top must-haves part 1.

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. While there is no additional cost to you to use these links, I do make a (small) commission if you choose to purchase any of these items through my link. If you do – THANK YOU! Okay, now that I’ve disclosed that, happy reading! 


Today I am sharing our TOP 10 favorite baby items! These are our MUST HAVES, the items that should be on every registry, in every household, and totally saved us. Okay, so yes, these are just our opinions, but we just love these items! Stay tuned for part 2 of our must-haves which will be twin-product focused! If you’re still waiting for your baby, don’t let this post discourage you! Skip it today and save it for tomorrow, because I truly believe one day you will be buying items for your child! HUGS!

Fisher-Price Auto Rock ‘n Play Sleeper: Okay, so not only did my babies LOVE sleeping in these months 0-4, (in fact Kirsten still loves to nap in hers!) but the fact that we could turn them on to have them gently rock them to sleep, is AMAZING. It has a sound feature and the “rocking” portion can run for 30 minutes or 6 hours. Our pediatrician recommended using these, although it’s always important to have you check with yours as well. But the auto feature is what was so nice. Plug it in, walk away! They are recommended to babies up to 25 pounds!

Miracle Blanket Swaddle: My girlfriend Jana told us about these swaddles after we had a few frustrating weeks of our kids breaking out of their Halo sacks. These swaddles hold their arms down gently but use a wrapping technique that makes it pretty impossible to break free from. My kids had a strong moro reflex and as soon as they were swaddled, they began sleeping soundly for 8 hours straight by month 2. These truly are “miracles”!!!! I can’t recommend them enough for newborns!

 Baby Merlin’s Magic SleepSuit: This sleepsuit, a swaddle transitioning product, is truly magic!!! Once the kids outgrew their miracle blanket, I needed something that would still muffle their moro reflex and keep them feeling safe and secure, but wasn’t something that was something they would want to break free from. All of my twin mom friends RAVED about these suits and let me tell you, they were right to rave! It took us a few nights for them to get used to their arms being out and moveable, but it’s so nice because they can self-soothe with their hands now and it offers a little more freedom. Even better, the company encourages you to send a picture of your child in it to them when you get it, and they will help customize your fit to ensure it’s just right. The fleece kind offers a little more weighted muffling and the cotton kind is a little lighter weight. I was nervous my kids would sweat in them, Logan especially because he runs hot, but that has NEVER been an issue! In fact, the first few nights I noticed their hands were a little chilly so now we use these mittens on them and its PERFECT. I can’t rave about them enough! My kids sleep soundly at night for 12-13 hours straight…I never want them to outgrow them, haha! (These are recommended for back sleepers in cribs.) (Pssst, hop on over to their website to read more about it and use discount code CHELS15 for 15% off your own sleepsuit now through the end of November! There are two sizes, 3-6 months (12-18 lbs.) and 6-9 months (18-21 lbs.), so if you have one size, stock up on the next size with this great deal! Or wait till Black Friday or Cyber Monday and layer your deals! YAY! And check out my post on Instagram where we are giving away a FREE sleepsuit to a lucky USA winner between now and Wednesday 11/22!)

Image-1 (2)

Baby Susher: This thing is gold. I kid you not. I saw this product when we registered and laughed at the fact that someone would actually buy it. We skipped registering for it and at my baby shower, a girlfriend gave it to me and told me of its magic. Skeptical, we kept it and when the babies were a week old, we brought it out. And, OH MY GOSH, let me tell you, it is wonderful. As soon as it starts shhhhhing, our babies stop making noise. We turn it on at night and they fall asleep to it’s gentle shush’s and I have even brought it to the doctor with me for shots. It goes with us in the car if we have a long trip ahead and works like a sleep trigger for their little eyes. I am so thankful my friend gave it to us because it is such a great soother!

Nail Frida: I always was nervous about cutting my babies nails because I have heard horror stories, but this nap clipper makes it so easy! Its angled on bias so it’s virtually impossible to clip something other than nail. It cuts the nail so easily and you can see exactly where you are clipping thanks to the “spy hole”. My kids actually enjoy when I clip their nails! Love!

Windi Gas and Colic Reliever: This product has saved us. There have been times when our babies have been in pain from gas and using one of these with a little coconut oil and a tummy massage literally helps them go from tears to smiles on the changing table. It’s the best way to quickly, gently, and effectively relieve their little tummies from trapped gas. AMAZING. I would recommend every parent keep a box of these by their changing table!

Boppy Lounger: These things are just lifesavers. They saved us day in and day out for the first several months of parenting. The babies loved to lay in there, eat in there, rest in there and they were easy to throw in the car and take with us too. A must. We still use them every day for story time. The kids love to snuggle up in there. Buy. Buy. Buy.

Wabi Sterilizer: I spend a significant amount of the day is washing bottles and pump parts. Literally dozens of pieces a day. When we were using Dr. Brown bottles for their reflux, it was even more pieces! We got some sterilizing bags but quickly realized that microwaving two parts or bottles at a time for a few minutes, then hand drying them, or worse, needing to let them air dry (so much time!) was just impractical. Josh researched this sterilizer and it has been the BEST purchase we have made. I wash everything with this soap and hot water, then put it in the sterilizer and an hour later, not only are they sterilized, but they are fully dried too. All it takes is a splash of distilled water and it’s ready to go. I know, the price tag makes it seem like a luxury, but for us, it’s a must. Especially because the alternative would be a million drying racks on the counter. I cannot emphasize enough how helpful this has been.

