A long awaited update….

The past 5 weeks….

It’s been over 5 weeks since I’ve sat down and wrote. Boy, my heart and head needs this outlet. But how? How does mommy find the time? How does Rachel find the time?

Well for one, I’ve started this post one-handed while rocking a baby to sleep, the twins are coloring (hopefully just their papers – FYI, they colored their table) and Sesame Street is on. And realistically it might take several start and stops just to get it finished but that’s life these days.

So here’s a little update!

The twins: Well, now the twins are 2 years old! How did that happen?! We celebrated their birthday the first weekend of October. Right after their birthday we’ve been battling sickness: respiratory, ear infections, and nasty colds for all! I think we are finally on the mend there. They’ve continued to adjust well to their sister which is such a blessing. I really don’t think we’ve dealt with outbursts related to her, specifically. But they are 2 and boy, dealing with their own developmental growing pains can be particularly frustrating for Nick and me. I feel like some days the words of the day are NO, DON’T DO THAT, STOP TOUCHING THAT, QUIT CLIMBING, STOP HITTING, SAY SORRY, YOU’RE IN TIMEOUT, etc. Then other days I just tell them they will get hurt if they do X, Y, and Z and walk away praying they don’t actually get hurt. But just some days natural consequences are the best teachers. Right? Two 2 year olds are no joke and not for the faint of heart. Then couple a trying day with the twins with a fussy, refuses to sleep baby and you’ve got a recipe for wine by 5 o’clock or a Grand Gold Margarita from Pappasitos, especially if it’s a Wednesday (if I’m not so exhausted by then and I usually am). The best thing we did was give them this small playhouse for our backyard for their birthday! Now with the weather cooling down, we are using it more and more, like today.

Nick: He is so busy at work! David Weekley Homes keeps him busy but he was a champ altering his schedule while I was on c section restriction. It was a tough 6 weeks but we made it thanks to our tribe! My sister and my mom continually step up to the plate for us which we will always be so grateful for!

Madison: She is so amazing! It only took us 7 weeks to discover that she’s a tad caffeine sensitive so overall she’s sleeping much better during the day. She usually gets up just once at night, sometimes twice. Overall the girl gets a medal for giving us the best transition to a family of 5 as possible.

Then there’s me: Juggling the kids on my own is tough. I tell my mom I don’t know how she did it with seemingly effortless grace when I’m here feeling like a basket case. But isn’t that how it goes? I don’t remember my mom being super frazzled 24/7 but I do remember her being there. That’s what I want my kids to remember: me being there. I’ve officially been taking over taking the boys to school by 8am Tuesday and Thursday and picking them up by 3pm! I happy to report the latest we’ve been late was by 20 minutes! Other days we’ve been right on time and I’ve been on time for pick up! Talk about a mom win! 🙌🏻

I’ve been finally able to start working out and I’ve stayed pretty dedicated to getting back into the swing of things (slowly) and staying consistent. I’ve been really working on my eating and that’s stayed fairly consistent as well. I’m 7 weeks postpartum and down almost 25 pounds with about 50 more to go to pre-pregnancy weight. 😳 Can’t believe I just wrote that but it’s true. I would preferably like it to be gone by my sister’s wedding at the end of February so will keep you updated on the progress. I believe switching up my workouts and continually working on better eating habits will help me!

In other news and to slide into your prayers, I’ve also continued to have some postpartum bleeding complications. I feel like I’m finally on a road to getting some resolution but it’s been overall frustrating and stressful as I know this is not the normal progression after having a baby. I don’t want to go into super detail here but if you’re curious, feel free to message me!

Overall, life with 3 under 3 is so incredibly challenging.

So let me answer some of the most asked questions:

1. How is it taking care of one baby? EASY! And it helps she’s pretty laid back. But I rarely just have the baby so it’s still hard! Haha

2. How do you do it? LOTS AND LOTS OF THE SERENITY PRAYER but in all seriousness, you just do.

My side note to these questions: the twins are and probably will be constantly be challenging as we have two in the same developmental stage of life but definitely not two of the same people. It’s incredibly challenging and really, so much fun. But as they are learning to communicate more and more, things are getting “easier” but when that communication breaks down – SERENITY PRAYER IT UP because that’s all that’s going to save you!

