34 weeks.

FRIENDS! It’s so hard to believe we have made it to 34+ weeks! Time has just flown by and it feels like I have been pregnant for a day. I don’t know HOW it’s 239 days. They have been the best days of my life, truly, even through some roller coasters. I can’t even express how grateful I am to be HERE. These babies inside my belly have brought so much healing to my heart. It’s amazing how God works and how much more abundantly He answers prayers than we could have asked for. In our wildest dreams, Josh and I never imagined being here with this story laid behind us and before us. God truly walked with us in the hardest seasons of our lives but not without a purpose. In the midst, we wanted out of the pain so bad, but looking back, without the pain we would have lost so many opportunities to grow. Had our journey been cut short, this blog may never have existed and I may not have met SO MANY wonderful women. Had our journey been cut short, In the Wait wouldn’t have been written. Had our journey been cut short, this son and daughter of ours would not have come into existence. Had our journey been cut short, we would have lost precious growth as a married couple and as children of Christ. Had our journey been cut short, He would not have been glorified in the same manner He is now. The pain, sorrow, and devastation have been worth it, if not solely because it’s helped drive others to Him.

So here we are, at 34w1d, pausing to reflect on how good God has been throughout it all. It’s so easy to want to rush out of the seasons of pain, (with good reason!), yet it’s never in vain. Even when it seems pointless and cruel, He uses it. He doesn’t necessarily cause it as much as He allows it, yet He takes it all and molds it into something grand. We are so grateful.

Today I just wanted to check in and share some fun pregnancy updates with you! I wish I had been better at keeping track of this throughout, but I think I was often in such a joyous daze, focusing on intentionally being present each day of pregnancy and as a result, not as faithful at recording it all. And that’s okay because my heart is full.
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How far along? 34 weeks, 1 day! The picture above is from this morning. I feel like I have definitely started to “drop” a bit and round out.

Gender: Boy / Girl

Maternity Clothes?  Yessss …. Okay, so my favorite pants that I basically wear every day are these leggings from Walmart. Jeans aren’t as comfy anymore and my Target ones give me baggy butt, but these leggings … life savers. They have built in support for my back and no weird seam down the middle of my stomach. They go up high, right under my bra, and are well made so you can’t see through them. WINNING! I own 3 pairs and may never ever give them up, even after the babies come, haha!

Stretch Marks? Yep! Mainly around my belly button and every time I see them I think – YAY! BABIES!

Belly button in or out?  Stretching out, still in, but barely. My belly button makes my husband hysterical every time. We constantly touch it (is that weird?) because it feels so funny, like a stretched and worn out balloon.

Sleep: Honestly, I have been so lucky with sleeping so well throughout this pregnancy. It really has just been since week 33 that I have had to start getting up more frequently to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Prior to that it was twice a night, now it’s about 4 times, but that seriously feels like nothing. Getting out of bed is a funny-to-watch endeavor and more often than not, I feel like a beetle on its back, but I am getting my rock-sway-grunt down.

Best moment this week: Besides making it to 34 weeks, which was a huge goal for us, it’s been feeling them continue their activity and getting to know their schedules more and more. They are typically awake together and they always make me smile when they get the hiccups or try to do a roll. At about 18” long now, each of them are running out of room to move, so it always looks like an alien is inside me when they try to get fancy with their movements.

Symptoms:  Seriously, I think I have been blessed with the best pregnancy ever. Yes, I was on bedrest for the 1st trimester but that doesn’t even phase me! The only things that really are different when I am pregnant are some issues with my hands. My left hand needs to be in a brace pretty consistently now as my thumb constantly clicks out of place and any wrist pressure is painful (like opening a door isn’t possible without a brace or holding a handled cup is too much pressure). My right hand has carpel tunnel and my fingers are numb 100% of the day and I sleep with long metal-rod brace to keep the numbness from creeping too far up my arm. Both are temporary and non-issues. A little bit of heartburn every now and then. There’s NO WAY I am complaining about these things! I may need to rest a little more often and keep my feet elevated to avoid swelling, but Mama is loving it all!

I do have to laugh though – having 2x the amount of blood in my body has caused some facial swelling – my lips are more plump and my nose has seriously doubled in size! It’s gotta be one of the weirdest things I have experienced but I have been told it will go back down to a normal sized nose after the babies are here. If you see me in person, don’t judge, HA!

