niaw: listen up.

 

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April 23-29 marks an important week in the infertility world, as it is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). I know there’s a lot of months and weeks out there for so many great causes, and this one is near and dear to my heart, as it’s a wonderful time for people to start talking, begin uniting, work towards educating others about what infertility is, all it entails, and who it effects. I am a blessed one – as our story has been public for many years and we have an amazing community around us following along, asking great questions, listening when we need it, and walking through the highs and lows with us.

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Let’s get real about infertility for a minute: Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. Now, we throw numbers and stats out a lot in today’s society that they can begin to lose their power. But think about it. If you are sitting in a room with 16 of your girlfriends, there are 2 of them who are likely personally affected by infertility or secondary infertility. This reality doesn’t care what job you have, how much you want to be a parent, your income, race, or social status. It breaks the hearts of all parties involved and leaves many left wondering why me? Why can everyone else around me have 1, 2, 3, 4 kids and we can’t? Infertility may be woven into female diagnosis, male factors, or simply unknown reasons. It weaves in emotions like fear, shame, confusion, depression, heartache, physical and emotion ailments, jealously, brokenness, sorrow, anger, and immense grief.

When you are struggling with infertility, it isn’t a part-time battle. It wrecks your world, day in and day out. You are constantly caught off guard with triggers, whether it’s observing a mother and child at the store, watching tv and catching a precious, but heartbreaking Pampers commercial, passing a pregnant women in the parking lot, or receiving (yet another) baby shower invitation. Some couples choose to share their stories and other couples keep their battles private, suffering silently and feeling the immense need to constantly put on the “happy face”.

Now back to NIAW. RESOLVE is the association that manages this week ahead and the theme this year is “Listen Up”. (You can read all about their intentions for the theme in this link.) When I first heard the theme though, my mind didn’t jump to the need for legislature to listen up (although that is important). It didn’t jump to the idea that insurance companies or fertility specialists need to listen up, although again, important factors. My brain immediately recognized the importance of those around us – our intimate community – needing to listen up.

In a battle as tough as infertility, it is critical that we have the support of those around us – those who support us and those who are struggling themselves. Isolation will create only that, feelings of being alone. And with a statistic as staggering as 15% of couples struggling, you are anything but alone.

If you are reading this today as someone who has never been touched by the struggles of infertility personally, thank you for taking the time to increase your knowledge. As you go through life, it’s inevitable that you will cross paths with someone who is struggling with infertility and your desire to build your awareness is critical. Be willing to listen to them. Don’t force them to talk, but don’t minimize their emotions and feelings if they do choose to share. Do not use your time to offer advice. Telling someone that this is part of God’s plan, or that they need to relax and take a vacation, or that if they tried this herb/supplement/doctor/exercise/adoption agency, is NOT helpful. What this does is cause them to feel more blame, like they have caused their infertility, or are being punished for something, and despite your best intentions to offer them hope, will push them back into desiring to put up a wall and stop talking. JUST LISTEN.  Validate how hard this must be. Be interested, not uncomfortable, with what they have to say. Check in on them. Ask what you can do to help. Pray for them. Without your willingness to enter into the mess with us, we feel abandoned by those we care about.

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If you are reading this today and are newly diagnosed with infertility or are quietly struggling without sharing your story with anyone, know how truly sorry I am for you. Your heart is breaking and I wish there was something I could do to make it easier. Take the time you need to grieve. It’s okay to be scared and unsure of what’s ahead. Find a good doctor and be open with them. Sadly 91% of couples struggling with infertility wish they would have talked to a doctor sooner. Don’t be afraid to reach out – it’s your doctor’s job to listen and help. I encourage you to find someone to talk to – in real life or through social media (like instagram – it’s the best community out there!).  It’s a painful journey and without someone that can process with you and listen, the suffering will become unbearably heavy. I wish I could come wrap you in a blanket, offer you a cup of tea, sit across from you on a cozy couch and just listen. You deserve the right to share your emotions without judgment or opinions.

