Moments

Hold them close

Moments. We all have them multiple times a day. We have good ones and bad ones. Many times we miss moments. We don’t miss them intentionally; it’s really the hustle and bustle of life that causes us to just let them pass by.

Personally, I feel like I’m so busy some days that by the end of the day I don’t even know if I actually SAW my children (even though they were around me all day). Other days, I’m just trying to survive this moment or that moment. Do you ever feel like that? Maybe it’s not with your children but with work or your spouse? When I was teaching, there were definitely days I just trying to survive. It’s honestly DRAINING to stay in survival mode. I absolutely can’t stand those days because I usually feel more exhausted than if I had one full of activities. I don’t want to just survive life, I want to LIVE it. Don’t you? But how do you live every single day IN THE MOMENT? Is it possible? We could all learn to take a step back and “smell the roses” sometimes. It’s so insane how fast time flies, yet, we tend to let a lot of life pass us by. Sounds sad but it’s the truth.

For me, I do wish I was better at living in the moment. There are times I put my phone away or I’m not checking it as much but I could always do better in that department. We probably all could. It’s so easy to drown yourself in mindless searching or reading articles. Then there are times I turn the TV off – I like it for background sound but it tends to even eat up the moments with all the sound, too. Plus, the twins are paying more and more attention to it these days so it’s a good habit to scale back.

The moments I really love watching are the ones where my boys are playing. Now I do mean all 3 of my boys but watching the twins play is becoming more fun too! They are really trying to talk and they crack me up! And of course, they are becoming more fearless – see evidence in the above left picture. They REALLY LIKE READING and lately I’ve been catching them sitting together with a book “reading”. It’s so cute! They also really love telling Dakota she’s a “good gurl” – haha! Oh and they are masters at saying “NO” or “NO WAY!”. But either way, they do keep Nick and I on our toes. We couldn’t have more of a stubborn pair of children but we knew it was going to happen. My guess is that this little girl might be surpassing them all! Stay tuned. 😊 Lately, the boys, specifically David, really hates wearing clothes. It’s either shorts or a shirt or nothing. Tonight, he went to bed in his diaper. I just usually pray I don’t wake up to pee and poop everywhere because they do like to take their diapers off.

Something I really enjoy are those fleeting moments, the ones you miss once you blink but if you catch them they are ingrained in your mind forever. I had one with Andrew today… It was so sweet. I broke down and gave the boys bottles this morning…. A Monday after a week of being sick is pretty slow going… They were drinking them while watching some Fixer Upper (it’s educational, right?) until Andrew just couldn’t calm down. I really don’t know what was going on. He had a BIG quiver lip and I just scooped him up and cradled him in my arms like I use to when he was much smaller. With the boys wanting to be more independent, holding him like that doesn’t really happen anymore. I barely get snuggles! 😭

He and I had a moment. I SAW him. He looked so much older but somehow I still saw my little fussy reflux baby. Maybe it’s the hormones or the impending new arrival of the girl but I miss them. I miss my babies. It’s incredible how much you forget along the way (and we’ve only just begun) but in a second you’re taken back to a moment. It sends a jolt in your body and you’ve time traveled to that memory.

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This picture is one of my favorites. I’m so happy I was obsessively taking pictures in the beginning because a lot of it is hard to remember between the reflux, feedings, and sleep deprivation. Nick was probably at RCIA working on becoming a Catholic so I had the evening with the boys. When they were much younger they both wanted to be near me ALL THE TIME. Makes sense, they were new to the world (the world is scary!). They needed mommy. (Oh how I miss those moments, too). They were also small enough I could have one on a boppy and another in my arms. In this picture, I got David to fall asleep on the boppy pillow and Andrew was in my arms. I’m sure at one point it was the opposite and I somehow creatively switched them without moving but I’m glad I captured this moment.

1. Because Andrew hardly took a pacifier outside of the first few months of life. Quite honestly, I don’t remember it much even then.

2. Because I need to remember I am a rock star. I definitely didn’t give myself enough credit at that time and I am not sure I do now. But I need to. I deserve it. I don’t mean for it to sound like I’m tooting my own horn here but I did a lot of things I didn’t know I was capable of including growing them in my body.

