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

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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.

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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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Trust

Proverbs3.5

Here I sit on my couch marking the first day of a two week wait. A two week wait not after the IVF cycle we were geared up for, but an IUI performed this morning. I wish I could put our story in a cute, neat little box tied with the most perfect color coordinating ribbon friends, but I can’t. I wish I could wrap it up nicely for you and tell you everything worked out as planned, but I can’t. These past few days have been tough. This is also the hardest part about being so open with our story, the sticky parts, the falling short, the admission of failure, is not easy.

“Trust God, not Google”- something I told my support group last year. Not realizing then, how much I would be repeating it to myself over this past month preparing for IVF.  God has been whispering everywhere I turn to trust Him. Last year’s round of treatments, I found myself researching everything. Through Dr. Google, or course. I clung to every single follicle I had each cycle and their measurements, every estrogen level, every progesterone level, you name it I knew my numbers! I would enter these numbers into Google and for hours compare my results to the results of other women posting on message boards going through fertility treatment like me. This did nothing but induce anxiety. I also had in my perfect plans we would do so many cycles, all back-to-back by a certain time before Will headed off to a work trip in Japan. When going into what would be our last IUI cycle before his big trip, I had a collapsed corpus luteum. If this was producing too much estrogen, the cycle would be canceled. Yeah, that can’t happen. God, remember about the back-to-back plan? And it didn’t because it wasn’t producing too much estrogen and we were able to move forward with the IUI. This collapsed corpus luteum threw me off my game. I could plan all of these cycles and have a perfect timeline, but I actually have absolutely no control over any of it like I think I do. My body proved that to me. God is the one who does. This is when I decided, “I’m trusting God, not Google.” I stopped Googling every single symptom. I wrote down my test results, but stopped looking them up on the internet. A huge weight of responsibility, and pressure, that I didn’t even realize I was carrying was lifted off of my shoulders. I wasn’t the one who had to be in charge. Throughout my walk with infertility I have been faced with trusting God. Not just a little bit, trusting Him with everything. You are not alone if this is tough for you. This is tough for me. It does not come naturally, or easy for me. I like to plan…everything! I like to be in control of… everything! This is an area that I still need to work on. That I will probably never be perfect in. I said it on that night at our meeting a year ago because I am the one who needed to hear it the most. I needed those words, and still need them, to help me. And when trust was discussed at my last support group, it built upon what had already been stirring in my soul. It hugged my heart and God said, “this talk on trust tonight was for you.”

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IVF Here We Come!

You surround me with angels on assignment- Amanda Cook // You Don’t Miss A Thing”

A BIG, and I mean takes my breath away, gives me that lump in my throat, exciting event has taken place in the background of our lives throughout the month of February. I wanted to wait until all of the thank you’s had been directly emailed and mailed out before posting anything. And I wanted to make sure I had the most perfect words to string together. You wouldn’t believe this but I actually started typing this 24 days ago! I came back tonight to finish it and bravely press that “publish” button because there are not enough beautiful words to be able to perfectly describe how our lives have been blessed. I have whipped my phone out numerous times throughout this past month to write down little thoughts on everything I need to share with you! Let’s all take a second to thank God for the notes section in our phones, I don’t know what I would do without it! Thank you God for the notes app! So here it goes, a perfectly imperfect post : )

You remember how I told you about the 5K in November? And how our team said, we will find another way? Well, they found another way friends. In less than two weeks our financial prayers have been answered and IVF is REALLY happening! It is overwhelming to look at one large figure that you are told is needed to give you the best chance for a baby. A baby we have tried hard for, prayed for, cried for, and had on our hearts for over two years and think, “how are we going to do this?” God sent us angels in the form of Margo, Lindsey, Lisa, Cindy, Rebecca, Lauren, Camille, Emily S., Laura, and Emily J. Who fought hard for us, and for this baby, fundraising for us to be given the chance at IVF. It was my dream that in 2015 we financially prepared ourselves for IVF, hoping to have close to half saved by the end of the year and figuring out the rest. We found ourselves settled into the second month of the new year with the question of “how?” no longer a major part of the equation and the question of “when?” taking its place. The financial burden has been take off of our shoulders completely, 100%.  I still cannot believe it even typing this. The course of our lives has changed overnight. I catch myself being completely and utterly overwhelmed when I stop to tell an infertility friend what people have done for us. Their face says it all. They get how HUGE this is, how life changing this is for us. And then there’s that lump in my throat because I feel that first “OMG” reaction washing all over me again seeing their face. There is no way you can look at this and not see God’s hand. To not believe there is a God. A God that loves to take the broken and restore it.  Continue reading