Return of the Blogger

It’s been a long while since I’ve blogged… A. Real. Long. Time. Well over a year in fact. A few months ago, I decided to make a change in my life - one that has created new motivation to get back to blogging. I’ve still been busy baking, party planning, crafting, making and creating in between the time I’ve been focusing on my family - and therefore have plenty to share. The only thing is that “writing” can sometimes suck hours from my daily life - as I do tend to go off on tangents and always need refocusing. So, I think going forward after this post, I’ll be doing a little less “writing” and concentrate more on just sharing what I’ve done.

I need to back track here for just a moment and explain a little bit about why I’ve been slacking heavily in the blogging department - so please bear with me. As much as I hope writing all this can help someone else, it is also a form of therapy for me. I’m not trying to win some “my life is harder than your life” contest, nor am I trying to seek attention. I know several other strong mommas fighting much bigger battles… longer battles, more serious battles - ones I could not contemplate fighting myself. All I am trying to say is that sometimes being a mother, or parent for that matter, can be so down right exhausting - no matter how much you try to tell yourself that “this too shall pass.” When you’re in the moment, it can be hard to believe that things will change (it’s sort of like those first few sleepless days/weeks/months after having your first baby - you almost forget that little baby is going to grow up… and essentially move on to a whole new set of challenges). It’s those days when all your energy is gone and the only things you can think about are the issues your kids are dealing with. Waking up in the middle of the night, googling any information you can find, because after all, you’re the parent, the one who is supposed to figure it all out and no matter what you do, you still feel lost. It’s thoughts like this that most parents feel, but very few ever talk about. On social media we see all these glimpses into everyone’s lives of happy, joyous moments, but hardly do we see the moments where we, as parents, are at our worst. We may be feeling depressed, worn out, or are truly not acting in a way with our children that we can be proud of. So here I am, saying… I’ve felt it and have done it. And it’s been refreshing to see a few of my friends come out on social media and admit to it too. I am human, they are human, and it’s what humans do. The one thing I remind myself of daily: Simply thinking that we are never doing ‘good enough’, means we ARE doing good enough - it means we care and want to be better parents. And sometimes we need to forgive ourselves just a little.

Going back a year… Maddox was born, pissing right out of the womb. He’s still such a little stinker. Anyways, that whole “two kid thing” - it definitely threw me for a loop - not in the beginning, the beginning was easy. I just didn’t expect to hit so many hurdles during his first year of life. These hurdles were all lined up back to back, if not overlapping. I kept telling myself that once things seemed to settle into place, I’d get back to my blog. I had already given myself a break from blogging after losing our baby and again when I became pregnant with Maddox. But even now… things still aren’t as quite “settled” as I’d hope they would be - but they’re better. I guess they are now at the “norm” that I would expect for being a parent. Most importantly, since finding my new motivation, I can focus better on dealing with those rough days and not let them bring me so far down.

Our crazy year began a few weeks after Maddox was born. Silent reflux reared it’s ugly head. We had trouble feeding him from birth so this added to our frustrations (looking back, it was certainly foreshadowing things to come). After trying a few different formulas and getting him on the right medicine, he began to seem more comfortable and life became more enjoyable. Except that his silent reflux eventually turned into full on reflux and nothing in his way was safe from puddles and puddles of spit up. Despite the disgustingness of it all… we managed and life went on. 

Then at 6 weeks old, Maddox was diagnosed with Developmental Dysplasia of the Hips just like his older sister. No big deal right? I’ve been through the whole pavlik harness ordeal and biweekly appointments, ultrasounds and xrays. This time around, I skipped on making him special bloomers like I did for Myla and bought some 2T sweatpants which fit over the harness and I rolled up the bottoms. BAM, problem solved! My only issue was working his appointments around Myla's preschool schedule and his nap/feeding schedule.

Hip Baby 2.0 - Maddox Edition /// His first day (L) and last day (R) in the Pavlik Harness.

Less than a month into the harness, Myla brought home a lovely little cold from preschool… which turned into a monster. Myla was diagnosed with bronchiolitis and the doctors warned me to keep an eye on Maddox. When I said he began coughing that morning, they had me bring him in. They did a nasal swab to confirm what virus he had so we knew how the following few weeks would play out. My heart sank when they confirmed it was RSV. Our doctor told me not to google “RSV” because of how scary the virus can be which I had already known. The next number of days were an absolute nightmare. Justin and I also came down with what were probably the worst colds and sinus infections of our lives and here we were trying to take care of a sick 3 year old and a VERY sick 2 month old. Each day progressively got worse. Maddox drank less and less until we were trying to force feed him with a syringe every few minutes and giving him breathing treatments at home. We had almost daily doctor visits and multiple daily phone conversations with several doctors trying to get over the “hump” of RSV which occurs on about day 5 or 6. 

We called the breathing treatments "the elephant nose" which Myla thought was funny and she cooperated taking them.

Long story, short… On day 5 we carried a lifeless little body into the doctors office. I had never, ever felt this helpless before. With an elevated heart rate, ear infection, dehydration and so much mucus he was having trouble breathing, they admitted him directly to the hospital. It was anticipated he would be there for about 48 hours to get some fluids and we would be able to continue getting him healthy back at home. Once at the hospital they did some more tests and confirmed he also had a rhinovirus/enterovirus causing severe diarrhea making him even more dehydrated. He needed IV fluids for 4 days “to get over the hump”. We ended being there for 5 days until he began to take an upwards swing in relation to his feedings. From beginning to end… RSV took a good month or so of our lives.

Eventually everyone got back to healthy… the harness came off and things were going good for a short period of time. We were getting him back on a good feeding and sleeping schedule. Then at our next sick visit to the doctor (because Maddox had a cold and a burst ear infection - maybe his third one by now) the doctor suggested getting a consultation for a helmet as the back of his head was looking a little flat - it’s called Plagiocephaly. And according to our insurance company’s standards, he qualified for treatment. He had been born with a slight flat spot on one side and regardless of the repositioning I did, the other side ended up flattening out a bit too causing flattening across the entire back. At least it was symmetrical by now. The harness didn’t help matters - tummy time was limited being in that contraption. And once again, we were back to biweekly appointments - this time, the office was over an hour away. Add this on top of a specialist we were taking Myla to every three weeks for some digestive issues, which was also an hour away. I feel like I spent more time in the car and at doctor appointments last year than actually doing anything else. I won’t go into Myla’s issues as we are still figuring it all out… but it was her issues which weighed on my mind day and night through all of last year and affected almost every minute of our daily lives. Everything that happened with Maddox just postponed working with Myla or even set us back if we had made any progress.

