Wednesday, September 10, 2014

the story of our Babes

I grew up in tumble and rush, grasping at one good thing after another - graduated high school at 16, married at 18 and joyfully birthed my first child at 22.

with Aria, 2005

Liam was born two years later, another planned home birth, another gift to my heart.  I think it was my children who taught me that life is not best lived in fast forward.  Soon after Aria came to be, I began imagining two children born in our youth and two more born later on.  We were so young.  Why rush?

big sister

But.... juggling that second baby and a clever two-year-old was no small task for my 24-year-old self.  Brandon started to feel certain that we were done having babies.  I wavered.  In the face of a free (and reversible!) surgery and a confident husband, I agreed that our family was likely complete, Liam still a babe in my arms.  (Public service announcement:  initial surgeries may be free, but reversals are anything but.)

our family, 2009

When Liam was 2 I mourned my last baby with stoic acceptance.  When Liam was 3 I began having serious second thoughts.  Alas, Brandon did not.  When Liam was 4 I ached in earnest for a new baby, as so many of my friends continued to grow their families.  I couldn't believe that at 28, I was supposed to be done.  It seemed unreal.  I felt So Old.  By the time he was 5 it was a deep, soul pain, one I brought out to share with my husband from time to time and then sadly put away.

When Brandon told me last year that we could try again, it really was a miracle to me.  And such evidence of his love!  He said I must be satisfied with just one more child, not the two I had long imagined.  This seemed like a good bargain!  Still...  would the reverse surgery work?  Could we really spend the money?  And then, after all that, would we conceive?

Through many months of trying, with miscarriages and frightful pressure that it wasn't all for nothing, I prayed quite seriously for twins.  If I had twins, they would have companionship even when Aria and Liam struck out as adults.  If I had twins naturally and with no family history, it would surely have been meant to be.  If I had twins, Liam could have his boy and Aria could have her girl.  I know that is far-fetched, but why not dream, and why not be honest with God about my dreams?

And then came the pregnancy.  And such debilitating fatigue, like I'd never experienced before.  And worse nausea.  Somewhere along the way I gave up on twins, starting to wonder if I could manage to keep life going with the addition of ONE little bundle of joy.

On Saturday we had our first ultrasound.  Just a gender determination ultrasound.  I was a little over 14 weeks.  Moments into the procedure, in an awkward stumbling way, the highly trained ultrasound tech revealed that we had actually conceived twins.

Joy, mine.

Fear, Brandon's.

Shock, all. 

And then, she explained that there was now only one heartbeat.   It's a girl.  "That's wonderful," I exclaimed, through tears both of the saddest and happiest kind.

Our twin had passed away somewhere between 9 and 11 or so weeks.  The fetus probably had some abnormalities.  Honestly, Brandon was relieved, which was a logical response.  I was broken.  To have actually carried twins so long, an answer to a ridiculous prayer.  It's painful to know, but I'm glad I know.  It's painful to accept that this is the best way, but I logically accept that.  Emotionally it is everything - such joy and such loss.

 baby Eleni

Fortunately, baby Eleni looks absolutely perfect.  She is well developed for her fetal age and moving around like a happy little thing.  We will hope now that my body will not attempt to expel the twin fetus, but will either absorb or maintain it in a way that is safe for Eleni.  If so, I will still be able to have the home birth that we so desire.

 burp cloths in Folksy Flannel

When I sink down, down into the grief of this sudden loss, I find the best way out is to focus my heart on the gift I've been given: one precious healthy baby girl.  I can't believe she is really going to happen to me.  And I am so, so SO grateful.  On Sunday night I began making burp cloths from Folksy Flannel scraps I've saved forever, in hopes that I could use them for just this purpose someday.  They are Very Girly, which makes me very glad.

And that is the story, so far, of our babes.  Thanks for allowing me this space to share. 

93 comments:

  1. Such wonderful and honest words from the heart. Hope all continues to be well with your sweet baby girl!

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  2. Wishing the very best future for you, Rachel!

