12 Months

Bennett & Eliza are one! We celebrated their first birthday the weekend before Christmas. Our house was filled to max capacity with so many loved ones which made their Circus themed day extra special. The weather took a turn for the cold and windy, you really never know what you are going to get on a December day in Louisiana, but the babies knew no different and really had a fun time playing with friends and being passed around with lots of hugs and kisses.

This has been the fastest year. Parts felt really slow too. I still can’t believe they are ours. I packed away all the bottles, sanitizer, and bottle warmer recently and it was a little bittersweet. That sanitizer and I had a close relationship this past year! But really, that part is all over. I’m not going to lie I wanted it to be and we both were counting down the days for whole milk-instant pay raise! We also packed up and organized all of their clothes that they have grown out of but there is a small little gift bag holding preemie clothes inside that I couldn’t look at, or put away. So we are excitedly embracing all of the one year old fun coming our way, but also a little sad to say goodbye to babies.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all fell on the last three months of their baby lives. They dressed up as a Dalmatian and a Firefighter for Halloween and were taken to two pumpkin patches, one where they got to pet a kangaroo! Boo at the Zoo with their PAIL buddies, Trick or Treat on sorority row, and we took them down our street to a few houses on Halloween night! They spent the night at LeLe’s for the first time away from us at 11 months, and did great! Early December we took them on their first road trip to see their Say Say for her birthday, and they were car riding troopers!  They sat on Santa’s lap this year, and I was very disappointed there were zero tears from either one. For some reason the crying pictures are my favorite… strange sense of humor, I know. Also in the middle of all of that, we did plays dates with our buddy Cole, went to several birthday parties, and did a Pancake and PJs Christmas party with our PAIL buddies. Will worked Thanksgiving and Christmas so we hopped from family-to-family-to-family around his schedule. The four of us celebrated our Christmas/Santa on December 26th. When your Dad works holidays, Santa knows right? We started some traditions that both of us remembered doing as kids- read The Night Before Christmas, wore Christmas pajamas to sleep and wore them all the next day, Will always had a toothbrush in his stocking so you better believe Santa delivered on that too! I think we’ll add leaving cookies out for Santa next year, skipped it this time around.  December 26th was a day that we have wanted for so long. That did not slip past us.

Bennett– Happy First Birthday to our best boy! Our Baby B. The clown of the house. Everyone’s best lil buddy. Easy laugher, easy crier, easy to entertain. First to sleep and first to wake up. New found friend of Elmo. Beeliner to the dog water bowl. Lover of attention- especially from the ladies- growler, shaker of all things. Biggest, sweetest smile. The LOUDEST boy around. One solid chunk of intense fun.

Eliza– Happy First Birthday to our best girl! Our Baby A. The ruler of our house. Will’s very favorite person and my lil shadow sidekick. The perfector of the pout, side eye, and soft smile. The swiper of all things especially from brother. The best cell phone and remote finder, no matter the hiding place. Into everything, noticer of all things, cutest laugh, steadiest, sweetest girl around.

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*photography by Claire Town

12 Month Favorites- Continue reading

Baby Steps 2016

I can’t let the year come to an end without posting about the annual Baby Steps!

Each year, the event is a little different and special in its own way, at the same time doing the best job of consistently focusing on the heart of Sarah’s Laughter- bringing infertility awareness and support to the area and never failing in giveaways to help couples in need grow their families. This year, the event was a 1 mile fun run on November 12th, 2016 held at Lamar Dixon. It reminded me a lot of the first year’s race because we walked in a circle around a lake (big pond? A body of water, however you classify it) At a point rounding the circle, you got a glimpse of ALL the people there in support of infertility and friends, you are left speechless at that very sight.

It feels like a big family reunion on Christmas Day. Lots of hugging and picture taking. Quick little catch ups from person to person. And never enough time! Can I tell you how much I love being a part of this group? Can everyday be a Baby Steps day?