I never did get around to decorating his helmet with the crazy summer we had, but Myla and I did make time for a fun little project... we cut out different shape eyebrows to try on Maddox.

Before we knew Maddox would have a helmet, we had planned three vacations for the summer months (which was a crazy idea to begin with). Maddox’s helmet went on a few days before our first trip… to a beach. Warm weather and water DO NOT MIX with the helmet. The helmet couldn’t get wet and also caused mass amounts of sweating. Our second trip was to sesame place on probably the hottest days of the summer, which is mostly a water park with very little shade. Not that the helmet was a major issue, but as if taking an infant on vacation isn’t tough enough… the helmet proved to be such a nuisance - trying to keep him cool, out of the sun, out of the water, wiping down his head, cleaning the helmet nightly, making sure he was bathed nightly before putting the helmet back on - all I’m saying is that it would have been a lot easier to deal with the helmet during the winter months.

The many doctor appointments continued all summer and we were finally going away on our last trip of the summer. Maddox just had two back to back ear infections (again) and was prescribed Augmentin a few days before leaving - what a nasty little antibiotic that is. It wreaked havoc on his belly so we had to stop. All the while he was coming down with a stomach bug. After days of going through the same ordeal as with the RSV (the refusal to eat)… we ended up back in the hospital in the Outer Banks getting IV fluids. It’s so amazingly frustrating when medical professionals keep telling you to feed your baby binding foods and keep his fluids up when he JUST WON’T EAT… despite holding him down and syringing fluids into his mouth. It was coming out the back end in such mass quantities and faster than we could get anything in. I’m sorry for the graphic description, but I have never seen or heard of anything quite like this - Not a single diaper could hold what came out. After spending a day in the hospital, they sent us home (or back to our vacation home) and we ended back in the hospital two days later needing more IV fluids. They blew two veins trying to get the IV in which was heartbreaking to watch (they had already blown one on our first trip to the hospital). We needed to do something differently.

First visit to the hospital in The Outer Banks (L) and the second visit (R) with the feeding gadget my husband rigged up.

BUT THEN… my brilliant husband Justin came up with a plan. We asked for a feeding tube and syringe and hooked it up to Maddox’s pacifier… very, very slowly, we were able to drip enough liquid into his mouth that Maddox took it. He probably thought it was just saliva and started cooperating. We ended up feeding him this way for several days as he was still refusing bottles and food, and would scream if he saw a syringe. (We ended up having to feed him this way on two other occasions in the coming months when he had gotten sick again - what a lifesaver that gadget turned out to be - it kept us out of the hospital).

All prepped for his ear tube procedure.

Now a few weeks later, we got past that and he finally gained back all the weight he lost (this kid’s weight curve on his chart looks like a roller coaster). School finally began for Myla. We knew she would bringing home some more colds as cold season was fast approaching. It was decided to go ahead and get ear tubes for Maddox since he already had six ear infections in the nine months since he was born. I had been through the whole anesthesia thing three times with Myla for her obstructed tear duct, so again, this wasn’t too big of an issue… more so just an annoyance with several doctor appointments and follow ups. Our insurance company must love us. Two days after he got ear tubes, the helmet came off. Woohoo!!! I felt like I was checking things off a list. DONE!

Things then got easy again… but they got busy. I had to plan for TWO birthday parties right before Thanksgiving. Myla and Maddox’s birthdays are 8 days apart. We wanted a party with family and close friends at home for Maddox. And, Myla wanted a party at Skyzone with her little friends. I took it easy on myself this year and went with a lot of store bought things… except for the cakes!!! Keep an eye out for those posts. 

Anyways, around this time we also switched specialists for Myla as we weren’t feeling very confident in the first one. This new one… was also an hour away - can you hear the joy in my voice? She went through a ton of tests including an endoscopy the day before Christmas Eve. We began to get some answers. Yay!

During the later part of December, our dog Gunther was diagnosed with Anaplasmosis and Cushing’s Disease (which made him have very frequent accidents all over the house for the entire year - fun times) - we are still working on a plan for that, but again, we have a diagnosis and are working towards a solution. And here I thought he was just upset that we brought another human home.

There were several other worries beyond the kids too this past year, which had been taking an emotional toll on me as well. Thankfully all that is pretty much resolved and everyone is pretty healthy. There’s a lot less weighing on my mind now - I feel like I can breathe a bit easier.

So here I am, almost at the end of January… feeling better than I ever have regardless that there is still a lot on my plate. Partly because we have made it through a very trying first year with Maddox and that’s all behind us now, and because we now have some answers and a plan in place for Myla, and a plan for Gunther… and mostly because this momma is taking care of herself. Which is what ties back to the beginning of this blog post. I’ve been motivated to do more again… including keeping up my blog.

Justin and I agree that we never want to experience another summer like we did. It was stressful, chaotic and pretty much sucked. Yes, there were MANY wonderful parts (many that I will cherish for my lifetime), but we were definitely “in the thick of it” then more so than ever before. Since this is my platform for being real and completely honest, I’ll tell you that I pretty much lost it this summer. I had two breakdowns where I really felt I couldn’t take it anymore. It drained me. I was trying so hard to grasp onto anything to keep my spirits up and keep me inspired and fulfilled. And I certainly was not a poster child for being the perfect mom - there’s many moments that I was not proud to be who I was. It all just felt too hard because I was putting all my energy into everyone but myself. I knew I had to do something to take care of me while giving myself a little break from the day to day… and that’s when I found my new love. No, don’t worry, Justin is still my TRUE LOVE. ;) And he’s so extremely supportive - I truly couldn’t do what I do without his support and love.