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  3. What a beautiful family! There is so much in this post,answered prayer, hopes dashed, joy unspeakable, and loss. I hope you are ok as you go through all this. Thank you for sharing with us and I will be praying for you and sweet little Eleni

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  4. Oh Rachel. You've brought me to tears. It really is incredible the way things turn out sometimes. I am a firm believer that God is the one who is ultimately in charge and only he knows what is best for us. We have struggled with infertility in the past as well. It just makes those precious babies so much more precious.

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  5. That is all so wonderful..... Wondering if in the FUTURE, if minds and hearts might change for just one more... Just thinking.....

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  6. Dear Rachel, this was quite a story, thank you for sharing your very emotional moments. Once again congratulations and all the best to you and your beautiful family! I can imagine your sadness but enjoy your kids and the sweet little baby coming and sew cute things! x Teje

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  7. Very happy to hear that your girl is doing fine! When I was pregnant with our third and last one I also had secret thoughts about twins, boy and a girl, just silly thoughts. I'm so sorry that the doctor decided to tell you about the twins in that order. I had the same thing, but was first told that there is one baby and then that there had been a second one. So never, not even for a second, did I thought that I had two living babies and never felt that I had lost one.
    Funny thing, until this morning I was sure that I don't want anymore children, but then I saw a baby, and how big my three-year-old already is...I'm only 35, so not too old... It will not happen though, we are done. But for the first time I understand how people can have six or more kids (you know who I'm talking about ;) - you just let go of the idea that it will ever get "normal" again. After seven years having a "baby" in the house, it kind of has become my normal and now I have to let go. Snif.

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  8. Dear Rachel. I always appreciate your beautifully honest posts. I celebrate your happy news and am very sorry for your sorrows. May your precious Eleni thrive and be born healthy, and may you feel well in your second and third trimesters. You are a beautiful person with a beautiful family.

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  9. I'm sending good energy your way as well. Rachel.

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  10. Rachel, I believe that this is an amazing testimony to the power of prayer and that God is showing you and us that he listens to our hearts! He also wanted to show you/us that he does what is best for us and always has our backs. While you might not be able to see the wisdom of his choice now, someday I am confident, it will be reveled to you. Blessings to your family.

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  11. I'm sharing in your joy and grief Rachel. Eleni is a wonderful name for a Rainbow Baby and I know she will be a bounty of joy for you and your family. It's going to be hard seeing baby B as you continue to progress in your pregnancy. Fortify your heart! God's plans don't always make sense to us in the moment, but I hope in time you come to understand His will, good and bad. (((hugs)))

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  12. I am so sorry for your loss and happy for your joy.

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  13. So sorry for your loss. You are, and will always be, a wonderful momma of twins. Prayers and glad to hear that baby Eleni is doing well!

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  14. Condolences and congratulations to you.

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  15. So sorry for your loss. Miscarriages are such a heartbreaking and baffling (on a heart level) thing. Praise God for your healthy baby girl!

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  16. Dear Rachel thank for sharing your feelings. I am so happy for you baby girl. You are amazing mum!

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  17. Oh Rachel, I'm so sorry for your loss. That is so much to take in. The grief is very real and needs its place even amongst the joy. May you and your husband find new intimacy in this journey of loss as you support one another. Sometimes our greatest strength is our vulnerability. I'll be praying for the safety of Eleni.

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  18. Oh Rachel, what a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing your heart, both the sadness and the joy. When I had my first ultrasound for my son, I was shocked to learn he'd likely had a "vanishing twin". Sometimes I think about that tiny soul, and also the soul of my early miscarried baby, and I think of what might of been. I will pray for you today, for Baby Eleni and for your lost ones. God is watching over them for you. xoxo

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  19. Thank you so much for sharing. I cried a bit over your sadness, but I am so happy for your joy. I will pray that all goes well from this moment on until your sweet girl is in your arms.

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  20. Rachel, you wrote your story so beautifully. I can also relate to the tumble and rush living. I had Jude at 23 and we were *this close* to having Dan get a vasectomy when we adopted Tia. I really felt at that time we were done having bio kids, but my friends who were in their 30s urged me not to do it saying that I might change my mind in my 30s. I am soooo glad I listened to them. Even now we aren't sure if we are 'done'.

    I am so sorry to hear about the passing of one of the twins and yet so excited to hear about your baby girl. It seemed that you really wanted a girl, at least from the sewing you had done in the past. And speaking of sewing, I am putting the finishing touches on the baby gown pattern that I made just for you! <3

    Condolences, congratulations, and big hugs!