This year Bennett & Eliza joined us! Talk about full circle moment. Looking back on our journey, the first Baby Steps represented the thick of the battle, freshly out of the infertility closet and wanting and needing that IVF giveaway badly. Showing up to the race in full force with the largest team, Team Stickle backing us. At last year’s Baby Steps, we were excitedly and gratefully expecting Bennett and Eliza. It was a day that reminded us how good God really is, how asking people to help carry us through this struggle the year before resulted in our biggest blessings, our prayers answered. And this year, we showed up holding our two miracles who we wanted to represent hope and participated in the first ever Miracle March to start off the walk. I still can’t believe how quickly life has changed, where it is hard to remember what life was like without Bennett & Eliza. What I do remember, and what I will never forget is how long and forever that road felt.

I also got to hop up on the stage and grab the microphone for a second to encourage every couple struggling with infertility. To thank loved ones present, letting them know their support really does make a difference. To tell each couple, that on that day they won. They kicked infertility in the teeth. To offer them the perspective that they were leaving Baby Steps a winner, whether they had a giveaway in hand or not. I hope each couple left the race with resorted faith and the perseverance to keep believing God for their baby. Friends, I don’t think three years ago, at the first Baby Steps, I could have ever imagined getting up in front of that huge crowd and sharing my story. Me, who at one point could barely say “We want a baby so bad. But we’re struggling” God is funny, right? Whether I am the most qualified or not, I have such a heart and love for those walking through infertility and any opportunity I am given to share God’s glory, I’m in!

Here are a few pics! Most of them are Melissa’s because she is an awesome documenter and she said I could share. Friends, can I ask all of you to keep Melissa and her husband, Brad, in your prayers? I know so many of you care about her because I get asked for updates on her journey often. They have an upcoming frozen transfer in January. After a very successful IVF cycle/retrieval there is a mountain of hope right now that this is IT for them! And y’all, I’m throwing it out there because God can do exceedingly, abundantly, above- we are praying for twins!

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9 Months

I’m squeezing this post in on the last day that Bennett and Eliza will be 9 month olds. Still counts, right? Tomorrow and the next day (two different birthdays…) we will have  10 month olds on our hands and that is just CRAZY. Months 6-9 have been so much fun. This is such a cute age, my favorite so far. Filled with lots of firsts! At the end of July, they did swimming lessons. Which was probably the highlight of our summer. They both loved the water, especially Bennett. We have taken them to the park, the zoo, the pumpkin patch, out to dinner a couple of times (past bedtime and we stick to that bedtime!) They’ve gone on play dates, had their first ear infections- twins with ear infections not for the weak, swung on the swings for the first time, changed to their convertible car seats, watched their Dad finish the Warrior Dash, and have been strolled around the neighborhood and all sorts of errands too many times to count.

At 9 months, they have dropped their end of the day cat nap and take two naps- a morning and an afternoon. They are usually down for two hours in the morning and the afternoon is pretty hit-or-miss. Sometimes it can be a long one and sometimes its 45 minutes. The saying “twins don’t wake each other up” is a complete myth. Yes they do. Just not all the time. I have considered separating them during nap time, but haven’t followed through on that thought yet! They are both in 12-18 month clothes and size 4 diapers. They have also dropped a bottle (yay) and are down to three a day- which also means one load in the sanitizer- and three solids a day. They both love food, breakfast seems to be their favorite. I can see many “brinners” in our future, and Will and I are totally okay with that because who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?

( Here are pics from months 7 & 8. When I get 9 month pictures uploaded to my computer, I’ll add a couple!)

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Bennett– This little boy is a clown. The nurse at the pediatrician’s office called him that and it is just the perfect description of him. Always entertaining. He’s a good little buddy. A solid chunk with strong, strong legs. He smiles and laughs very easily. Is still very ticklish. And is LOUD. He is still demanding and will go from 0-60 when he does not like something, very quick tempered. On most days though he is much, much easier than he used to be. He eats like a champ- food is serious business. He has two cute little bottom teeth and just cut two on the top. He is still hanging on to his dark blue eyes and his hair is still sticking straight up. When he is sleepy he is very snuggly and rests his cheek on your cheek. He loves to clap, play peek-a-boo, blow bubbles, and be sung and read to. He is the happiest boy jumping in the jumper or running around chasing the dogs, or our toes and ankles, in the walker.