Ah, but I digress.. I knew I had to find something that was already scheduled. Trying to plan a girls/moms night out can sometimes take days or even weeks of planning - emails and texts flying back and forth working around everyone’s schedules. I knew I wanted something that was already set at certain times that I didn’t have to plan myself, that would get me out of the house and get me meeting new people - especially because I’m kind of quiet and shy and usually pretty awkward, ha. Anyways, that’s when I saw some videos on Facebook of a local bootcamp class. I love moving my body - be it running, biking, snowboarding, or dancing - and this looked like a ton of fun. I showed up for my free trial class and was hooked… just like that. When I met with Max, the owner, to go over some of the sign-up information for the ’30 day challenge’ they offer, he asked me questions about my goals, etc. I told him my goals were to get out of the house, away from the kids and not have to deal with the kids’ morning or evening routines on occasion. I guess those were the wrong answers… the right ones were lose weight, burn fat, strengthen core, etc. To me, all those were just a bonus at that point. 

Well, after the first month, I never felt better. I was already stronger than I’ve ever been. And as for my mental state - it improved big time. It allowed me to be more present in my kids lives and it gave me the strength to get through the rough days. After the 30 day challenge, it was a no brainer… I signed up. And what started as a 3 times a week escape… turned into 4, 5 and even sometimes 6 or 7 days. I simply love it. I love the trainers. I love when they push me and make me realize I’m capable of more than what I thought I was. I love the community and everyone I’ve met and how we all push and encourage each other. I love the funny comments that keep us smiling through the burn. I just love how awesome it all makes me feel… and that good spirit carries throughout my day. They say the most OVERused form of anti-depressants is food… the most UNDERused - EXERCISE!!! Although, I’m not sure where my wine and chocolate fit in there.

Overall, I’m feeling awesome… better than awesome. Which is certainly the most important thing. I have the energy to deal with the kids, their doctor appointments, the dog and all his appointments and tests, and I even have time left (even after working out) to think about the next creative project I want to work on and share. I really hope that if you are a stressed out, tired, overworked momma, that you can find something to keep your spirit alive. I can’t stress enough how important it is - and how life changing it can be. It will not only benefit you but your entire family as well. And hey, if you live near me and want to try a bootcamp class, I’d love for you to join me.

Meeting Our Rainbow

Wow… it’s been months since my last post. I’m completely backlogged with blog posts I want to write and share, pictures that need to be taken, and project ideas that I want to get working on… I literally have a whiteboard with ideas and to-do’s written all over it - just when I’ll get to them is a completely different story. And for now, just knowing that I’m organized enough to get started back when time allows is a huge positive in my eyes. Everything about this past year and pregnancy definitely drained the life from me - but amid the fatigue, worry, pain, healing and general craziness of everyday life, I still found some time to keep my creative juices flowing. Although I didn’t do too many projects, I still can’t wait to share everything I’ve been making and learning, including my new loves - flea market projects and silversmithing. 

Back to the subject of this post… if you’ve been following my blog, you know this past year has most certainly been a tough one, emotionally and mentally - but I didn’t even realize how much so until about two months ago. 

Two months ago!!! That’s when all the hope we’ve been storing up in our hearts exploded into our world as we welcomed our rainbow baby boy into our family. Please meet Maddox…

After 50+ hours of continuous prodromal labor (didn’t even know something like this can happen - contractions every 7-10 minutes, never getting closer together just more intense), my doctor was finally able to say it wasn’t “false labor” and make the call that it was actually “real labor” and performed a repeat c-section at 38 weeks 1 day. What I’ve never talked about on my blog was the crazy experience I had with my first c-section with Myla. She was breech and we had a c-section scheduled, although Myla had other plans, just as Maddox did - to arrive early. Only with Myla, the contractions started quickly and progressed to 2-3 mins apart in the matter of two hours and were not letting up. (A little foreshadowing to her personality perhaps?) They performed a spinal block which didn’t take very well. I was on the OR table as they began the surgery and I could still move my legs and even worse… feel pain… I only had patches of numbness. Because I was already in labor, and possibly other reasons unknown to me (I could sense concern in their voices), they needed to move fast and the answer to this was to knock me out. Within seconds, my eyes rolled to the back of my head and I missed everything about her birth. It was a few hours before she was brought in to see me in the recovery room and by that point, I could only see straight by closing one eye. It took me a long time to get over that birth experience. But, what I realize today and try to let others know, is that it doesn’t really matter much anymore - what does matter is how much my love grows for my little girl every single day. And now, it’s just a crazy story to tell. However, I admit that I was still very excited about the chance to be awake this time around to meet our rainbow. 

And I was!!! It was truly a beautiful birth - and maybe everything that happened the first time was the universe’s way of making this experience extraordinarily special. It was calm and relaxed and a very light mood filled the room; music played in the background and the same doctor who delivered Myla, and performed my D&C for our loss, was about to deliver our rainbow too. (Needless to say, I feel very close with this doctor after those other experiences and it meant a lot that she would be the one delivering.) Justin got to sit next to me and hold my hand - we had the opportunity to talk and laugh and look into each others eyes with excitement and anticipation as the doctors worked to get our little rainbow out. Maddox was pulled from my womb crying… and peeing!!! A little troublemaker already in the making. There was zero anxiety and I was still in total disbelief that after what felt like over a year of being pregnant - as I guess in a way I was - that we were finally meeting him. He was so little and so cute and I couldn’t get enough kisses and snuggles in within those first few moments.

Once we eventually made our way out of the OR and the recovery room and finally to our room, we got in some more bonding time with our new little man. Justin turned to me and said something which I myself wasn’t yet able to put into words… he said:

“I finally feel we are complete.”

And it was true… Since our loss, maybe because we had been expecting to grow our family from that first positive pregnancy test, that something really felt missing. It was as if we were waiting for that little soul to finally come join us. Even throughout our pregnancy, we felt hope and excitement - but it wasn’t until those first little cries, that my heart was so full it wanted to explode - I felt like this crazy journey had come to an end. He was here, he was healthy and my heart healed even more. I look back and realize that although I thought I was ‘OK’  for this past year that I truly wasn’t because he wasn’t yet in my arms. 

I like to believe that his little soul was not ready to join us back then - but was ready now… and it needed, or maybe knew that I needed, or even Myla needed, a little more time to keep things exactly where they were. Perhaps for some reason I needed to have this experience - that maybe there was something I needed to complete or change before Maddox came into this world. I know for certain that my patience has grown immensely - and things that once triggered anger and frustration, actually trigger smiles because I’m so much more thankful for everything in my life. This healing journey has been long, and I know it’s not over - not sure it really ever will be - but I can’t deny that having him here now, has been the biggest healing leap I’ve had.

Now to begin all those Maddox-inspired projects.

