update and diving back in.

Hi friends! Goodness, I have been terrible at blogging lately. I have to admit, its tricky navigating these post-TTC, now-pregnant waters. My heart still aches for those in the waiting season and I don’t want my pregnancy to be something that causes a triggering effect for grief. Because of that, I think I have closed myself off to writing for a bit, but when I lay in bed at night, my brain writes and I ache to get these words back out onto the screen. I was waiting for a big beautiful eloquent piece to come to me to break back in, but alas, said piece hasn’t come yet. So I have decided to simply just jump back in with an ice breaker, and then carry on as usual from there.:)

I will use this post to provide a little pregnancy update, so proceed with caution and if you decide to skip this one and come back later, please feel free!!!!

Tomorrow I will be 19 weeks pregnant! Where has time gone!? I am not sure. Here’s a sneak peek of what my bump looked like at 17 weeks. I find myself walking past the mirror and forgetting that I am pregnant and shocking myself with these two growing babes. I feel incredibly blessed every minute of the day and it still feels so surreal. Thank you Jesus!

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To sum up where we are today, I thought I would borrow and modify what my friend Elena does over at Baby Ridley Bump and provide a little weekly update. Hopefully it’ll summarize things up to this point.

How far along? 18 weeks + 6 days

Gender: Boy / Girl

Weight Gain? 5 pounds

Maternity Clothes?  YES! I have fallen in love with LuLaRoe leggings and maternity jeans. I am not sure how I will go back to button-pants when this pregnancy is done. I started wearing maternity clothes around 8-9 weeks because I found them most comfortable. I was on Prednisone for the first several weeks of my pregnancy for my antihistamine protocol and felt very swollen and bloated from that. Maternity shirts are super comfortable as well and I love the length!

Stretch Marks? None that weren’t already there haha.

Belly button in or out?  In

Sleep:  My first trimester I was up every 2 hours with bathroom breaks, but have found second trimester to be much kinder. I tend to only get up twice a night now and can get solid stretches of sleep between then. However, when I am having an insomnia filled night, the hope of sleep is lost and I usually just get out of bed and work on a project. The other night I cleaned out my closet and nested away.

Best moment this week: I started feeling Baby A move around daily and it’s so much fun experiencing that. Baby B has an anterior placenta, so it will be a while before I feel the squirms. Baby A tends to love when Daddy comes home and sister Cali barks hello, and also, loves listening to jazz music with Mommy while driving.

Symptoms:  Goodness, I have been so blessed. I managed to have a morning-sickness free pregnancy (thus far) and my only two “symptoms” have been a minimal appetite and back pain. Neither of those things stand in the way of me being overjoyed all of the time! I eat smaller snacks throughout the day to attempt to get my protein and calories in for the day, and rest with a heating pad + tylenol when standing becomes too painful. Thankfully my schedule allows for flexibility to take it easy. SO grateful.

Miss Anything?  Nada! Take it all away! I am loving this! (Although, I probably will have steak tartar within a week of giving birth. It sure does sound amazing!)

Cravings?  No cravings. Again, eating in general never sounds exciting, but once in a while something will sound good and then I eat it quickly before my stomach realizes food in coming in. My early weeks I loved Buffalo Wild Wings, but nothing special since then.

Food aversions? Eggs and pizza sauce.

Queasy or sick?  Nope!

Looking forward to?  We have our first appointment with our perinatologist on Friday for a 2-3 hour scan and I am looking forward to seeing these babies again! It’s been our longest stretch of time without an ultrasound – about a month! – and that’s been mentally challenging. Excited to see how they are growing and developing, and to get a good thorough look at all their organs and such. Prayers appreciated as we go into this Level 2 scan!

Activity: I was cleared from bedrest around week 12, and then given the okay around week 16 to start mild exercise. I got a membership at a local gym and go to walk on the treadmill 4-5 times a week for 45 minutes. It’s nice to get a few miles in and stay healthy. The gym also has a pool which will be nice as I continue to grow.

Complications / Medications? I am so happy to say my subchorionic hemorrhage is all cleared up and gone! Things are going smoothly! I weened off of my estrogen and progesterone (YAHOO!). I just take a handful of vitamins now, along with my nightly Lovenox injections for my Factor V.

Nursery Update: Josh and I were instructed to have the nursery ready between weeks 24-28 with twins, and so while moving is still comfortable, we went shopping and picked out our furniture! (Hello Surreal Moment #142). Some of the set was on back order, so we will be getting it mid-February. In the meantime, we will have the room painted and new flooring put in by the end of the month. Our bedding has been picked out and while we still have a long way to go before it’s done, we are making some progress! YAY! The babies will share a nursery while they are young, but each have their own crib.

There you go! And while I’m pregnancy sharing, I thought I’d share with you my 5 pregnancy must-have’s from my experience so far.:)

1) LuLaRoe Leggings. I am not kidding, these have been wonderful! My friend Ashley sent me a pair as a surprise during my two week wait, and a few more pairs made their way into my home since then. They are soft, comfortable, and the TC size has made it possible to grow and still have them fit wonderfully.

