Monday, October 27, 2014

Somewhere in the Middle

I'm well aware that my blog has been DEAD since Finn's birth.  I had big plans to post and even had so many blog titles and ideas in my head.  However, this sweet little thing took up my free time and I had to let something go!  I work part time and I want to spend my time with this little gem:
I chose/choose NOT to feel guilty about, I kind of apologize, but not really.  HA! The joy she has brought to our life is indescribable!! 

I have hesitated writing this blog...I hate that I'm bringing back the blog for a post like this...but I keep feeling a nudge to be transparent and share what we have been going through.  I've never wanted pity, so we've been pretty silent about this, even with our families (most of whom will be informed as they read this).  After a few months, though, it's been enough time that I don't feel like "pity" is an issue.  We just crave your prayers for what is to come. 

August and September were tough for us.  After Finn was born (maybe even before), we started talking about WHEN we wanted to try for another.  With 7 frozen embryos...and my "advancing" age...we knew that we wanted/would have to have our babies close in age.  At some point, we settled on trying for a sibling for Finn the summer after she turned 1.  We then decided on the August 2014 cycle.  This would mean a baby born at the end of April (Finn was a Sept cycle...I have to have my babies at 37 weeks for medical reasons) just a month before Finleigh's first birthday.  Perfect in our minds.  IF it happened to be a girl, she could share all of her sisters clothes, most of which were only worn one time.  

Mid July, we started the dreaded shots again.  
These cycles, the frozen ones, are SO much easier than starting over with the entire IVF cycle.  Frozen cycles consist of lupron shots in the belly daily, estrogen shots in the booty 2 times/week, and one sono to check the uterus lining.  Oh, and you cant forget the progesterone shots that start a week before the transfer.  The progesterone shots are the EPITOME of all things horrible. The estrogen and progesterone shots are both "in oil" which means that that liquid is THICK.  I thought I was ready for the P after a few weeks of the E.  Oh, heavens no!  The PIO (Prog in oil) is SO SO SO much thicker than the EIO.  Oy!  These shots leave HUGE knots in your gluteus muscle and essentially leave you with a DEEP muscle briuse.  Fun.  Just think...night after night after night of this.  It's like re injuring an injury that hasn't healed, yet.  It was brutal.  When one becomes pregnant, these shots continue until the 10th week of pregnancy.  How did I forget how bad they were?  Well, it may not be all my bad memory.  For a frozen cycle, the PIO is "double strength." Oh, thanks.  My hips/booty will never be the same.  

Anyway, we went on vacation with Ben's family in early Aug and toted all of my meds with us. 

Finally, the day came.  Transfer day.  It happened the week before Labor Day.  My instructions were to do 24 hours of strict bed rest and then not to lift anything over 10 lbs.  Um, my baby weighs 20.  We finagled the bed rest and had Finn taken care of.  The "no lifting" though was a problem.  I am home alone with her at least 3 days a week.  It's pretty impossible to get her in & out of bed, into her high chair, onto the changing table (although we did a lot of floor changes), and just love on her without lifting.  We were careful and Ben was great to pick up the slack (no pun intended) when he got home each night.  

Anyway, the Wed before Labor Day, we transferred 2 very healthy & close to perfect embryos.  Everything was looking textbook perfect!

We decided to travel and visit Ben's parents for Labor Day weekend.  Just 2 short days after the transfer.  We figured more hands would ease my lifting needs.  We had a very relaxing weekend in Lubbock and enjoyed being with family. 

Now, we just had to wait.  We would find out the Fri after if we were pregnant or not.  We were SO excited and talked so much about these babies/baby and what the next year would hold.  

That Friday, I went in for my blood work and then met my friend, Misty, at the mall for some distratction.  She has been through this (twice) and knows what this wait is like.  

After eating lunch and walking around the mall (and seeing the ducks) the call finally came.  It was in the middle of the mall that I got the news:

We weren't pregnant.  Not even a little bit.

I was glad to be with a friend, but all i could think of was getting in my car and calling Ben.  We quickly parted ways and Finn and I headed home.  It wasn't a good afternoon, but my little Finn was a happy distraction.  Her joy is contagious.  

Misty texted and invited us over for dinner that night.  As much as we wanted to hole-up at home, we knew we needed people (and were blessed w/ a couple of offers).  What a blessing they were.  We went in our grubs and had greasy Chinese food while our babes played and caused havoc! It was one of those nights of processing and honoring our sadness, but also laughing and choosing JOY in all circumstances. 