Expecting A Rainbow

I’ve been asking myself why I want, or need, to write this. I’m not even sure that my “craft blog” is the appropriate place to post this. I’m not an incredibly open person when it comes to sharing experiences like this… especially with those outside of my closest family and friends. But the thoughts and emotions keep swirling through my head and I find myself talking through what happened, over and over again. It’s my hope that by writing this, that it helps to slow down that hamster wheel of thoughts. Once it’s out of my mind and all written out, hopefully there will be a little more space in my brain for new, and happier, thoughts to take root. I’m also hoping it allows me to concentrate more on crafting and writing for my blog again.

Most importantly, it is also my hope that by sharing this, it reaches another woman who has experienced (or will in the future) something similar. I hope it makes them feel a little less alone in a time when she may feel complete isolation and may even be suffering in silence. 

And lastly, since this seems to be such a taboo subject in our culture, I hope to bring a bit of awareness to those who may be close with a woman (and/or even their partner) who has to deal with this type of experience. Hopefully by reading my words, they can better understand what she may be feeling at a time when she may have a difficult time putting her own feelings into words. Although, I am truly aware that it is almost impossible to completely walk in another’s shoes… as we are all individuals and no single experience is exactly like the next.

I’d also like to begin by saying two things… First, don’t feel pity on me. It’s not the reason I’m writing this as I’ve clearly stated above. I believe writing this is part of my healing journey and this experience has really brought about some positives in my life. And second, don’t judge me - whether you may think I’m overly sensitive or don’t agree with the actions we chose to take. As I said before, every person’s experience is unique. Many times, people find themselves in situations where the choices they thought they would make suddenly change when faced with new information. And sometimes, those choices go against their personal values and become the most difficult decisions they ever have to make in their life.

So let me begin…

This past October, Justin and I found out we were to be expecting our second child. We had held off trying for another because we were in the process of selling our house and I wanted to make sure I had a stress-free pregnancy. So when the test showed positive soon after moving into our new house, we were overjoyed. We were so excited that almost immediately we began to share the news with our families. We hadn’t put much thought into sharing the news so early this time around as we already had one healthy pregnancy from which we got a beautiful, charismatic, little girl. When we were pregnant with Myla, we were much more worried about sharing the news as that is what our society expects and our culture believes is the thing to do - we even waited until the end of our first trimester to tell family. But for some reason, the worry wasn’t there this time around. We figured everything would go the way it did before. And we enjoyed celebrating with our families.

Our First Doctor Appointment 

I knew we were far enough along that we should expect to see the heartbeat and get a good measurement of the baby. Only, that’s not how our appointment went. My doctor started the ultrasound and found the baby but couldn’t locate the heartbeat. I knew the machine in the main office was not as strong as the ultrasound technician’s machine. We dealt with a similar situation with Myla. She measured 4 days behind at our first appointment, and the doctor thought she could see a ‘flicker’ but couldn’t get a good measurement of the heartbeat and had to send us to the tech. However, this time, the doctor then said that the baby was still too small to measure to calculate a due date - which in other words means, the baby was measuring less than 6 weeks. According to my calculations, this meant baby was at least 10 days behind! The doctor said, perhaps I just wasn’t as far along as I thought - which is what I know they tell many women, as many women have longer cycles or ovulate late, etc. But I knew my dates! And it didn’t make any sense to me. By hearing what the doctor said, it meant she was trying to tell me that we conceived this baby the day I got a big fat positive on a home pregnancy test. As most people know, that’s impossible. I began crying right there. Justin still had hope - bless his heart - and reminded me that Myla measured behind, and that we also had trouble seeing her heartbeat as well. But I knew this appointment was further along in the pregnancy than with Myla… I knew my dates… I knew something was not right. The office then scheduled me for an ultrasound with the tech a week later.

From there I went home and researched and researched more. I discovered that anything measuring 10 days to 2 weeks behind at this point, was a bad sign. But I kept faith and continued to research for any positive outcomes. That coming weekend was Myla’s 2nd Birthday Party. Family was going to be traveling in and I was about to have a house full of friends and family. I called my OB’s office to see if I could get in before the weekend for that next ultrasound. I needed to know what was going to be happening - there was no way I wanted a house full of people and family staying overnight if I was about to lose this baby. I did my research about what women experience during a miscarriage too (which I discovered is much more difficult than I ever thought before) - I wanted to prepare myself for what may come. Because of that, we almost decided to cancel Myla’s party. Luckily, the technician was able to fit me in right before the weekend. At that appointment, we found the heartbeat, which again gave me a little bit of faith - enough to keep the party going as scheduled. But the baby hadn’t grown the amount it should have in those days. It was growing, but slowly. It’s heart rate was also slow - probably less than 70 beats per minute and at this point, it should have been at least double that. The tech kept trying to get a measurement with the machine but it wouldn’t measure - we could see it, but it was too slow for the machine to pick up. We kept trying to look for the best possible outcome - perhaps the heartbeat only JUST started, which then of course, it would be on the slower side. My doctor confirmed that the heartbeat may just be starting and that she has seen women who thought they knew their dates, but ovulated late, and where implantation took place later than expected and the embryo just took a little longer than usual to start developing - she was trying to give me a shred of hope. She said it was still too early to call it. We got to take home pictures of our little bean that day - which I’m eternally thankful for. Then, they scheduled me for a third ultrasound the following Wednesday - the day before Thanksgiving.

Waiting Game Continues

I did more research on heart rates the day before Myla’s party - still searching for more hope - still debating if we should cancel - still wondering how I would be able to handle seeing everyone and act like everything was ok. However, the only concrete information I could find was not positive. A heart rate of 70 bpm or less means a 100% risk of miscarriage… or also in medical terminology: fetal demise. I read those words over and over again in all the research I did. Gosh, how much I hate reading those words.

So here I was… This little tiny baby living inside of me, fighting for life, hanging on but slowly falling away… and there wasn’t a single thing I could do about it. Nothing… absolutely nothing I could do. I’ve never felt so helpless in my entire life. The only thing I could do was wait and see and continue to hope for a miracle baby. There was a part of me that wished I just had a blighted ovum (gestational sac but no baby), or that I had already began to miscarry - because this waiting felt torturous.