Miss Anything?  Steak tartar. But not necessarily missing it, as much as just looking forward to having some when the babes are out.

Cravings?  No real cravings. I do enjoy buffalo wild wings and will never pass up a change for some boneless wings, but Josh hasn’t had to make any weird store dashes for me.

Food aversions? Eggs and pizza sauce still – just pizza sauce with spices though! I recently found a pizza place near by doctors office that makes Neapolitan pizzas with just crushed tomatoes as the sauce and a margherita pizza with anchovies has been my jammmmm. I may have had that and a salad for lunch today. Maybe.

Queasy or sick?  Nope! Never had one ounce of morning sickness and I feel SO incredibly blessed about that!

Any trips to Labor and Delivery? Yep! We made our first trip last Thursday evening to the hospital after Baby Boy was unusually quiet all day. Once hooked up and scanned, it was obvious he was moving away, but had changed positions into one where I couldn’t feel him much. The hospital was amazing and so supportive of our coming in. We hope it’s our last visit there though before it’s actually go-time!

Looking forward to?  Getting through a day! Honestly, babies will be here in 28 days … each night we celebrate getting through one more day. It feels like such a victory!!!

Prayer Requests? Tomorrow is another growth scan appointment for the babies and it’s been a long 4 weeks not knowing if they are growing appropriately. Twice weekly, we have non stress-tests (NST’s) to monitor their heart rates for a period of time to ensure proper ranges are reached and those have all been awesome, and then once a week we have BPP’s where we watch them via ultrasound to make sure they are practicing their breathing, making appropriate movements and such. They have been thriving and passing all those tests with flying colors! So we know they are doing well in there … now we just have to make sure one isn’t staying stagnant in growth, or pulling too far ahead or falling too far behind. These growth measurements will give us a realistic idea on how likely it will be for us to make it to full term and when/if we will need steroids. Our appointment is at 9 am CST tomorrow (Friday 5/5) and we are PRAYING these babies are right where they need to be so they can continue baking away.

Next Goal: We would love to make it to 36 weeks, which is less than 2 weeks away! At our hospital, anything under 36 weeks is automatic NICU time from delivery and while even after 36 weeks, they may need a little help growing or feeding, we would love to get to a point where NICU may not even need to be considered! We’d love your prayers too for this!

So is everything perfect!? If you are reading this today and feel like I have it too good, I promise, there are still issues, it’s just all a matter of perspective! :) Ever since starting to prepare for our frozen embryo transfer, the estrogen injections made my blood pressure high, which is super unlike me. So I have had to be on blood pressure medicine this whole pregnancy to monitor that. I haven’t had issues since being on it, but it still puts me in a high risk category for pre-eclamsia. Also, I have had gestational diabetes since week 16, which just means I have had to monitor my meals carefully, test my sugars 4 times a day, and routinely use nighttime insulin to keep my sugars from going crazy after a sleep-fast. (I’ve been told with two placentas, this is pretty typical, and also, having PCOS and insulin resistance anyways, pretty likely, which is why we tested at 16 weeks opposed to 28.) In certain situations when I know a meal would cause a spike, I can use day time insulin, but that has really only happened a handful of times. Also, my factor V blood clotting disorder causes some bleeding risks and I give myself injections each night to prevent clots. (Actually tonight I move to twice daily heparin injections as we prepare for delivery!). I also tested positive for Group B Strep so need extra antibiotics during delivery … So I promise, things aren’t perfect, but to me, all non-issues … a blessing really to only be dealing with these things because I am pregnant! If you are dealing with any issues like these, know you aren’t alone. ;) Don’t be hard on yourself, they are all out of our control! If anything, I feel like the fact that I have made it to 34 WITH all these high risk factors is just a testament to the power of prayer!

That’s it friends! Thanks for taking the time to pray for us – we truly believe, especially with so many high risk factors of the items above + a multiples pregnancy, that it’s thanks to YOUR prayers that have kept these babies thriving for so long. Thank you Jesus!

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This was our 9:45 on Tueday night! 3 times a year, Target runs a deal where you can buy $100 in diapers/wipes and get a $25 gift card back. When you do multiple transactions and layer cartwheel and coupons, it works out to be a great deal and way to stock up! Our Target was pretty cleaned out, but we used some baby shower gift cards to make a good haul to stock up! (Yes, I know every baby is different. Yes, we can exchange or return them if needed. Yes, I won’t open the boxes until we know how many we will need.)