3 under 3 is the way to be, 😂😂

Rachel

 

The NICU

Part 2

***Side note: This one is a long one. It’s taken me awhile to write this post because of its vulnerable content. Reliving these moments are bittersweet. But it’s the bitter I hate to be reminded of. I’m reliving it because I need to for myself, for my daughter, for my boys and especially for my husband. I need to get this out because if we have to go through this again, I need to remind myself that we survived. That we are strong. And that we will be okay. We will all be okay.***

The next 12 hours after the boys were born were some of my worst (so I thought at the time). When you have a c-section, they insert a catheter to make sure your bladder empties appropriately. Well, mine wasn’t. All I kept asking for was this thing to be removed so I could see the boys. Now yes, I could have been wheeled down while the catheter was in but it was SO UNCOMFORTABLE! I wanted it out and I wanted to see the boys. And these nurses don’t waste any time teaching you how to pump for your milk. I got no sleep that night. I was up every 2-3 hours pumping away. Nick was checking on the babies. It was crazy. I literally felt like I was in a twilight zone just moving and doing but not really processing what was happening.

My block was wearing off by the early morning so it was getting pretty annoying. My night nurse was really less than helpful. It wasn’t until the morning shift of nurses that they discovered I didn’t have the proper locking on my leg so the catheter was pinched and therefore I couldn’t go. By the time the nurses had discovered this, I had already had 2 bags of IV fluids in me and had drunk a ton of water. My stomach was hurting so bad. I thought it was from my incision but nope – it was my bladder on the verge of bursting. Once they figured this out, I was fine! I could PEE! Praise the Lord!

**Side note: I loved my hospital minus the catheter experience. Who would like that anyway?**

I was so anxious to see the boys. Nick had been going to the NICU all night long, bringing me back pictures, but I needed to see them. I needed to know they were okay with my own eyes. Leaving my hospital room for the first time, headed to the NICU, was when I realized a little more how my birth experience was going to change me. I was surrounded by a bunch of new moms who had their babies in their rooms. I could hear them. The babies. Crying. Being with their mothers and fathers. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, I guess. It’s not like they have a wing dedicated to freshly cut open NICU parents who have no idea what’s going on or what will happen. I envied them and I didn’t know it. I actually hated them if I’m going to be honest. Why did they get to have that experience and I had mine? How was that fair? I may still hate them.

Although the boys were breathing on their own, they were temporarily placed in a level 3 NICU pod. This meant that they were with much sicker babies then they were. Talk about a humbling experience. And slightly scary. Have you ever seen a baby with spina bifida? We did. At the time, that mom looked so strong to me. And I’m sure she was. You have to be in the NICU – there’s not really another choice. But her strength came from a long time of being there. It’s not exactly a strength I wanted if that was the price I paid for it.

 

I was terrified. We were terrified.  We just had two babies that now needed hospital care for, God knows, how long and now we had to make decisions for them, medical decisions for them. The boys were born late Friday evening and the hospital had them on a feeding tube essentially giving them nutrients until my milk came in. By Sunday or Monday (this is a tad hazy) I could tell the boys were HUNGRY. Their calm demeanor shifted and I could tell. I wanted my babies fed and it didn’t matter to me HOW. It never really did matter to me but I was going with the flow (haha no pun intended) and trusting the nurses and doctors knew what they were talking about. There was one thing I knew for sure by Sunday (or Monday) – they were hungry and they had to gain weight to leave the NICU and waiting for my milk to come in wasn’t going to help.

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Something inside of me shifted when the boys became hungry. I could tell something was different with them and with me. That MOM instinct was kicking in. We waited for the doctor team to come to the NICU. Umm wow. Another crazy experience. Here a lead doctor comes in and assesses each baby MEDICALLY. I capitalize this because it was so STERILE and NOT PERSONAL. They don’t come alone either – like 10 other people, doctors in training, join in. It’s a big teaching hospital in the Med Center so I understand but it was nuts. I don’t blame them for their sterility (is that what I mean to say here?) but as a first time parent, fresh into the NICU, it was overwhelming, to say the least. Now, my hospital is great – BREAST IS BEST – BLAH BLAH BLAH. I get it. And it’s great and all. I was pumping and giving them what I could when I could but there’s not time for that shit in the NICU. No time when my babies were hungry. No time to wait. And definitely not a time to be prideful. Every calorie counted. Every ounce of energy the boys wasted on being hungry and upset burned calories. And if you burn calories without getting very many, you lose weight. Not good. **If you disagree with me, fine. I’m not about to get in a boob war with you about it.**

I was still overwhelmed about all that was going on but the NURSE in the pod helped me voice my opinion for the first time. She helped me voice my mothers instinct. What I would have done without that nurse, I do NOT know. Nor am I glad I never found out (I hope that makes sense. My emotions are hard to sift through here). I essentially had to DEMAND them to start feeding the boys formula (GASP!). My boys got put on a feeding regimen and they instantly changed. I still pumped and began producing some milk that I split between them throughout their stay there. But overall, FED IS BEST.