And lastly, to those of you who are public, who share your story loudly and ensure that others know about infertility, thank you. Thank you for advocating and being the voice of many. Thank you for bravely sharing your story. Thank you for putting yourself out there and opening yourself up to stupid comments, statements and stories. Don’t give up hope – keep up the good work! Because of people like you, there are others listening in who may not have otherwise. You matter and you are valuable no matter what your family looks like. Take care of yourself, offer yourself grace, and don’t allow yourself to become defined by your diagnosis. Try not to personalize the well intended “help” someone offers. Use it as a chance to help them hear what you are trying to say.

If you are reading this today, I challenge you to take a moment to pray for someone you know who is struggling. Perhaps there is no one that you know – in which case, can I offer up some of my friends to you to be prayed for? There are so many, but this week my heart is praying for C, E, J, C, C, K, S, J, K, C, N, G, A, and A. Pick a letter – God knows who they are, and pray for them. Each letter represents a couple still struggling, big time, with infertility and bringing a little one into their family. Your prayers matter. Pray for a healthy pregnancy to come their way, pray for healing of their bodies from diagnosis’s and illnesses, pray for wisdom for them as they navigate their treatment options, pray for peace to flood their hearts, pray for their spirits and their joy to be refilled, pray for their faith to be strengthened, pray for their marriage to withhold the stress of this struggle, pray for the medical team working with them and pray for those in their life that support them.

Ironically this year, Josh and I are celebrating NIAW with new lives coming into our family in the next 5-6 weeks, yet the reality remains that because of my diagnosis of PCOS, we will always be a part of the 1 in 8. My heart lies closely with those who are in this “club” with us and yet still, we know a number will never define us. We are not alone in the fight that we face, or the celebrations we have ahead. We are grateful for our Lord who stands with us in it all and fights for us, and for the most amazing community around us who have gone through so many ups and downs with us. You all make the difference, you matter, and you are a gift.

 

TTC Mug Exchange 2016.

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It’s time for our 2016 TTC Mug Exchange! Wooohooooo! Last time we had nearly 800 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, n 2014, we had over 400. Last year, we had nearly 800!  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? :)

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 #TTCMugExchange2015 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-2016/

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

You will need to sign up no later than end of day Tuesday, September 20th. 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 me via email on either September 28 or 29. (Because of the hours it takes to coordinate, I am not always able to get ALL the emails out on the same day. So if you see someone post that they got their person and you have not yet heard from me, it’s likely due to the amount of time it’s taking me to email everyone back individually. Do not panic!) Once you receive your person, you will have until Saturday, October 15th 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 #TTCMugExchange2016 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:

http://tinyurl.com/jbsvye3

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 24 hour for reply.)

I will close the exchange at midnight on September 20th (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 #TTCMugExchange2016 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!

house for sale.

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I was stirring my coffee when my friend asked the question: “So how are you really right now?”

With the buzz of steaming milk and brewing espresso around me, I admitted my heart’s been a little weary. I touched on how 7 pregnancy announcements from good friends in 3 days drained me a bit. I tried to explain that while my heart was overjoyed for them, it made me a bit reflective of my own journey, which can be a hard, emotional path for me to walk down sometimes.

I could see in her eyes, as someone who doesn’t struggle with infertility, that she couldn’t quite grasp how someone could be happy for someone else but sad for themselves.

And that’s when this example hit me.

Let’s pretend that you and your spouse have decided it’s time to move from your small apartment. It’s time to expand! It’s not necessarily that you don’t like your current place, but you feel ready to embark into a new neighborhood, have the chance to mow a lawn, use a driveway, and have a little more space.

So you celebrate this big decision! You are going to sell your house! You tell your friends, you have a celebratory glass of champagne and list it. It’s time to sell!

Hmmmm. A few days, weeks, months pass. Why isn’t your house selling? You try to stay positive. Oh it takes time! You just have to wait for the perfect buyer! It can take couples almost a year before their house sells! Take a vacation – then it might sell!