That weekend, we celebrated Myla’s birthday - and for some strange reason, I felt really calm - perhaps I was just feeling numb from already having cried so much or perhaps because I had so much going on with the party that my mind had a chance to take a break from worrying. I know I isolated myself a lot during that weekend and felt it was difficult to make conversation as I couldn’t really talk about what was truly going through my mind. The words Justin and I used to describe the situation to family was “we are cautiously optimistic”. At this point, none of my friends knew what was going on, but my closest ones suspected I was pregnant - they just didn’t realize what we were facing at this point.

Final Ultrasound

That next Wednesday, at our third ultrasound, I remember sitting in the waiting room, gripping Justin’s hand tightly, and breathing heavily… so nervous to find out what was happening.

We went into the room. I’m pretty sure I already had tears in my eyes, preparing myself to receive the worst news of my life, but still hoping for that miracle. Just as before, the tech found the baby and again, it had grown, but just a tiny bit. She tried over and over and over and over again to get a measurement of the heartbeat - I could still see it, but I could tell it was even slower than before. It would flicker a few times, then again… then again… but it was soooo slow. I can almost remember just holding my breathe, staring at the ultrasound screen, waiting to hear the words. Then she said them: “it’s not looking good”. All that air I had been holding in my lungs came screaming out as I closed my eyes - but when I closed my eyes, I couldn’t escape the ultrasound image - the black and white reversed as it was burned into the inside of my eyelids. I felt Justin come over and hold me and between my sobs and screams, I could see the tears in his eyes too. Our world suddenly stopped. The tech continued to try to get a measurement of the heart rate… it seemed as though she wanted to see this baby make it as much as we did. After a little while, the tech and Justin held me and walked me out of the room, through the waiting room of other pregnant ladies, whom I’m sure all heard my cries, and back into my doctor’s office. 

We then had our chance to talk with the doctor. Before I heard anything she had to say, I was certain that I wanted to miscarry naturally, at home, whenever the time was right for baby to leave us. I knew it meant hours, days or even weeks before it could happen, but it’s what I believed was the right thing to do. As if my head wasn’t spinning enough, I was then given some information which made me second guess everything I had prepared myself for. I was told that I was at a higher risk for hemorrhaging than usual and that going in for a scheduled D&C would be my safest option. I was told that since the following day was Thanksgiving and we had the “holiday weekend” upon us, that hospital staff might be lighter than normal. I was told that I could wait until I started bleeding, but as soon as I did, they wanted me at the hospital immediately - even if that meant the middle of the night, at which point, I would get an emergency D&C - a less safe option than a scheduled one - combine that with possibly having to go in during the holiday and fewer people on staff makes for a riskier/scarier situation. I was also told that the heart was still in fact slightly beating, meaning that in effect, it would be a termination if I went in that afternoon for a scheduled D&C - which was my doctors suggestion. I was told that if I wanted to wait it out, that they wanted me to return in two days if I hadn’t already started bleeding for another ultrasound and we would continue that pattern until we knew the heart completely stopped beating and then schedule the D&C. However, we knew there was still a good chance that my body would begin to miscarry before we even reached the next ultrasound. After hearing all this - I couldn’t believe how easily it was for our world to be flipped up-side down and all my values to be second-guessed. I knew that making the wrong decision could potentially have a huge impact on my health. And making the right decision could also be the hardest thing I ever had to do.

Making a Decision

Justin and I went home, where we sat with my mother who had been there watching Myla. We talked about the different options and as I watched Myla play, I knew my priority was her. I had to make sure I was healthy for her and that I needed to do the safest thing possible. As I sat there with my mom and Justin, and my heart started to accept the fact that this baby was not going to make it, I began to feel like I just wanted it over with. I didn’t think I could handle the ‘sit and wait’ approach any longer as this entire experience had already been going on for a few weeks - all this sadness mixed with little bits of hope - I couldn’t take the emotional roller coaster anymore. Could I possibly continue to wait? To continue feeling this pain for longer? I just wanted to get past this and start on my healing journey. A little while later, I called the doctor and told her to have the hospital schedule me for that afternoon. 

I laid down on my couch for several hours before we had to leave for the hospital. I spent that time staring blankly at the walls and ceiling, crying, and even shaking uncontrollably … it’s pretty much how I spent a lot of my time for those past few weeks since our first appointment. I kept asking my baby for forgiveness and telling it how much I loved him/her. I kept hoping that its heart would stop beating by the time surgery was to take place. I hated myself for making the decision I had, but I knew it was the best choice every time I thought of Myla. Plus, I have this unfortunate history of being in the 1% when doctors tell me what could go wrong - I don’t get it, but it usually happens to me. This was one situation where I didn’t want to take that risk. 

Saying Goodbye and the Months that Followed

When the time came, Justin drove me to the hospital. By this point, I couldn’t believe I still had tears to cry, but I did. I met with my doctor there and was prepped for surgery. I remember being on the hospital bed, getting wheeled around - I couldn’t handle the numerous, random staff around having normal conversations or even hearing the occasional laughter. Not that it was their fault, but here I was, dressed in hospital gowns, laying under the white sheets about to be taken into a room where I’d be saying goodbye to a baby I never got to hold. I remember not being able to handle looking at anyone and decided to take out my contacts before I had to - without them, I can not see more than 12 inches in front of my face. I spoke with several people who would be assisting in the OR - nurses, anesthesiologists, doctors… I remember kissing Justin goodbye. I remember sobbing so hard that they decided to inject some medication into my IV before they even began to wheel me into the OR. 

Then… I remember waking up as a few nurses took care of me. I remember them being really sweet with me. Helping me stay warm and get comfortable and simply placing their hand on mine. Unfortunately, I also remember how much my body hurt, as it did for days… my shoulders, sides, back - I must have been coughing pretty hard from the breathing tube… combined with the amount of crying I had done. I couldn’t believe how much I ached for days after that - in addition to the cramping from the surgery. To add to that, I ended up with strep throat and a double ear infection the next day - as if the hurting in my heart wasn’t bad enough, my entire body felt like it was thrown under a truck.