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Nick and I spent as much time as possible with the boys between my medication times and my own check ups. We did kangaroo time as much as we could. The problem with skin-to-skin with a premie is that sometimes it can hurt more than help. In our case, the boys had a hard time regulating their body temperature so initially we couldn’t hold them for long periods of time. **We would go through cycles of this through our time in the NICU.**

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It wasn’t long until the boys were moved to a level 2 NICU room that they shared. This was definitely a privilege for them to share a room. This was one of the reasons we were in the level 3 initially – waiting on a room. I couldn’t imagine spending my days split between rooms. It was hard enough going back and forth between mine and theirs. It was nice to see them together. **They never were actually together (side by side) until their first night home. That was weird for me since they had spent their entire lives to that point in the same location.**

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When you’re in the NICU you learn about all the noises. Oh so many beeps and alarms that sometimes mean scary things and other times it means a lead was dislodged by the baby kicking. It’s absolutely incredible how closely these babies are monitored. And it’s absolutely terrifying hearing all the beeps and alarms (until you become numb to them).

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Then the day came.

I was to be discharged. I don’t think I could have dreaded that day more than the funeral of someone I love dearly. But it came and I couldn’t imagine not being in the same hospital with them and commuting to the hospital daily. I didn’t want to “leave them” at night without being super close by. The nurses were wonderful – they let us stay as long as we possibly could in our room and luckily they didn’t need the room urgently. They knew the hardest thing we were about to do was about to happen. They were kind and thoughtful but we still had to do it. By the late afternoon, we made our last visit to the NICU as residents of the hospital. Even though we were going to return the next day (and however many days following) our hearts smashed in a million pieces when we left that hospital…. childless.

I have never been more sad in my life to leave the hospital without my babies. This was NOT how I pictured it. This is NOT what I wanted. THIS WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN. I wasn’t supposed to spend the drive home from the hospital with my husband looking at empty car seats and listening to each other cry. Because we both cried, we both broke that day, we both didn’t know what would happen or how we would manage whatever was to come. We both went numb.

The following days were hard – REALLY DAMN HARD. I would sleep on our couch because I just couldn’t imagine coming to bed – a bed where I spent 34 weeks holding my stomach and feeling them move inside of me. It wasn’t right. I cried a lot in those days. My heart literally ached. I woke up early to pump and I would call the nurses around 6:30am every day (before the shift change) to speak with the night nurse. I would obsessively write down their vitals and weight and then asked whatever questions I needed to that morning. My mom usually came to take me to the hospital (I was on driving restrictions because of the surgery and medication) and I would sit in their room for 10 hours a day or longer. My sister would visit during her lunch hours and spend time learning how to be an aunt. She worked in the Med Center so it was nice to be with family when they could come. Nick would come towards the end of his work day and we would go home together. My heart would leap at the sight of them every morning and shatter every night as we walked to our car. Nick told me one time my demeanor just changed as we walked further away from the NICU and he was right. Every day I relived leaving them. Every day my heart broke. Every day it was mended again. It was a horrible cycle.

Overall, we were lucky – the boys only spent 15 days in the NICU and both came home on the same day. Compared to the other NICU residents, it was a short period of time. Talk to my heart and it shouldn’t have ever happened. We had a few ups and downs. That’s simply how the NICU is – a constant roller coaster. It’s a roller coaster I never want to be on again. It’s a ride I wish NO one would have to take.

But we are stronger for it. In hindsight, I was able to heal much better from the c-section before the boys came home. And when they came home, I needed to be the best I could be since they were premies and TWINS! I learned, we learned, so much about caring for our babies. I knew quite a bit but it helped Nick be a more confident dad as he learned from the nurses. It helped us learn about being a parental team to our boys.

**The nurses. They turn scared parents into confident ones. They are vital to the growth and strength of the moms and dads that walk in and out of that place. They are the reason we can care for our children and continue to do so well after the NICU.**

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Despite the hindsight, I would like for this experience to be my only one. I’m praying this girl stays in a few weeks longer.

 

But if she doesn’t, we will be okay.

 

We will all be okay.

Rachel

 

 

Juggling

Being ENOUGH is a four letter word….

Do you ever feel like you are juggling a million things at once? This was definitely my life last week. Sometimes I feel like pregnancy alone is enough to juggle but then add in the twins, the dog, my husband and anything else I happen to be doing and life can quickly seem out of control. Life can be overwhelming and instead of enjoying life we are trying to survive life. Then everything you usually do with ease and grace now seems like it’s mediocre. I feel like between everything I had going last week I barely saw the kids. I mean they were there – but SEEING them is a whole different thing. Insert mommy guilt. 