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    1. Thanks, Rachel. And I am excited and grateful for your pattern progress! I just went to a big used baby goods sale (generally a nice, well-organized sale) and found very little to take home in the way of clothing. Apparently I am now more choosy. Best to make some of my own!

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  21. heart melting story. my heart feels for your loss and rejoice in your happiness. I pray that this pregnancy goes well and that your little girl comes safe and healthy. I have 2 children, 8 and 5 and I am so desiring to have a third child. I am 36 . But my husband does not want a third child. So I am trying to be brave and forget anouthis terribly "alive" desire. I hope to get over it soon. Sophie, France.

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  22. My youngest child will be 34 on Friday. That was before the availability of ultrasounds. The whole pregnancy was off, my measurements were too big, but they could only hear one heartbeat. When I was delivering they found the twin, just as you described. I've always cherished my youngest daughter. The one I knew would be my last. She also has an older brother and sister. You have much to be thankful for too. Praying for you and your unborn child.

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  23. I can relate to feeling *so old* before you have any right to feel old. I'm nearing 30, and I have no children, and that was not my plan. My plan was to graduate with a bachelor's degree at 23 with work experience, get married, start a promising career, be done having children by 30. But it just didn't happen. I got married at 23, took a job, and then was promptly laid off after 8 months with not even enough savings to break our lease. Defeated, I mustered and went to graduate school on a fellowship for an MS degree. Once done, though, the job market had not changed that much. So I stayed, and started a PhD. Now I'm finishing that, *still*, and at times I find myself in despair, feeling stuck. My husband is fantastic and supportive, and I know we've made the right decisions for us, but somehow I still feel a loss for a younger motherhood I never had, and children that would have been in pre-school by now. I find myself itching to get out, to *begin*, while being afraid of all the uncertainties that come with starting again.

    But your idea that life is not best lived in fast-forward is a comfort to me, really. There is time, I tell myself. My husband tells me, my friends tell me. My mother (mostly :P) tells me. It's nice to hear it from someone not trying to comfort me, but stating it as a matter of fact. There is time, you say, fast-forward is not best.

    I am so happy for you and your family. So happy for your baby girl. And I am also sorry for your loss. You can tell yourself it's for the best, but it doesn't make the pain of loss any less, though it helps with the healing.

    And those burp cloths look soft and lovely, what a sweet endeavor :)

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  24. Praying for your peace and understanding of God's big plan. We don't always (honestly most of the time) know what God's plan is, or his timing, but in the end when it is revealed to us... It is perfect!

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  25. Oh, my! What a story you have to tell. I'm sad that your story did not end with the twins you so wanted but I am very glad you will have your little girl. I think you are fortunate to be married to such a wonderful man that he would do this for you but I think he is also aware of just how fortunate he is to have you. Hugs to all of you.

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  26. Rosemary B here:
    Thank you for sharing this Rachel.
    As a nurse, I can tell you that this happens more often than we know.
    And it is a matter of abnormalities, always. I am not an OB nurse, but when I had my 3 month ob/gyn rotation in nursing school (a hundred years ago, before sonograms for sure), this happened often that post delivery, there were remnants of an earlier development.
    It is shocking. You can grieve. You are not alone, that is certain.
    I will continue to pray for your sweetums Elini to grow safely and continue to be healthy.
    Take care of yourself. Remember, you are not alone, and Our Father God is in control.
    Love always

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    1. Rosemary again:
      Gah! I spelled her adorable name wrong
      Eleni. I love it.

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  27. Congratulations on your sweet baby girl. So sorry to hear of your loss. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story. Best wishes in this next season of your life!

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  28. Congratulations Rachel. That's wonderful. And bittersweet too. I'm sorry for that loss.