Bandanna Bibs: We love these bibs! They are so soft, so absorbent and unlike “big kid bibs”, have multiple snap options to make them fit all different sizes. They come in fun patterns, wash great, and we literally have dozens because we got through so many in a day. These are a great shower gift to give!

Weleda Diaper Care Cream:  This diaper cream came recommended by a friend (thanks Emily!) and I am SO glad we listened! This diaper care cream has been amazing on our kiddos sensitive skin and has never NOT worked within an application! It’s organic and comes from Germany, and a little goes a long way. Instead of mineral oil that most rash creams use, they use a beeswax which is more breathable and safe. We use the body cream on their bums over night as a moisture barrier, their face cream on their cheeks, and even their lotion and shampoo/body wash. It’s our favorite! (PS – There’s a sample kit with a good variety of products to try! Christmas list idea!)

Runner Up #11 …. because I couldn’t cut it!

  • Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat: These little chairs have been amazing now that the kids are sitting up more. They fold flat and are super lightweight and offer a much better sitting position than a Bumbo. A perfect option for the kiddos as they get bigger!

What was a favorite product of yours that I may have missed? Or might not know about!? Comment below! I love hearing what your babies loved! And if you try any of these items, let me know and share what you think!

Stay tuned next week for our Twin Edition! :)

XO,

Chelsea

so very special.

Every morning I dance with each of the kiddos and we sing a song I made up that goes something like this … “God made you special, so very special, there’s only one Kirsten/Logan in the world … God made you special, so very special, there’s no one else like you in the world!”

(So creative, I know. I clearly missed my song writing calling. HA!)

But as I sing these words to them, I want them so badly to know how much I love them just the way they are and how much I appreciate the little things about them that make them unique. And I pray that they always know how special they are … and that they celebrate the things about themselves that make them perfectly Kirsten, or perfectly Logan.

This world comes at us often and tempts us to compare ourselves to someone else. It tempts us to stop celebrating the little things that make us uniquely us, and instead, encourages us to become a chameleon to whatever is trendy, or might make someone like us more. And it makes me sad as a parent, to think that my children might be tempted to change from their authentic self, to make someone else like them more. (Imagine how that makes God feel!)

Don’t we do that as adults? We feel the pressure to talk a certain way, or dress a certain way, or laugh a little quieter, or  steer away from a bright color that we love to wear, because we don’t want to stand out? Has anyone ever fake-liked something just to fit in? I know I have.

What if instead of trying to change ourselves, we began each day singing my little song to ourselves …. God made you special, so very special, there’s only one YOU in the world!

Here’s the thing – People need you to be you.

IMG_0796

They don’t need you to fake it till you make it.

They don’t need you to try to copy them, or pretend to be someone you aren’t.

They need you to be you. To bravely be you. To be confident in who God made you to be.

This means you don’t have to apologize for crying over a commercial. It means you don’t need to shy away from wearing something you love just because it may not be in style. It means you need to embrace the body God gave you, regardless of what fruit shape it may be. It means you need to share your story, your heart, your words, your passions, with others.

And you may not be for everyone. And that’s okay. But when we start to snuff out who God made us to be, it only weakens our connection with others who might be a perfect match for us. Friendships need to be created from our authentic selves. My mom always reminded me that we don’t need to change for anyone. Not the way we talk, walk, dress, or act. Let them like you for you. Her words still ring out in my ears today.

So as I sing these words to K & L, I imagine God singing them to me too. I made you special. So very special. There’s only one Chelsea in the world. I made you special, so very special, there’s no one else like you in the world! I am learning more and more, that loving ourselves, is a beautiful form of worship to the One who created us.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I  thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” Psalm 139:13-16 MSG

teething.

My son has learned to shriek. He half enjoys to hear his own voice, and the other half is a result of pure impatience. When he is ready to eat, he shrieks. Even if I am 2 feet away preparing a bottle.

Calm down buddy, Mommy’s coming! 

What I am really thinking is Logan, have I ever not fed you when you needed to be fed? Have you ever gone hungry? I am doing the best I can to meet your needs whenever you have them! Nothing makes me happier than when you are happy and content. I know you like warm milk. It takes a minute for Mom to warm it. I don’t want you to have to settle for cold milk. Be patient. Your bottle is coming.

And to add to the shrieking, both of my kiddos are teething, which is *so fun*. (NOT!). I feel just awful to see them in pain, gnawing away at anything they can get in their mouth, frustrated that it’s not bringing them satisfaction. We try cold teethers, soft teethers, round, straight, and rigid teethers. Nothing seems to work. We have had to resort to Tylenol a time or two and I am just begging for those teeth to break through, to give them some relief. They don’t know why they are in pain right now, they have no idea that these teeth will be wonderful when they come in. For now, they just feel pointless pain.

As a parent now, I feel like I see God in a different way. Each and every day, I do everything I can to meet the needs of my children. And not only do I want to do everything to meet their needs, I want to do everything to meet their wants, because there’s nothing that makes me happier than when they are content and happy and peaceful. I want the best for them. Cold milk doesn’t cut it. Sometimes I can’t provide what they want – like total relief from teething pain – because I can’t speed up time or results, so I just have to do my best to help them, and provide them as many snuggles as I can, hoping my presence brings comfort. When Logan is shrieking for a warm bottle, it’s hard to reassurance him that it will be okay, that Mommy needs one more minute to warm it, to just trust me, that this is for his best….because they don’t quite understand my language yet.

