Big News

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Big News

You may have noticed how so very MIA I've been from everything recently, but I promise I have a real valid excuse. Mark and I are expecting an addition to our little Griffo fam this upcoming February 2018!

We are so excited and it's such a relief to have it out in the open now so that I can finally actually have a reason for how low energy and exhausted and completely non social I've been! I definitely had quite a bit of morning sickness the first three months (which is such a misnomer because it's more like all hours sickness) but thankfully never threw up. I've had a few really bad headaches, and I can't sit in hard chairs or even firm couches or all my joints and tailbone start to ache. My night owl tendencies of going to bed at one AM have been completely shot and turned into me falling asleep at ten most nights, and waking up at three AM to pee since my kidneys are twice as active. Oh, and everything makes me cry these days. Literally everything. I watched a lifestyle video for the stroller we picked out the other day and burst into tears at the sight of a mom pushing her cute babe, crying to Mark, "That's gonna be meeee". Pregnancy perks, am I right? Baby is finally starting to really bump (although some people are telling me they don't even notice, but when you're used to your stomach being flat and behind your hip bones and can't fit in any of your jeans without a belly band you definitely notice) and I'm so glad I don't have to worry about dressing strategically to hide it anymore since the news is out!

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Everything is so exciting and new but was also really scary for the first several months because of our experience with a molar pregnancy last year. We've had a few people who we shared our pregnancy news with with early on wonder and ask why we haven't been more visibly excited and told everyone sooner, but it was so hard to stay in joy and not in fear when our first experience being pregnant went so horribly wrong. It's a hard and weird thing to talk about when you don't even fully understand it yourself and it's so personal and I am such an introverted and private person, but I hoped that in sharing our story it can bring some comfort, peace, or healing to anyone else who has had pregnancy struggles or loss, even if just to know that you are not alone - so I shared it here recently if you'd like to know more. We just wanted to be absolutely sure that everything was going the way it was supposed to and that there was a perfectly whole and healthy little baby inside me before we shared the news with everyone. But after a few months and three ultrasounds so far, we are confident that there is a healthy baby Griffo growing inside me! 

The second ultrasound was super exciting and reassuring. We got to see baby's face and they (no we are not having twins, I just prefer saying they / them over it) were waving their hands and dancing around inside my belly, and at one point even flipped around and shook their cute little butt at us! So at least I now know where all my energy is going these days, they are using it to fuel their in utero dance parties haha!

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We just found out baby's sex at the end of September with our third ultrasound, and are so excited to be having a sweet little girl! My heart swelled and it felt like the love I already felt for her grew times a thousand when I heard the ultrasound tech say the words, "It's definitely a girl". Mark and I both thought we were having a girl, but everyone else who has known I'm pregnant were pretty divided, so much so that I wasn't even so sure myself anymore. But now that it's all confirmed and official, I'm getting the urge to buy pink (super muted, but hey it's still pink) things. Which if you know my personal and decorating styles of all neutrals (black, white, grey, and tan / brass) is sort of hilarious. I even shocked myself by buying a soft pink vase when I was in Portland the other week!

We've already practically got everything picked out and the soon to be nursery virtually decorated via Pinterest and our still-in-progress Amazon registry, and are so ready to make room in our lives for our sweet little baby girl. I won't be taking any weddings on for the rest of the year, or in 2018 as of now, so that I can dedicate the time needed to raising and caring for baby girl in her first year of life, but I'm still doing engagements, portrait sessions, lifestyle stuff, and my favorite - food and product styling and photography! So if you need any of that, I'm still your girl. 

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Whew! That was a lot, but I'm so excited the news is out! Everything feels so much more real now that everyone knows, and now that we know we're having a girl. I'm hoping these last four months fly by because I just want to hold her squirmy little body (she's so active!) and nibble her cute little nose. 

A huge thank you to my dear friend Madeline Metcalf for taking the gorgeous photos that filled this post. You are so talented and I'm so blessed to have you in my life! If you are in the Portland area and in need of photos, she's the best!

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Pregnancy and Loss

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Pregnancy and Loss

This is a hard and weird thing to talk about when I don't even fully understand it myself and it's so personal and I am such an introverted and private person, but I hoped that in sharing our story it can bring some comfort, peace, or healing to anyone else who has had pregnancy struggles or loss, even if just to know that you are not alone. So here goes.