2) Write the Word journals. Pregnancy post infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss is hard and the mental game is tough. I have loved my Lara Casey ‘Write the Word’ journals because each day I can hop into the Bible and literally just write out the scripture passage for the day, taking my mind off of the worries and placing them on Him. It also gives me space to write out what I am grateful for that day and what’s on my heart, which I use for prayer journaling. This has been a great tool!

3) Boppy Pregnancy Wedge. I don’t think I realized how the weight of the bump would make it tough to get comfortable while sitting or laying down. This pregnancy wedge has been a life saver! I use it for my lower back and for belly support. It’s pretty small and is easy to travel with too. Winner winner!

4) The Snoogle. I got this early on in my pregnancy as a gift and it has been wonderful!!! It has made sleeping comfortable. I do routinely have to fight Cali for it, who seems to believe this Snoogle is for her. *sigh*

5) Gap and Old Navy maternity shirts. I love the Gap Pure Body long and short sleeve tee and the fitted scoop neck shirts from Old Navy. They wash really well, and are soft and comfortable to wear.

Okay, I lied, it’s going to be 6.

6) This cup for Joann Fabric. I know, how can a cup be so awesome!? But this cup has saved the day in helping me get 120+ oz of water in each day. The straw is wider than most and the cup holds 24 oz in it. I know it sounds silly to say a cup can change your life, but this cup has been a blessing. (It is only available in stores – the linked one is ugly, there are cuter designs. They are by the baking area and the 40% off coupons work on them.) (Shout out to my friend Julie for introducing me to it!)

There you have it! My beloved maternity go to’s … at least the ones I am recalling right now.

Now that I have broken the writing ice, I hope to get back into a regular routine, including lots of non-pregnancy thoughts and posts.  Thanks for all the continued love and support and prayers!

PS – And midst the excitement of progressing in weeks, my sister got engaged!! YAHOO! How cute are the happy couple!? We sure had a blessed 2016! 

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guest post: laurelbox.

Hi Friends! I am honored today to have the chance to guest post today over at laurelbox. They are a shop/blog that offers thoughtfully hand curated gifts specifically designed to nourish a heart after loss and their ministry is doing AMAZING things. I have loved the chance to get to know them better and to those of you who are aching, grieving, or navigating pain, or simply want to help a friend who is, their blog is a great one to follow and their Instagram account blesses my heart DAILY.

Pop on over to this page today to read a little about my thoughts on handling grief during the holiday season!

But wait, there’s more! I’ve teamed up with laurelbox to offer one lucky winner a package containing their own copy of In the Wait and one of their gorgeous “Ring with Hope” ornament, which recognizes a hurting heart this holiday season and offers a beautiful message of hope at Christmas. To enter, hop on over to my Instagram account now through December 15th!

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Good luck and thanks for supporting my guest post! :)

full circle moment.

The other weekend in church, I had one of those “full circle” moments. Those moments that are bigger than you, that zoom out wide, that sort of make things click.

Let me start by taking you back about 9 or 10 years ago.

9 or 10 years ago, I entered into a long season of silence in my life, a time where God was silent, painfully so. It wasn’t just for a month, or two, it was for almost 2 years. YEARS. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. In that season of my life, the words of Psalm 6:6 were read daily, inscribed in my heart: “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.” I prayed for magical signs. You know the ones. “Lord, make my left hand tingle if You are here.” or “Send me a sign, allow the lamp to flicker.” I never got a response, nor did I feel any different. 2 Chronicles 15:4 kept me going – “But when in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them.” 

I wasn’t sure why I felt so abandoned, so alone, so empty. It was confusing, as I had this relationship with God for years, one where I would truly feel the intimacy of a relationship with Him, an emotion, a guide. But the days, weeks, and months lingered on and I felt nothing.

In the months of silence, while I wasn’t feeling like I was getting anywhere, I kept reading my Bible, journaling, praying, and seeking Him because I felt like my experience in that past proved that He could be found. (And truthfully, I also thought “I’ve got nothing to lose.”) I was weary and felt a lost. I remember sharing this season with our couples small group at the time and feeling so numb and disconnected from Him. All of these prayers, these motions, these attempts, and still, nothing.

Finally, one March, I was sitting on my bed on vacation in Mexico, alone with my Bible and my journal and my iPod, when the song “How He Loves Us” came on by Jesus Culture and Kim Walker, and I felt like I was hit by a ton of bricks. You see, for these long months, feeling loved by Jesus was the opposite of how I felt. I felt alone. But as the words began to pour over my heart, it was like my soul instantly thawed. I cried and cried and realized, ironically enough, that He had been there the whole time. That He simply wanted to see me pursue Him with vigor.

So let’s fast forward to a few weekends ago.

Here I was, sitting in church, my first weekend attending in person after some weeks of bedrest, when a song started to play. Yes, you guessed it, “How He Loves Us”. And then my full circle moment came.

Here I was, sitting in church, pregnant, with twins. As I looked back at the time this song changed my life, I realized the second year of silence mixed right into our first year of trying to start our family, back when we didn’t know we would have a problem, back when we didn’t know what was ahead. I truly believe friends, that if it wasn’t for that long, treacherous season of silence, that I never would have gained the strength and endurance I would need to face the battle I was about to face. I think that without taking the time to pursue Him and seek Him, I never would have understand how much He loved me despite the pain, losses and sorrow. I think without that season, I would never be the person standing before you today.

