It’s always refreshing when another mother is willing to candidly share about her life on social media. Opening up in a grid of squares to a mostly unknown audience takes a conscious effort for most, but Anita Grensavitch does it effortlessly. She’s been vocal on her social media about her family, society and health and wellness in a way that makes you feel like a longtime friend, though we’re fortunate enough to know her IRL. Since we admire her so, we asked her family to model for our recent lifestyle photoshoot (but more on that later). We thought she might have some insightful bits to share about motherhood journey thus far, including conversations on race, coronavirus quarantine, and her twins’ NICU stay.
What are all your children’s names and ages?
I have 4 littles:
Ziah Raye who is 5 years old, Lukas Jair who is 3 years old, and my twin girls Faye Lyra & Eila Nour who are 1!
Can you tell us about the origin of your children's names or why you chose them? Any special stories or meanings?
Ziah & Jair were named by Dad, Faye & Eila were named by me! We looked through the same book to either find the name or meanings to the names we liked!
Ziah (Fearless Light) Raye (Royalty, Light)
Lukas (Light) Jair (named after an honorable Judge in the Bible, Light)
Faye (Remembered) Lyra (Lyrical Star: Lyra is a Star Constellation & the name is derivative of the musical instrument Lyre)
Eila (Oak Tree) Nour (the Light).
Each of their names certainly were inspired by the desire we had for each child. Ziah was our first and with the first comes fears of the unknown as a new parent! We gravitated towards meanings like Fearless, Light, Royalty because in spite of our fears, that is our dream for the life of our first child and baby girl!
Jair (we go by his middle name) was an absolute joy filled gift for both of us. We dreamed of having a boy and we were so so excited to find out we were having him! His name's meaning was a reflection of that. He is pure light and is such a gift!
I love the endearing, nickname sound of the name Faye. It matched our twin Baby A perfectly because she was always a place of peace during our shaky, unknown pregnancy. One thing that was sure about each ultrasound was that Faye was peaceful, quirky, & loved to play!
Crazy thing was before we had Faye & Eila, Nathan and I dreamed and talked a lot about 'what if we had twin girls' and how out of this world it would be to have that. Lyra meaning Lyrical Star reminds us of that sweet dream fulfilled.
We chose the name Eila because of it's meaning; Oak Tree. From the moment they found our twin Baby B hiding in the ultrasound, things were very uncertain and whether she would live was at question for a long long time. We chose Oak Tree because it was the opposite of all we've heard about her. Oak Trees are strong & resilient, they take their time to grow but when they mature, they are strong, offer shade, food, comfort & are a place of solace for many. We chose Nour because at this point, we realized all our kids unintentionally had light in some way in their name meaning and we wanted to continue that!
Tell us a little about how you and your husband met
Nathan and I met through a mutual friend who introduced us almost 10 years ago!
What made you decide to call Sacramento (Roseville) home?
We met in Roseville and have family nearby. We have called the Sacramento area home for 6 years but we are open to relocating somewhere else in the future!
You’re house is so sweet, how long have you lived there and how did you find it?
Thank you! We have lived here for 5 years. It was previously a housing unit for Interns doing an Internship at a church where we first met. When the Internships ended, we moved in and have been here since!
We couldn’t help but notice all the unique, homemade elements and DIY projects, who’s the creative force behind the ideas- you, your husband, or is it a collaborative effort?
Our designs and projects are definitely a collaborative effort between Nathan and I! We both love to create & design!
Would you mind sharing with us the birth story of the twins, Faye and Eila?
Faye & Eila's birth story was certainly not beautiful in any way! It was traumatic as they were born via Emergency C Section at 28 weeks due to heart failure for Eila & Faye. At week 9 of the pregnancy, Eila was found on the ultrasound and we learned we were having twins! There were fluid discrepancies between the two with possible Twin to Twin Transfusion being the cause of the issue. The whole pregnancy was mostly filled with notions that they would not survive. I saw a Perinatoligst & had ultrasounds done twice a week from week 12 and for most of the weeks leading up to 28 weeks. At 26 weeks we had another round of fluid discrepancies that were worsening every few days. By 28 weeks things had spiraled out of control, Eila was no longer growing, my belly grew so big so fast, and my body was in incredible amounts of pain. The night before they were born I was sure my placenta ruptured and the next day at our appt, our doctor was concerned with Eila's lack of movements so we agreed to drain some excess amniotic fluid as a start to see if that helps. All went well and after an hour of monitoring them, things suddenly shifted quickly and both Faye & Eila's heart rates dropped to double digits and were nearing zero in minutes. Our nurse called in another nurse to check in on them and within minutes, at least 15 people came into the room, frantically yelling "we need to move now, they are going to die!". I had no time to be properly prepped for a C Section or even to be numbed. The nurses were frantically trying to place an IV in my arms, I was wheeled down to the nearest available OR with the nurses running. I was strapped down and I horrifyingly watched the scalpels get pulled out & the catheter placed before a strong gas mask with anesthesia knocked me out with one breath. From the moment the nurse called in another nurse to check in to the moment the girls were born & being wheeled to NICU was less than 20 minutes. Sure enough, after grabbing the 2lb Faye & Eila, it was uncovered that my placenta had ruptured. The close monitoring of our Perinatologists & ultrasound technicians saved their lives at the last chance they had at survival and I am so grateful to have had the awesome team at UC Davis Sacramento take care of me and our babies!