After leaving the hospital, I went home and just laid on the couch - I don’t think I understood everything I was feeling - it just simply felt like it was all over - which it was. There was no going back. There was no longer a little life inside my belly. I was empty and felt empty. This is when my world truly started to feel like it had stopped. I guess that’s kind of what mourning and grieving feels like to me. You look around at the world, and its still moving - life is still happening and going forward. But to me, it all halted. I had trouble speaking, moving my body, listening to anyone who tried to speak to me. I remember not knowing how I was ever going to move forward myself. I didn’t want to talk to anyone but Justin and my family. I had so much trouble sleeping that night. I woke up before the sun and wrote my Thanksgiving Wish blog post… I truly didn’t want to accept that this was over. All my hopes and dreams for this little one that I carried inside of me for a few short months - were all gone. 

The next three months were beyond hard - it was the amount of time my doctor said we had to wait before trying for another baby. During that time, I felt little hope. I almost didn’t know what to do with myself besides think of all the things I possibly did to cause this to happen. I still couldn’t accept that it was most likely just a “chromosomal fluke” and that it was nothing I did that caused this to happen. I wondered if it was the cold medicine I took before I knew I was pregnant, or the hot bath, or maybe even the flu shot I got. I didn’t want to accept the statistic that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, 90% due to a chromosome issue - none of these stats made what happened any easier. I still wanted an answer. It also made me wonder, why with such staggering rates, that the subject of miscarriage is so taboo in our culture - why very few people talk about it. It’s made the women who have experienced it feel so alone - many who suffer in silence or without the proper support to heal. And furthermore, I can not even begin to imagine the pain of those who experience stillbirth, or give birth to a child who only lives a few months, weeks, days or even hours. I wonder where those parents turn to for support as so much of the world doesn’t want to talk about it. It’s for these reasons that I want to be open and share my experience and feelings. I certainly did not experience the typical loss of a baby and still wonder if I can even use the term miscarriage to describe what happened. I’m reminded of this each time a doctor or nurse questions me about number of pregnancies, number of living children, number of miscarriages, etc. I’m still having a hard time with the decision I made, even though I know it was inevitable the baby wasn’t going to make it. But, I know my first priority was making sure to take care of myself so I could take care of Myla.

During those months, I also experienced things I never knew would be quite so hard for someone having just lost a baby. Don’t get me wrong, I knew these things would be hard, but not to the degree in which I felt them. Being so close to Christmas, there was one day we grabbed the mail and as I opened up Christmas cards, we received 4 birth announcements and 2 baby-on-the-way cards… every time I looked on Facebook, I would see another friend announcing they were expecting around the time I was due (pretty sure there was about 5)… everywhere I went, all I saw was pregnant women… I would cringe if anyone asked me if I only had the one child when they saw Myla, or asked if I was planning on having any more (questions I vow to never ask anyone again) - because all I wanted to do was scream “I just freaking lost a baby you jackass”. And not that I was really mad at them for asking, but my emotions were still running so high, it’s what I was bursting at the seams to say. I also had been invited to baby showers, and would see pictures of other friends on Facebook having just given birth to their children. Of course I was happy for them, but everything was just a constant reminder. Each time I was reminded, I would retreat into my mind, become quiet and have a hard time functioning normally. At other times, I found myself getting very agitated with people, even towards Justin for no particular reason, and it would take me awhile to realize why, but it all stemmed back to a reminder of our loss in some way.

Finding Hope and Our Good News

When the three month mark came, I really thought I would be quite upset and I was bracing for that. Justin and I even planned a dinner out for just the two of us. However, something I didn’t expect began to happen. I suddenly began to feel hope and my negative emotions slowly started to turn positive. Everything just began to look a little brighter.

About a month later, my period was late and I waited a few days to take a test. I was scared to take the test because I knew I was either going to be faced with disappointment (negative) or worry (positive). Justin and I looked at the test together - it was positive! What a crazy mess of emotions I began to feel. I was terrified that I would experience the same thing all over again… and I knew that if I did, this would be the end of trying cause the pain was just too much to go through again. I couldn’t say the words: I’m pregnant. All I could say was that I had a positive pregnancy test. We shared the news with my parents (as I knew I needed my mother’s support) and I shared with my closest friends (again, because I needed their support too). There was no celebrating this time but instead a lot of talking about emotions and what was going to happen next. I had to wait a few weeks for my first appointment - and gosh, how long those weeks felt.

We finally got to our first appointment and had an ultrasound. I won’t lie… it was so hard walking back into that doctor’s office. I cried while walking into the back as memories flooded right back into my mind. The doctor began the ultrasound and cautiously gave us the measurement and checked it against my LMP (last menstrual period). I truly couldn’t have asked for better news - baby was measuring exactly to date and its heartbeat was nice and strong. What a huge sigh of relief I let out. I know we were not out of the woods by any means, but I knew this was starting better than before. 

I continued going back for weekly ultrasounds during the entire first trimester so they could track baby’s measurements making sure it was still growing as it should. Then we were sent to the high risk doctor for an NT scan - everything looked good and my fears started to subside. We also opted to do a genetic screening test, which all came back negative for Trisomy 13, 18 and 21. We also found out we are expecting a little boy. At this point, I was finally able to say “I’m pregnant”. Another number of weeks passed, we got to hear baby’s heartbeat on doppler a few more times, and then we had the Level 2 anatomy scan last week - again, everything looked good. And now, I can finally… just finally, now breathe easy. And as I sit here writing this, I can feel the little guy kicking and just how miraculous it feels. It’s crazy how it’s taken me so long to begin to really feel joy during this pregnancy after experiencing our loss. I know we are only about half way to the end… and there is still a chance that any number of things can happen… but I finally feel like I can share the news… We are expecting our rainbow baby boy at the end of November!!! 

Here is a quote I came across that accurately describes what I’m feeling:

“Rainbow Babies" is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.

As much as I’m overjoyed that we are now expecting a little boy, there is still a part of me that feels guilt over being so happy for this baby when I’m still mourning our last. I’ve read that this feeling is normal, but it’s still hard to actually feel it. There is still not a day that goes by that I don’t think of that baby. I should have been holding that baby in my arms right now. It’s hard to think of how my life would be so different at this very moment in time. 

I’ve also spent a lot of time doing things in remembrance of our little peanut. Most importantly, we named our baby before we said goodbye. In addition, I worked with a local jewelry designer to make a pendant that I wear along with my “M” for Myla - so my babies are always close by. I’ve planted a butterfly bush for “our little one with wings”, I made a Christmas ornament for “our angel”, and I’m working on a special project using the ultrasound picture we got to take home during our second appointment, along with the positive pregnancy test I kept, and hospital bracelet from the day we said goodbye. I will never forget and don’t want to forget. The pain may ease over time, but there will also be a part of my heart that’s forever broken for our little peanut.