Here’s the thing – I TRY to provide for them best I can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

BUT GODGod ALWAYS provides for His children and meets our needs and wants because He sees the big picture. He desires to make us happy, to “snuggle us” when we are crying, but sometimes teething, or bottle warming, gets in the way. And we don’t always understand His reassurance that He is still there, trying to hush us and remind us that it’ll be over soon, that we will be far happier with the results if we are just patient.

Sometimes our cries distract us so much that we don’t hear His voice soothing us…”Dear child, you’re almost done … its okay … shhh shhh your Father loves you. Your teeth will be in soon. Your bottle is almost warm. Stop shrieking, look into my eyes and know I want the best for you. Please be patient.” We become so distracted listening to our own voice, asking “why why why!”, that we forget that He is with us and wants the best for us.

And while I am only human and can only at best, provide teething toys and tylenol for my kids, God FULLY provides all we need – over and beyond what we could ever ask for, even when it doesn’t seem like it.

He is our Father, our Provider, and can truly be trusted because His love for us is far greater than anything we can comprehend. We can forget He is our parent, and just as we love our children or our pets or our spouse or siblings with all our heart, our knowledge of love barely touches the surface of how He feels for us. We don’t always understand His language, just as my babies don’t understand mine yet. And since we have that language barrier, I keep developing a relationship with them so even when they don’t understand what I am saying, they will trust me, trust that I want what’s best for them, trust that I love them and don’t want to see them suffer pointlessly. The same goes for God.

Have you ever thought “Why is He making me go through this?! Doesn’t He care for me? Why am I hurting so badly? When will relief come? I want _____ and I want it NOW!” 

Isaiah 55:8-9 says “My thoughts,” says the Lord, “are not like yours, and my ways are different from yours.  As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways and thoughts above yours.” 

As our parent, God sees much more than we see. He knows more than we know and we simply have to lean into the trust we have in Him, built on the relationship we have developed with Him, to rely on His presence during hard times. He brings us through the hard times, not without purpose. Sometimes it takes so much longer than we wish, I know. The length of time it takes is not reflective of His love for you. He sees that you’re hurting and He wants you to find comfort in His presence while you wait. He hasn’t left your side.

Hang in there friends. God loves you far more than anything we can understand. Cling to Him, He has never left your side.

XO,

ChelseaIMG_9846.JPG


PS – Here are the top 3 teething toys we have tried, and the kiddos seem to find the most comfort from them. If you are looking for some relief for your kids too, they may be worth a try! (The Manhattan one is our FAVORITE. Perfect for little hands! They go everywhere with us.)

Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Toy

Nuby Silicone Teethe-eez Teether with Bristles, Includes Hygienic Case, Aqua

Sassy Terry Teethers, 2 Count

PPS – Above links are affiliate links … and links I would totally recommend with or without affiliate links! :) If you choose to purchase any items, just think of it as a way to help me keep up with payment for the blog domain and the annual fees it takes to do so. :)

kare11.

Image-1

***(Click here for the video/article)***

Wow! We are beyond humbled by your support and love following our KARE 11 piece. It was an honor to be asked and a blessing to be able to share our story. I’m moved to tears reading many of your words as you share it on social media and am grateful to be a part of your lives. (If you are a new reader, check out my PS for a special note for you!)

From the beginning, we felt called to share our story, even before we knew what the ending looked like. Story sharing is vulnerable. You’ve been through it all with us! The ups, the downs, the miscarriages, the cycles, and finally the births of our babies. As I watched the story play out, this verse came to mind: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position…” (Genesis 50:20a)

But God!

Trials are hard. They are painful. They create unimaginable aching and questions.

But God.

He takes what was meant to break us, and He crafts it into good. He doesn’t abandon us. He sticks with us through it all. He walks WITH us, not ahead or behind. He waits WITH us.

And if we let Him, He uses us. I assure you, there’s nothing extra special about me than there is from you. I’m grateful for the chances I’ve had to connect the women in the infertility community with one another, they are all truly amazing, compassionate, caring WARRIORS. It never was about me – it simply was about doing what I felt like God wanted us to do: remind people they are not alone, that there’s always hope, and to never give up believing He is capable of miracles.

So, as you watch and share, be reminded that nothing in your life is in vain. Stay an active participant in your life. Be open to how God may intend your sufferings for good. There is always hope! Commit to that hope. Commit to trusting the One who writes our stories, beginning to end. And know that ordinary people are used every day.

We are blessed. 😊

Ps – Kirsten’s giggle at the end melts me.


PS – If you stumbled here today, a new reader struggling with infertility, I pray our story gives you hope. I understand how painful it is to get baby shower invitations. I understand that with Halloween coming up, you dread opening social media and seeing everyone’s smiling children, when all you want to do is dress up your own. I ache understanding the pain you feel as you see another negative pregnancy test, get another phone call about a friend who is expecting, and pass the baby section at Target. I get it. You are not alone in your feelings of loneliness, exhaustion, frustration, and sorrow. Please don’t give up. Keep your chin up. God is with you, even if you don’t feel like He is today. Silence does not equal absence. Hop onto Instagram and shoot me a message that you need a little prayer today to keep your hope up. Your infertility doesn’t define you. You are not broken, even though some days it feels that way. You did nothing to “deserve” this. You simply have a higher mountain to climb than some others, but let me tell you, personally, the view from the top is extraordinary. You CAN beat infertility. It may take more time than you expect. Find a great doctor to work with (check out FertilityIQ.com to find the best RE in your area!) and don’t stop praying, even when you feel like you are getting no where. Every prayer is heard, every tear is collected, and your harvest will be heart-healing and soul-filling. I am standing with you, new friend, you’ve got this. xoxoxo