In the meantime, friends around you decide they too want to sell their house and move. And you watch and celebrate as they immediately find buyers. It was our first showing! We hadn’t even listed it yet! A friend of a friend asked to buy our house! In fact, some of your friends who didn’t even take care of their apartment sell it right away. Huh?

What is going on, you asked yourselves. You paint the walls, freshen up the tile, and replace the old floors. And yet, months pass by and still, no buyers. Multiple showings, the promise of hope with each one, but a firm and audible NO after every one.

In the meantime, you’re invited to house warming party after house warming party to celebrate your friend’s new home. You are thrilled for them! What a beautiful new kitchen! Lawn! Bathroom! Is that a walk-in closet?? And you wonder what is wrong with our apartment??? You bring the wine, send the congratulations card, help move the boxes, all while dusting off your “for sale” sign. You pack away the towels you bought for a new bathroom. It hurts too much to look at them each day.

Do we try to get used to staying here forever? You begin to ask yourselves how you should approach this limbo. What does the future look like? Do you apply for that new position knowing it would be across town, near the city you want to move to? Do you redecorate the space and plan to stay there? Oh how your hearts yearn to be in a new place – and yet still, all the showings result in nothing. No. No. No. No. No. No.

So you hire a new realtor. The one who sold your friends house in just 1 day! And your heart breaks as he tells you that you may never sell your home. You see, because there’s this one part of the inside of a wall that is damaged. It’s not really your fault, but it’s your home and because of it, it may be a little harder to sell it.

How did I not know? What can we do to improve our chances?! He provides you with a list of things to do and you eagerly dive into them. You replace the trim, sweat over refinishing your floors; exhaust yourself with tearing out the old carpet. Still – nothing.

Meanwhile, you get the calls from your friends, We’re moving! We sold our house! It’s our 4th home in 3 years! And your feelings get hurt as some of your friends pull back from you as they are afraid to tell you they sold their house too. You find out when you get their Christmas card in the mailing with a preprinted announcement. Why didn’t they tell us? And yet still, you celebrate their new adventure, move the boxes, ‘like’ the Facebook announcement and wonder if you should take your house off the market. After all, it’s been 3 years.

Then 4 years. More announcements, more moves.

Then it’s been 5 years. You find some friends who too have a hard time selling their house, are stuck in limbo desiring a neighborhood, a closet, a stove with more than 2 burners, a chance to feel at home where they feel called. You relate to one another’s questions and empathize when yet another potential buyer decides to pass. Another lost chance, I am so sorry.

Then those friends who once understood, begin to sell their houses. More celebrations! And the conversations shift from questioning why your house can’t sell, to the frustrations of picking out paint colors for the new living room or the cost of the movers. They forgot what it’s like, you think. Then you no longer get together. I am sorry, I have a house now. There’s so much to do! More dusting, a garden to tend to, bathrooms to clean. Maybe when the house gets a little older.

And still every single morning you wake up, make your bed, clean the house, waiting for the moment you get a call about a showing. You can’t escape the fact that your house is for sale. It’s part of your daily life, reminders everywhere. The lockbox, the sign, the calls. Every day you are faced with the desires to hear the words “you’ve sold your house!”.

6 years pass. You switch realtors again, are given a dash of hope that this is the one! In fact, by this point you’ve had 7 offers on your home, but all of them have fallen through. It’s just been bad luck. This happens to many couples. There must have been a bank loan defect. Unpack your boxes, not this time. Don’t lose the faith!

More moving announcements from friends. We weren’t even thinking about moving but someone came to our door and offered us over market price for our house. And then we got an amazing deal on a new house – in the last lot of the neighborhood you were looking at! What are the chances? We were so surprised!

Housewarming party. Wine. Feelings of defeat. Questions. Did we misunderstand our calling to move? Everyone else thinks we are crazy, yet we continue to feel led is to sell this house. What do we do?