And as that song played, I realized the love God had for me during that storm in a whole new way. You see, He knew what was ahead for me. He knew that I would need to go into the years of infertility fighting. He knew that I would need to be completely confident that He was ALWAYS by my side, and He knew EXACTLY what I needed to be prepared.

He knew I needed silence.

It broke my heart in the best possible way as I heard that song play out once more, completing this long anticipated circle of my season.

So, why do I share this with you today? Well, first of all, if you are in a season of silence right now, I understand. I understand how frustrated you are. I understand when people talk about hearing Him, or being answered by Him or being filled with peace because of Him, it makes you feel angry because you are doing everything you can and you don’t have that. I tell you this because I know the tears you are crying, the weariness you feel, the questions you are asking are draining. I tell you this because I want you to keep going. Even when it feels pointless. Even when you feel like He isn’t real. Even when you open up your Bible and you can’t seem to understand where this loving, kind, merciful God you are reading about is in your life. Keep going. Day after day. Keep praying. Because friends, I am certain, beyond a shadow of doubt, that in the moments I felt the most alone, looking back, He was holding me the whole time. He is worth fighting for! And He sees the BIG picture, the one, four, seven, or in my case, nine year picture in a way that you simply just can’t. He’s worth trusting.

Having faith in an invisible God isn’t easy. But if He was visible, if He proved Himself to you through physical acts all of the time, we wouldn’t need faith. (Hebrews 11:1) The growing I did in that season was invaluable. Don’t lose the chance to have your big picture moment, He has never left your side and never will.

I’d love to close this today by sharing this song and lyrics with you. I pray it blesses you today as it has for me.

“How He Loves”
He is jealous for me
Love’s like a hurricane, and I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me.

And oh
How He loves us oh
Oh how He loves us
how He loves us oh

He is jealous for me
Love’s like a hurricane, and I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me.

And oh
How He loves us oh
Oh how He loves us
how He loves us oh

Yeah He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves

Yeah He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves

We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking (ha ha)
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
when I think about the way

He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves
Yeah He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves yeah yeah

hey yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

Yeah He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves yeah yeah
Yeah He loves us
He loves us
He loves us (ha)

[Kim Walker speaks]
Yeah
His presence. His love.
Is so thick and tangible in this room tonight.
And there are some of you here that have not encountered the love of God.
And tonight God wants to encounter you.
And wants you to feel His love.
His amazing love.
Without it these are just songs.
These are just words.
These are just instruments.
Without the love of God, it’s just like we’re just up here just making noise.
But the love of God changes us,
And we’re never the same,
We’re never the same
After we encounter the love of God
We’re never the same after we encounter the love of God
And right now if you haven’t encountered the love of God,
And you would know,
Because you wouldn’t be the same.
You would never be the same again.
And if you, if you, want to encounter the love of God right now,
You better just brace yourself because He’s about to just blow in this place
And we’re gonna encounter the love of God right now.
So God I speak to all the hearts
And I ask God that every heart be open right now
Every heart be open.
Every spirit be opened up
To you God. To You.
And a love encounter
A love encounter from you tonight
A love encounter from you tonight God.

Yeah He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves
Let it go deep go deep go deep

He loves us
Oh how he loves us
oh how he loves us
oh how he loves
His love is going deep
His love is going deep tonight
His love is going deep tonight
See the Father
Behold the Father
Behold the Father (ha)


PS – For those asking, things are going great over here. The babies are growing perfectly and I am already 13.5 weeks pregnant. We are immensely grateful. I will try to provide a first trimester summary in the next week. Thank you all for your continued prayers, they are life changing.

7 Things Women Struggling with Infertility Wish You Would Say.

I’m always grateful for the chance to write over at EmpowHER. This week I’m sharing 7 things you can say to help a friend who is struggling with infertility. Pop on over and give it a read!

This is certainly not a complete list and there are always different seasons a friend may be going through where other words of encouragement may be applicable. But I would love to hear from you! Comment below and let me know what someone has said that has helped you, or what you wish someone would say. Let’s keep the conversation going, as education is a key part of support in this journey!

Click here to read ‘7 Things Women Struggling with Infertility Wish You Would Say’.


PS – A brief update! I am now 10 weeks pregnant, with my SCH reducing in size considerably! Praise the LORD! Both babies are looking strong and healthy. At our last ultrasound on Monday, we got to see both of them moving around and squirming! Baby B started the dance moves and our nurse practitioner said he/she woke Baby A who started dancing away too. It was beyond precious to see and I think for both Josh and I, made everything feel a little more real! PRAISE GOD!

We truly are in awe of His miracles. In the last 9 years, we hoped and prayed persistently for this day and this season, but at times, it was tough to believe it would ever really be here. I pray so much that our story brings HOPE to the hearts of those hurting and wondering if their day will ever come. Friends, we understand. And I pray that you are comforted tonight, in whatever season you are in, to know that He does see and hear your cries and requests. I wish I understood His timing more and could hand out Fast Passes to each of you aching. But please, be encouraged to know you are never alone and this tough, grueling road is not in vain. Press on dear sisters. I am praying for you each day.

