the power of a song.

Click here for the full lyrics 

We sung this song at church a few weeks ago and the lyrics were still as powerful as the time I first heard it. Yet, it was so interesting to see how God can take a song we have heard time and time again, and breathe fresh life into it. Let me explain:

While we were knee-deep in our battle with infertility, the phrases that stuck out to me were these: 

  • From this darkness, you will lead us: Waiting seasons feel so dark. They surround you. They feel like they will never break, like the light will never come in. Because you are waiting, you don’t know what the future holds. You can’t see ahead – what will the next 6 months look like? Wait, 6 months? I mean 6 weeks…6 days … 6 hours … The lack of vision of what’s ahead is blindingly dark. And so because of that darkness, the promise of God leading us is so encouraging. The prayers laced into this became “Lord, lead us.”
  • Our provision through the desert: Waiting seasons feel like one big desert. You are thirsty for answers, you are uncomfortable, you are aching and you feel like you just keep roaming. When will the break come? Will there be shade or water ahead? Will the desert ever make way to a place of rest, relaxation? Or are we destined to just keep wandering around aimlessly forever? Yet, as we wonder, He is our provision. He provides our hearts with peace, our aching bodies with rest, our wandering minds with His Word, filled with words of reassurance that we aren’t alone.
  • In the silence, in the waiting, still we can know you are good: Waiting seasons can feel like silent seasons. Sometimes, they are truly silent. And other times God is speaking to us, but it’s not what we want to hear, so we assume there is silence. All we want is direction, but sometimes it doesn’t come. Not on our timetables anyways. Where are my answers to prayers God? Where are we supposed to go next? But even when our heads scream “there’s no direction!”, His word reminds us of who God is. He is good. He has NEVER let His people down. He is not going to start with you. What does that mean? It means we can trust Him.

These lines brought my heart hope, comfort, and reassurance. The feelings I was experiencing – darkness, desert-like confusion, silence – they were normal. I wasn’t a “bad” Christian because I had these questions. And it reminded me to go back to the truth of who God is. Our feelings can’t be trusted simply because we are human and He is God.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT)

Now, as I sat back and listened to it again, feeling the little thumping legs of our baby girl and boy inside me, new phrases popped out and caused my heart to sigh in His goodness. Words like:

  • The Lord our God is ever faithful: the word faithful means loyal, continual, long-dedicated, firm and not changing. The God who stood with me in the hardest days of my life is the same God who is standing with me on this side. He brings the same peace, hope, comfort, and goodness as He did when my heart ached. He did not give up on me, even when my anger and frustration seemed toxic. And because of His faithfulness, we got to experience a miracle with Him by our sides.
  • Promise maker, promise keeper, You finish what You begin … You see it through ‘til the end: Years and years ago, He started a fire in us to become parents and by continual prayer, we asked Him to either change our hearts, close doors, or allow the promise that we would become parents to grow and continue. And when our hearts didn’t change, we took His promise at face value and believed that one day, He would bring His stirrings into fruition. 9 years was a long time to wait on a promise. I felt silly at times, like others were talking behind my back about that naive girl who still believed her God would come through. And yet, here we are – 9 years later – experiencing the fulfillment of the promise that we would become parents. He truly does see His promises through to the end. We just have to be faithful in the waiting and believe that His timing is better than ours. (Hard stuff!)
  • All Your plans are for Your glory: When things go “easy”, and there is no hardship, it’s so easy for our human minds to assume it was coincidence, or chance, or just what was supposed to happen. Yet, when there are obstacles to overcome, significant obstacles, obstacles so great that no one really believes it will ever happen, and then it DOES, well, what a beautiful platform to show the Lord’s hand at work! To know that our miracle has brought Him praise, fills my heart SO much and makes every single day in our 9 year wait worth it. My prayer has always been Psalm 115:1 – “Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” and I believe that He answered both our prayers for a family and our prayers for His name to be glorified with these two miracles.

Here’s the point – and it’s not to say in a belittling way “just wait till you get to the other side and then you will understand …”, because man, there are still days I wonder if He could have taken a shortcut and had the same results – no, the point is that God will always meet you and encourage you where you are at. If for you right now, it’s the silence, the waiting, the darkness and the desert – He is right beside you. He is walking WITH you. He is waiting WITH you. He is weeping WITH you. He is urging you to allow Him to be your provision, your leader and to believe He is good. He is asking you to turn your eyes and heart to Him daily and to trust that He is still in this waiting season of yours. WHATEVER the waiting season is.

Perhaps today you want a child so bad your heart breaks. Or perhaps you wonder when you will ever get to a place of thriving with your household finances. Maybe you desire for the city you live in to feel like home, or the homesickness to go away, or to find a friend who truly just gets you. Perhaps you wonder if you will ever regain a healthy weight or lifestyle, or meet a spouse, or be freed from the work stresses that plague you every single day. Or maybe, you just want to be freed from the NICU life, to be able to hold your child without fear of the wires getting in the way or perhaps you are wondering if you will ever sleep through the night again, if the crying will end, if the colic will subside. Or it could be the wondering if your daughter, the one you loved and raised, who turned her back on your family in devastating way, will ever come home again. Regardless of your waiting season, your desert, He is there. He’ll see it through to the end. Don’t believe your current state is your ending until He says it is. 

Or perhaps you are on the other side of a painful waiting season, and you can now see how God’s fingerprints were all over your story the whole time. You have experienced His faithfulness, you have seen Him glorified, you have felt the richness of answered prayers. You, friend, have a beautiful platform to share your experience. Allow Him to use you and your story for GOOD. Don’t turn your back on the experiences that brought you here. Turn back and reach out a hand to someone still struggling and let them know they are not alone. Use this time to pen out notes to your future self, who will inevitably go through another waiting season, with your exact feelings and emotions right now. Allow God to work with your future self!

Don’t give up hope. Keep trusting the One who has been faithful through all the ages. He loves you so much.

best

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!