    We were also tumble and rush, but not quite as much. We have 4 kids but even at 33 there are still many potential years of what ifs. We are done. As far as we plan. ;)

    Congrats again. Take care of yourself and enjoy this sweet time. I found that when I was older, I could enjoy my babies more. Maybe that added perspective of age, maybe the knowing this baby could be THE baby of the family. Anyways, enjoy. :)

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  29. Hi Rachel,
    I'm so sorry for your loss. I cried with happiness when I read about your twins and criied again when I read one had passed away. I'm also so thankful for the little girl still kicking inside of you!! I will hold you and your family in my prayers. We've had six babies born in heaven and God is amazing in His grace and granted us blessings when we least expected them !!!
    I'm the Mom of six in your Angled class and I'm loving it!! Take care of yourself.

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  30. Beautiful story, sadness too - but ultimately one of love and that reigns xx.

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  31. thank you for sharing such a lovely and painful story, rachel. i know it can be hard to put so much emotion out there. i'm really sorry for your loss. but so happy to hear about your healthy baby girl! sending you love and light and hope for a smooth remainder of your pregnancy.

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    1. Thanks, Arajane. It is a gift to myself to write out these things. I do well processing them this way, and the community is always so encouraging. I am blessed!

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  32. Wow! Very raw. Pain and happiness in one is very hard to describe. I too lost the twin at the same time. Be prepared to still see the little ovum? (sorry not sure of terminology) on further scans. But as you so rightly put, you need to focus on this wonderful delight you have growing now in your tummy. Life is precious. All the very best and thanks for sharing.

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  33. Such joy and pain! Twin feelings and so complex to hold. So pleased you can trust our God and know His love.

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  34. So sorry for your loss, even with the joy of Eleni, there will be sadness until the new life so dominates your thoughts that the loss can be moved further back, but not forgotten. I will pray for the good thoughts to grow quickly.

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  36. Praying for God to hold you and Eleni close as she grows, and praying for comfort in your sorrow.

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  37. It is a blessing to know your little girl (A girl! With a name now!) is doing so well. I am so sorry to hear that you lost the other baby though. I feel glad that you have so much good to look forward to and plan for, even as you feel this loss. I hope the rest of your pregnancy goes smoothly and before you know it, you'll be meeting Eleni face-to-face. :)

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  38. Sending hugs... and praying for you and yours

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  39. I always remember when a friend told me when I was pregnant that The Lord always gives us just what we need. I am sure he is watching out for you! You little girl is very lucky to have you for a mom!! Hugs!

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  40. Oh Rachel, this is such a roller coaster of a post, but nothing compared to the roller coaster you're living through. I think you're doing the right thing - taking some time to grieve but also remembering the amazing gift that is still living on inside you. Sending hugs and continued prayers for the safe arrival of your baby girl x x x

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  41. Congratulations on your healthy girl! I had a similar experience with my second, he was a twin, but somewhere in between the 12th-16th weeks, he became a single. I remember calling my parents to let them know that I had twins, but one already passed, but I also had a healthy baby boy. Very emotional. But everything worked out for the best. My love and prayers to you.

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  42. First, I am so sorry for your loss. Allow yourself to grieve for that baby. Then, congratulations on Baby Eleni. I am so happy that this worked out for you. I married early, had my two early. I always wanted six--a very full house, but my life and my marriage did not work out that way and I was done with babies at 25. Now at 66 I finally have my six--my two sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and the three most beautiful grandchildren I could ever have imagined. Love and prayers for your happily ever after. I love Eleni's wave! :)

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  43. Thanks for sharing your story. It's identical to mine. But Im at the bit where you haven't agreed to have one more.

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  44. such joy and such pain - part of this life we live. I pray you can grieve well, but at the same time delight at the new life inside you.

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  45. I just can imagine the feelings you're going through. I wish you and baby Eleni the best and keep my fingers crossed that everything will be fine.

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  46. Such a sweet, sweet blessing in the midst of such sadness. My heart grieves for you. You certainly celebrated life while it was there. Rest in that, even though you didn't know. You loved you baby from before he was conceived.

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  47. Rachel, you are always so incredibly generous in sharing your thoughts and tender experiences. This is a lovely post - I know that there will be many that are helped in many ways just by reading it. I am so happy to hear that Eleni is developing beautifully. And those burp cloths are divine!