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Josh got our car seats installed last night! We are officially ready! We still want to run them by the police station for a quick inspection to ensure everything looks good. It was SO fun to drive around with them both in the back today. It made it feel even more real!


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I got my very first Mother’s Day gift from a dear friend Rachel this week – ALL THE FEELS. Seriously pinching myself!!!! How sweet is this?!

maternity pictures.

Warning: This post contains a whole bunch of maternity shoot photos and may be a trigger for those still struggling with infertility. Proceed with caution or skip over entirely. And know I am sending you BIG HUGS.

A few weekends ago, my dear friend Gina Zeidler came over into our home and gifted us with a full morning of maternity photos taken. For Josh and I, it was an unbelievably surreal morning. Gina is simply the best and turned what felt like such foreign territory and made it so much fun. We laughed, we cried, and we celebrated. It was such a beautiful time together. We are so thankful to her talent and generosity to bless us with these precious moments forever captured.

We will spare you from sharing nearly 200 pics, but here are some of our faves from the morning!!

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“Hey Mom, what’s going on with this bump?”

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This sign was the first thing Josh bought for the babies after we found out I was pregnant.

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This book is SO special. And a reminder of where our blessings come from!

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We received these onesies as a gift when we first shared our pregnancy news, as did we these gorgeous blankets made by Josh’s Grandma. These will be forever keepsakes!

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“Now what’s happening again??”

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Baby Twin bump at 28+4

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Our friend Kaylynn got us these perfect onesies! Can’t wait to put the little nuggets in them. :)

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From the beginning our hearts have been filled with so much laughter – disbelief and joy!

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My sister-in-law surprised us with these onesies – TOO CUTE! Womb Mates for SURE!

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My precious family of 5.

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Cali kisses for the babies!

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Hi Babies! Mommy loves you!

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Josh recently built our family this kitchen table and we love that it will now become the gathering place for so many memories, laughs, tears, devotions and meals.

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Every morning we get up and walk into the nursery and say “Good Morning” to Cali’s baby brother and sister. She’s going to be such a good big sister. :)

These photos are so US. We love that they were captured in our home, in regular clothes, with bare feet and coffee, water, and Cali close at hand. We are so incredibly blessed and don’t take a single minute for granted. <3


“Let the Adventure Begin” sign custom designed and made with love by our friend Ashley from Graced and Co.
Maternity Dress from Shop Pink Blush.

tears.

4 weeks ago at 29+ weeks: I sat in a circle, surrounded by my girlfriends, who came out to celebrate our twins with us at yet another baby shower. (I haven’t blogged that one – but coming soon!) As I looked around the room at these beautiful women who had walked through so much with us, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Earlier in the day, my girlfriends who hosted asked if there was anyone I knew of that was still in the midst of an infertility struggle and I was overwhelmed with joy that as I looked at the attending guest list, I had been through the infertility struggle and walk with 10 of these friends of mine, all of them now with 1 or 2 babies in their homes, none left still struggling. In a way, it felt like a beautiful full circle moment, having celebrated 14 newborns during the time of our journey from this group of infertility-struggling friends alone, not to mention all the babies welcomed by those not struggling. 

And I got teary. Emotional with gratitude and joy and the feeling of immense relief. As I felt the tears pool in my eyes, I couldn’t help but feel so grateful being in this precious moment.

Tears.

3 weeks ago at 30 weeks: I went in for a regular OB appointment only to have a mini-growth scan done a day earlier than our schedule one at the perinatologist and surprising news was given to us: our babies weren’t doing great. We were told our daughter dropped to the 3rd percentile, and our son to the 11th. They informed us that they would default to the perinatologist appointment tomorrow, but to pack a hospital bag, pray we could make it to 34 weeks, plan on steroid injections and a tough battle uphill head.

And driving home I cried. Tears of exhaustion and worry for our little ones. Tears of carrying the stress, knowing their little lives were in my body, and feeling like I had failed them somehow.

Tears.

The next day: God surprised us! The perinatologist did so many thorough tests and assessments on these kiddos and we were left with the news that they are both doing amazing. The quick OB-scan was not accurate. Baby Boy stayed in the same percentile as before, the 33rd, weighing in at a whopping 3 lbs 4 oz! And Baby Girl went from the 5th percentile …. to the 15th!!!! And weighed in at 3 lbs 1 oz! PRAISE THE LORD! Both kiddos passed their weekly tests in record time and scored a 10/10 on all their points and the doctor said there was no need for steroids, we had two thriving kiddos, and to plan for a full-term pregnancy.