And now here you sit – with 7 more offers sitting on your home and you think this could be it and you are terrified. Everyone around is asking you aren’t you so excited? And while, yes, you are, the truth is you’ve been here before. You’ve had the offers and they’ve all fallen through. You’re hesitant to get your hopes up based on these new offers, knowing what happened last time. And so you smile, nod, and pray harder than ever that one of these offers takes. Because you don’t know if your heart can handle any more. Most days you want to rip down the ‘For Sale’ sign, ignore the aches in your heart, and chuck the lockbox in a volcano. You are now known as the couple who has always had their house up for sale.

Just be thankful you have a house to live in! Everyone around you, many who just sold their house, says to you, as if you aren’t thankful for your apartment. You want shout back that you are thankful, you just hate living in limbo, are struggling to figure out what your future looks like, and that you can’t ignore that nagging longing to become new-home owners.

And still you wait, feeling foolish about the day you drank champagne and told everyone you were going to sell your house. You never expected this.

You get the picture. And while this example may seem silly, can you only imagine having your house for sale for YEARS? I get exhausted just thinking about it. And, oh friends, if only infertility were this kind of exhausting.

With infertility, you take these exhausted, confused emotions and add in the immense deep rooted desire to be parents – moms and dads– and combine it with mind altering hormones, emotions, surgeries, and real life dollars. Every month offers hope that everything might change and when it doesn’t, you have to reprocess what you’re going to do next. Did you hear God right? Why isn’t He moving?

So while your heart is so thrilled for the others in your life who move onto the next stage – first, second, third pregnancies – it’s still very real there will be emotional struggles involved. With every announcement, pregnancy related conversation, baby shower and tiny babies around, it reminds you of the current state of limbo you are in. And with God-given strength, you celebrate the answered prayers, clinging to the hope that next time it might be you, and rejoice that God gave them a miracle. And it’s okay if you still wonder why not me?

Friends, I don’t know why your baby hasn’t come yet. I don’t understand why a 15-year old accidentally becomes pregnant and you can’t get a positive test to save your life. I wish I understood all the specifics. But here’s what I do know – God knows why. And while that can be hard to understand most days, it offers reassurance that we don’t have to be the ones understanding the ‘whys’. We just have to continue to trust the One who does.

I wrote these words in In the Wait and needed to be reminded of them today: “God is not early or late with His timing. Instead, He is right on cue, creating “Ah-ha!” moments when the answers prayers finally come. Yes, it may look different than we expect it to, but we know He will pull through. Scripture reminds us that we can trust Him to stay true to His Word, character and promises. His love is always present. Breathe out a deep sigh with me today and rest assured knowing He is at work, even when we don’t see it.”

I know it’s tiring my sweet friend. But make that bed one more day, accept one more showing, and continue to communicate with the Lord. You never know when you are going to wake up and have your whole life change in one moment. That day of answered prayer is worth the fight.

Lord, I pray for each woman reading this today who understand what it’s like to be stuck waiting. I pray that you renew our strength, our minds, and replenish our weary souls as we wait. We trust that you have the perfect plan for our lives and we ask that you would help strengthen us to continue to celebrate the victories and answers to prayer that you are providing to those around us. Jesus, we simply need more of you to help lead us into the perfect path for our lives. Amen

*photo from weheartit.com

update + celebrations.

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Ladies and gentlemen, hold on tight … Here’s the post you’ve all been patiently waiting for!!!

OUR UPDATE!

So, last we talked, we shared that our embryo fertilization report came back that had 19 fertilized embryos. AMAZING NEWS! But how many continued to develop? How many would we have to freeze to add to our future family? Well, it all came down to one phone call, one voicemail from our doctor.