But thank goodness for Mondays! A brand new start to the week. A brand new week to make better than the last. But I’m still juggling. Aren’t we all? I’ve already started the day off getting the kids up and ready for school, visited a friend who just had a baby, popped in a frozen pizza, checked in on my book lady business, did some book lady leader duties, talked a little skin care with my mom, sister and sponsor, had a couple of phone calls and now sitting to write the blog post. Is the pizza ready yet? See all that juggling! It’s really incredible when I write it out all on the screen. Yet, somehow we, moms and caregivers of anyone, tend to not give ourselves enough credit for what we do on a daily basis. In fact, we largely feel like we didn’t do enough or worse, that we aren’t enough. 

That reminds me of this video I saw on Facebook this weekend about how we, moms, don’t feel like we are enough. I wish I had saved it to post in here. The video was moving for me because lately that’s how I have been feeling. Not enough. Are you feeling this way? That’s the Devil y’all. Telling us we can’t do something. Or we shouldn’t do something for ourselves.

I would take a guess that this is a DAILY struggle for many people – not just moms. But how debilitating. That thought of not being enough can literally freeze you in time. Isn’t that what the Devil wants from us? Not to be everything that God intended for us to be. Not reaching our full potential. Even when we are reaching our potential, sometimes we have guilt for even doing that! It’s a vicious web we weave ourselves in! 

Well, I’m here to say YOU ARE ENOUGH.

When you feed the kids chicken nuggets for the 3rd time this week instead of a home cooked meal – YOU ARE ENOUGH.

When you haven’t taken a shower in 2 days and the house is a mess – YOU ARE ENOUGH.

When you pour that glass of wine just a tad before 5pm because it’s just been one of those days – YOU ARE ENOUGH.

When all you want to do is go to a hotel to sleep because you’re one more fight between your kids away from a mental breakdown – YOU ARE ENOUGH.

When you have one of the best days with the kids and get everything on your to-do list done – YOU ARE ENOUGH. 

When you spend way too much money on something that makes you incredibly happy – YOU ARE ENOUGH. 

When you stay up late watching movies with your husband and know you’ll pay for it the next day – YOU ARE ENOUGH.

When you spend anytime making sure YOU are taken care of – YOU ARE ENOUGH. 

 

YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH. 

 

Here’s to being enough today and every day,

Rachel

New Online Adventures

What’s being going on in our house lately….

So, I like to keep life interesting. It may not be super interesting comparing it to others but interesting to me, nonetheless. Lately, with all the laying around I’ve had to do and dealing with Little Miss’s misbehavior, I’ve had a lot of downtime to think.

Well one thing that I want to do is DE-CLUTTER. I realize this has NOTHING to do with online adventures but roll with me. I’m not sure I’m in the super nesting mode, yet, but I have this sense of urgency to get this house organized. I mean, we are about to bring another human being in this house. Getting rid of the junk seems more than necessary! In fact, even though she will be little, babies have SO MUCH STUFF! Thank goodness it’s not as much as the twins! At least that is what I am hoping for!

De-cluttering is underway in this house – slowly! Have kids? What organizational tools have you come up with to help with the clutter? Please help this mama out! 

Meanwhile, I’ve been keeping active with my business with Usborne Books & More. I joined this company May 10th of last year and it’s been a great experience. Lots of ups and some downs but I have learned so much! I never thought I would sell anything and then these books just fell into my lap. It has truly been the perfect mix of my educational background and my love for books! It’s been truly a passion of mine this past year and I cannot believe I’ll be hitting my year anniversary next month! Incredible! If you haven’t heard of Usborne Books & More, you need to! Of course, I’d be happy to talk with you about that! In the meantime, check out the website: https://g5484.myubam.com – we have amazing books from infant to pre-teen and I am currently reading one of our teen series, Conspiracy 365 and I LOVE IT! 

In conjunction with Usborne Books & More, I started this blog earlier this month! It’s been so fun and hopefully you all have been enjoying some of the writing. My husband thinks I’ll run out of things to say but I won’t, our life is too exciting for that! 😉 The blogging world is so different but I am loving having this virtual “journal” and being able to express myself confidently! Something I think all mamas need!

In addition to my online adventures, two nights ago I joined Rodan + Fields! Say what! I know. I know. I am either crazy or the smartest person on the planet. Haha! Maybe I’m a little of both! But that’s okay, it keeps life interesting. Now, first off, I never thought I would be apart of ANY direct selling company let alone TWO. However, these two companies are VERY different. Don’t worry, I’m not going to knock down your door with RF but I may politely ask if you want a FREE sample – you should say YES because it’s amazing! You will also get to watch the skin transformations like I did and become hooked! 🙂 I am pretty excited to get these products for the best deal possible and be able to share my skin care story with everyone. Quite honestly, I have been on the hunt (for awhile) to find something that I really believe will work on my face. And the fact that I have watched a few people with varying skin tones and skin types literally roll back time and look incredible, I want in! Who wouldn’t!?! 🙂

Truly, I have been watching RF consultants and friends since last summer make monumental strides to amazing faces. Now, I am FB friends with many people in many direct selling companies and I have seen a lot. There are many wonderful companies out there! But something makes sense with Rodan + Fields. Don’t worry, one day I’ll be able to articulate it! I’ve seen many transformations and I want that too. After fertility treatments, twins and now another rough pregnancy, my face is lookin’ OLD. Plus, just kids! Am I right!? And best of all, I can do this along side my first love, Usborne Books & More. So like my twins, they have to share time but that’s okay, it’s totally going to be worth it! 