But how I miss holding them both so close to me. ❤️️ I probably needed to pee really bad and I was far from exhausted but they were so sweet to hold like this. I need to remember missing that when they are clawing or pushing at my leg or grabbing at my food. Or just when I don’t think I want to be touched one.more.time that day.

I imagine all parents have these moments. As a fairly new mother of young kids and I feel like we are in the trenches most days but I’m sure my parents have had these moments. I’ll never forget something my dad told me after I graduated from college. He said “Life only goes faster after this.” And boy, was he right. (Don’t let him know that though. 😉 ). I blinked and it’s been almost 11 years since high school graduation, 7 from college and 5 since our wedding day. Where has the time gone? What’s happened since you blinked? I bet a lot! Have you made the most of it? I’m not sure I have.

So I’m working on embracing my moments with my boys, even the bittersweet ones, because soon enough we will all have new ones with the little girl. I hate change, even good ones. However, I do learn to embrace the change, eventually. 😉 This transition seems like it will be hard for me but I am comforted to know she belongs with us. She is needed here for my heart to feel whole. I can’t slow down time or redo yesterday but TODAY I can do something about.

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Here’s to the moments,

Rachel

“Momnipotent”

The Not-So-Perfect Woman’s Guide to Catholic Motherhood by Danielle Bean

I started reading this book last night. I have to thank my Aunt Veronica for giving it to me when I was pregnant with the twins. I never cracked it open. During my firestorm to organize as much as possible yesterday (which, by the way, I am paying for it today), I came across this book again. Something prompted me to open it last night and start reading. Can we just acknowledge that when God’s timing is perfect, it’s so perfect?

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I’m not going to lie, my spirit has been wrecked these last few weeks. I don’t mean I’ve had doubts in my beliefs (although that’s totally fine if I have) but I mean, just life has been hard. Last week’s news ignited some serious anxiety issues that I have struggled with for a good chunk of my life. You know when you find something for YOU or plan something for YOU and look forward to that – it’s an amazing feeling. Now take it away – totally sucks. Anyway, I won’t get into it all again – you can check out my previous post if you need a refresher or didn’t catch it last week.

But I’m struggling and I’m overwhelmed. Life has overwhelmed me lately. In ONE week from tomorrow, my due date is THREE MONTHS away and I couldn’t feel more UNREADY. (Is that a word?)

Stress 1: I feel like all the junk has to go. I know it’s not COMPLETELY necessary or even reasonable but have you ever fought with a pregnant woman when she’s made her mind up about something? I don’t suggest it.

Stress 2: Once the junk goes, I’ll feel better about getting ready to bring another human into this world and maybe even start her nursery. Again, I know she won’t live in there for at least 3 months after she’s here because of the stairs we have in our house but argue with a pregnant woman? I think not.

Stress 3: I feel like I don’t have enough time with my boys. They are so fun and so exhausting but I just can’t help but be sad that my first-born children will not be JUST THEM anymore. I’m not worried about loving this girl or having enough room in my heart – I know she belongs there. My heart isn’t complete without her and the future siblings here (2 more to go!). However, it’s sort of funny because I’ve had 2 at one time so you would think adding 1 more isn’t a big deal but it’s HUGE for me. I don’t want this part to end and frankly gets me teary eyed thinking about it. We’ve been through so much together starting from before they were born so it’s a bittersweet change to our story.

Stress 4: The pregnancy itself is a stress. Again, I won’t go into it because I pretty much unloaded last week. And frankly, I’m too tired to unearth those emotions again.

So these are the 4 main stresses I have and then I started reading this book. I haven’t read a ton of it yet but something struck me last night. Spiritual motherhood is something that we, women, are all called to be.

“In makes sense…that while some women are called to biological mothers, every woman is called to spiritual motherhood because motherhood is knit into the very structure of a woman’s being. Women are created with the gift of interior readiness to receive others into their lives, and in doing so, to nurture their emotional, moral, cultural and spiritual well-being. This is an exciting and creative challenge because women can be spiritual mothers anywhere: in the office, at home, with their grandchildren, in the neighborhood, even sick in bed” (Katrina J. Zeno, Discovering the Feminine Genius: Every Women’s Journey, 41).