And, then we decided to wait to listen to the voicemail. Hear me out!! We had a mini vacation planned at the end of last month and as crazy as it sounds, wanted to venture into those few days without the weight and reality of the news that might be shared. We have felt such peace about this cycle, but there was a chance the voicemail would share we had no embryos and with that, our journey to starting a family would end. It was a loaded voicemail with potentially big effects … and so we saved it until we got back. I had such peace the entire time and wasn’t distracted by the wondering. It gave us a chance to enjoy our time together without distraction.

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Snorkeling and enjoying precious time together!

So, imagine our utter delight and surprise when we listened and learned we have 7 embryos waiting to be welcomed into our home!

Thank you Jesus!

I feel incredibly humbled and moved sharing this outcome with you right now. While nothing is guarantee, we have babies! Teeny, tiny frozen babies that may grow our earthly family in incredible ways.

I have to admit – when I first heard “Fantastic news … 7 embryos!”, my eyes widened. Whoa, babies. If all goes to plan and these embryos result in pregnancies and live births, we may have a REALLY large family. And as I starred as Josh with big eyes, envisioning what this might look like, he sweetly reassured me that God has known this number and these babies all along. And so we continue to trust Him for that! And also, keep our eyes open at van potentials. HA!

No part of this cycle has been without Him. Not only has this cycle been SO significantly different (in a great way!) from cycles past, but the peace He has provided us has been unspeakably reassuring.

So, friends, our family is waiting for us in cryopreserved vials and we couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds. No matter God has planned for us, today we celebrate, rejoice, and THANK HIM for all He has done thus far.

Okay, let’s get a few FAQ’s out of the way!

How many are you going to transfer?

We plan to, in time, transfer all of them, because these precious babies deserve a family! However, we will begin by only transferring 2 of them. If it’s a success, yes, there’s a chance we could have twins. If it’s not successful, then we will transfer 2 more, so on and so forth. If and when we are successful, the others will remain frozen until we are ready to grow our family again. It looks like we have many more embryo transfers in our future. :)

When are you transferring them?

We are planning on a mid-September transfer. Yes, that’s later than we originally planned! There’s two main reasons for that decision:

1) Josh has a trip planned with his father later this summer and if the cycle were to work, he would be gone during some important ultrasound appointments. I know I will be a worried mess when I am pregnant (a huge test of faith!) and having him out of reach anytime during 8-12 weeks makes me uncomfortable.

2) I want to get back into shape! The last year has been a rough one for me in regards to health and fitness – I kind of crumbled after our March 2015 miscarriage and it’s taken me a while to get back into a good routine. This will give me time over the summer to get my butt into a pre-pregnancy health I would be comfortable with.

What did you do differently this cycle? (non-IVF’ers, feel free to zone out on this question)

First of all, we had a new doctor, who is AMAZING and I can’t recommend enough. I strongly believe Dr. Batcheller’s wisdom, care, and dedication to our success has impacted this cycle immensely.

Secondly, in the past we have done a birth control + Lupron suppression protocol. She shared concerns that it may not had been the right protocol for me and over-suppressed me. This time, after just a few short 15 days of birth control to regulate my cycle, we jumped right into stims.

Past: 150-200 IU’s of Follistim, 1 vial of Menopur, daily lupron injections, 10,000 hCg trigger shot, 8 days of stimming, natural fertilization, moderate caffeine intake.

This cycle: 300 IU’s of Follistim, 2 vials of Menopur, 2 spaced out Lupron trigger shots + 2,500 hCg trigger shot, Ganirelix injections starting day 6 of stims, 9 days of stimming, ICSI fertilization, vitamin cocktail, no caffeine for Chelsea, 1 8-oz half-caff cup of coffee for Josh a day, Chelsea gluten free.

What’s the vitamin cocktail?

Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine – Minneapolis gave us this handout and Josh and I both took each of these vitamins as recommended. There was SUCH a significant different in outcomes (see below) that I strongly believe these vitamins had something to do with it.