Now, some of you may have just laughed as I am not yet 30 years old but it is what it is. It’s how I feel about my face. Just 5 years ago I could walk around with no makeup pretty confidently and now, I’m constantly putting make up on my face to go outside where there are other people around. Ain’t nobody needs to be frightened like that! Ha! I hate wearing makeup – truly. Maybe it’s the sports or the constant training for sports but I’ve just never really liked wearing a ton of makeup! I’ve seen some pretty amazing makeup from other companies and if you are looking for some amazing makeup, I can definitely recommend some. And honestly, I was soooo tempted to buy them but to me, it makes more sense to work on my actual skin, my canvas, if you will, in order for my makeup to do it’s job. Or, better yet, I won’t have to wear as much or none at all! Whoop!

I am so lucky that I have such a supportive husband that has cheered me on the last year with Usborne Books & More and now will cheer me on through Rodan + Fields! Don’t worry, this book lady isn’t going anywhere! 🙂 I’m just going to look WAYYYY better doing it! 🙂 Want to check out all the hype of Rodan + Fields? Check out the website here: https://www.rodanandfields.com/US/pws/rachelwebking

The fact of the matter is that our method of buying products is truly changing to buying from direct sellers and largely online. Come on, you know you shop on Amazon! Some of you may resist and that’s totally okay! However, there are so many AMAZING companies out there that you could be missing out on so it’s worth checking out!

What direct sales companies do you love? Why do you love them?

Here’s to new adventures online,

Rachel

Boys vs. Girls

The pregnancy comparison

Well ladies and gentleman, I have made it halfway through the pregnancy with baby girl Webking and let me tell you, it hasn’t been an easy one. Now hindsight is 20/20 and God definitely has a sense of humor. But all in all, I can’t help but think about myself almost 2 years ago and I just want to shake my former self and tell her, it’s really okay! YOU WILL SURVIVE. 

So let me give you some background….. Now, if you have been following me, you know my husband and I took the road of IVF to have kids. Now because of this, when I actually did get pregnant with the twins I discovered I DID NOT LIKE BEING PREGNANT! So, you are probably thinking, “Well, how ironic is that? You put yourself through so much to get pregnant and then didn’t like it.” Trust me! I was shocked too! I had this image in my mind that pregnancy was fairy tales and roses and I would just sail through without complaints. I was so incredibly wrong and my poor husband (and the dog) paid the price.

Being pregnant for the first time and with twins was SO HARD – PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY HARD. I am 5’4” so there’s not a lot of room and I honestly had no idea how two babies would fit in there but they did. It is absolutely remarkable what your body can do! When I became pregnant I INSTANTLY had trouble with running out of breath! I made it a few weeks in and then I started throwing up. Then the heartburn showed up. Oh dear goodness, the heartburn was HORRIBLE. Then you couple that with a new mom, not knowing what was normal and what wasn’t, I basically suffered. I had some good friends that helped me try to get through the nausea but the heartburn was a different story.

To try to regulate the heartburn, I turned to TUMS. Don’t do that! You can actually make yourself sicker by taking too many tums and I found that out when I landed in the ER from uncontrollable vomiting due to HEARTBURN at 19.5 weeks. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my heartburn was SO BAD I landed in the ER. My heartburn was so bad throughout the entire pregnancy, I would wake up while throwing up. My heartburn was so bad I had to stop eating anything acidic and too seasoned. I couldn’t eat bread sometimes. Okay, so I think you get the picture IT WAS BAD. I WAS MISERABLE.

So what’s the point?

My point is that I was feeling so terrible about hating being pregnant that I felt so guilty. Are you sensing a theme of guilt? Now, when I look back on it I don’t hate it as much, well maybe that’s a lie; I probably do but I strongly believe God erases mother’s brains from all the horrible things of pregnancy because WHY ON EARTH WOULD WE KEEP DOING IT!? But it’s not something I would consider doing again – the whole twin thing. Nope. No way. And luckily I do have some control over that – whoops, maybe I should take that back – God has a sense of humor with me and Nick. I TAKE IT BACK – I HAVE NO CONTROL! 