I found great comfort in this quote last night. I’m not sure why I did but I did.

Maybe it’s because I struggled with infertility so I recognize the want for a biological child.

Maybe it’s because I know people who have adopted or in the process of adopting a child.

Maybe it’s because I have spiritual mothers in my life that have no biological lines to me but have impacted me so much.

Maybe it’s because, as a teacher, I feel like I have been a spiritual mother to some of my students I have watched grow into amazing young men and women.

Maybe it’s because I have seen spiritual motherhood IN ACTION from a multitude of women my entire life – some with children and some without.

Spiritual motherhood. I think I found comfort in it because it’s bigger than me and what I am feeling. This whole earthly motherhood gig is T-O-U-G-H! But somehow, to know that I have something inside of me, that we all do, that feeds our children and the people we connect with around us, that’s bigger and stronger than how I feel right now covers me in comfort and the grace I desperately seek.

Honestly, right now I just feel like I am barely surviving. You know just doggie paddling in the waters of life. My kids probably watch too much TV, get away with too many things, and eat way too many chicken nuggets. I mean, they don’t mind but the inadequacy of how I feel in raising them is suffocating. But right there, in the middle of me suffocating, the Lord says “It’s okay.” The Lord has blessed me, and all women, with this spiritual motherhood because even know I’m totally judging myself (and openly sharing that judgement on my post right now), it doesn’t matter. As long as I am here, present with my boys, they get SOMETHING from me that I didn’t know really existed until last night. I don’t even know if I quite understand what I give to them. But I have been blessed with “an exciting and creative challenge” that I wouldn’t change for the world (Katrina J. Zeno, Discovering the Feminine Genius: Every Women’s Journey, 41).

Here’s to spiritual motherhood,

 

Rachel

The sacrifices we make

and sometimes it really sucks…

Well this week was my BIG check up. So many questions…. Did the hematoma start dissolving? How’s my placenta? Is the baby growing okay? Can I go on my trip to Usborne’s convention? Can I go to Gulf Shores for a week with my family? To be honest, I wasn’t completely convinced I would even get a small bit of good news. I know, I know. So pessimistic. But seriously, my last two appointments haven’t been so great.

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Here’s us leaving that regular urine sample and about to start my gestational diabetes test. Goodness I am nervous about the results! So stay tuned for that.

So let’s get to it….

The hematoma: still there. What does that mean? I’m still at risk for bleeding. So continued restrictions. Strike one.

The cord issue: well it’s permanent but the baby is growing fantastic! So currently the cord isn’t causing any issues. Ball one.

The placenta: IT MOVED! So it’s no longer considered an issue. Whoop! Ball two.

Can I travel to convention for Usborne Books & More June 7th-11th? Hesitation. Strike two.

Can I travel to Gulf Shores with my family June 17-24th? Hesitation. Strike three.

I’m out.

Although I couldn’t be happier for a healthy baby at this point, I’m pretty sad, disappointed, angry and frustrated. Let me explain why the hesitation.

I’m high risk. Well, that alone pretty much seals the deal. Once you’re labeled high risk, it’s pretty much over. Because ANYTHING can happen at ANY time. I was labeled high risk with the twins but it was ONLY because I was carrying twins. I, thankfully, didn’t have any complications with them and never carried them long enough to experience them. Can I go back in time and tell my former self to enjoy my previous pregnancy more? **regrets**

I’ve continued to have Braxton Hicks contractions. I’ve had contractions since about 16 weeks. Some stronger and longer than others. Some have put me out all day. The stress of traveling can prompt them along with dehydration. So my continued contractions could serve as an irritant to the hematoma and resume bleeding. Bleeding on a plane or somewhere not near my hospital is something that can potentially be problematic. Something that worries me.

I’m swelling. I started swelling with the twins pretty much around the same time. Seems like this time it’s a bit accelerated. Funny how the body remembers. 😫 When I was pregnant with the twins, I flew to Ohio (no hesitation from the doctor then) at 25 weeks. On the plane ride back, the pressure of being on the plane literally made my legs feel like they were going to explode. IT WAS AWFUL! Like so bad, we went from the plane to the hospital. So the doctor is worried a plane ride would enhance my issues.