I am unsure copyright details, but will attach the handout here for you to review until I hear differently! :)

Vitamin Cocktail Handout – provided by CCRM-Minneapolis

Female Cocktail: 2016_01_12_12_30_05

Male Cocktail: 2016_01_12_12_30_48

Summary:

Cycle 1: 11 eggs, 9 fertilized, resulted in 1 day-5 blastocyst, 1 day-6 blastocyst (frozen), and 1 morula for transfer.

Cycle 2: 14 eggs, 11 fertilized, resulted in 2 day-6 blastocysts.

CCRM Cycle: 27 eggs, 19 fertilized, resulted in 7 day-5/6 blastocysts.

How’s the puzzle going?

YOU GUYS! We’re still working on assembling it! This intricate puzzle is a perfect depiction of our journey thus far, haha! We can’t wait to share the final product with you when it’s all assembled and your names have been written! SWOON!

Now, join us in thanking God for His glorious provision for our precious little babies and if you could, continue to pray for their homecoming in September. (Well, 2 of them at least!). Also, if you could pray for my strength and dedication to get my butt back in shape, that would be incredibly helpful. I will certainly share more about that journey throughout the summer.

Alright, now your fertility update has officially concluded! If your eyes are crossed and you have NO idea what I am talking about up there, that’s okay! I share for those who do. And now let’s get back to our regular scheduled blogging updates going forward! I will keep you posted as our Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) plans start to kick in (mid-August) and we will keep rallying with you! HOORAY!

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

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PS: My reunion with caffeine was previous. Did you know that our budget includes $0 for Starbucks? Since 2011 when our infertility treatments started, it became a no brainer that coffee splurges were not a priority. And so, I began asking for Starbucks cards for birthdays and holidays, using them when there was a balance and skipping it when there wasn’t. And as silly as it sounds, I’m always amazed at God’s simple provision over something SO MINOR. Random giftcards are sent to me for no reason but thoughtfulness, always when, unknown to a friend, my balance is getting low. Or, I’m almost out and my free reward cup is earned and ready to be used. I know it’s silly how much a cup of coffee means to me, but it’s a highlight in my day when I’m running around or provides a cozy spot to write or work. As so, every sip of Starbucks reminds me God cares about the little joys in our lives. Love that!

devotional + small group opportunity.

2016 really is here, isn’t it!? With it comes so many great resolutions, and for me, like many, it’s about nailing down a consistent devotional time each day and diving into His word more. Do you need a little accountability like I do? Or are you searching for a devotional to kick off the year with? I’d love to invite you to join our online In the Wait Small Group kicking off on January 17th! We just wrapped up our first online session in December with over 170 ladies and it was so powerful and encouraging – I know this next session won’t disappoint! This study is more than just a book – it’s an interactive devotional that gives you a chance to apply His Word to YOUR own season of waiting, whatever that may be, and process through how to apply what you are learning to your life.

So, what do you need to know if you are interested?

  1. All you need is a copy of In the Wait + a pen + access to a Bible (hello YouVersion app!). You will be emailed the week of launch with all the joining details. The group itself is “secret” through Facebook.
  2. If you don’t already own a copy, you can purchase one here: http://www.hollyholtdesign.com/shop/in-the-wait-6-week-bible-study (You still have time to order and get it before the group starts! Copies are going fast so grab yours today!)
  3. Already have your book and want to make sure you are on the invite email list? CLICK HERE to add your name to the email invite list.
  4. Want to invite a friend to join you in the study? CLICK HERE to send a personalized invitation to a friend!

I have loved being a part of this study. It has really transformed my heart and spiritual life, specifically as to how to live in a season of waiting with purpose. I would LOVE to have you join us if you are interested! I adore seeing what God has been teaching every woman who has gone through the study with us already online or on their own. Thanks for posting your pictures and sharing what God is teaching you! Here are some of my favorite picture’s you’ve shared on Instagram so far:

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Note: after this January session, there likely won’t be another online group till fall so don’t miss out if you are interested! Questions? Fire away below and I will get right back to you!