At the beginning of last September (2016) we found out were pregnant for the first time after trying for over a year, probably close to two. I know some people are super fertile or whatever and get pregnant the first time they try, but that was just not us.

Every single month that passed and I got my period it was harder and harder to keep my chin up and believe in my body and baby carrying / making abilities. I constantly had to remind myself that so much has to go right for it to happen and tell myself that it was okay and I was okay even though I felt very not okay. It's so hard to be surrounded by family, friends, and women on instagram getting pregnant and making their announcements when there is nothing you want more in the world to have the same perfect chain of events resulting in a miracle happen in your own body. And it certainly didn't help to have people telling me "you're next" and asking when I was going to have a baby too. I know that's just something we somehow default to in our society, but after my own experience of every time someone asked me those questions feeling like I'd been stabbed in the heart and had the wind knocked out of me, I'm so careful not to say those sorts of things because you never know if those words can cause more hurt and pain than excitement.

Anyway, it was September and we were finally pregnant and so very very excited. I wanted nothing more than to tell everyone immediately, but I decided to go to the doctor and be sure that everything was good and have an ultrasound before sharing our exciting news.

We were so excited to see our baby and hear the heartbeat, but our hearts dropped during that first 8 week ultrasound when the technician said we'd need to go to the hospital 45 minutes away for a more powerful ultrasounds and to be sure that everything was okay.

The drive was torture, and the time at the hospital wasn't much better. At the end of it all they didn't have any solid news for us, and just said they weren't seeing the development they wanted (but that it could just be too early and I might not be as far along as I should be) and we'd need to come back in a few weeks to see if there was any progress. So the longest and most worry filled four weeks of hoping and praying of our lives began.

We still wanted nothing more than to share exciting news with all our family and friends, but we decided to hold back because at that point we didn't know exactly what news we even had to share. Although we were about to find out.

Those four awful weeks passed and in October we went back to the doctors office near us, filled with apprehension and hope. The whole process started again, and at the end of the appointment after they didn't see anything we were sent back down to the hospital 45 minutes away. Where after hours of waiting, lots of internal ultrasounds (so uncomfortable and weird by the way), and labs we were told by a doctor we'd never even met before that we were having something called a molar pregnancy, which is basically where something goes wrong early in the baby forming process (could be a number of things - a dud egg or sperm, or who even knows) and the cells don't divide into a baby, they just keep dividing into more and more cells, forming an ever-growing clump of cells in the uterus. The weird part is though that your body has all the pregnancy symptoms because there is something in the uterus and it thinks it's pregnant. So nausea and feeling exhausted all the time are all very real. The doctor also said this was dangerous because if left too long the clump of cells could become cancerous and that I needed to have surgery to remove it right away.

So I fasted the rest of the day and spent the afternoon crying with Mark but also trying not to cry and went into surgery and had a D&C (they basically dilate your cervix and go in and scrape and vacuum out your uterus) to remove it that night.

Mark loaded me into the car at the end of it all still groggy from the anesthesia, and I've never felt such an overwhelming sense of confusion and anger and violation and loss. My emotions felt as raw and bloody as my empty and raw uterus, and the pain in my heart mirrored the pain and discomfort in my body from having my most intimate parts stared and prodded and scraped at.

For the next week I laid around the house trying to recover physically, and for the next month-ish I had to wear maxi pads because I was constantly bleeding and couldn't use tampons per the doctors orders. It was awful and damp and gross. I tried to seek some comfort in the fact that I hadn't lost an actual human being, but it didn't help much because hormones are hormones and the loss in those was real. I somehow managed to convince myself I was okay and stuffed my feelings down far enough to think I was moving on. We never told anyone beyond a few in our immediate families, and our very closest friends because I didn't want people asking questions and prying, I just wanted to be able to move on without being dragged backwards by people asking about it.

The icing on the ultra crappy cake though was that the doctors said that Mark and I couldn't even try to have a baby again until six months after my HCG levels went back down to zero. Plus I had to get weekly and then monthly blood tests (your girl hates needles like none other) to be sure they stayed down, because if they popped back up it'd mean the tissue was cancerous and they didn't get it all.

So the waiting game began again. Sometime in December my HCG zeroed out. The next few months were full of me alternately being triggered into anger and sadness over my loss whenever people would ask when Mark and I were going to have kids and feeling like something had been stolen from me every time I saw other women announce their pregnancies. I tried so hard to rejoice for and with them, but it's awfully hard when you're still so hurt and broken inside but don't even know it.