 

Eliza– She is still the sweetest girl around. She is all over the place crawling, pulling up, and has her hands in everything! Shoe strings, the dog leash, and licking the trash can (which gets relocated to the laundry room now when she’s on the move) are favorites to chew. She has perfected the soft smile and there is no shame in her staring game, still super observant.  She also has two bottom teeth and just cut one on the top with another one on its way. When you can get a laugh out of her, she has a deep, almost hoarse, belly laugh. She is an excellent swiper- always taking things from her brother. But you better think twice about taking anything away from her- huge meltdown will likely ensue. This girl loves to drink water like her Mama. Over the past few months she has really started to look more & more like Will. She is the happiest being in the middle of everything either being held, or sitting in a lap. Sometimes I stick her in her highchair with some toys on the tray while I’m in the kitchen so she can see- her LeLe said she’s practicing her lifeguarding skills.

6-9 month favorites Continue reading

Just Keep Swimming

This past weekend, life came full circle. I felt so honored to play a part at the Sarah’s Laughter Infertility workshop this year as a speaker. Sitting in that room with those couples, I was immediately brought back to when I first found the workshop years ago. After having an emotional breakdown heading to a baby shower, I realized I really wasn’t as okay as I had been trying to tell myself. Shortly after said break down, I heard about the upcoming workshop announced at a church service which is how I landed at that workshop a few years ago and how I would later join Sarah’s Laughter. On Saturday, I laughed and I cried throughout the time I spent with this group. Nothing will ever take away the pain and emotions of infertility. I was so proud to be there, so proud of Sarah’s Laughter, so proud to see graduates and current members there volunteering.  And I really think we all felt it, the hurting for a baby, the deep desire to become parents, the vulnerability of it all.

The workshop’s theme this year was “Just Keep Swimming.” I really feel like this year’s workshop takes the cake. Elisha Kearns who writes the blog, Waiting For Baby Bird was the keynote speaker. My friends currently in the group were super excited to meet and hear from someone that they find such encouragement from. There were breakout sessions throughout the day on loss, and for people interested in starting their own infertility support group. My friend, Kim, a family and marriage counselor, led a breakout session on keeping your marriage strong through infertility. I was so proud of her for getting up there (even after losing her house in the recent flooding) and offering such genuine advice and encouragement to couples. James Henderson led a session for just the men. I think this is such a needed thing! Yesterday, I caught up on the Sarah’s Laughter podcast and listened to the episode that he and his wife, Portia, recorded. Friends, it was good. I know he was the perfect person to lead the session specifically for men at the workshop, especially after listening to their podcast. I actually might just listen to the podcast again! Sarah’s Laughter Podcast, Portia & James The most unique part of this year’s workshop (to me) were the round table discussions (think speed dating) several tables set up around the room, each table represented a different topic (gestational carriers, adoption, perseverance in prayer, two different reproductive endocrinologists had a table, etc) Guests of the workshop could make their way around to the tables for a short little session. They received some very valuable information from such an expansive group of great resources. I can only imagine how much this helped people facing infertility. I think out of anything though, I was the most excited to see faces that I did not recognize. Their face might have been like my face a few years ago at the workshop. Not really in the deep end of infertility, but knowing they do not want to be alone. I really hope and pray each person, especially those sweet new faces, who attended left feeling understood.

I spoke about navigating through the sea of infertility.I wanted to share my talk with readers of this blog. Some of what I spoke about I have already written about in this blog. There are a few personal details/stories that I am not going to include (what happens at the workshop stays at the workshop right?) but I hope someone reading this finds the encouragement and that extra little push to just keep swimming.