So, where are we now?  We don't know.  We spent time honoring the loss we felt.  It was such a strange time.  What was this loss?  How did I fell?  I don't know how to explain it...except that we were somewhere in the middle.  It wasn't technically a miscarriage, and yet, we truly believe that these were whole babies that had grown into embryos and then blostocysts.  They just didn't continue to grow inside of me.  Did we "lose" them? I don't know.  There was never a sack, never a heartbeat.  

When we transferred Finleigh, we transferred two blastys as well.  When only one "took," I don't feel like I MOURNED the one that didn't, per say.  We were SO thrilled to be pregnant, but there were concrete thoughts about the one that didn't make it.  I think that now, after this most recent "loss" I have mourned that one more than I did at the time. 

I say "somewhere in the middle" because it isn't quite a miscarriage, and yet, it wasn't quite the tragic devastation that we felt so often for the 6 years that we tried to get pregnant before Finleigh.  There was not a since of HOPELESSNESS that I had felt SO often before.  We ARE parents and we have a WONDERFUL daughter.  If we are never blessed with more biological children, we are learning to be content with the IMMENSE blessings that we DO have.   

In one way it was harder than previous times that we weren't pregnant...because these were REAL conceived embryos.  In another way it was easier because we DO have Finn.  It was/is such a strange thing to process.  The thoughts that kept running through my head were "I just don't want to feel this pain again" and the pain of our "April" baby that would never be.  I still tear up when I think of the later.  

So, where are we now? We don't know. We would have loved to jump right back into the cycle the next month, that wasn't possible.  Although a frozen cycle is CONSIDERABLY cheaper than a full IVF ("only" 4 digits as opposed to 5) wasn't a cost that we were expecting to have to repeat for a few years.  I carry a LOT of guilt (on my own...never from Ben!) over the costs of things...and the NOTHING that comes of it when it doesn't work.  it's just gone.  We JUST (worked REALLY hard) to pay off the 6 years of infertility debt that had piled up and we aren't willing to put ourselves in that place again.  It was a tough pill to swallow...but we didn't have a peace about "jumping back in."  That, and the fact that my hips needed a break.  No joke, there are STILL knots.  

So often we laughed about our 7embryos in a freezer somewhere.  Laughing out of fear sometimes, because we dont know what to DO with 7 embryos! We have prayed since their beginning that God would let "nature" work its course and that our family would be PERFECT and we wouldnt have to make the tough decisions with any that were left when we felt that our family was complete.  We prayed that since day one...I just didnt want those true answers to come with THIS cycle.  Can't God see MY plan here? (please note sarcasm) I often prayed "not this time" through the 10 day wair for a pregnancy test.

There have been so many that have been with us during our journey and it felt wrong to keep all of this to ourselves.  However, it felt RIGHT to spend time honoring the pain and processing our feelings as a family.  So many times I wanted to share and ask for prayers.  We needed them (and we have an AWESOME core group of people who WERE praying us through it), but we just werent ready.  Satan has had a hay-day with plenty in our minds through the last few months...and keeping this secret no longer felt right.  

Thank you guys for loving us and supporting us.  We ask that you keep us in your prayers.  Specifically, we pray for CLARITY as we make decisions with our future and the future of the 5 embryos that we have.  I also pray that I have a FIRE and a PASSION as I move forward with life. word for 2014.  I lost a little, but I'm getting it back (B-12 helps. ha!) as time goes on.  We know that there is IMMEASURABLY MORE coming our way.  

Thank you for reading and for loving us so well.  For your viewing pleasure, our little ham:

Friday, January 24, 2014

SUYL...Meet Lauren! Trust want to!!

Kelly, over at Kelly's Korner Blog is hosting a special "show us your life" series. Today's link up is "Show Us Your Singles!" Seem odd? Maybe. But, there have been NINE couples meet through this venue who are either married or engaged. There are even three "SUYS" babies (post marriage, of course). 

I joined in on one a few years back for my friend, David. Nothing came of it for him...but there was a lot of interest (ill come back and link in a bit). He is amazing & will be the BEST catch...hopefully someone just as amazing. 