In March I told Mark that I felt like my levels weren't going to magically pop back up after trending down and being zeroed out for so long, and I wanted to try again even though it hadn't quite been six months and he agreed.

At the end of April, on a seemly completely unrelated note, an acquaintance of mine called me up and asked me to shoot video for her and her twin sister's latest venture - Girl Trip - out in Joshua Tree in the first week of May. It was way out of my comfort zone to be with a bunch of girls I didn't even know for three days, but something (probably God) told me that it'd be good for me and that I should do it. So I told her yes and filmed for Girl Trip a week later.

I don't quite know what I was expecting those three days to be, but my expectations were certainly far exceeded. God knit my heart together with the three other girls on the team so quickly that I felt as comfortable with them as if we'd grown up knowing each other by the end of our time, and I'm so thankful and blessed to have gotten to serve alongside them for that trip and now be on the team for future trips. But the most incredible part of it all was that my and all the other women's lives were healed and strengthened and changed for the better in those few short days.

On the final night during sharing time, Holy Spirit pushed me to share the ultra crappy story of the past year on my life on the final session of sharing time, and I've never wanted to back out of something so intensely. I told God he'd "better use this and fix how hurt and broken I am inside from it, because if I just share my awful story and no healing comes from it and everyone just stares at me sympathetically and silently I won't be able to handle it" and he did.

The girls cried with me and held me and I received so many prophetic words of encouragement, life, truth, and healing. I hadn't even realized at that point how not okay I was and how badly I needed what transpired that night. At the end of it all I felt raw and emotional because the wound of October was once again fresh, but also so much better off and closer to being healed, and honest with where I was at instead of shoving it down and living in denial.

Thank God for that healing because a week later was my meant-to-be due date and the following Sunday was Mother's Day which was a doozy and hurt like I'd never imagined it could. To be surrounded by a multitude of women who are being celebrated for their motherhood when you want nothing more intensely than to be a mother physically or to at least be acknowledged for the mother that you are in your heart was devastating. So much so that I was almost completely silent the whole day because I was just trying to hold it together and not have a total and complete breakdown and start screaming and crying in emotional distress and pain in public. But holding it together so intensely came with it's own problems because the next day I had anxiety and stress induced chest pains so bad that I could hardly move or breathe, let alone speak. Thankfully Monday's are Mark and my day off, so he took me out for the day to help get my mind off everything and get me to relax. By the end of the day I was mostly okay pain wise, and the next day I was completely fine. But man Mother's Day was the roughest.

I never wanted anyone to know this sucky story,  let alone everyone. But going through it and feeling alone the whole time, and feeling so much shame and guilt and like my body had somehow betrayed was awful. You always hear about miscarriages or something going wrong with pregnancies and it's sad and terrible but you never think that will be your story. I didn't know what a molar pregnancy was (even though I've watched plenty of doctor dramas and shows and know all sorts of things most wouldn't about the body and health). But now that I'm past it all part of me wishes I had been a little more open with people about what was going on. No part of what happened to me was my fault, and there's nothing that I could've done that would've changed the outcome of what happened. And the story of it all isn't pretty and it's messy and sad but that's life sometimes.

So if you've gone through anything similar please don't feel alone. It's not your fault and you did the best you could do. Make sure to declare life and health over your body instead of frustration and disappointment. Things like "my body was made to carry a healthy baby to full term" are so important to say even when we initially don't feel or believe them. Words and thoughts have such a powerful effect on us. Don't stuff your feelings and pain down and keep it all inside like I did for so long. If you need someone to talk to, feel free to comment below or email me privately. You are in my prayers and there is healing and joy and good things for you ahead.

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Stephanie + Charles

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Stephanie + Charles

Stephanie and Charles's elegant Mount Palomar Winery wedding was on a gorgeously clear spring day in Temecula, California. Every single detail of their day was gorgeous, including the stunning florals by the talented Carla Kayes Floral Design, and their utterly perfect tablescapes. Stevie the bride could've been a Disney Princess herself and incorporated hidden Mickeys throughout the details of her classy fairytale wedding, down to her custom hand-painted leather jacket that featured her new last name.

Loved getting to second shoot with Amy Lynn again. She is so talented and fun, and always a pleasure to work with. Following are just a few of my favorites from shooting alongside her.

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