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Podcasting

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Sarah’s Laughter has a podcast! Yay! In March, I felt so special to get to sit down with Jason & Beth Forbus to record an episode with my dear friend, Melissa. We chatted about our own personal struggle with infertility, how infertility brought us together as friends, and how to remain friends when one becomes a mom, and one is still in the wait. Friends, this was so much fun! I told Melissa, I was either going to get a case of the giggles, or cry. My hormones were still all over the place so it dangerously could go either way. And I actually did both! Thankfully, I’m not a glass case of emotions anymore. We talked SO much, in fact, Jason had to cut half of what was recorded! I really can’t wait to do another one and drag my buddy along with me- she doesn’t have a choice. And actually Jason and Beth don’t either. I have caught the podcast bug! I drank the Kool Aid.

I really love how the episode turned out (thank you editing!) First, I had no idea I talked that slow. Friends, y’all are so patient to listen to me. Second, I’m going to go back and take a tally of how many times I say, “you know” “um” and “so.” Beth explained how she usually does an introduction on each guest at the beginning such as, “she likes long walks on the beach.”  I told her, I don’t like long walks on the beach, I like to sit on the beach. No exercise involved. So, that’s where that came from, just to give some context!

I met Melissa at the Sarah’s Laughter infertility workshop a few years ago and we became fast friends. She is the peanut butter to my jelly, the selfie to my selfie stick. Infertility is a journey we both share, but there are so many other things we talk about and do together that isn’t centered around infertility. I love to go to worship concerts with her. That girl gets that side step together, step and clapping her hands going. I just love it. She really gets a kick out of life. I’m lucky to call her my soul sista, and so thankful that we have remained friends.

To listen to our podcast click here or subscribe to the SL’s podcast on iTunes! The next infertility workshop will be held in Baton Rouge on August 27th, to find out more information on attending click here
Since we recorded our podcast, I have discovered that there is an entire world of podcasts that exists! It is my new favorite thing to do. I wanted to share my two favorites (besides Sarah’s Laughter, of course) that I love, because if I included them all this post would be way too long!

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey I LOVE this podcast. I listen to it when I’m doing dishes, folding laundry, or sometimes out walking. I’ve told a few friends this, but many of the episodes I’ve listened to, the featured guest has struggled with infertility in some way. And I don’t know why, but it still surprises me how many people are impacted by infertility. It isn’t the purpose of the show, but it is a part of so many women’s stories that it is a subject that is often touched on.

The Popcast with Knox & Jamie Friends, this show is hysterical. Jamie B Golden (different Jamie than the above mentioned) I just wish I could shrink her and put her in my pocket. The banter between the two is the best. I don’t have cable so a lot of the time I don’t even know what they are talking about, but I still get a kick out of it. I used to recommend Episode 138 for anyone who starts it, but last week’s episode has trumped it and is now their best yet. So subscribe to their show on iTunes and start with Episode 151.

Donuts

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Today I am posting a picture of a donut. Because donuts are delicious. Two years ago, I turned 30 on the same day as Mother’s Day. I ran away to the beach and sat in the sun with a book in hand completely ignoring the holiday. We couldn’t make the trip for the whole weekend, but my sweet husband booked a hotel and drove us to the beach to stay for one night bc I couldn’t face that day turning 30 without being a mother. Today I want to acknowledge those with a mother’s heart. I don’t need to post the hundredth picture of my kids on this specific day to say what a blessing being a mom is, because you know that already. I am cheering you on during this season of wait, which is even harder on a day such as today, and want this so badly for you whether we are buddies or have never met. So Imma go eat a donut, or four, in your honor. And you should too, treat yo self girl. #donutgiveup

The Best Yes

Now what?

What do you do with this crazy, amazing, plot twisting story that God gave you? I know the God pleasing answer to this big question on my heart is to share my story.

But am I the right one God?  I often feel so unqualified. Surely there is some other person out there who struggled with infertility that is more articulate, put together, wise, better versed in the Bible than me. And probably washes their hair on a regular basis. I’m sure they could do a much better job than me. Then I think, but I am qaulified. God qualified me by giving me this story uniquely to our family to be used for His glory. And maybe there is a girl, or two, out there who can identify more closely with me than the perfectly pressed, freshly washed haired infertility advocate I envision.