PPS –  I know many of you already know this, but I wanted to share that I co-authored a women’s 6-week devotional called In the Wait during my own 10-year journey through infertility. It’s not a devotional based solely on infertility, but instead, a devotional that weaves waiting in with women who want to build a strong relationship with the Lord. Maybe you find yourself worried or anxious, feeling overwhelmed wherever you are today – in the thick of infertility, pregnant, or living life as a busy mom. It’s for YOU, someone who dreams of claiming victory and living a joy-filled life no matter what your circumstances are. You can read more about it on my blog here, or check out some of the reviews on Amazon! If you have any questions, check us out at @IntheWaitstudy or #inthewaitstudy on Instagram. You can order a copy on Amazon here!!!

ttc mug exchange 2017.

exchange

**The Mug Exchange for 2017 is now closed.**

It’s time for our 2017 TTC Mug Exchange! Wooohooooo! Last time we had over 1500 ladies participate and it was a BLAST! All women in all phases of infertility (trying to conceive, pregnant, adopting, new moms, etc… more details on this below!) are invited to participate. I absolutely LOVE how all of these women come together to support one another and spread positive energy and love.

Before I share how to sign up participate, let me answer a few commonly asked questions about these exchanges: (even if you have done this before, I still suggest skimming this as things always change a bit!)

Who can participate?

Anyone who is currently trying to get pregnant, including those suffering from secondary infertility; those who have recently adopted, are in the process of adopting or searching for their new family member; anyone who is currently pregnant after dealing with infertility or recently having had a baby after a struggle and lastly, anyone who is using a gestational carrier, egg donor, sperm donor or surrogate.

Please note that while I will do my best to partner you with someone in a similar stage, you may be given anyone to purchase for. As this exchange grows, it has become increasingly more difficult to ensure that you get an equally appropriate match. My very best efforts are given! Just try to remember that you are encouraging another TTC sister no matter what their story is!

How does it work?

Once you sign up and get the name of the person you are sending to (more details below), you will work to put together an exchange box for them, including a coffee/tea cup/mug. You will be given a “send-by” date and I ask that you respect that date unless there are extreme circumstances. You will send and receive a box to the same person.

How much is this going to cost me?

Typically the suggested amount per box is $20 plus shipping. I don’t advise that you spend more than $20 but we definitely do have some generous women who put together a box worth more. Since not all mugs cost $20, you are able to fill the package with ANYTHING else that might make someone smile! Lucky socks, a special treat, a fun lipgloss or nail polish …. You can’t go wrong (unless you break the law) – this is definitely a situation where it’s the thought that counts.

I do ask that you invest in a lot of bubble wrap and a good box. It helps tremendously to ship it US Priority and get a tracking number just in case anything should happen during transit. (Plus it comes with $50 insurance!) No one wants to receive a shattered mug due to poor packaging!

Besides a mug, is there anything else I HAVE to include?

A note! Please include a card inside with a special word of encouragement for your new friend.

I live in the US/Canada/UK/Australia/etc, can I participate?

Yep! We always have women from all over the world participate and I think that is what makes it so much fun! HOWEVER, you will only be assigned an overseas person if you agree to be open to shipping internationally. (More about that below). I do ask that if you live outside of the US, that you be open to shipping internationally, as many of the participants are located in the United States, however I know that sometimes that’s not an option and that’s okay too. If I cannot find you a partner I will let you know.

What kind of mug do I need to send?

You can get ANY kind of mug. Travel, big, small, delicate, clunky. It could be a cute mug from your local coffee shop, something you ordered on Etsy, bought at Walmart, or ordered off Amazon. There are SO many adorable mugs out there – be creative! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – this can be a mug that you adore or that you think someone else would love.

Because shipping a mug can be tricky, there may be some women who just want to order a mug online and have it shipped directly to their person and then they can send a separate little box of surprises if they didn’t spend $20. (If you do this, take advantage of the “gift card” section in a order to let them know that’s what you are doing).

How many women participate? Is this a legit exchange?

Our Mug Exchanges have been doubling rapidly. Back in 2013, we had about 30 women, in 2014, we had over 400. In 2015 we had nearly 800! Last year, over 1500!  I am excited to see what this year brings!

What happens if I send a package but never get one back?

Ugh, guys, it does happen, I have to be honest. It doesn’t happen often but there are definitely a small handful of women each exchange that are subjected to a lost box, a flakey partner, or some other sort of weird circumstance. I will do my best to reach out to your sender once or twice but sometimes due to the sheer volume of participants, it just becomes impossible to make sure everything gets straightened out. From the very beginning of the exchanges I have warned participants that you have to come into this exchange with the understanding that you may not get a box. It stinks that there are some people that might taint this experience but I do promise that it is far and few between. I am a firm believer that it is a blessing to give and if you are one of the few unfortunate few that receives a shattered mug or nothing at all, just know that your gift has blessed someone else. So please understand the risks involved but know that you likely won’t have a problem! In exchange for my time coordinating this, I just ask that you follow through with your commitment to send a package, sound good? :)

If you have fallen victim to someone not sending a package in the past, you will see a place on the form for you to note this.

Can I share this on my blog/with my instagram followers/on facebook/twitter/etc?

Of course! We LOVE new participants and their friends. Anyone in the infertility community is welcome to join in. We will be using the hashtag #TTCMugExchange2017 so feel free to share and let’s spread the love! (Also, if you want a live link, you can send them to this one: https://trialsbringjoy.com/mug-exchange-2017/

What are the dates I need to know in order to participate?

