only wife who struggles with “xyz”. That kind of perspective makes a HUGE difference (in a positive way) in the way I view myself as a wife, the way I view my husband, our marriage in general and gives me hope for resolution of certain things.

When NOT addressed in a respectful way and with the right heart attitude, that kind of public “sharing” can be the complete opposite of positive and helpful. I wrote a post on that issue sometime last year after being disgusted by a particular facebook thread that was filled with wives complaining about their husbands. That is certainly not what I’m talking about here, and it’s what I respect and appreciate so much about this particular prayer group that I’m going to…that they DON’T do that.

Anyway- whatever it is (marriage or parenting struggles, depression, anxiety, bitterness, jealousy, etc.), I would encourage you to allow yourself to be vulnerable and find someone to talk to about it and share your story with. But use wisdom when you do. Certain places (like a facebook group filled with bitter wives) might not be the best place, as some people can just feed your negativity and make things worse.

That is all. Those are my thoughts for today 🙂

 

 

BG3 Pregnancy Update

If you haven’t heard the news yet- we’re expecting! Woo! I told the whole story and briefly mentioned what this pregnancy has been like so far, but of course I need to do the much more detailed, formal pregnancy survey, like a good blogger. So, here you go. Enjoy! (I hope I don’t discourage anyone from getting pregnant by reading this lol….it really is a beautiful thing, pregnancy…) 😉

Due date: July 23, 2016
How far along:  13 weeks
Next appointment:  Feb. 11
Gender:  Don’t know yet, will find out on Feb. 25
Total weight gain/loss:  +3lbs so far (I lost some initially with all the vomiting and not wanting to eat anything….)
Exercise: Does running to the bathroom count? If so, then regularly 🙂
Stretch marks: No
Swelling: No
Maternity clothes:  Some, yes. Been showing basically since the day after conception.
Belly button:  In
Sleep: Already starting to wake up for no good reason at about 4am..sometimes earlier. Sometimes it’s just to pee.
Food cravings: Scones/pancakes/waffles. Pizza (thin crust, NY style only) – and I found a great little “hole in the wall” , by-the-slice joint in San Jose. They’ll be seeing a lot of me in the coming months.
Food aversions: Everything other than what I mentioned above really. But especially chicken and vegetables. No, thank you.
Symptoms:  Where do I start? Nausea and vomiting. Epic mood swings (and when it swings the wrong way, look out). All the emotions. The super-sniffer power- I can smell EVERYTHING…and it’s usually not a good thing. Changing poopy diapers? Yeah…not fun normally, but even worse when the smell is intensified x1000. Even harmless cooking smells in the kitchen…unless it’s one of my cravings mentioned above, the smell will likely trigger the gag reflex. Other symptoms: fatigue, gas and bloating, heartburn, headaches, backaches, boob aches. etc. Basically every possible symptom.
Movement: Well yes, but I can’t feel it yet.
Labor signs: No, thankfully.
What I miss:  All the wine.
What I’m loving:  My husband baking, from scratch, anything my heart desires.
What I’m looking forward to:  Less nausea, more energy, and the “glow” everyone talks about. FUN FACT: when you vomit forcefully enough, you can burst blood vessels, leaving little red dots all over your face/neck. So instead of the the pregnancy “glow” I’ve had the pregnancy leprosy.  At least it fades after a few days…just in time for the next vomiting episode to occur.
Best moment this week: Seeing BG3 on the ultrasound yesterday. He/she has transformed from a little bean, into a little human…complete with arms, hands, legs, feet, little toes, etc. Seeing those things just never gets old. He/she was also quite active and not very cooperative…sounds about right 🙂
Words of wisdom: In all seriousness, pregnancy isn’t always a very glamorous or enjoyable experience (sometimes it is though…my pregnancy with Ivor Baby was a BREEZE compared to this). But the goal of getting pregnant isn’t just to get pregnant. It’s to have an actual baby, add to your family and bring a new life into this world. That’s the end game. That’s what we’re looking forward to the most and what makes this all worth it. And since this is most likely going to be my last pregnancy, I am TRYING to savor all the good moments that I know I’ll never get to experience again. Like that first ultrasound and hearing the heartbeat for the very first time. Or when I can feel (and see) the baby moving inside me. And when my husband bakes me vanilla bean scones with a lemon glaze, just because I craved it 🙂 Those are the moments I’ll savor.

 

I’ll leave you with this image of a homemade ice cream sandwich that my husband made me recently (homemade ice cream, homemade chocolate chip cookies, sprinkled with powder sugar and chocolate drizzle). Be jealous ladies.

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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:

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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 🙂 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:

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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 🙂 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?? 🙂

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 🙂 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? 🙂 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 🙂

*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 😉

*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’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!” 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 🙂

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.

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This sculpture is called “The Child Who Was Never Born” by Martin Hudáčeka. 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!