Romans 12:15 has been on my heart constantly these last weeks: “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” Thank you all for rejoicing with us and know that we are joining you with empathy and weeping in your days of hurting too. I am grateful to know we serve a God who is capable of gathering us in His arms in both the days of rejoicing and the days of weeping.

With love,

Chelsea

recap.

It’s hard to believe I am already over 8 weeks pregnant! Babies and Mama are both still doing great. Here’s a brief recap of our last month!

October 5th – Beta (Results) day: I did not test before my lab appointment, and truly did not think I was pregnant. I felt too darn good. I talked with the nurses about what the timeline would be like for starting another cycle then headed off to join the crazy Gilmore Girls fans to wait in line for 2.5+ hours to grab coffee at “Luke’s”. The call came in and I sent it to voicemail. I was perfectly happy being in my little not-knowing bubble. While I got a cup of coffee,  I didn’t drink it just in case, but was fairly confident this cycle was a big fat negative (BFN).

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When Josh got home from work that night we finally sat down at the kitchen table, said a prayer, put the voicemail on speaker and listened. As soon as I heard our doctors voice, I began to smile, as it was so excited. Our first beta came back at 164 and they wanted to see it above 50. I think Josh and I were both in shock. We just sat there grinning at each other, finally hugging, then praying, then laughing. It was absolutely surreal, yet we had this call before and were cautiously hopeful.

October 7th – Repeat Beta day: Now we needed to wait and make sure our beta levels were increasing. Clinics ideally want to see numbers double in 48 hours, although the acceptable doubling time range is 48 – 72 hours. We nervously waited for our call, and when it came in, she shared our numbers went up but didn’t quite double. It was at a 60 hour doubling rate, having gone up 85% in the last 48 hours. While this news was still good, it wasn’t the solid doubling time we hoped for to feel a bit safer. We were asked to come back on the 9th.

October 9th – Repeat Beta day: Same results, different day. 60 hour doubling rate, having gone up 85% in the last 48 hours. She was still very positive and hopeful, going up is great and it was well within range. But I do have to say, Josh and I were a little nervous. We were asked to give it 4 more days and come back on the 13th.

October 13th – Repeat Beta day (and surprise ultrasound): I woke up early to go in for my lab work and didn’t feel great. I started having some sharp and random cramping on one side of my ovaries that took my breath away and began coming pretty consistently. I drove to the clinic slightly hunched over and worried. Could this be an ectopic pregnancy?

I talked to our nurse right away who confirmed this pain sounded suspiciously similar to an ectopic pregnancy. She asked questions about whether I had eaten this morning and such, then got my lab work drawn and went to grab the doctor. Within minutes I had a great team of physicians and practitioners standing around me on an ultrasound table, trying to determine if an embryo implanted outside of my uterus. While Josh was at work waiting to hear if I would need to be rushed to surgery, I was on the table praying. No one at this point knew we were pregnant and I was so worried about how this might end.

The doctor warned me that at exactly 5 weeks + 1 day, it was unlikely we would be able to see anything but fluid, however once she started looking, she quickly found a sac in my uterus – with a fetal pole and yolk sac! There were tears (me) and shrieks (them) as they oohhhed and ahhhhed about how great this baby looked. I was completely floored, the only time I had seen a sac on the screen was our second pregnancy and the sac was empty. This was a surreal moment and I wished so badly Josh could be there.

But the joy quickly turned to continued investigation to find out where the second embryo had implanted, if it had. After checking my tubes and ovaries, and seeing nothing, they went back to my utereus where …. Baby #2 was! Cue my messy tears at this moment! (I will forever be grateful for the kindness of the OB Intern who grabbed me Kleenex and squeezed my hand.) Baby B also looked great, showing a yolk sac and a fetal pole – both awesome signs of development, especially that early. They chalked the pain up to a growing uterus and possibly some pressure on my ovaries on my many cysts. But, I left that lab appointment that day with some BIG news – we were having TWINS!

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I raced to my car to call Josh who was awaiting a call, anticipating bad news and instead, I got to share the joyous news with him! It was an unbelievably surreal phone call. PRAISE GOD!

(Oh and my lab work came back this day showing a skyrocketed beta number, number doubling in only 40 hours, even better than the optimal 48 hours. Babies were showing off at this point!).

October 15th – sharing the news with our families: At this point, no one knew anything. We hadn’t said a word and our families were respecting our request for privacy.  But now with our beta levels at a comfortable level and our TWIN ultrasound in hand, we started popping in and surprising our families. It took a lot of sneaky coordination, especially since they were likely already suspicious, but with some good fibbing, we caught them all off guard! YAY!

(And yes, to those wondering, this PSL was indeed a PSC (Pumpkin spice crème – sans espresso since decaf is a no-no for me still).

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Sister did not know at this point. I preordered our drinks through the app. :)

I will have to share these stories in a more detailed blog later on, but telling my parents + sister, Josh’s parents, Josh’s brother, sister-in-law and kiddos, and Josh’s grandma in person was THE BEST. We were able to Skype surprise my grandparents and aunt and uncle and cousins back in Illinois that day as well and it was so much fun! These precious memories will stay burned in my brain forever!!