As sad or depressing as all of this may seem, a lot of positives have come from it too. I truly believe my relationships with Justin, Myla and my family and friends have strengthened. I’m so thankful for my friends and their support, for my family and their unconditional love, so thankful for Justin (who’s still my rock, my love, my everything), incredibly thankful for my crazy little girl, Myla, who makes me smile and laugh daily, and has made my heart grow a million times over, for the little life growing inside of me right now who I can not wait to meet, and for everything else that I have. I truly feel lucky and blessed.

For My Friends

It’s been weeks since I’ve shared my last project, but trust me it’s been for good reason. I’ll share the big project I’ve been hard at work on soon. But for now, I just want to talk about friends, and for how grateful I am for the ones I’m surrounded with.

Almost 7 months ago I dealt with what was quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever have to deal with in my life. It’s something I continue to struggle with and think about on a daily, if not, hourly basis. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it is something I will NEVER forget - And that’s ok, as it’s something I don’t want to forget. Many people sent me thoughtful words and I appreciate them all. But, if it wasn’t for seven particular, absolutely wonderful, ladies, (and of course my hubby and family too) I’m not sure I would have accepted what happened as quickly as I have and ultimately be in such a good place today.

These seven ladies reached out and opened the way for me to talk with them about what happened. Talking was something I soon realized I really had to do, and do often, to whoever wanted to listen BUT ALSO who was willing to really hear me. 

One friend checked in on almost a daily basis asking how I was feeling “today” - I walked her through my daily ups and downs, which soon turned into weekly ups and downs. Eventually I was able to say “today, I’m doing good” and carry on the conversation about other things in life. One thing I learned from this experience, was that I needed people to invite me to talk. Not only this friend, but others asked each time they saw me, or more importantly, consistently reached out or called me. There’s not a bigger invite to talk about something than a phone call or face-to-face where someone says, “I’m here, I’m listening, now talk to me”.  

A couple of other friends brought me small gifts (magazines, chocolate, tea) - they told me to take some time out for myself. This became another lesson learned. Sometimes, it was best for me to just hide out for a bit and allow myself to feel and grieve. Being told to do this, let me know it was OK to just step away from the daily grind for awhile and not feel guilty. 

These friends and a few more shared personal stories of similar situations. They made me feel like I wasn’t alone, helped me sort out of my feelings, and let me know what I was feeling was normal and OK… and that it WOULD get easier, but also, that I would NEVER forget. “Never forgetting” - another lesson learned and important thing to remember many times throughout life. Knowing you will never forget can help you accept what has happened and give you the strength to move forward.

As a way to say “thank you” to them, I made them each a jasper pendant necklace. Last year at the Oyster Festival in Norwalk, CT, I met a jewelry maker who used jasper stones in his pieces which inspired me to create these necklaces. Each stone varies from a beautiful and simple blue to deep blue with lots of dramatic brown/tan veining as pictured below. I made two styles (large rectangle and small oval) and chose the style and pattern for each friend based on their personality, as each of them is unique and I wanted their necklaces to be as well. 

So, to you ladies: Thank you and I love you. You’ve helped me heal and your words and actions, both big, small and in-between have touched me in a way that I will never forget. And, I most certainly will NEVER forget YOU. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope the necklaces I have given you will serve as a reminder that small actions can have huge and lasting impacts. I hope to one day do for someone else, what you've all done for me. Hugs to you all!

"Functional" Tot Calendar

This is definitely one of those “function over fashion” projects. I began it during a snowstorm and decided to use only materials I had laying around the house. I thought it would only be a “draft” of what may come - however, after the amount of time that went into it, I decided that it’s staying as is. Sure, if I owned a laminator, or had some nice foam board on hand, or a lot more velcro in the house, I’m sure it would have turned out a lot more “fashionable”, but hey, I’m sure Myla doesn’t mind. 

I had been planning on making a calendar for Myla for quite some time. Being a spirited toddler, transitions are not easy for her and hence, not easy for me. She hit the terrible two’s quite early and ever since insists on doing everything herself and choosing WHEN to do it as well - she likes to call ALL the shots. I have yet to find any parenting tricks that work. Some days go smoother than others, but most days are quite challenging especially when we are on a schedule. 

I thought if I could put together a calendar with pictures of our activities, including the not-so-fun ones like errands and chores, that it would help ease us through the day as she would know what to expect when I say it’s time to start our day - making US more functional. I also wanted to use it as a teaching tool for days of the week, colors and the weather. It only took her two days before she started walking over to the back door to check the weather for the day so she could add her card to the calendar

Making the Calendar:
I used a large piece of cardboard which I believe came from the Ikea table/chair box. I split it into sections by painting each day its own color and finished the raw edges with black electrical tape. I found various clip art images to represent the weather and different activities: Music, Soccer, Playdate, Play Outside, Park, Errands, Chores, Grandparents, Cousins, School, Library, Pool, Beach, Walk/Hike, Road Trip, Special Activity and Holiday. I resized and printed each one, and glued each to a 3 x 3 piece of card stock. (If this was going to be a “fashionable” project, you could be sure that I would have drawn all my own images!). I typed up and printed the days of the week, as well as the side bar titles, and glued those directly onto the board. The only item I had to buy was the little colored clothespins (found at Michaels for less than $2) of which I glued 4 in each column. I also glued one to the back of the star image (glued on card stock and sealed with Mod Podge) which we move daily to indicate the day of the week we are on. Finally, I used some ribbon I had laying around and hot glued it to the back. I wanted to hang it somewhere that would be easy for Myla to see and use so I chose the side of our kitchen island. This spot makes it a great opportunity for us to talk about our day while eating breakfast. 

I must say that so far I’m really impressed by Myla and her use of the calendar. I wasn’t sure if this project was going to be a wasted effort. However, in addition to talking about the weather each day, she also uses it to talk to her dad and grandparents about what she did that day. The only thing I may add is words to each of the activity and weather cards to further use it as a teaching tool.

This is one of those projects that proves you don't need fancy materials on hand or to spend money on a bunch of new supplies to make something fun and functional.