You will need to sign up no later than end of day Sunday, October 8th. That’s a good 2 weeks of time to sign up, spread the message and start brainstorming. You will then receive your exchange partner from our team no later than October 18th (hopefully sooner!). (Because of the hours it takes to coordinate, I have an amazing team to help me out this year, and all emails may not go out on the same day. So if you see someone post that they got their person and you have not yet heard from us, it’s likely due to the amount of time it’s taking us to email everyone back individually. Do not panic!) Once you receive your person, you will have until Saturday, November 4th to put together your package and mail it out. Please make sure if you sign up that you are able to get your box out on time.

What happens when I get my package?

This is the fun part! I LOVE seeing all of the posts where people show off their package! Post your mug to social media and tag it with #TTCMugExchange2017 so we can all peruse the pictures. Send a shout out to your person, blog about it, Instagram it, do whatever you want to celebrate this fun exchange! I do understand too that there are many women who are not publicly sharing their infertility journey with others so know that you don’t have to share it publicly in order to participate. The key thing is that we offer encouragement and support to one another, even if that circle stays small.

ENOUGH FAQ’S! HOW DO I SIGN UP!!?!

Alright, here is how you sign up!

1. Click here to complete the form:

**The Mug Exchange for 2017 is now closed.**

You will be routed to a Google Form. If for some reason, you have an extremely difficult time getting this form to work (it’s only happened 1-2 out of hundreds), you can email me at TTCExchange@gmail.com. (Please allow 48 hours for reply.)

I will close the exchange at midnight on October 8th (CST) and will not be able to accept stragglers after that.

2. Make sure you receive a confirmation page! This will verify that your entry has been received.

3. Share! Let your friends know about the exchange! You can share my blog or instagram account so that they can find out more information. I feel awful when someone finds out “too late” and can’t participate so help me make sure no one gets left out. Again, use #TTCMugExchange2017 to share – the more the merrier!

4. Shop, write, smile and sip! Once assignments go out, shop and send out your package with an encouraging note. Then wait patiently and enjoy your mug once it arrives. Share the thoughtfulness of your new friend! I have seen so many amazing friendships form as a result of this exchange. Cell numbers are swapped, emails are exchanged – I have even seen friends plan trips to visit one another due to the friendship formed over a simple package! I LOVE THIS PART!

That’s it guys! I am so excited for this. These exchanges are among the highlight of my year. YIPPEE!!!!

Ready, set, GO!


PS – Have you checked out our devotional on waiting called In the Wait? You can purchase a copy over at Amazon  or find more information on our encouragement community here!

mom life.

Why hello friends! It’s been 3 months since I last posted and they have been 3 months unlike any others. This summer has whizzed by, and has been filled with the wonderful joys and exhaustion of having newborn twins. We, of course, would have it no other way! Don’t get me wrong – the hard is hard, but it’s hard with a purpose, laced with joys and answered prayers. Exhaustion due to two little peanuts is far better than exhaustion caused from Lupron shots and early morning monitoring appointments, wondering if it would all be worth it.

There’s no good way to summarize how life has changed. The first 8 weeks were completely disorienting as we worked to get to know our newest family members and discover who we were as parents. Toss in 8 times a day feedings, 16-20 diaper changes, 4-6 hours of pumping (I am exclusively pumping and bottle feeding) and I feel like life was a blur. A wonderful, tear-filled, humbling, redefining blur. Both kiddos struggle with reflux and it took a good 2 months to find the right medicine to help their writhes and wiggles. I vividly recall sitting in the nursery at 2:00 am, night after night, staring at Josh with sleep-filled eyes as we tried everything we read to keep Logan from spitting up more than he was consuming. Josh only got a day or two off of work once we got home from the NICU stay, and we have been incredibly thankful for the family who has stepped up to help out, especially in those early weeks.

Once we hit 10-12 weeks, I feel like a fog lifted! And now they are nearly 17 weeks! Our routine is starting to feel more feasible. Smiles are emerging and Kirsten and Logan’s little personalities are beginning to shine through. The smiles change everything and make every hard, tiring, moment SO worth it. What can we do to make them smile again!? Cue dance moves, silly sung songs, wacky flaily arm twirls and much more. And guys, they are the BEST. BABIES. EVER.

I kid you not, at least once a day, Josh and I look at each other in awe that these two kids are ours. We constantly thank God for blessing us with them in His perfect timing, timing that never made sense to us in the moment, but timing that could only be explained as perfect now. We have been blessed with the most precious son and daughter and knowing that God chose us to be their parents is so humbling and the best feeling of all.

I didn’t want you guys to feel like I disappeared – I am still here! Life certainly looks different than it did 6 months ago. I am in the slow process of learning who I am now as I add “Mom” to the list of roles I play. I miss writing more than I thought and spend the wee small hours of the morning writing in my head, but I miss getting it out as much as I used to. I know there will be a season for that ahead and I hope to dabble in it a bit more as our daily routine steadies even more. But the days, though sometimes long, are short when laced together. In just a week, K & L turn 4 months – a third of a year – and where the time went baffles me. I don’t want to miss out on moments with them, but I also am learning how important it is to also incorporate self care. It’s a fine balance, one I am not even close to perfecting.

I feel like we are in the season of Psalm 34:8a – “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” We have waited and are now in a season of harvest. Reaping in blessings where we had planted and watered in tears years ago. It’s hard work still, but rewarding work. We constantly look at their little fingers, toes, eyelashes, knuckle dimples and think about how many people have prayed for them. It blows us away and we continue to be so grateful for the role you have played in God’s story for us.