Anyway, fast forward to this pregnancy. Baby girl Webking has not given me the pleasure of experiencing the gut wrenching sickness and heartburn and I cannot thank her enough. But she hasn’t been easy. Why should she be? She’s a GIRL. You know having ONE baby after having twins was supposed to be EASY. I mean, that’s what people said to me anyway. You know, I’m going to stop listening to people because when it comes to pregnancy – PEOPLE LIE. They don’t do it intentionally but they do – it’s like this vicious plan women put together to help the world to keep reproducing. It’s terrible.

**possible trigger coming**

At around 16 weeks, I started to bleed. I NEVER had bleeding with the twins so I was instantly alarmed. I also didn’t feel very good – I was super crampy and started sweating. Something was definitely not right. I saw an OB in my doctor’s office and she did an full exam and told me to rest over the weekend and come back for my regular checkup in the middle of next week. Well, I made it to a sandwich shop to pick up lunch for myself, my mom and my sister and it started up again but way worse (in my opinion). I was sent to the ER. Luckily my ER doctor was a girl from my high school and I was so comforted by her taking care of me despite the whole her doing an internal exam on me. Anyway. I was again sent on my way with the same instructions. I did NOTHING on Saturday. I woke up early Sunday morning soaked in blood. It looked like a CSI crime scene in our bedroom. I do not think I could have been more scared in my entire life then in that moment. Another trip to the ER resulted in not many answers. How frustrating! I was pissed and worried. Not a good combination when you are pregnant. Can I get an AMEN?!? Even though I saw my OB the next day, I really didn’t get any answers until I saw the specialist.

The specialist discovered I have a sub-chronic hemotoma (SCH) that was rather large. Because of the nature of my bleeding, my instructions were to rest as much as possible. Ummm, I have 1.5 year old twin boys. Ha! Anyway, to date, I have been able to rest as much as possible due to the help of my mom, husband, sister and really any moving body. I had my follow up scan this week and I was not surprised at the news. The hematoma was still going strong but I did learn it hasn’t really been enough time to reabsorb. Then I learned that I have a marginal cord attachment which basically means that the umbilical cord has attached itself on the side of my placenta rather than the center. This impacts the blood flow of the placenta which CAN result in a smaller baby. So, no matter what, I will be seeing the specialist throughout the rest of the pregnancy so they can monitor her growth. The third thing they are watching for is a placenta accreta. I am not going to get into the specifics of what this is because right now it’s not an official diagnosis but something we are looking for the next few visits.

So needless to say, both my pregnancies to date haven’t been easy for VERY different reasons. I don’t think I’m a fan of pregnancy but it’s a wonderful means to an end that I am grateful for because it is the most humbling experience I have ever been through. So if you are suffering during your pregnancy, do NOT feel like you are alone…. I’m right there with you!

 

Here’s to everything in between,

Rachel

 

Decisions

The road to IVF

The decisions Nick and I had to make after learning of our failed plan were not easy. You see, I was raised in the Catholic Church and very much still practiced my faith. As a Catholic, in-vitro-fertilization (also known as IVF), among other fertility treatments, are not accepted. In fact, they are considered morally wrong to engage in. I knew this, hence the reason we wanted to avoid it at all costs. And actually, at the time, I was completely against it. However, unless you’ve ever been faced with being told you have a less than 5% chance of conceiving naturally and your body is essentially working against you to have a biological child, please reserve your judgment. I’m not looking for a fight or an argument about “my sin” but merely just sharing how we got to that point.

In the next weeks (we really didn’t have time to make a choice as my condition was worsening by the second), we talked to a lot of people – Catholics, Protestants, priests, and people who went through the fertility process. My wonderful husband was willing to go to the ends of the Earth to make this happen for us and what was important to him was that we “gave it our all”; essentially “tried everything we could” to have a baby. If we still ended up with no baby, then we tried. We would look into other options, like adoption, if that was the path we were meant to be on. While what he said made sense and I just wanted to fall completely into that idea and not look back, I wanted to make sure my heart was in the right place. I wanted to make sure I would have no regrets. This was also an expensive decision and I was feeling super guilty I was the one that brought us to this place. I know it was out of my control, but the guilt was real.

While everyone was super great in listening to our concerns and helping us through this decision (as best as anyone could), we were directed to this great Catholic couple and via email she helped me more than anyone. She said TWO things to me that have stuck with me through these years:

1. Her and her husband made a decision BEFORE the IVF process started that however many children they were blessed with in the process, they vowed to transfer them all in their lifetime.