Rebirth

I’ve enjoyed reading all sorts of witty New Year blog posts such as 14 F***s I Refuse to Give in 2014, some of which I can actually start to do and stop worrying about. However, all joking aside, this New Year brings me hope. It brings a chance to start anew, change my ways of thinking and my attitude, and change the way I view and take care of myself and others… These past number of weeks have been tough and I’m trying to take all that’s weighing on me and learn from it and view it as an opportunity to grow. Since receiving my “news” a little over a month ago, I’ve been trying to simply “be” a little more. And I have to say, I think I’m doing better at that. I’m trying hard to spend much more one-on-one time with Myla giving her my full attention as it seems to be just what she needs right now, and a lot of it. I’m trying to keep my patience while teaching her patience - (way harder to do than I ever imagined). And, I’m trying REALLY hard to not worry so much and simply enjoy what’s happening in the here and now and take advantage of each and every moment.

During the past few weeks, I’ve also experienced the loss of two friends, both unexpectedly, a couple of weeks apart. They were both incredibly genuine, sweet and caring. I knew one for only a few short years, the other I knew for over 30 years - but the amount of time doesn't matter. I wasn’t super close with either of them, but they were both certainly friends. Whenever I saw either one of them, it was so easy to have a conversation - something I find difficult when I don’t see someone often. They were both always kind, open and truly interested in whatever we were talking about… they were REAL. At the end of our conversations, I always walked away feeling uplifted. They were good people who left this world too soon… but it’s because of them, that I’m trying even harder to just “be”… and trying to change my ways of thinking and how I take care of myself and others. So in a way, that's my new year's resolution.

The painting above I did a few years back. I don’t know what I was thinking at the time that I painted it, but whenever I look at it, the word "Rebirth" comes to mind and therefore seemed fitting to share today. It’s somehow about all the feelings and experiences we have and how they shape us into what we are and how by learning from those things we can blossom and take flight.

Finding Time

Sometimes I'm asked how I have time to craft and blog. Honestly, I'm not sure seeing that I stay at home with a very demanding toddler. And yes, I know that ALL toddlers are demanding. I once read that the average toddler needs their mother approximately once every 4 minutes. In Myla's case, it seems to be much more and at a different level. I used to look at other mothers enviously as their child would hang out in a pack 'n play, or sit quietly in a shopping cart, or entertain themselves for long periods of time at home (or at least what's considered "long" in baby/toddler time) just so the mother can get a few errands or chores done. But not Myla… she's high energy and very intense. Even after talking with our pediatrician, he said her personality is more typical of what you see in a second child, not a first… and that a child like her is difficult to parent - she's just extremely strong-willed. He never quite said the words, but I've recently discovered information about the "Spirited Child" which is what I'm pretty sure he meant. I'll share more about that in a future post but what you should know for now is that Myla only recently became a good napper... approximately 3 months ago. Before that, she napped anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour tops - that pretty much gave me enough time to eat lunch, clean up and organize my thoughts. And since she rarely ever let me prepare dinner before Justin came home, it meant we started dinner late and ate late… cutting into whatever free time I had in the evening. Therefore, I had to find time and still do.

"Finding time" to me means having to break out of normal routines. It means giving up an evening of unwinding in front of the TV to work on my projects… and not that I don't want to craft or do artsy things, but it's so easy to fall into that routine of laying down on the couch and zoning out. It means giving up Candy Crush and cutting down on Facebook. Although, Myla's new napping habits have been extremely helpful in me recharging my batteries, getting some chores done and working on my blog or a project… but being a mom, even to an easy-going kid, means always having to find time. It's deciding to do the things that enrich your life or your child's life (or even the lives of others) and spending less time on those things that won't truly make a difference in anyone's life... which I know isn't always so easy. For me, it's a hard, conscience decision, always having to give myself a little kick in the butt to get moving.

Anyways, at this very moment, I need to find time. I've got lots of fun projects on my list which I've already begun but need to work on before Myla wakes from her nap. And, until they are ready to share with all of you, I will share another jewelry project instead. This project brings me back to last week's post, where I learned a lot about making and working with chains. Combine that with some inspiration from a similar style necklace I had seen in a magazine, here is one of my favorite necklace and earrings set. What I love about this piece, besides it being a calming blue (which boy do I need sometimes), is that it's not symmetrical but rather follows a pattern. When worn, there's no particular way it needs to sit and gives a unique look as there's no real focal point.

On a side note: Don't get me wrong when I talk about Myla being a lot to handle. Sure, she's intense and high energy making me physically and mentally exhausted each day… but I also love those things about her. It's those exact characteristics that I hope she learns to mold as she ages. It's her determination and strong-mindedness that I hope she uses to her advantage to get everything she wants out of life.

Love You Like I Do - A Mommy Mission Statement

Right around the time Myla was born, there was a Facebook contest taking place for Mothers-to-be. The rules were simple: To write a 5-word inspiring message to your unborn child, on your preggo belly, and photograph it. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to enter as I was planning to take the photo the day after Thanksgiving - which just so happened to be when Myla decided to make her appearance. If I had the opportunity, my message was going to be: Love You Like I Do 

This message is sort of like a mission statement. Since there are so many other values I'd like to instill into Myla and changes I'd like to see in myself to become a better mother and wife, I decided to create my own Mommy Mission Statement. Here is what I've come up with:

  • I promise to help Myla develop values that will be beneficial to her throughout her life:
  1. To be honest with others as well as herself.
  2. To be humble yet still confident.
  3. To be compassionate with humans and animals alike.
  4. To be happy and spread happiness.
  5. To be strong but know it's okay to cry.
  6. To be outspoken but always be willing to listen.
  7. To dream big but be content with what you have and who you are.
  8. To love herself as I love her.
  • I promise to be a teacher, playmate, dance partner, music maker, healthy chef, and best friend.

  • I promise to give lots of snuggles, cuddles, hugs and kisses every day.

And finally…

  • I promise to take care of myself, to continue to learn and grow, and to always do something for myself, all of which will allow me to better take care of my family.

Please share some of your mission statement ideas - I'd love to hear them.

Speaking of "Statements" - below is a Statement Necklace which I created around the time of Myla's first birthday. After receiving a compliment from my mother-in-law about how much she loved it, I began to think of Christmas gift ideas - I was really getting into "doing something for myself" as well as "bringing happiness to others". I'll share those creations in a future blog post.

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