One of my very favorite parts of the Sarah’s Laughter support group meetings was the beginning. Beth started us off with some creative theme that tied into infertility and always pointed us back to scripture. Sort of a mini-Bible study session. I loved this. I loved being in a room listening to people talk about faith and God. Besides church on Sundays, this was the only time I was ever around conversations like this. And I really craved hearing about how God was working in other people’s lives. It helped me be able to see how He was working in mine too. It allowed me to see how much God cared about infertility. When I “graduated” from the meetings, I really missed these wisdom filled conversations. This past March, as sort of an extension of Sarah’s Laughter, they started up a Bible study on Tuesday nights held at the center. I wasn’t sure if I should do it because it was a several weeks, once a night commitment. I knew it would be healthy to have something outside of the house, away from the babies, for just myself. I knew I would be doing something God honoring with my time, an activity that would fill my soul. So I went. And I’m so glad I did. For me, the hardest part is just walking out the door, taking those first few steps.

I’ll make a confession here friends. It was easier to feel closer to God in the struggle. Walking through infertility, I felt God’s presence. I saw God in my everyday. I found it easy to turn to Him, to seek Him. And I don’t want that to stop because He answered my biggest prayer. I still need Him everyday, probably more now, just in very different ways. I don’t want to only turn to Him when I need something from Him. So I’m trying to figure out how to stay close to God. His presence in my everyday is still there, it is just revealed differently to me after infertility. On the very first night of the Bible study, Sherri- the leader- had unmarked gift bags lined up against the wall. Each gift was different and had a specific quote on a note card. She felt God telling her not to assign the gifts, she wasn’t even sure who was coming, and let us choose the gift ourselves.

My gift had a note card that read

“I hear your prayers. Not one gets past my ears. Wait on me. My timing is perfect.”

It also had this book   IPRAYEDFORYOU

I was the only one in the room who received this. Here was God saying to me this Bible study is exactly where He wants me to be. It was a God shout out like “hey girl, I’m still with you. I still see you and hear you. I’ve got your back. This is right for you.” The study focused on Lysa Terkeurst’s book, The Best Yes. I read this book a while ago and LOVED it. I love anything by this lady and her ministry. Oddly enough, I had to give a neighborhood Bible study on this very book (recommended by me) about a year before a “small no.” It was right when we were beginning the IVF process, and along with life in general, I was spread too thin to be able to do it with a loving attitude. I think God was saving it up for me for THIS Bible study. The timing was right this time around. I was able to receive certain parts in this season of my life, that I wouldn’t have a year before. I really enjoyed each woman that was a part of this small little Tuesday night study. We answered the big questions about what fulfills us. We discussed how to be intentional in our Yes’s. Allowing spaces in our schedules and choosing wisely. The answers to these questions look differently for each of us. Margo said yes to starting a blog, yay!  yall go read it! All For The Love

Now what? Walking in this new season of life, what does serving God look like? What is a Best Yes for me? Things are different, I’m not attending church consistently and we took a break from serving as a greeters, which I miss so much and one day want to return to, two things that filled my tank and connected me to God. Sherri suggested that I ask Him! Duh, why didn’t I think of that? Ask him everyday, Lord how can I serve you today? I’m figuring it out. The biggest answer I have felt placed on my heart is through my babies. And as Sherri said, motherhood is a ministry. Staying home and pouring love into them is right where I need to be for our family, at this moment. I struggle with not being able to contribute financially to our household, and this will change one day when I return to work, but right now this is my best, Best Yes.