And are there things that experience taught you that you wish more people would understand about, traumatic births, preemies and having to spend time in the NICU?
NICU journey certainly is foreign world. Faye was in NICU for 6 weeks! We were told to anticipate at least 12 weeks so this was the best news ever! Eila was in NICU for 6 long months. For me, I was both mourning what should be (our dreams of having cute little healthy twin babies was totally gone) as I watched them lay intubated with machines connected to their still forming 2lb bodies that did the breathing work for them. Every single thing was monitored. Even every pee & poop diaper was weighed and charted. They were pricked more times than I could count. Their lives were hanging by the line hour by hour and I was signing consent to many procedures I had no idea existed before. As fragile preemies, their bodies are not ready for the physical touch you would give your newborn so I could barely console them even if I wanted too. In NICU I was devastated, felt unsure & hopeless about what would come of tomorrow but also needed to be fully present to engage, learn and understand the medical field as it related to my babies. In the ICU side of NICU, parents easily come to the end of what they can mentally, physically, emotionally handle. In one sense I learned I can bear a lot at once while simultaneously knowing I am drowning in sorrow. It's painful. If I can share anything to people that may have people they know in NICU (or any ICU for that matter), I'd say: please reach out to them. Yes they are busy & tied up but their world is shaken up and they need love & support from familiar people to rise each day. You don't need the perfect words, just let them know you are with them and for them. The fog of the trauma is hard to navigate through and the support will mean more than you will probably ever know!
Thank you so much for sharing!
Did you always want to be a mom?
No, I did not always want to be a Mom. I was always okay with the idea of not having children. Now I have 4! Life certainly is mysterious in many ways and I am forever happy with the decision I made and that I have 4 human beings that have radically changed my life for the better!
How has the idea of motherhood and home changed for you since quarantine if at all?
Not much changed for us. Eila came home with a Tracheostomy and 24/7 ventilator support. Her first flu season out of the hospital was especially critical for her so we as a family self quarantined back in late Fall of 2019 and were planning on doing it till June. While I had to navigate this at an earlier time than the world around me, the idea of motherhood and home changed for me in making sure I prioritize and work towards making Home a sanctuary, a place of refuge & rest. Learning the importance of taking care of my well-being in order to care well for those I love most.
Being a bi-racial family what kind of conversations are you having with your children about race and raising them in America?
We have always been intentional in raising our kids to know the differences in our appearances are to be celebrated! With young children our focus has been on ensuring that in their play time with toys, story time with books, diversity is included and many types of races are properly represented. Having grown up in Kenya, I also try to show them that there are different ways of living in this life that are beautiful! I have found great books from Shop Bitte's library to help with this! We've also had conversations about people who lived before us who participated in changing laws and dynamics that were unjust and how we will always have the opportunity to do the same to continually challenge the way things are.
Your personal style is amazing, and it definitely trickles down to your kids. What are some things that are important to you as a mama-consumer?
As a consumer I try to consider whether my purchasing choices are beneficial for our Earth. Whether we are thrifting or finding ethically and sustainably made clothing pieces. I make the effort to do the same with the kids. A few great quality pieces go a longer way!
What’s something/somewhere local you’re excited to go back to once the world is “normal” again?
I am excited to dine in at restaurants and be around other people! I'll be checking out Beast & Bounty as one of those places for sure!
Shop the looks: Eila: Rose onesie, chambray stripe bloomers, terracotta brimmed hat, Faye: charcoal overalls, star onesie, rose bandana bib, Ziah: french stripe tank, tie dye leggings, chara hat, oversize t-shirt dress, cinnamon bandana bib, leather bow, Jair: short jumpsuit, pima t-shirt, stretch chino shorts, chara hat, face mask
Photography by Jac Potorke