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

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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.

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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Three Months

It is hard to believe that Bennett & Eliza are three months old! And actually will turn four months at the very end of this week. It has been the fastest three months of my life. Will and I go back and forth saying to each other, “I can’t wait for them to be big enough to _______” to “I don’t want them to get bigger!” Keeping up with monthly updates of them on the blog isn’t something I can accomplish, but I can give posting three month re-caps of their sweet little lives an honest attempt. I’m not exactly sure the direction of this blog, but I still feel called to it- more on that in an upcoming post that I need to sit down and write! So I’ll test out the waters with this post and see how it is received. Every three months also doesn’t seem like it will be oversharing or over posting about B & E. I’m hoping to create a good balance.

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This past weekend we dedicated them at our church. I did not realize how much joy this day would bring us. To stand up in front of our congregation, with our entire family present, holding OUR babies and dedicating them to God was powerful. I wish I could have held a sign for all of the people seated walking through infertility that said, “I understand how this might hurt your heart more than you know. This did not come easy for us. One day this will be you!”

Months 1-3:

Bennett: After days full of crying, and getting through lots of tummy issues we are finally in a good little groove with Bennett! Once three months hit, things just changed. Out of the two, he is the more demanding one. However, he has the silliest little grin and when he is happy, we are all happy! I have a feeling he will be our entertainer. He is so much fun to play with and he thinks I am hilarious, who doesn’t like to be around someone who thinks you’re funny? When he is awake, he is constantly moving and loves kicking his legs. He has also turned into such a good sleeper. He loves (and NEEDS) his naps. The second I put him down, his eyes are shut. He wakes up with a huge smile. We are always trying to figure out exactly who he looks like. He got his blue (very dark blue) eyes from Will, but other than that he resembles my side of the family, at least for right now.

Eliza: She is the prettiest, sweetest little girl. We had some trial and error with Eliza’s reflux before finally finding the right fit/combination of formula and medication. Out of the two, she is the more even keeled child. She doesn’t seem to mind that her brother often gets held more when it’s just the three of us at home. She is, for the most part, content and happy. Her smile will melt your heart. However, this girl has got some lungs. She is harder to console than her brother. With Bennett, you have to figure out what he doesn’t like, fix it for him, and he’s good. With Eliza, good luck. She isn’t the best sleeper/napper, and fights her sleep often. She can, however, sleep anywhere- a recent Easter egg hunt and the baby dedication both perfect examples or her snooze anywhere capabilities. She has the sweetest little voice and is much quieter than her brother, who is very loud! She loves to be held and is such the snuggler. She looks a lot like I did as a baby, but she has her Daddy’s pretty blue eyes and nose. Out of the two, I think her looks will be a better combination of Will and me. She has always been bigger than her brother (even at each ultrasound) but not by much. We are always trying to figure out what color her hair will end up being, I’m thinking it’s on its way to lightening up to match her blonde eyebrows and lighter lashes.

They both smiled at 8 weeks. Started sleeping through the night at 11 weeks. We transitioned to cribs when they turned 3 months, and it’s trickier than I thought, especially after having a nice two weeks of them sleeping through the night. But we are getting there and staying consistent with it. They are both sleeping very long chunks, it’s those last two hours from 5-7 a.m. that they aren’t always sleeping through. At three months, they have started to recognize my face and Will’s face. And they have finally noticed each other! It is THE sweetest thing to see them smile at one another. They have found their tongues, can’t stop putting their fists in their mouths, and are blowing drooly bubbles. They have been swatting at objects hanging from their play mat, and are just now starting to grab and hold them. Tummy Time. It’s a work in progress! Eliza does just fine, but Bennett is not a fan.

Having them on a schedule is key. I know this from all of the twin mom advice I received, so I’m not saying anything new here or reinventing the wheel! This means they eat and sleep at the same scheduled time. I put together a list of my top ten items that we have used daily/weekly/often during their first three months that have made life with twins easier. Some we have used from day one and some we recently started using. I thought this list might be helpful for any expectant mom of twins! Or anyone looking for a gift for an expectant twin mom! Continue reading

Two Different Birthdays-The Birth Story

hospital4Their birth story. I’m going to touch on it! I think with twins there is a natural curiosity about a lot of aspects, including the birth, and I absolutely do not mind sharing. I never understood the swapping of birth stories. Now having experienced it, I think it is because not one is the same, and they are each very beautiful. Which is unique and cool and neat. Walking through infertility, I really didn’t care to hear about birth stories. So here is your pass if you do not want to read, I get it sister. I’m going to leave out some specific, not so pretty, details but I will include certain medical terms, so if that makes you uncomfortable, again I get it, do not pass go. This is such a good way for me to be able remember what I haven’t already forgotten. Here is your out! Continue reading