With that said, friends, 2016 really is here. I am working away on nailing down my Word of the Year, wrapping up what I took away from 2015, and sharing more about what’s swimming around in this brain of mine. I am excited to reestablish the rhythm and routine that January holds and get back into a good blogging pattern. So stay tuned for all the fun to come this month. :) Have a great day!

listening.

You know what’s hard for a talkative gal like myself? Listening. Shutting up. Not being so excited to share what my thoughts are on the topic and just listening. While I continue to work on this in my friendships (and thank God for friends with so much grace), I’ve been even more challenged with it lately in my relationship with God.

This time of year tends to be filled with lots of to-do lists and hustling. I try to make my daily quiet time more than just a check list item. I try to intentionally invest in quality time set apart from the craziness of what the day holds. But more often than I would care to admit, by the time I close out that time with prayer, this is what happens:

Dear God, thank you for this time together today. I am not sure next with (FILL IN A SEASON OF UNCERTAINTY). Make your path known to me. Please make the roads clear. Help me hear you. Amen

Then, I immediately jump up, tuck away my devotional items and move on to the next activity.

The other night I was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep but it wasn’t happening. Typically in those moments I pray but for some reason that night I thought “Well, He already knows what’s in my mind and on my heart so I don’t really need to do that right now.”

Then this next thought popped into my head so fast that my eyes widened in deep conviction:

Yes daughter, but you didn’t know what I had to say in response to what’s on your heart, nor are you giving us a chance to grow the intimacy of our relationship. I want the chance to engage with you. Talk to me so that you can listen to me. And be cautious not to filter the answers I am giving you with the answers you want to hear.

Whoa.

I sat with those thoughts for a long time and have continued to think about them a lot over the last week. Can I process my takeaways with you today?

God doesn’t call us to have an unbalanced relationship with Him. Relationships aren’t meant to be one-sided conversations. If we aren’t spending time being quiet, how are we supposed to give Him a chance to reply? When He’s not whispering thoughts that aren’t mine into my head at midnight , I usually grab a pen and journal and just start to write the words that fill my head from Him. It’s not a big booming voice; it’s just my voice in my head with words and a tone that aren’t my own. And it usually only flows well when I am truly being quiet.

Secondly, we need to stop asking for answers while only looking for affirmations that are in line with what we want. Gulp. If I am going to tell Him I am open to whatever the future holds, I need to stop dismissing answers I don’t want to hear. And I need to stop funneling everything through my will instead of His.

The next day this image from Lysa Terkeurst popped up on social media. So good right?

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Today, I am passing along this challenge – will you join me in paying attention to Him? Join me in prioritizing time with Him that includes doing nothing but listening. Let’s calm our hearts, giving Him a chance to share His heart with us, a chance to engage back. Don’t get caught up in the excuse, as I did, that “He already knows so I don’t need to share it”; remember that relationships go both ways. Grab your Bible, read His Word, engage in a book or devotional that helps you connect with His truths, and journal out your prayers (if it helps you stay on track). Be curious about what a 2-way relationship looks like to Him.

Let’s walk into these busy weeks ahead with a softened heart willing to hear Him no matter what the reply is. Who’s with me???

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fur mama giveaway.

Oh I am SO excited for this one friends! If you know me at alllllll, you know that my fur baby, Cali, is insanely precious to me (bordering obsessive) and that I love being her fur mama. Another thing I love is mail and encouragement. So imagine my DELIGHT when I saw that Fertile Box’s October TTC Care Package was made SPECIFICALLY with Fur Mama’s in mind! ALL THE FEELS. (And it can be made for a cat or dog mom too!)

Crystal sent me and Cali this AMAZING Fur Mama Care Package and we couldn’t love it more! So, I couldn’t let the day pass without sharing this awesome box with you AND of course, inviting you to win one for FREE! (More details on that later!)

(Side note: If you aren’t trying to conceive and still want this box, you can! When you order it, simply add a note that you aren’t trying to conceive and she will omit the TTC-related items, as well as allow you to add an extra quote print of your choosing. HURRAY!)

