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 🙂

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 🙂

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:

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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!