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a sneak peek at the way we told my parents and sister.

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Our nieces are so excited for their new baby cousins! TWO of them!

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4 special generations of Ritchie’s!

October 19th – the great bleed: I started feeling tired very quickly, although that was my only pregnancy symptom. I spent the majority of the day in bed, napping on and off. Around dinner time, we decided that instead of making dinner, we would go out and grab a bite to eat. Around 4, I started to get ready, showering, then laid down in bed for a minute. Suddenly I felt this big gush and it felt like I wet myself. I looked down to see so much blood. I quickly called Josh and told him to come home from work, then ran to the bathroom, getting blood everywhere and was terrified. I quickly called our after-hour clinic phone and left a voicemail, which said they would call back in the next hour. The specific details of the bleeding is too much to go into, but it was awful and scary and I thought for sure we lost the babies. The only comfort I had was that I had no pain or cramping, both of which had occurred while bleeding in my past miscarriages. The blood was so heavy and red and horrible. We weren’t sure if we should go to the ER, as there would be nothing they could really do at this point. We waited for the nurse to call us back. After many questions and triaging, we decided to wait this out at home and see if it got heavier or if cramping would start. I began chugging water and lying on my left side, checking in with the nurse throughout the night. Our doctor took the phone after 9 and was on-call, ready to meet us at an ER if anything should change. Finally around 10, the bleeding seemed to be slowing down a bit. As traumatic as this night was, I truly felt like God was circling us and providing us peace that whatever happened, we would be okay. We didn’t tell anyone, as talking about it seemed too real and we didn’t want anyone else to worry. We knew people were praying for us going into our heartbeat ultrasound the next day so we prayed and prayed and prayed.

This verse played in my head on repeat: Psalm 112:7 “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.”

October 20th – heartbeat appointment: The next day, my bleeding had nearly tapered off, which was a relief. Josh was incredibly optimistic going into our heartbeat appointment (in his words a “8 ½ out of 10” while I was about a 2.) As I laid on the table, I closed my eyes and waited. And within the next 5 seconds we heard her say she saw our two great looking babies with heartbeats! PRAISE THE LORD! We got to see the heartbeats waves this time, not quite yet hearing them, but seeing those precious waves were amazing.

Our measurements looked perfect and the babies hearts were both right at 112 bpm. We cried and sighed tears of relief. They then showed me the bleeding was caused from a subchorionic hemorrhage (SCH) located in my uterus, right between the two babies. While this only happens in about 1% of all pregnancies, it is more common in IVF pregnancies, occurring in about 50% of cases. Our doctor and team felt hopeful that with bed rest and care, this SCH could heal itself without causing harm to the babies. We simply need it to get smaller, not bigger. There is a slight increased chance of miscarriage with an SCH (3-4%). The risk comes that if it grows, it can cause the placenta to pull away from the uterine wall and bleed out everything in the uterus. Guess what? We are claiming victory that this will not be our story! So bed rest it is. Our doctor warned us that this gushing bleeding moment might happen again so to be prepared.

October 24th  – ultrasound appointment: After a full weekend of bedrest (think bed -> bathroom -> bed), we went back in to see if the SCH has changed in size at all. It did. It went from being more round in shape to more oval, shortening up its height but growing slightly in width. We were told to continue bed rest and come back in a week. During this appointment we got to HEAR both babies heartbeats! Praise GOD!

October 30th – gender reveal: Thanks to the technologies of IVF, we were able to find out the genders of our babies early! Our clinic did not know the genders prior to transfer and we were all so excited to find out! We gathered our family and a few close friends together for a great reveal! It was so nice to be around PEOPLE after being on bed rest for nearly 2 weeks, haha! While I was on my feet just a short time, we got to pop our balloons and share the news …. A BOY AND A GIRL!

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The Aunties surprised us with these amazing t-shirts! Theses kiddos have the two best aunties ever!!!!!! <3

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A precious captured moment between Josh and his mom

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Beyond grateful for the best family to come out and celebrate this day with us!

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A special thanks to two of my best friends for coming out and celebrating with us, capturing moments on picture and video! So thankful for these two!

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Josh and his best friend Ricky, who helped take pictures and video for us!

October 31st – ultrasound appointment: After another week of bed rest, we went back and saw our growing little babies! They were both the size of blueberries, measuring over a half inch, with heartbeats in the 150’s. They are starting to look more and more like babies already, and only at 7 ½ weeks! Our hearts are so full.

The bleed remained the same size – not growing, praise God! I am continuing on bed rest. Thankfully I have had no more gushing-bleeding episodes since the 19th. However, I have spotted a bit but it’s been a great comfort knowing the why and hasn’t created any fear in my heart. As crazy as it sounds, this SCH has almost been a blessing to my scared, post-miscarriage heart. I have always associated bleeding with miscarriage, but now the source of my bleeding has this pesky like name – SCH – and it’s not as scary. God seems to really know us so personally. I no longer fear going to the bathroom in the same way I have in past pregnancies.