Let me walk you through this awesome box. Gah, you’re going to love it!

My box arrived and was packaged so cute and carefully. Take a peek!
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Cali was immediately interested and of course came over to help open it! First we opened the Fur Mama Survival Kit.

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Inside was: 2 flower and bow collar attachments, a package of homemade dog treats (which has been Cali-approved!), an adorable Snoopy halloween toy (with a squeaker, which we have been hearing all weekend in the most adorable way), and some fall doggy bags.This bag was a home run!!!!!

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Next we opened this box:

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Inside was this PRECIOUS paw print necklace in silver. I’m swooning!

Next we opened this Trick or Treat bag.

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Inside was some special treats for me – a face mask, a KIND bar (my favorite kind too!), some Kettle Pop gourmet gum, and of course, you can’t do fall without some pumpkin spice! I can’t wait to try this Tazo Chai tea!

 

Next up, unwrapping this:

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It held this ADORABLE Fur Mama tee shirt! The shirt is so soft! They offer sizes S – 2XL. I can’t wait to iron mine and rock it! You can count on seeing a selfie on Instagram this week for sure. (Just realized this image is a little blurry but you get the picture!)

Next up – this 5 x 7 quote print out. I love how she adhered it to the box so that it shipped safely. Just love it!

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Last up was the TTC part of the package, which again, can be omitted if you aren’t TTC and replaced with an extra quote print out:

The front of the package looks like this:

And it’s filled with 5 ovulation tests, 2 pregnancy tests, and of course, baby dust!

Seriously – you guys. This will put a smile on ANY Fur Mama’s face! The card in the box says it all: “For many of us … the only thing keeping us sane on this difficult journey to parenthood is the unconditional love of our fur babies….We may not be human mommies yet, but we’re wonderful loving Fur Mama’s!”

If you are supporting someone who is struggling to start a family and know that they would love this Fur Mama package, order them one. Seriously. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about someone going out of their way to acknowledge how much of a mom you can be to a pet.

Every month has a different theme for the Monthly TTC Care Packages and this is the only month to order the Fur Mama collection and they will sell out, so don’t delay! Head over to http://www.myfertilebox.com to place an order! There are two versions of the box, this FULL version ($36) which includes everything pictured, and the MINI version ($26) which has everything except the t-shirt. Seriously, for everything inside, it’s a DEAL!

BUT WAIT! Because I love you guys so much, and Crystal over at Fertile Box is so amazing, we are offering my readers a special promotional code for a FREE “Refuse to Sink” silver cuff! All you have to do is enter the Promo Code FALLBONUS when checking out.

Every month there is a different theme to the packages so if you aren’t a fur mama, or if you want to spread some love next month or over the holidays, keep checking out http://www.myfertilebox.com for updates. There is always something new and it makes this journey so much more bearable.

Now, the GIVEAWAY!!!!!

This giveaway is being conducted entirely through Instagram, so head on over to my account @chels819 to enter. Rules to enter:

  1. Follow @FertileBox and @Chels819
  2. Like the Giveaway Picture
  3. Tag 3 friends that you think might be interested!

That’s it! But for an extra 3 entries, repost the Instagram picture (pictured below for an easy save and repost) and use the hashtags #fertilebox #FurMamaGiveaway. (if you are set to private, direct message me a screenshot of the post.)

So easy! We are drawing the winner at the end of the day FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9TH so don’t let time get away from you! This honestly is the funnest giveaway EVER and I can’t wait to spoil a special fur mama with this package. (By the way, we are giving away the FULL version! Whoop whoop!).

Okay, what are you waiting for? Go enter and/order! Before they are all gone!

Use this Image on Instagram to repost

Use this Image on Instagram to repost

(Also, congratulations to Amy L. who won the In Due Time book giveaway! It’s not too late to buy a copy for yourself – head on over HERE to purchase one for yourself in paperback or for your Kindle! Thanks again Jen for sponsoring that giveaway!