Okay so drive, right? Wrong. When you are pregnant you are more at risk for clotting by sitting down for too long. So driving to Tulsa or to Gulf Shores would require a stop every 1-2 hours for bathroom and walking. In my case, I HAVE to drink a significant amount of water to keep the contractions at bay. If I don’t, I’m destined to have them. And my bladder is a trampoline to the little lady so forget holding anything. Did you know holding your urine too long while your pregnant can cause contractions? Yes and I’ve definitely found this true.

So what’s my point besides a large bitch session here on my blog? Well, I’ll be the first to admit I have control issues. Overtime I’ve learned, especially with the twins, to let things go. But I felt so out of control when I was pregnant with the twins. From being pregnant for the first time to personal issues making it challenging, I felt absolutely 100% out of control of pretty much anything. So, with this one, I thought, just maybe I would have some control. Or at least be too busy to really wallow in not having any.

I sincerely thank the Lord for being so busy with the twins but this is my time to wallow. To be sad. To be angry. Why? Well, that trip to convention was FOR ME. It’s something I have been planning on for a YEAR. It’s something I know I needed for myself and my business. It completely and utterly sucks I can’t go. I’ve spent money on travel, accommodations and registration. 😭 And that trip with the family, well, who wouldn’t want to spend a week in Gulf Shores? Maybe I would look like a beached whale but the memories I wanted to make with my kids there is something I won’t get, not right now anyway. Sucks!

I know and realize when you are pregnant you become an incubator and subject to the wants and needs to this tiny human you’re making. I get it. I don’t like it but I get it. And I’m mad.

I am mad for feeling like this again, for being terrible at giving life to another human being, for being, yet again, not blessed to be a woman who can do all things during pregnancy like workout, eat clean, play all day with their kids, etc. 

I literally give up everything I wanted this summer for you little girl. I know you will be worth it in the end. I know it’s not just a cliché but it sucks so bad right now. I’m sad right now. I’m wishing things were different right now. I wish pregnancy for me didn’t require giving up EVERYTHING to keep you safe. But it’s what I have to do.  It’s not what I want to do and quite frankly I haven’t stopped crying about it today.

But it’s the sacrifices we make as mothers even before you enter this world that help us become better mothers.image

Precious one, I don’t know who you will turn out to be but I know I’ll be better for this moment. It’s these moments God changes us for His will. I just wish it didn’t hurt so bad going through it.

 

Here’s to the sacrifices we make,

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

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

“Sisters, sisters….

…..nothing can come between sisters”

I am the oldest of 4 kids in our family. I have one sister, who is 16 months younger than me and then 2 younger brothers (4 years and 8 years younger respectively). I always wanted an older brother but that’s just not how life worked for me. Instead my parents brought home this sister. 

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One of my favorites of us

My boys are about to have a sister in about 4 months (I still can’t believe it) and there is just something about having a sister that is the most frustrating, at times, explosive, and most wonderful experience I have had in my life. I hope the boys feel the same with maybe a little less explosiveness but let’s be real, she will have TWO older TWIN brothers almost just like her daddy. I couldn’t be more excited her and nervous for them. Ha ha!

The explosiveness. When I think about growing up with my sister, I think about her stealing my clothes and being a BRAT. Seriously. I would have to label my clothes to get her to stop taking them. I would get so mad. And she still took them. 😦 Why did it matter so much? Well, I’m sure it’s all about territorial things when you are growing up, right? I wasn’t the only one dealing with this I am sure. I’m also sure I was a brat too but this is my version of the story, right? 😉 Then when things really got crazy between us, my dad would sing us the song from White Christmas Sisters (Check it out here if you don’t know the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trD3Kqf-g0w). Man, that would really get our blood boiling! But I guess it would get us to stop for that moment. So parental mission accomplished.

Did I mention she always ALWAYS got away with everything too? I mean life couldn’t get more unfair! Maybe she was just better at lying and hiding what she was REALLY up to – I have no idea but she seemed to NEVER get caught. Me, on the other hand, ALWAYS got caught. I was ALWAYS told I needed to be a good example. Totally UNFAIR. I mean she had younger brothers too!