So now, here I sit today, 8 1/2 weeks pregnant (I graduate weeks on Wednesday) and feeling very bloated and tired, but otherwise incredibly content and happy. We have been blessed with some great friends and family who have stepped up to help us during bed rest – bringing meals, running errands, planning our gender reveal party, and such. The impact this community around me has had on our hearts can’t be expressed in words. We are SO grateful.

We still have a long ways to go but we feel such peace. Peace that God is with us, peace that these are our babies, peace that He hears prayers, sees hearts, and knows us intimately. Peace that He is greater than uterine bleeds and lab results. He is GOD.

Our next appointment is Monday and we would love your continued prayers, especially for healing for the SCH and continued development of the babies.

This blog will still remain and I promise it won’t be all about pregnancy. I’ll continue to share my favorite things, what I am learning, stories and such. Bump or no bump, I am still me and here to walk these roads of life with you. :)

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A gigantic thank you to each and every one of you who left comments, sent emails, and reached out to celebrate with us. We are beyond grateful for the love and support and pray each day that our story gives you HOPE that miracles do happen! God is good!

pregnant!

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Back in March of this year, I shared with you two verses God led me to claim during this cycle. These verses have echoed in my heart, mind, and mouth over and over and over again over these last 7+ months:

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I sit here absolutely overwhelmed to share this news with you today … He has answered our prayers for a family, as specifically as giving us children. Yes, you read that right, we are PREGNANT … with TWINS!

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I am overcome with emotion writing that. Here I sit today, 6.5 weeks pregnant, having seen both babies heart beats flickering away at 112 bpm, and I simply weep with praises for His faithfulness to answer prayers that we have prayed for nearly a decade. Not to us, but to Him be the glory!

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And as joyful as the news makes us, we also want to pause with sensitivity, because we know there are so many of you today still suffering and waiting for your miracle. And friends, our hearts grieve with yours. We know all too well what it’s like to sit on your side of the computer screen today, wondering when it will be your turn, and I wish I had the words to comfort you today. This journey has taught me to find and fight for the best doctor and believe, above all else, that with God, NOTHING is impossible. Believe that, my friends. I have no idea why our prayers have been answered this time, but I know that it was not a mistake, and your timing won’t be a mistake either. Fight on, Hope on, Keep going. He is faithful in all things, even when we don’t understand His ways. Your hardship will not go to waste. He can be trusted. Truly, all things are possible.

We know we still have a long journey ahead of us but we just have to pause to celebrate HIS GOODNESS today. These babies are MIRACLES! We are in constant prayer for their little lives. We pray for their hearts to stay strong, their bodies to form perfectly, their home to stay healthy and their God to watch over them until bringing them to this earth full-term. I have had a small complication with a subchorionic hemorrhage (SCH) which has caused some scary bleeding, but our God is SO much bigger than that! For the time being, I am on low-key bed rest but you better believe I will gladly do anything it takes to keep these babies healthy! Bring on the Netflix and baby-chill!

I have so much more to share in the days and weeks to come. Stories of how we told our families and friends, the day we found out ourselves, the journey we went on with betas, and so much more. But today, today we simply celebrate! Today we shout for joy!!! Today, I AM PREGNANT. Today, we have seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) Today we thank you for your unending prayers, support, encouragement, love, kindness, and patience. The peace we have felt through this all is a significant testament to the power of prayer, one unlike any other I have experienced before. Truly, we have been surrounded by an army and it’s the most humbling and surreal gift.

Thank you Jesus.

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PS – A gigantic thank you to my amazing bestie Jana for capturing these photos for us! We can’t thank you enough!

FertilityIQ basecamp recap: let the information begin!

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A little over 2 weeks ago, I packed my bags and flew down to San Francisco, CA to gather with an amazing group of men (okay, man) and women who are passionate about making a difference in our infertility communities.

(Sidenote: Our friends from FertilityIQ.com, Jake and Deb, made this all possible. Their passion for the infertility community amazes me. Jake and Deb have beat infertility. They have the sweetest little 4 month old son, Lazer, but it took work for them to get there. They struggled themselves, faced loses, and realized the infertility community needed a unified voice to help them get from here to there. This family did NOT have to start FertilityIQ.com. (A free service where patience leave verified reviews on their doctors anonymously so that other potential patients can select the right clinic for them from the start.) This family did NOT have to fly us out to CA and sponsor this FertilityIQ Basecamp, host us so graciously, and advocate to get us into some of the best conversation spots possible. They didn’t have to – but they did because they care. And that, my friends, is pretty awesome. In no way is this post, or any of my continued work with them sponsored. It is my personal opinion that they are the bees knees and if you haven’t already left a review on your clinic on FertilityIQ.com, I would run, not walk, over there to do so.)

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Meet Jake and Deb!

Okay, back to the Basecamp:

Our stories all look different. Some of us have pursued IVF treatments, others haven’t. Some face male factor infertility issues, PCOS, recurrent pregnancy loss, while others are labeled with the big old “unexplained” stamp. Some of us have experiences miscarriages, some have beaten infertility, and others are still patiently waiting for their miracle. Each face around the table held a story – and represented an army of women with questions that needed answering. In addition to our awesome hosts, Jake and Deb, meet Caroline, Elisha, Lisa, Nikol, Katie, and myself. Once we said hello, it was like we had known each other all our lives, and the chemistry came alive. And so, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

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(from left to right) Chelsea (me!), Lisa, Elisha, Nikol, Caroline (holding Lazer), Deb and Katie. Shout out to Jake our camera man!