2. That no matter what they did as a couple, if God’s plans were for them NOT to have children, it won’t happen. Science is great but if science REALLY could circumvent God’s will, then everyone who went through IVF or fertility, in general, would have children.

Let me talk about the impact these two points made on us. The first one was right in line with how I felt about helping create these embryos. THESE EMBRYOS were going to be OUR CHILDREN and I couldn’t bear to not try to conceive them. I won’t go into every detail of the fertility process but many embryos are put up for adoption, abandoned, or given to science for testing. Neither one of these options were the paths that Nick and I wanted to go down so vowing to have however many children God will bless us with was something we felt we could commit to BEFORE we started. Let me tell you, we could have ended up with no children or eleven children, we had no idea! And even now, there are still no guarantees. 

The second point really hit home. We had no idea what we were really getting ourselves into and my naivety about the process led me to just believe we would have children. I mean we were going through all this and paying for it, why wouldn’t we have kids? Well, it’s about a 65% chance of conceiving when you transfer one embryo which is much better than what we were looking at naturally, but still not great. With the twins, we were looking at a slightly higher percentage of having one baby and a 25% chance of having twins. The process of taking all the medications and going through the procedures essentially had to be perfect to even get to the transfer of an embryo. What I am trying to say is that throughout the entire process, ANYTHING could have gone wrong. We could have faced financial hardship and not being able to afford the treatment which is in the tens of thousands of dollars range. My body could have failed to respond to the medications. The procedure to retrieve the eggs could have been unsuccessful. The combining of the sperm and egg could have failed and then the embryos themselves could have failed to multiply and grow correctly. Every single part had to work. Science is a wonderful gift but it’s not fool-proof. 

Nick and I confidently decided to go forth with IVF. The IVF journey is a beast and not one I will tackle in this post. However, we were blessed with 5 embryos. 5 children. Our children. Our family of 7. But this family of 7 has to wait a little bit.

Many people…..most people, go through this life not knowing how many children they will have but we do. We know. At that moment, when we got the call of how many embryos survived, we knew we had 5 beautiful children awaiting their lives with us. That knowledge right there was absolutely the hardest part for me to emotionally handle. You see, I knew I had 5 children but I could only transfer 2 of them the first time around. I was lucky enough that both the embryos took. But during that pregnancy (it was tough so I had a lot of down time), all I could think of were my other babies. I had a lot of guilt for not being able to have them at that moment. I know in my mind I couldn’t but it still hurt. I am their mommy and needed to protect them and I couldn’t. Now, I am sitting here feeling my little wiggle worm rolling around in my stomach – my 3rd baby. My baby girl. I couldn’t be more excited to have her with us now. But my heart is not yet complete. It hurts a little less this time around then when I was carrying the boys but it still hurts. It’s so unexpected how the pain of infertility continues to creep into my heart and mind. I have no regrets whatsoever.

Although, I am so excited to have the life I have with the twins and soon to be with little miss, there is not a single day that goes by I don’t think about my two children waiting for us. I always say to myself when I start thinking of them: “Daddy and I will come and get you one day. We will. We promise. You won’t be alone anymore. We love you so much.” In a way, it’s comforting because I feel like they are close but in another way it breaks me. And although it’s a pain I cannot even begin to describe and tears roll down my face, I know we will bring them home one day. That day, will be the best day of our lives because our family will finally be complete. 

 

Here’s to the loves of my life in waiting,

Rachel

Fantasy vs. Reality

Accepting change

Over the last 3 or so years, I have been seeing a counselor. Sometimes consistently and sometimes not. Usually when I am not seeing her consistently is when I really should be – funny how that works. In actuality, it’s really not funny. It’s actually pretty stressful for me when I take breaks for extended periods of time. Anyway, my counselor has been key in helping me sort through many of my life changes. I don’t know if it’s HER or if it’s just the fact that I have someone outside of my life to talk to; an objective person helps so much. If you haven’t tried it, you should!

Fantasy vs. Reality is a hot topic in our sessions. Fantasy – what you think or dream up to be in a given situation. Reality – the actual situation at hand. Some people can just roll with whatever happens in the reality even if it’s different from what they thought; whereas, others (**cough, me, cough**) have a harder time coping with the change. I’ve generally had a harder time adjusting to given changes in my life ever since I can remember. As I have gotten older, I’ve coped with some changes and have had harder time with others. I mainly struggle with the ones that have drastically changed from what *I thought* would be how life would work out.