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  48. oh, Rachel - what a rollercoaster. I am so happy for you that your daughter is strong and growing well, and yet also sad for the loss of her twin. I hope that all continues to go well with your pregnancy and that Eleni brings you that feeling of a complete family that every mama craves (I know I did - it didn't matter how many times I told myself I was done at two, I still longed for another. And I am so glad we did it!) xxx

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  49. Thank you for sharing this. This type of honesty will help and comfort those who are going thru the same thing.

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  50. My heart aches for you at your loss. I've seen that pain firsthand. Rejoice in the miracle you have at hand though and God will see you through the rest of this journey. I had 3 babies in a span of 3 years and two months. Yes, two of those are very close in age. We decided that was it. My blood pressure rose in each pregnancy and we felt that was it. It was. I am now thirty years later enjoying God's gift of grandchildren. We have received that joy 4 times! I'd love more, but since there seems to be a "holding pattern" at the moment, I'm uncertain there will be more. They are all adorable, healthy, and exceptional (don't all grandma's think that?). If this is your last baby I'm sure you will enjoy it once again on your journey many years from now. God bless.

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  51. Oh, my heart goes out to you. I lost a set of twins, and that was very, very hard. I'm so thankful God spared you one. I pray she thrives and all goes well from here on out.

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  52. i am so very happy for you. prayers for a very successful and happy pregnancy

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  53. My heart aches for your loss. I am so glad that your little girl is safe and will hope for a safe delivery and home birth as you wanted.

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  54. I had one massive goosebump reading your post. You'll never know what lives you touch with your sharing - you have much support and prayers.

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  55. So very sorry for the loss of your precious babe. No doubt he or she will be looking after your sweet Eleni throughout her life. I wish you peace through this pregnancy…I know from experience that it is not easy. She is meant to be in your family now…she was waiting for the right time. Sending you and your family prayers.

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  56. Thank you for sharing your story Rachel. It's beautiful and sad and happy all at the same time. All of you will treasure Eleni so much, probably even more knowing about the loss of her twin. I'll pray that Eleni is healthy and has a beautiful birth!

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  57. Thanks for sharing your heart with us. I pray for God's comfort upon you and the safe delivery of precious baby Eleni.

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  58. Rachel - I am sorry to hear of the loss of your twin, but so heartened to hear that Eleni is healthy. I commented before on a post you wrote about trying to conceive because my husband and I were in a long process of trying to get pregnant with our second. I am happy to report that I am just one month behind you now -- 10 weeks into what seems to be a healthy pregnancy!

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  59. Sending hugs, and prayers are winging your way also. The joy of a healthy baby, the sadness of losing a dream. I will be thinking of you, sending quilting love also.

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  60. Rachel I am so sorry about that loss. It's ok to feel all over the place. I think its ok to really grieve for awhile and not feel like you have to be super happy. I am praying Eleni and you stay safe and continue to thrive.

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  61. I felt very happy and then sad Rachel and I will pray for the little loss baby and pray that wee girl will be fine and safely enter into your life. Blessings Sandra

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  62. Your posts are always so honestly written from the heart and a joy to read. So sad about the loss of your twin, but so happy that baby Eleni is still strong. What a beautiful name :)

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  63. What an emotional ride. Wishing you a smooth and happy pregnancy from here on in.

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  64. So very sorry to read this...will pray for you and your sweet baby girl.

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  65. Oh, joy and tears all mingled together. I'm so thrilled that you have a healthy baby girl in there but so sorry for the loss of her sibling. I know two people who have gone through a similar experience and I wish you the peace they have found. Don't feel guilty if you need to mourn but don't feel guilty for feeling joy either! Pregnancy and loss are so intertwined. I hope the rest of your pregnancy is physically easy and you are able to have your homebirth.

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  66. Entirely bittersweet, Rachel. A blessing and a loss all wrapped up in one. Hugs.
    [Brandon relented once. He might do it again. :) maybe. Only time will tell.]

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  67. Wow. How precious, and beautiful, and wonderful and heart wrecking at the same time. My sympathies and congratulations to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your touching story. I must admit....I squealed for you at the initial announcement. :) Love the name of your sweet baby girl and pray for her continued growth and a healthy pregnancy that exceeds all dreams and expectations. What a special, special time.

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  68. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story. Prayers (and hugs!) for you and baby Eleni.