Last night was the first night we attempted to move the babies from rock’n’plays in our bedroom, into their cribs in their room. Oh how the tears fell! How are my babies old enough for this next step? I feel the time slipping through my fingers – have I savored it as much as I need to? I close my eyes as I cuddle them close, hoping to imprint everything into my brain and heart – the smell of their post-bath heads, the feel of their tiny fingers curled around my hair, their breathy sighs as they lean into me. This is everything I prayed for, everything God knew He would be providing me in His time.

It’s about time for bed and I am reminded that another day has passed and tomorrow they will be a little bit bigger. I love seeing the new developments they are learning and listening to them finding their voice, but also know they will never be this little again. Oh my heart.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures, and a promise to return again soon…and ask that if you think of it tonight as you close your eyes in bed, if you could pray that our transition to their cribs would go well? Last night went great until the middle of the night, and they have been amazing sleepers thus far and we are hoping that will continue even in their cribs. I would *so* appreciate it!

Leave a prayer request in the comments and know I will be praying for each one late at night when I go to pump. It’s my privilege.

With love,

Chelsea

(Newborn photos taken by Molly Sheilds Photography)

IMG_6200IMG_6320IMG_6361IMG_6422IMG_7554IMG_7059IMG_7201IMG_7360IMG_7379IMG_7507IMG_7790

our birthing story. 

Today was my scheduled C-section date. The babies would have been 38+2 and we would have checked in to the hospital to welcome full term twins and then arrived home a mere 4 days later to start our life together.

God had other plans.

As you know, we welcomed Logan and Kirsten at 35+0 on May 10th after my water for Logan broke at 34+4 on May 7th, nearly a month earlier than we had planned. We had just finished running errands on this gorgeous summer-like day. A stop to Menards to order a humidifier for their nursery, a swing through Carter’s to grab a few newborn pajamas for the hospital for the following month, a dash through Costco to grab a couple groceries for the week, and a stop at Jimmy John’s to grab a sandwich for lunch. As we arrived back home, Josh started to work on a garage reorganization project, tearing apart the inside to install some new shelving and make sense of some of the storage we kept in there. Since it was so beautiful out, Cali and I kept going outside to sit in a lawn chair with a book so we could visit with Josh in between laundry loads. I had just cut off all the tags for the new pajamas I had bought the kids and done a laundry transfer when I went back outside to sit for a while. I sat back into the lawn chair, facing Josh and the garage, admiring the fact that he had everything set out on the floors as he was going to beginning reorganizing, when WHOOOOSH. As soon as it happened, I knew it was my water. “Josh, my water just broke.” I remember calmly saying as I felt the warm fluid pouring out of me. My belly was so big I couldn’t get out of the chair without help, so I just sat there feeling it pour out of me. “Are you serious?” Josh stopped and turned wide eyed, probably equally anxious about the fact that my water broke and his garage was torn up, haha. “This is it. Yes, it definitely my water, isn’t it pouring everywhere?” As he walked over he said “No, I don’t see anything.” “Are you sure?” I replied, “it’s still flowing.” He walked over quickly to pull me up and once up, we realized it was a water proof chair and truly was holding all the fluid in a pool on the chair, haha! The next few minutes are a blur! We kept saying “THIS IS IT! Oh my gosh!”. I stood on the grass for another few minutes while my water continued to empty while Josh threw everything on the garage floor to the side so he could park the car back inside and then he helped me into the house, where I called labor and delivery and he frantically threw his bag together. The nurse asked how far away we lived and I said “30 minutes” and she replied, “then I’ll see you in 30 minutes.” I asked if we had any time for me to throw a few things into my bag (day of things, like a charger, make-up, etc.) and she replied “3 minutes max. Are you feeling the babies move?” I wasn’t but that was pretty typical of the 4:00 afternoon hour for me. I made a towel diaper of sorts and quickly redressed, tossed a few things to Josh to load into the car and said a quick goodbye to Cali. Knowing that was the last time I was seeing her before she became a big sister was so bittersweet and I wish it could have been longer, but I knew I had to get to the hospital as soon as possible. Within minutes of my water breaking, we were off.

We weren’t nervous, just in excited shock! We calmly called our parents and siblings and 2 of my best friends, all while navigating Sunday roads that seemed to hold far too many cars for the 4:00 hour. Everyone was so excited and the calls were quick, asking for prayers that I could hold off on delivering till at least past 9:00 pm, as my blood thinning shots (for my factor v) were still actively in effect and would cause complications if I were to deliver before that, including having to be fully put under for a c-section, and I so wanted to be awake and alert! Once we got to the hospital, we double parked and Josh wheeled me in, 39 minutes from when my water broke. It was such a surreal hour, I can’t even explain it. We quickly were brought to our room (5) within 5 minutes and they quickly began to work on locating both heartbeats. These babies had been a little more difficult to both find and that remained consistent once we arrived. They commonly had similar heartbeats, mirroring each other for over a minute often, which usually led nurses to believe they had the same baby on the monitors. While they soon found both heartbeats, they couldn’t get them to stay in the monitors and it took over hour and half before they called in an advanced ultrasound tech to find where they were exactly. (Even the bedside ultrasound done by the nurses wasn’t able to help out.) Once the tech gave them specifics, we were able to get them on the monitors. We were relieved to know both heartbeats were strong and the babies were doing great. By the time all of the doctors, nurses, and techs started to slow down, it was after 8:00 pm and Josh reached out to finally give our families an update. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to us that both sets of grandparents were waiting in the waiting room for a call! We had established with our doctor a plan to hold the babies in ideally till Wednesday so that we could do 2 rounds of steroids, 24 hours apart, for the babies lungs, and 48 hours of magnesium for handful of reasons. We then needed to give everything at least 24 hours of optimize full benefits, and so May 10th at 8:00 am became our goal date and time to make it to. Often times, once a woman’s water breaks, labor begins, so we truly were blessed and lucky that it never happened for me and that the medications didn’t cause any uncomfortable side effects, as magnesium is known to be particularly brutal.