Remember that survey I asked you to fill out earlier this summer? Well, you guys filled it out in DROVES. (We drew our $125 Amazon winner in San Fran and because there were so many responses, we decided to draw TWO names! A huge congrats to Leanna D. and Jane R. for being our winners! I hope you are already spending your winnings in fun ways!). And what was so interesting was that out of the HUNDREDS of responses, there were some really identifiable themes – questions you all asked – and so we took those questions, set our agenda, and here we are!

Now, there is A LOT of information to be shared. And I want to dish it all out to you in digestible pieces, so watch for many other posts to come in the weeks ahead. However, for today, I want to chat with you guys about the themes we saw, who we met with, and then point you in a direction today to read a summary of all these meetings from the eyes of the different ladies around the table. Will all of the FAQ’s be hit today? Probably not, however, you have the chance to blog hop and learn A TON! Then I will spend some time tackling each of these highlights for you too, so feel free to leave more specific questions below if you have them, so I can be sure to answer!

Here are the main grouping of questions that you asked:

  • MEDICAL
  • COMMUNITY / SUPPORT NEEDED
  • FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE, GUIDANCE, INSURANCE, EXPENSE
  • 3RD PARTY NEEDS – WHAT DO I DO?
  • EMOTIONAL SUPPORT – HOW TO GET IT AND WHEN

Looking at this list, more specifically, the themed MEDICAL questions asked were:

General:

  • Why is there so much disagreement between doctors on tests, protocols, treatment order
  • Why are the costs so high and success rates so low?
  • Why is unexplained so frequently a diagnosis &; what should one do with that?

Progression:

  • How do you think about when to progress from IUI to IVF to donor egg to deciding to live child-free?

Lifestyle & BMI:

  • How much of a role does BMI play in success rates (does 25% vs 30% vs. 35% make a difference)?
  • How does diet choices (specifically: gluten free, red meat, organic) play into fertility?

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss:

  • After how many miscarriages should they get genetic testing?
  • What role does immunology play in infertility?
  • What about Natural K cells? A lot of women are being diagnosed and treated for it.

Male Factor Infertility:

  • Why would my husband’s sperm count go from high to low with no obvious cause?
  • Talk to me about varicoceles. Is it genetic?
  • With Male Factor, when is IVF necessary and when is it not necessary?
  • What can a man do to boost his sperm count, or improve his motility or morphology?

PCOS:

  • Besides adjusting the diet, what else really works for PCOS patients trying to get pregnant?
  • What are the most promising tests or treatments for PCOS?

Endo:

  • Any promising treatments coming for endometriosis?

What better place to get these answered then by meeting with the top doctors at Stanford Medicine?! We first got to spend some time at their embryology lab, watching freshly retrieved eggs just post ICSI, and observing where the embryos are stored and monitored carefully. We then sat down with Board Certified doctors, like Reproductive Endocrinologist,  Valerie Baker, MD and Urologist, Michael Eisenberg, MD and asked your questions. Want some answers today on what our time there looked like? HOP ON OVER TO NIKOL’S BLOG NOW TO READ HER FULL REPORT ON OUR TRIP TO STANFORD!

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Taking a peek at some ICSI’ed eggs from the lab

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A Male Collection Room – set in a different section of the clinic which was very nice for the guys!

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A peek inside the embryology lab! The yellowish tall container on the right is where the embryos are developing!

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Arriving to Stanford!

We then looked at your questions about forming and finding community, specifically looking at the TTC community that’s formed on Instagram, and how we can maximize it! So what better place to visit then the Facebook and Instagram campus, and spend some time talking with the Director of Community at Instagram! We had a blast there! (And seriously, what a dream job! The campus alone is insane. Rock climbing walls, tennis courts, FREE FOOD EVERY WHERE (you seriously don’t pay for anything!), tons of coffee shops and ice cream shops (again free). The campus looks like the Main Street of Disney World, filled with people doing bike meeting or walking meetings, pop up boutique shops, etc. Such a cool place to see!). To learn more about what our conversations were like at Instagram, HOP ON OVER TO CAROLINE’S BLOG NOW TO READ HER FULL REPORT ON OUR TRIP!

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Welcome to Instagram!

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A photo opp with Katie, the Director of Community (far left)

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Can’t go to Facebook without giving it a big LIKE!

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A peek at the “Main Street” campus and one of the many (free) cafeterias

Next, the financial questions – and those were endless! I am giddy to get into all the details of this meeting. We got the chance to meet with a highly reputable clinic, (privacy given), to discuss “Saving Money When Going Through Treatment”. The tips and tricks she gave us were INSANELY awesome. We KNOW finances hold you back from seeking the medical care you need. We know insurance companies are terrible at providing coverage to those in need. We want to help you find ways to making it more reasonable and affordable. I will say, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done here, but we got some solid saving money tips for you to start! HOP ON OVER TO KATIE’S BLOG NOW TO READ HER FULL REPORT ON OUR CONVERSATION!