Anyway. Back today. Today is all about LAUREN!!! 
Lauren & I met when I "hired" her to be a counseling intern while I was working at ChristianWorks. I remember that interview well (even what she was wearing), but never did I expect her to have such an amazing roll in my life 4 years later. 
Lauren is a licensed professional counselor (LPC). She went to Texas A&M for her undergrad and is an Aggie through and through (I can hear her saying "gig em" as she reads this). She went to grad school at Dallas Theological Seminary and is technically an ordained minister! She has lived in Texas most of her life, but also lived in North Carolina for a while working on a youth ministry team for a church there. She came back to Texas and has been working as a counselor since then. She is wonderful at what she does and her clients are so blessed by her. She specializes in working with adolescents and teenagers and has a passion for working with young ladies. 

She volunteers her time at Camp Erin DFW and does a GREAT job making connections w/ the grieving camper and families that they truly cherish.  Through CE, she was able to meet my dad & sister. I love how much she just fits w/ my people (more on this in a bit)! My dad really took to her & that means a lot to me!! He was even trying to play match maker this past summer. Bless it!! 
It was Lauren who pushed and prodded and did a LOT of work to get our private counseling practice (Campbell Counseling Group) up & running!! If it weren't for her, it would have never happened...and would prob not be functioning!! Getting started was one of the toughest things, and still has its challenges, but we had so much fun building it from the ground up & are so proud of what it's become! She is such a hard worker!!  

It was also Lauren who finally convinced my husband to cut off his child molester hair!! It took a little friendly bet...but she won and I am forever grateful!!! 

Truly, though, one thing I love the most is how Ben really enjoys being around her. He doesn't always enjoy all of my friends (sorry friends!), but he never rolls his eyes or "scoffs" when I say that Lauren is coming over or that we are hanging out. She just FITS with us and no one feels like a third wheel (her or Ben). Ben really feels comfortable w/ her and is his true self around her. He enjoys being around her and genuinely laughs at/with her/us and that makes my heart happier than I can express in words!!!!
Really, I love that all of my friends love her. Every time I invite her along w/ some of my other friends, a new friendship is formed...and she fits right in!  (Sorry Amber...but I love this pic)
Lauren is a wonderful friend and the number of friendships that she has attests to that!!  She was the person that I saw the most while on 11 weeks of bed rest. She just dropped by, brought dinners/lunches/slushes, brought movies & magazines. In fact...she started doing that at the beginning...she came and relieved my boredom after the embryo transfer. Back when I thought 3 days of bed rest was hard. Ha! She kept me entertained!
She threw our gender reveal party & was the first person to know that Finleigh was a girl. She cried when she opened the envelope! She was there when I decided to "give in" to Ben and name the baby Finleigh.
She is the only person, besides family, that had permission to come see us at the hospital the day Finleigh was born. We wanted to have a day w/ family only...but Lauren was include in that list! When she first came, the baby was in the nursery b/c she was having trouble breathing. So she didn't even get to see the baby & had to go see clients. Later that night, she called and said "I'm driving home and I really want to see the baby. Is there time?" There was about 15 minutes left of "visitor hours" so she ran in and got to hold my sweet Finleigh for about 10 minutes on her birthday!! I love that. 
I love how much she loves my daughter! She was there for Finn's & my first outing alone (my first time driving in 15 weeks or so!), for her first girl's night, Finn's first public blow out... ;) 

She has so many special people & kids in her life. She is YaYa, Aunt Lu, Auntie Lu, LuLu and so many other names to so many special kids!! 
None, however, compares to her new love...her first nephew, William. 
What a lucky little guy!!! She got to meet him for the first time last weekend & she came back (from DC) just beaming!! 
Lauren works with the teen ministry at her church (Watermark) & I know is a blessing to the high school girls in her group. She gets a lot of joy from working with them & I know she is a blessing to them!! 
I love & so respect how involved she is in her church! At a large church, like Watermark, it's easy to "blend in" and punch your card...but that's not what Lauren is about. She is involved in the ministry team, with the teen girls, with her small group, and countless other things that the church has to offer. 
Lauren LOVES Colorado and I am forever jealous of the time that she spends there...especially on the slopes!! 
She is an AVID sports fan!! She is forever getting alerts on her phone from ESPN. She spends many Saturdays cheering on her teams...Ahem, team...with a group of friends. Or alone. Either way, she screams and cheers! This girls loves her sports...always has apparently! ;) 

She has spent her last few birthdays in Honduras on mission trips building houses: 
Lauren is full of life, loves people, and loves The Lord. What more could anyone want, right?!? Well, there is so much more to get to know...but those three things are more important! There are so many things that I love and respect about Lauren...too many to list. 
Lauren loves Texas more than anyone I've ever met. She is "that Texan" but with an even extra dose of Texas pride thrown in. Ha! I love her in spite of it...we did take her back to West Monroe for a weekend and she admitted that she enjoyed it a lot more than she thought she would. Ha!  That was big, folks! 