Over the few days, the babies were incredibly difficult to keep on the monitors and my need to get up regularly to go to the bathroom caused a lot of work for the nurses. I was assigned a 1:1 nurse to just sit and hold the monitors onto my stomach and it would often take over an hour just to relocate the hearts once I or they moved. I can’t thank my amazing treatment team enough for the incredible care they provided. We had the BEST nurses, truly. I had heard our hospital, St. John’s, had great nurses, but the care and love from their staff went above and beyond what we could have asked for. I managed to find a spot on my left side laying horizontal that seemed to give us the best chance of keeping them both on the monitors and so that became my new norm. It didn’t matter that it meant my back was to the tv, or it was on a painfully numb part of my hip due to damaged nerves from injections, or that I had to eat laying down — it was all worth it to keep these babies in as long as possible!

Monday we had visitors. My friend Jana brought us lunch, my mom brought us items we had forgotten at home, my sister stopped by to visit, as did Josh’s parents and my sister in law and nieces. Our room was filled with snacks, flowers, and love. Tuesday was a quiet and surreal day and I am thankful for the space people gave us to be “just us” one last day. I was emotional at times as I processed was the next day would hold. And in a small world moment, a follower of our story had a mom who worked on the labor and delivery unit and we soon became known as the couple with a blog and routinely were able to share our story with staff coming in and out asking questions. It seemed like God wanted to use even the last hours of this chapter to continue to share with others the glory He was owed.

Wednesday morning our day started early. I had to take a shower using a special wash and then we met with numerous members of treatment team, our doctor, our nurse anesthetist, our anesthesiologist, the NICU doctors and nurses, etc. We had opted to have a c-section at this point to minimize the risk factors I was facing — having broken water with group b strep, gestational diabetes, factor v, and my anterior placenta for baby girl, being just some of them. We were so blessed that both sets of parents, as well as my sister and my sister in law, arrived before my surgery and gathered around my bedside and prayed with Josh and I. The tears and joy in the room was sacred.

And then I walked myself into the OR. And within minutes I had my spinal block, was prepped and on the table and the team was ready. That’s when they brought Josh in and my emotions were calm yet high. I had a minor panic attack as I freaked out over the fact that I could feel my lower body but couldn’t move it. It was a sensation I would prefer never to have again. It was like being trapped in my body, unable to move yet having limbs. Yuck. Thankfully the AMAZING nurse anesthetist and anesthesiologist walked me into a conversation about my sisters wedding colors to distract me and it worked.

 Then, before we knew it, Logan was out. His cry was the best sound I’ve ever heard and we laughed and cried and I felt like I was floating. My doctor commented on his little amount of hair and long legs and we laughed and cried. Josh followed him to get weighed and measured and inspected by his team and 2 minutes later, was back at my head as Kirsten was pulled out. Her cry was equally as emotional and precious. Logan briefly was put on a c-pap to clear his lungs and help with breathing and Kirsten was fine. Because she was completely stable, they wrapped her and placed her on my chest for another surreal moment. They then brought Logan over to my side so I could be with them both, but they held him just in case his breathing became an issue again, which it didn’t. A few minutes later they loaded up my babies for the NICU and Daddy went with them. I was sewn back up and was back in my room for recovery within only a handful of minutes. Josh was in the NICU, sending me pictures and videos and running into my room occasionally to check in with me, in which I’d send him quickly back to the babies. He also swung by the waiting room where my sister and our parents were waiting to hear all was well. Due to my spinal block, I couldn’t go to the NICU to see them until I regained full feeling in my body and could stand. Finally, at 2:45, I was able to do so and could be wheeled in to see my precious children. I arrived just in time for their first bath and some snuggles. Our families were anxious to hear their names and meet them, but this Mama wanted the chance to spend some time with both of them first before I had to share. :)

An hour later, we brought in our families, 2 at a time, into the NICU, first Josh’s parents (as we thought we could bring in all 4 parents at the same time but my parents were sadly stopped at the door), then my parents, then the aunties, then the grandmas came back again and then my sister in law returned with Josh’s brother. Everyone was equally as tearful, proud, and overjoyed as we were. My nieces were at the hospital but unfortunately due to the NICU regulations, weren’t able to visit the babies. Thankfully the staff made an exception and allowed them to enter into the first set of doors to see them through a small door window.
I was exhausted by this point and thankfully everyone excused themselves. We spent the evening with our babies and life as we know it would never be the same again.
The next 12 days held a lot — but in short, on Mother’s Day upon my discharge, as we were saying goodbye to the kiddos to go home to sleep at night, Logan began having several back to back episodes in my arms, dealing with his heart and oxygen levels. Within seconds? minutes?, it became clear his body was likely trying to fight an infection of some kind and the NICU team sprang into action. I’ll tell you, going from kissing your sweet baby boy’s cheeks one minute to signing a consent for him to be whisked away for a spinal tap 3 minutes later, all while so many machines are beeping loudly, was one of the scariest moments of our lives. The next few days were stressful and we were thankful the hospital let us board in a room onsite to be close since I had already been discharged. We are thankful to share that everything is fine with our son and the infection his body was fighting was minor enough to never appear on cultures and was cleared up within days.