I don’t think there could be two people living in the same house that were SO OPPOSITE from one another. She was into architecture and modern looks. I am more into history and traditional looks – we still are today. I mean, when it came to almost anything, we had a different outlook on everything. I’m sure our parents were so exhausted from dealing with us by the time my brothers came along – I don’t blame them. They’re probably still recovering. 😉 

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She still makes this face now.

Anyway, as we got older and I mean, out of college, things were better between us – not great but better. I guess the whole growing up thing really helps. Plus, I was living in Dallas and she was finishing up her Masters with Texas Tech while living at home. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? 🙂 She was very helpful when it came to planning our wedding festivities and she was so supportive! To be honest, I was a little surprised, at the time, at how she listened to what I wanted and she was there for everything. It was really neat and memories I’ll keep forever.

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At one of my bridal showers

But really our relationship took the next level of understanding was when I was finally pregnant with the boys. I say finally because that wasn’t an easy process (we will get to that later in this blogging journey). In the weeks leading up to the boys being born, she changed. She grew up. My little sister literally grew before my eyes. I don’t know if that really happened and maybe I was the one who really changed but I saw HER for the first time. I understood her for the first time. We were really friends for the first time in our lives. The sister thing clicked with us and it was magical. 

In the photo to the right, I was doing my usual thing laying on the couch (I was so incredibly pregnant and miserable) and she wanted to take a picture of her with her nephews – so sweet. I had no idea that when the boys were born, next to my husband, she would be the rock in all of our lives. 

The boys were born at 34 weeks and lived in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) for 15 days at Memorial Hermann Medical Center (again, another part of the story that we will definitely talk about later on). While we were there, I’m pretty sure she came every day – the days run together when you are in the NICU so I have a hard time remembering exactly. Lucky for us, she worked in the Houston Medical Center so visiting was easy for her and it was helpful for me to have another adult there just to get my mind off the babies (well, as best as anyone could) and pumping and all the healing that needs to happen after a c-section.

These pictures were taken early on in our stay at the hospital. Some of these memories make me laugh because she was SO AWKWARD holding them and trying to feed them. Now, to be fair, the boys were very tiny so everyone had to learn how to hold them a little differently. So not only had I watched my sister grow up, I was watching her become an aunt and hopefully one day training her to be a mommy. It was beyond the neatest experience and I know when this little girl comes, she will have a better handle on her (I hope). I hope we all will. 🙂

We came home from the hospital and my sister, with the help of my family, had cleaned and rearranged everything to help us transition better. In the days after the hospital, she continued her aunt journey with us. She lives in the Heights so it’s not exactly around the corner. But whenever she made it to Sugar Land, she would stop by. This was the best time because I got a break and the boys learned who she was and to this day, she almost makes weekly trips to see us. 

In January 2016, she became the godmother to Andrew when the boys were baptized. In March, she treated Nick and I to the rodeo for my birthday – a much needed night out. By April, she was on our first flight with the boys to Ohio to see family! I mean, pretty much when we need her to be there for us – she is and usually without a complaint (except for missing some sleep 😉 ).

When she transitioned jobs over the summer of 2016, she spent the time off she had with her nephews (me too, but let’s just be honest about who she really wanted to see). We went to the Houston Zoo and the Fort Bend Discovery Center and we probably did others things I can’t remember. It was so fun and I loved the fact she wanted to spend time with us when she could have done a million other things. Her aunt-y heart is so big – I know she will have room for more. 🙂

On July 11, 1989, my sister, Rene Louise Hoelker was born and I had no idea how she would rock my world but I’m glad she did. I didn’t know that when my parents brought home this little sister of mine that we would grow to have this special relationship. I truly believe all those fights (yes, even some physical ones) and all the misunderstandings brought us to this point of friendship. This sisterly friendship is one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

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Rene’s Graduation from St. Agnes Academy May 2007

“Lord help the mister that come between me and my sister
And Lord help the sister that come between me and my man”  — Sisters, Bette Midler

Here’s to everything in between,

Rachel