For example, one thing that I thought would be easy would be having children. Isn’t this what we all think? At least, what we all think when we don’t have any perceived medical diagnosis, anyway? You get married, buy a house and have children. After all, it’s the “usual way” people do things. Now, I realize not everyone does this in that order and that’s totally fine. But this is what I thought it would be for me and my husband.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. Actually it was the exact opposite. About 3 years into our marriage and 2 years of no baby, I became suspicious of a possible issue. Nick and I were open to having kids but it wasn’t an intentional act of trying and tracking; however, I felt something wasn’t right. In the summer of 2014, after finally convincing my husband of doing some tests, we found ourselves at the Houston Fertility Institute at their Sugar Land, Texas location. We were told in our initial consultation that couples have a 25% chance of conceiving in their first year of trying (that’s WITHOUT any perceived issues) and then after that the numbers drop significantly: down to 5% per year and it lowers every year after that. Talk about a punch in the gut! We were in our second year of being open to children and BOOM, a scientific kick in the pants.

We went on to do some testing. I was having feminine issues with my cycle anyway and during “that time of the month” having a lot of pain. Anyway, the results from my tests weren’t good. I had stage 3 to stage 4 endometriosis. According to Mayo Clinic, endometriosis “is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs” (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/home/ovc-20236421).

I don’t think I could have been more devastated. This is not what I dreamed up, remember? This is not how it was supposed to be for us. This made our chances of having a baby even less. Unfortunately, if we wanted to do any fertility treatments it could and would make the disease worse as it feeds off estrogen in your body; so, if we did do anything, we would be taking the risk of making this worse for us. We just weren’t ready to take that risk. In fact, we were actually trying to avoid it as much as possible. I was 25 years old – this shouldn’t be happening. 

Nick and I opted for me to undergo surgery to remove as much of the endometriosis as possible so we could possibly try to conceive on our own. Here’s the deal: endometriosis grows microscopically so anything they could see and remove, they would but it didn’t mean I was necessarily in the clear. It’s constantly growing. So following the procedure, I would have monthly injections that would essentially put me into menopause to try to reduce the legions as much as possible. I wasn’t too excited about it. Surgery, in general, is usually pretty rough for me – I’ve had a few in my life to know the general gist of what would happen post-op. My body takes forever to get rid of the anesthesia.

The laparoscopic procedure was slated for 90 minutes. The doctor would blow my stomach up with air so they could see the organs and be able to manipulate them to burn off the legions – hopefully without damaging any other organs. The worse part of it was that my ovaries had huge cysts on them. Taking those out wouldn’t be easy and in fact, it would be so important for the doctor to be precise as to not damage my ovaries further. Every time they take a cyst out, they would be taking part of my ovary (not enough to cause permanent infertility but that was definitely a risk). Then, there’s the whole we “really don’t know what it will be like until we are in there” uncertainty and you always hope it’s better than the doctors expect. 

Little did I know this 90-minute-you’ll-be-back-on-your-feet-in-3-days procedure, turned into blowing my stomach up a second time and a 3 hour procedure. Of course, I didn’t know any of this until I woke up from the surgery. The whole 3 days back on your feet was a LOAD OF CRAP. It took me well over a month to feel “normal” again. You know that fantasy vs. reality thing I was talking about before – yep, I was not happy. In fact, I was angry. Well, let me take a step back – I was very glad the doctor took her time – I had such a bad cyst on my fallopian tube that had she not taken her time, I could have lost it or woken up with a cut open abdomen. So, I am very thankful that. But I was still mad. I was so uncomfortable for weeks! Have you ever had gas pumped in your stomach for any procedure, IT IS AWFUL! Again, this is not what I was expecting. And I had a very hard time accepting that.

Honestly, this whole time I had a hard time dealing with the reality of what was happening and how this was my fault. My body’s fault. Nick, in no way, made me feel this way – this was something I was personally dealing with. In fact, he was amazing during this process. I think if you are the one with the diagnosis in the relationship, it’s normal to have these feelings. But it still sucks, to say the least.

By September 2014, I was on those menopause shots. Okay, again – totally not fun. Talk about a wild roller coaster of emotions, literally. But this, again, was our best chance to combat the endometriosis from growing back quickly and to potentially start trying when all this was over. A medically induced menopause at 25 years old – that was really hard to wrap my mind around it. I wasn’t supposed to have a cycle while on this medicine…..until I did. THAT WAS AWFUL. If you’re a girl, you know an unexpected period isn’t fun at all. Nope. Not at all.

After 3 months on the shots, I had an ultrasound in December 2014 and I was devastated. The cysts had grown back. Not as big but they were there which meant the shots really didn’t help. Maybe they did a little bit but the cysts were there. THE CYSTS WERE THERE! SERIOUSLY WHAT THE HELL! I was screaming inside on that table. I felt like I had put my body and my mental health through absolute torture the last 6 months! For what!?!

Nick and I ended up right where we didn’t want to be…..

Facing the biggest personal and financial decision of our lives…..

Here’s to everything in between (including the crap),

Rachel