(I do applaud her for keeping calm & staying composed when Jase Robertson sat behind us at church...I knew she was dying on the inside, but she kept a calm exterior through the whole thing! When we got in the car she may have needed a moment to compose herself. Ha!) Just another Sunday at WFR! Ha!!)   ;) 
Yes, David and Lauren have met...and no, I don't know why they are both still single...
I DO know that The Lord has an AMAZING plan (for both of them (and Steph...lots of good singles to choose from in that last pic!!)) and that his ways are perfect!!!!! I'm ready to see what her "immeasurably more" is going to look like. Figuratively and literally.   :) 

SO...if you are reading this and have the perfect guy for Lauren (or ARE the perfect guy for Lauren). PLEASE leave a comment w/ contact info. I'm excited to see God do amazing things for Lauren & her future. She's going to be the most amazing wife & mom one day. 

Make it soon, Lord! 

And one last pic...just for Laure/Auntie Lu:

(Come back later today and I'll have links working)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Card 2013

I'm so excited to be joining Faith's Christmas Card Carousel!! 

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We have spent many years waiting to be able to join in the fun of sending Christmas cards w/ family pics on them. This year turned out a little crazy, though! 

We were supposed to have Finn's 6-month pics made the week before Thanksgiving. I had her outfits picked & we were ready. Mother Nature was not on our side, though, and it was in the 30s the day of the shoot (Northern friends, hush your mouths!), so it was rescheduled. And rescheduled. The weather here just seems to go crazy on days that we schedule pictures! Ha! 

We JUST had these pics done this past Sunday. As in 3 days ago. I proofed he card on Monday & the photographer assures me that I will have them tomorrow! SO...I'm not linking to this blog, yet, and if you so happen to be reading, please enjoy the sneak peek!! Tomorrow we also finish her 6 month pics. We didn't have time to do them all on Sunday, so we focused on family shots and Christmas card shots. 

I LABORED over picking a design and obsessed  about it for a few days. I had in my mind what I wanted, I just kept coming across other cute ones. FINALLY I came back to this one. I realized that I could only send this particular design THIS year & the rest would still work on the years to come. I can always make a card that says "joy" or "merry and bright" but I also didn't want it to say "babies first Christmas" as we have a lot of that going on right now. I found this one, made a few tweaks and I am officially IN LOVE and OBSESSED with how they turned out. SO, blog world and imaginary friends...Merry Christmas to you all & I pray blessing on your New Year. 

Here is your official "virtual" card--to your family from ours: 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Just Call me "Ma Ingalls"

"Little House on the Prairie" was and continues to be on of my all time favorite shows!  I watched ALL of the time growing up and even had my own Laura Ingalls bonnet that I played dress-up in.  In college, it came on in the mornings and we would watch while we got ready for our morning classes (or chapel at 9).  We never got to watch the whole episode, so on the walk to class/chapel, I would fill in my comrades of the rest of the story line.The joke became that I knew which episode it was simply based on the opening music.  It's kind of true.  To this day, I can read the guest stars and the character they are playing and figure out which episode its going to be. 

It's a gift.

This blog isnt really about the show, though!  I find myself saying the phrase "I make my own" a lot more lately.  Makes me feel like a pioneer-woman,  but I didnt want to use that name on the blog b/c I'm a fan of THIS Pioneer Woman & her blog! A pioneer woman, I NEVER could be...but if you look through my kitchen, you will see a lot more of this lately:
Thanks to Pinterest and being raised more on the crunchy/granola side, I find myself more and more into making my own products, especially since Finleigh's been around.  I just like the idea that I know specifically what is in the products and most of them are a LOT cheaper to make.  

Here are some of the products I make at home:
-diaper wipes/makeup removing wipes
-diaper cream/lotion/face wash
-laundry detergent
-dish washing detergent
-deodorant (I'm on the fence w/ this one)
-cream of __ soup mix
-dry ranch mix
-teething cream (my newest venture)
-miracle grow
-dry shampoo

I've got a few posts planned to go through how to make some of the products listed.  If you'd like more info on a specific one, just ask! 