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  69. Thanks for such a super way of sharing such intimate heart and family details with all of us who follow your life and work. Congrats on a Healthy Eleni and so sorry for the loss of her twin. You have spoken well of the feeling that is so common to women of "not being done" having children yet. The God-given desire for children is powerful! I remember it well! We ended up with only two sons - the youngest will turn 34 in October and my oldest is 39. I did have a very early miscarriage when youngest son was 2.5. I always felt she was my missing daughter. Now I have three lovely granddaughters to fill my heart. One grandson - our oldest and in a few short days our #2 grandson will arrive. The two boys will make great bookends for the lovely girlies!
    So rejoicing with you and yours as you look forward to Eleni's arrival! Papa has blessed you immeasurably!

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  70. You write so beautifully, thank you for sharing your sorrow and your joy with us.

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  71. I'm hoping that sharing your story will help so many others that have struggled as you have. I know that when I was going through fertility treatments and then moved on to adoption, reading about others successes helped keep my hope alive that I too would one day become a mom. Thank you so much for sharing your joy and your pain.

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  72. What an emotional roller coaster ride. Hugs to you and the rest of your family. I'm so glad to hear that Eleni is doing well!

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  73. My heartfelt congratulations for baby Eleni! And I'm so sorry to hear about your second baby. I'm sorry and glad for the knowing and the not knowing. Thank you as always for sharing.

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  74. Your honesty touched me. I am sorry that the other little baby wasn't strong enough but I rejoice that you will soon have baby Eleni. I will pray for her birth and for your family.

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  75. You are so blessed. Most men do not change their minds and do not have a reversal.

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  76. Congratulations Rachel and I hope your pregnancy goes well from here on in. So sorry about your loss, how bittersweet and emotional. We had a third baby after a 5 year gap and she lights up our lives every single day, I am sure Eleni will do the same!

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  77. You've brought back many memories for me Rachel, I too lost one of my twins during my pregnancy but gave birth to a very healthy boy, Joe, who is now a strapping 6' 3" 24 year old who has brought so much love and happiness into my life. We talk together sometimes of his twin and wonder what they'd have been like but it's from curiosity not sadness. I'm sure Eleni will also bring great joy to your family as Joe did to ours - Chris :D

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  78. Oh my. How very sad and gloriously happy all at the same time. So good to know baby Eleni is doing well. I will pray things continue that way for the rest of your pregnancy.

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  79. Oh Rachel, I am so sorry for your loss. I think I can imagine the pain, and the fear of another loss. I'm so thankful sweet Eleni is healthy. I'm so impressed (but perhaps not surprised!) That you have a name already! And it's beautiful. I've loved reading your bigger story. I'll keep praying for health and peace. Xxx

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  80. Thank you for sharing such an emotional and personal story. I'm so sorry for your loss but I wish you a very comfortable and healthy pregnancy from this point on. Can't wait to meet your new little one!

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  81. Terrible and wonderful all at the same time! There's lots of life that is like that. I'm so pleased that there is another baby for you. I am totally addicted to the baby thing. I had eight and loved every moment of it. I hope all goes well and that you get to enjoy this little girl.

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  82. Congrats and I'm sorry for your loss in one!
    Some friends of mine recently had a baby and the burp cloths look great! (Wonder if they will mind that the flannel mostly features Christmas stuff and snowmen? LOL)

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  83. What a gift she is and will be to your family! So excited for your new bundle, friend. Praying for a smooth pregnancy for you.

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  84. I have lost one twin baby from two different twin pregnancies. I know the duality of joy over a healthy baby, and grief at the one who has already passed. May God preserve your little girl's health, and heal your heart of the loss of her twin.

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  85. Ah life can be bitter sweet cant it? Sorry i've been an instagram flake of late. Take REALLY good care of yourself cos youre a super Mom xxx

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  86. Hello my dear blogging buddy and huge congrantulations to you!!! I am just catching up on some blog reading and read your wonderful news. While there may be some sadness I am so thrilled for you and the little girl growing in your tummy :) I hope everything continues to ge well for you all and I can't wait to meet your new girl in a few months time, so exciting! Huge hugs, xoxo

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  87. With all of our emailing, I had no idea! Sending you love and prayers for a continued safe pregnancy and home birth and healing with the loss of Eleni's twin. xo

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