One area many of us didn’t have direct experience with, was 3rd Party Reproduction (ie: donor eggs, donor sperm, the need for a surrogate or gestational carrier, and embryo adoption). Great news though, we brought in  Donor Concierge, a husband and wife expert team, Gail Sexton Anderson, Founder and Terrell Anderson, COO to get the scoop on how this process works. It was fascinating and I walked away with so much insight on the process. HOP ON OVER TO JAKE AND DEB’S BLOG NOW TO READ THEIR FULL REPORT ON OUR MEETING WITH DONOR CONCIERGE.

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Visiting with Donor Concierge over lunch

And lastly, we had to tackle the emotional questions you guys asked. Questions like:

  • How do I find local support?
  • When is the right time to see a counselor?
  • How do I know when it’s time to walk away from this journey and find peace living child-free?
  • How do I protect my marriage during this time?
  • How do I grieve properly?

Ohhhhhh, friends who are still reading this, this session was IMPACTFUL. (I felt like I went through a therapy session myself, there were tears!). It was led by Beth Jaeger Skigen, LSCW, who oversees many of the RESOLVE Support Groups.  I can’t wait to dive into my notes on this, but for your immediate satisfaction, HOP ON OVER TO ELISHA’S BLOG NOW TO READ A FULL REPORT ON THIS SESSION.

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We also know many of you asked how to start and lead your own local infertility support group, so HOP ON OVER TO LISA’S BLOG NOW TO READ TONS OF TRICKS AND TIPS.

Then, with so much swirling in our minds, we took some time to step back and regroup, with a little bowling of course! Truly, the friendships formed were pretty awesome. We were able to casually chat about what we were learning, before heading into our final night meeting – WHAT TO DO NOW?

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And friends, we have SO much good stuff planned in the weeks, months, and year ahead. We HEARD YOU! This whole infertility thing, it’s hard. Without the right resources, couples are spinning their wheels for far too long. Without financial reason-ability, some people have to walk away from their dreams of starting a family forever. With the stigma of infertility being so silenced, way too many women are suffering alone, without the help of a community or encouragement around them. All of this, it has to end. And we are doing our best to make a difference, one step at a time, so stay tuned.

Now before I close, I wanted to share with you my TOP 3 Takeaways from the weekend. Random things that stuck out that I just can’t wait to share with you. So here they are:

1) The Stanford doctors told us this – “Your voice (the patients!) will be stronger and more effective to continuing advocacy for fertility topics than doctors. So don’t be afraid to make your voice heard!”

2) 76% of women suffering from infertility have clinical anxiety and 53% have depression, although many will go undiagnosed. Depression and anxiety levels peak between years 2-3 of trying to conceive. Don’t wait too long to get help processing your emotions! Infertility is constantly entering into a world of grieving and unmet expectations. Remember that your doctor is not your therapist, that’s not what they are trained for, so take time to find a good one counselor. (RESOLVE offers so many resources for local support groups, both peer and professionally led!)

3) Patients CAN ask for a discount if paying out of pocket, especially if they have gone through multiple cycles. (Clinics may be able to give up to a 20% discount depending on size and status.) Tell your story to your patient billing rep AND your doctor. And if you refer friends, mention that!! Explain your financial hardships … it’s very possible to get numbers cut!

Now, I could go on and on about what an awesome weekend this was (it was!) and how bucket filling it was (it was!) but now, since I’ve rambled enough, I’ll close with some more pictures from our trip.

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Our first night in! LOVED meeting my two dear friends, Caroline and Elisha, face to face! Perfect time to whip out the selfie stick!

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The dinners Jake and Deb hosted were SO yummy!

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Caroline and I are Facebook ready!

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Pizza + to die for desserts to close out night 1. YUM!

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A few of us kicked off our Saturday morning early by popping over to the Farmers Market by the bay!

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This oyster lover just had to try a local treat – and it was DELISH!

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If you know me well, you know Lox are my favorite thing to eat for breakfast. This San Fran version of Lox was FABULOUS and I will dream about it for weeks to come.

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As will I dream about this lady’s hot chocolate. All kinds of happy.

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Little did we know this is NOT in fact the Golden Gate Bridge, despite our many squeals.

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One of the gorgeous meeting spaces we convened in.

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One of the most sacred treasured moment happened in my hotel room during a brief intermission. You see, it’s when this beautiful group of women asked to gather around me, lay hands on me, and pray for me and our upcoming transfer. *cue tears* And as these beautiful sisters in Christ prayed, it was overwhelming. Because never in my life did I think we’d be facing these battles, yet God, in His goodness, surrounded me with community. Friends I met online nonetheless! And it was powerful and reminded me just how much He cares. So through tears and laughter, we prayed, and it’s a moment I’ll never forget. 💛

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So many fun Uber moments during this trip!

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The REAL Golden Gate bridge, as seen from Jake and Deb’s apartment window. (Seriously, that view!)

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We all got to love on Lazer so much! He smiled whenever the camera was out, such a cutie!

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Another yummy dinner filled with conversation!

Until next time friends!

Chelsea