I'll start this one with the diaper wipes.  I am not necessarily anti "real" wipes.  In fact, you will find a package in the top drawer of the dresser that is her changing table.  I keep them handy so that I have them when I run out of the homemade ones and I also keep them in my diaper bag. I am not a fan of so many ingredients being used, but I am for convenience!  I started using this recipe because it just seemed like it would be a way that we could save some dough, but I keep using it b/c we love it.  I love how much better it is for her!  I took several recipes that I found on Pinterest and mixed them together...also mixing w/ a few tricks that I knew about some of these products.

Remember when I was on bed rest for 11 weeks and had WAY TOO MUCH time on my hands?
Me, too.

Here are the players:
-bounty select-a-size paper towels
-baby wash (I use some from The Honest Company, but will be using Mustella after I run out of this  
(I'm not a fan of how they have gone after mom-blogger The Honest Toddler & they have lost my business)
-unrefined coconut oil
-tee tree oil
-vitamin E caps (or'll just need the liquid inside)
-warm water

 I bought my containers at Tar -get.  I found a package of three black metal canisters and the big one is the PERFECT size for wipes. I use the smallest one for the diaper cream that we will talk about in another post.
Start by slicing a roll of Bounty Select-a Size paper towels in half:
Pull the middle cardboard roll out and place in your container, cut side down (I just bend the cardboard in half and it pulls out easily.  Some people wait until it gets wet & soggy):
Heat 1 1/2 Cup of water:
To the water add:
-1 1/2 TBSP baby wash
-1 1/2 TBSP oil (some use baby oil, some use olive oil, we like coconut oil)
-a couple of drops of Tee Tree Oil (keeps the wipes from mildewing)
-2-ish vitamin E capsules (poke a hole in them and empty into the mixture)

Pour this mixture over the wipes and rotate the container rolling it on it's side and flipping upside down to distribute the liquid.  If you find that it is too liquid-y or too dry, simply adjust the ammt of water to 1 cup or 2 cups and adjust the soap and oil to 1 or 2 TBSPs.

Place by the baby's diaper changing station and pull from the middle.  We have only good things to say about these wipes and have not found anything negative, yet!
I also use these occasionally to wash my face.  I use the diaper cream as my face wash now (next post), but when I dont want to take the time to do that process, I grab one of these wipes and wash my makeup off and splash some water over my face to rinse. They work great! Try them and let me know what you think!

Monday, October 7, 2013

4 Months

Dear Finleigh,
You are four months old.  What a joy you are to your daddy & I!  We cannot imagine our lives without you and we are pretty sure you are the smartest, funniest, prettiest baby that there ever was.  We are right, by the way!

At four months we are rolling from your tummy to your back.  You started doing this when you were only 5 weeks this point, you are enjoying tummy time a lot more and are holding your head up like a champ! You love playing with Sophie, "Harriet" the Hippo, your ball, and LOVE looking at the pretty baby in the mirror. 
You weigh 13 lbs 2 oz and are _____ inches long.  You are in the 50th percentile for height, weight, and head size.
 You had a fever last week and were PITIFUL but took it like a champ!  We found out that you had a UTI and you had to have a catheter at the doctors to be tested.  You screamed.  Hard.  And mommy almost cried.
 You have already been on 3 road trips (West Monroe, Lubbock, and Searcy) and are GREAT in the car.  Sometimes you scream, but usually just when you are hungry. While you were in Lubbock, you discovered that you LOVE watching the TV.  You have always loved lights & the TV is just so bright, that you cant help yourself.  Mommy is not so thrilled with this new discovery.  You especially love watching football. College football to be exact.
 You are sleeping 8-10 hours each night.  You are pretty much a rock star sleeper and we love to brag on you!  You go to bed around 10 PM and wake up around 7:30 AM. 
 You are eating 6-7 ounces 4 times a day.  You never SCREAM when you are hungry, but you let us know when it's time to eat!
 You are SO laid back and easy going!!  We are TRULY blessed by you and couldnt have asked for an easier baby!!  We just adore you and your sweet smiles!  You LOVE your daddy and love spending time with mommy.  You have started "talking back" when we talk to you and squeal when you are excited.  You are starting to play with/learn new sounds.
Sweet Finleigh Grace, we are SO in love with you.  What a joy you bring to EVERY minute of our lives...God has blessed us SO MUCH MORE than we could have even imagined. 
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