 

img_2627

Mommy holding her two babies together – May 13, 2017

Then, Monday night, as I was getting into bed, my incision burst open and I began to leak (gush) a watery bloody mixture. It lead to spending midnight – 4 am in the ER, followed by time with my doctor the next morning. My body was retaining so much fluid that it literally just was trying to force its way out of any possible spot, and my incision was one of them. Tuesday was really hard, my breakdown day from exhaustion, physical pain, worry for my son, and then learning I would need to be readmitted and require surgery under general anesthesia to reopen my, c-section incision, drain me, clean me out and sew me back up. This took place on Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 pm (a long day without food and water!) but I felt immensely better after I was drained. At this point my body was shutting down into total exhaustion, as I was/am pumping every 2 hours (especially crucial trying to get my milk supply in and up to the twins feeding needs), was constantly being monitored and poked and prodded, and then wanting to be in the NICU at their every feeding. My doctor, bless her heart, allowed me to be discharged Thursday night instead of Friday, so that I could go home and sleep in my bed. It was wonderful, as was seeing Cali again, although it was so hard being away from the babies.

img_2866

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Here’s the thing, remember how today was our original c-section date? After living these last 3 weeks, both Josh and I have said a million times over, that we would have had their arrival no other way. God was two steps ahead of us the entire time and our time was so clearly orchestrated by Him.

img_3021

Babies snuggling nose to nose! May 18, 2017

Had they been born today, they would have been housed in our hospital room, and we would have been sent home in 4 days. Perhaps I still would have needed a second surgery, which would have been brutal having to be away from home and only with Josh there to support them.

img_2754

Kirsten’s first bath … she loved it!

 

But because they were born on May 10, we were blessed to have them in the NICU and we could learn from the best team around. We learned different ways to feed them. We learned multiple ways to burp, dress, and change them. We learned how to spot diaper rash and what to do. We had nurses by our side as we did our first baths with them and I had nurses helping them latch as they were fed by feeding tube, so that they could associate being full with breast feeding. I had 12 days to work with the BEST lactation consultants, who helped me repeatedly learn to hand express and pump and how to determine what size shields to use and how to obtain and use my rented Medela Symphony. (AMAZING). On Tuesday, the day I was readmitted, all boarders were evicted from the hospital due to a high census but because I was readmitted, I got to stay and be close to the NICU. Not only that, but I then had access to meals, nurses who reminded me to take my meds and practice self care, and a great overnight CNA who would run my milk to the NICU so that I didn’t have to take the painful slow walk there every 2 hours. Once discharged, the census had gone down and they reallowed me to board in my same room until the babies discharged. All of this was so helpful since I wasn’t able to drive myself for 2 weeks. I had easy access to my doctor and the NICU doctor for any and all questions. Because of Logan’s scare, the kiddos had some extra screening and tests done which provided us an immense amount of reassurance that these babies are a-okay. Guys, these 2 weeks and every complication, were some of the biggest blessings we never would have asked for. Yet GOD KNEW. He knew that coming home with 5 day old twins would have been more overwhelming then it already was. He knew that sending us home with babies on a regular schedule, who were eating great and used to constant noise, and had parents who were comfortable interacting with them, would be the best thing for our family’s big transition. He knew I would need that extra time to heal with the help and support of a great NICU staff. HE KNEW. Ahhh, He always knows.

May 20, 2017


Getting ready to GO HOME! Outfits picked out by cousins Scarlett and Kinsley. :) Sunday, May 21, 2017


I read a quote today that said: “Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forward.” and this month has been another example of how true that is. It’s hard to live in the forward, where we don’t always understand why things are happening. And yet, God knows the forward and backward and uses it for our benefit, or at least for His glory in the hard moments. I now have a unique understanding of what it’s like to be the mother of preemies and what it’s like to have children in the NICU. My story has been expanded and my empathy for others has grown. God is good friends. One chapter has closed and another has opened and it’s only a handful of days in. This new chapter is beautiful, joy-filled, exhausting, overwhelming, sacred, emotional, precious, messy, and filled with so many kinds of tears. I’m navigating these new waters with Him by my side as I transition into a Mom, and shift so much of my identity. I’m thankful for the good days and remind myself that the hard days with twin infants are the best kind of hard days to have. We are infinitely blessed.

16729303_10100871736924649_3401548352026436589_n

Home sweet home! Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I have so much more to share with you guys, but today, on June 2, this day that was written differently than planned, had to share with you the fact that God’s planning is even better than ours. Thank you Lord for these precious miracles. You are so good!

Friday, May 26, 2017 – Both babies made it through their first bath at home. Logan was very proud he survived the acid pouring. 


Kirsten’s smiles are so precious. May 28. 2017


They love to lay next to each other! May 30, 2017


Cali still assumes all the pictures are about her haha! May 26, 2017


Boppy snuggles!

Thanks for the constant love and prayers. I am working to find our new normal and posts may be less frequent until I find my grove, but know I am thinking and praying for those still in the murky waters of infertility. The pain is still fresh and yet I can tell you it’s all worth it. So so so worth it.

With love,

Chelsea

PS – Pardon any spelling errors or weird formatting. This mama managed to write and post this completely on her phone over several hours and didn’t have the time to reread and edit. :)