Saying yes to opportunities to share our story is another Best Yes. This is where I get a little uncomfortable. Talking about our journey is very emotional. My voice always gets a little shaky and my hands get really sweaty. This is where I battle with feeling unqualified. I also never want to come across as someone seeking attention, saying “look at me, look at me, look at me” My intentions with saying yes to these opportunities is to say “look at God yall” I never want this platform to be seen as self serving. I share because the purpose of our story is to offer hope and encouragement. To show those in the thick of it, like we once were, what can come out of the wait. And as scary as it is for me, if one person who reads about what God has done in our lives, or hears about it, and decides to join a support group, puts together a Baby Steps 5K team, ask friends and family for help, or just reaches out to one person and opens up about their struggle then I have done my job. If I reach someone, it is worth it. We recently sat down with the local paper, The Advocate, and the local news station, WBRZ, to share our story. I applaud anyone who wants to shine a light on infertility, whether it is a story about Go Fund Me and crowd sourcing, or showing a well rounded picture of what infertility looks like. If I can help them achieve this and spread infertility awareness, sign me up! Our story remains the same, so I am only sharing what I have said many times before, but I know every opportunity reaches a different audience. Still to this day when asked what it felt like to have people fully fund our fertility treatment in a matter of weeks, I can’t help but cry. Thinking about that question, even over a year later I am still overwhelmed. I do not think that feeling will ever go away. And I don’t want it to. I always want to feel so unbelievably grateful, all the time. Saying yes to these opportunities can also look like grabbing coffee with someone really struggling with infertility and just listening, or a friend who is having a procedure done and is nervous about it. It is saying yes to writing letters of appeal for friends wanting to adopt, or be chosen as recipients of fertility grants/treatments. It is purchasing tshirts, or picking up something at a garage sale that is raising money for a couple’s fertility treatments. It is simple text to a friend that says, I’m praying for you, I’m thinking about you.

I always want to be a part of Sarah’s Laughter, in whatever capacity they will have me. Serving in this ministry, giving back to a group that helped me tremendously, will forever be a Best Yes. They are stuck with me. I told Beth, use me however you need me. And I really mean it. If it is speaking at a support group, I’m there. If it means stuffing cups, or writing little encouraging notes, to go to infertility patients during National Infertility Week, count me in. If it means taking out the trash to the dumpster, I’m your girl. Helping Sarah’s Laughter is being so intentional with my time and worth any minute I’m away from B&E.

I do still feel God has placed this blog on my heart. I am just very unsure of where to take it, or what it should look like. I guess I would like a crystal ball to see the end result. When really my job is just to take the next step, and write the next post. I’ll see how it naturally unfolds, which may end up being a slow phasing out. I do feel encouraged to continue to share when I read a comment from someone that I do not know. The other night I was on my way to grab dinner with friends when a number I did not have saved in my contacts called me. I am a big call screener, so it is a call I would normally let go to voicemail. But I picked it up, and on the other end was a girl I went to high school with that I had not spoken to in years. I assumed she was calling to sell me Plexus or something (I’m an awful person. And I’m really sorry for thinking that friend) so as I was bracing myself for the sale, she told me how she has followed my story and through me connected to the Sarah’s Laughter online community. Yall, I was speechless. I just listened to her talk about her journey. I was amazed at her strength and perspective on their struggle. I really don’t think I could have even said anything any better than what she was already saying. It actually encouraged me! I am so thankful that she took the time to track my number down, and call to say hey because of you, I connected with people who supported me. It came on a day that I really had been questioning if I’m doing the right thing being so vocal about infertility, if I should stop blogging because what more do I have to say. Her phone call motivated me, I felt like it was more of a pep talk she gave me! And because of that phone conversation, and comments from people that I do not know, I’m going to continue to give this blog my Best Yes.

I want to leave you with something that, Shelley Giglio, recently shared during a conversation on Jamie Ivey’s podcast, The Happy Hour. If you are like me and wrestle with feeling unqualified, I hope what she touches on speaks to you as much as it did to me.

God uses people who feel so disqualified in life to do the most amazing things…People who were unexpected, that totally were discounted because of a thousand reason, like they are definitely not the right person. And then God says it is them. Some of that is His ability to do whatever He wants, through whoever He wants. And some of it is that He picks sometimes the least likely, I think, because it allows for Him to be big in the story, not the person… He’s like the story is going to be about me and not about you, and your ability. Its going to be about me, and my ability. Then you realize, oh, everybody is qualified. ” – Shelley Giglio