This time driving home I cried too, but tears of joy and relief. Tears of gratitude to God for answering so many prayers for these babies growth and tears for the reminder that He is present with us in all the ups and downs.

Tears.

2 weeks ago, at 31 weeks: We received a book in the mail, a book called Wish. And I attempted to read it out loud to Josh and my aunt for the first time. Well, here is how Amazon describes the book and then you can decide how that went: “As an elephant couple embark on a life together, thoughts of children are far away-at first. But as the desire for a child grows, so do unexpected challenges. And it’s only after thwarted plans and bitter disappointment that their deepest wish miraculously comes true.”

Yeah.

So halfway through, my gasps for air became too much and I passed the book off to Josh to finish reading outloud and let’s just say the tears fell.

And fell.

And fell.

Tears of relating to the desire for children growing in our hearts. The challenges. The bitter disappointment. The answer to prayers. And ohhhh, there were so many tears.

Tears.

A few days later: Josh had a cupcake. A beautiful cookies and cream cupcake from my favorite cupcake shop and he sweetly offered earlierin the day, that he would share it with me after dinner that night. Oh sweet precious cupcake.

We ate dinner and my belly grew so full so fast. And he immediately brought over the cupcake, to which I told him I didn’t want my half right now. Unfortunately thanks to a barking dog, he didn’t hear the last two words of my sentence …. the “right now” part. And so, an hour later, when I asked for my half of the cupcake, and the panic in his eyes set in quickly, there was a little bit of heartbreak to follow. And by heartbreak, I mean tears.

I didn’t say I didn’t wannnnnnnnt the cupcake, I said right noowwwwwwww. I was full. Did you reallllllly eat it??”

Oh the poor boy. I tried to explain, through the most hyperventilating sobs, that it wasn’t his fault and I would be okay and I was sorry for being so hysterical, but let’s just say this type of emotional breakdown over a cupcake half isn’t normal for me.

But the tears came. And fell. And I couldn’t get a hold of myself.

Tears.

Easter church service: Well, let’s just say that a day as significant as Easter combined with being 31+ weeks pregnant was a recipe for tears. As soon as the band played the first musical note, my eyes started leaking. And I cried, nonstop, for a full 30 minutes, as the worship band played and the verses were read and the significance of the day tore through my heart. I leaned over to Josh at one point and told him I physically couldn’t stop crying. It was like my body was responding outside of my mental emotions and reacting in a way I had never experienced before.

And so, I soaked the rag I had in my purse (randomly) since I wasn’t wise enough to bring tissues. I finally stopped trying to wipe the tears away, instead letting them puddle in my cleavage. Oh the beautiful glamour of pregnancy.

So. Many. Tears.

And then, just last week, I was driving and caught this song playing on the radio.

And I realized that God gave us tears for a reason. As the lyrics of the song say, they are a healing rain. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to get emotional and to let ourselves feel everything we are feeling. For so long, especially during our later years in infertility, I feared crying, because it felt like if I let the dam open, it may never close. I allowed myself to become numb, to push away feeling my emotions, to protect my heart by not connecting to it.

Sure, I still cried about silly things – a sweet Dancing with the Stars performance, or someone winning the grand prize on Wheel of Fortune, or a dog reuniting with their military owner, but for me? For us? It was too vulnerable.

And so this song, and all the tears of the weeks prior, felt like such a blessing to me. A relief to be reminded that God wants us to feel, that He gave us emotions for a reason, and that there is no shame in crying. It’s not a sign of weakness, but of humanness.

So today friends, if you need to cry, cry. Put this song on (repeat if you need to) and close your eyes and allow yourself to feel. It’s healing. It’s hard. It’s beautiful. It’s messy. (Have Kleenex nearby but if not, I’ve learned a rag works great too.) But it’s necessary to release the pain and exhaustion and allows God to rebuild your strength as you cling to him.

Tears …. who knew there were so many forms?

Tears by Matt Hammit

You’ve been waiting a long time
To let this out into the daylight
You’re not alone, we all have days
When the well inside needs to break

Just let ‘em fall like healing rain
Watch the walls start crumbling
Let your heart beat and feel the weight
You’ve carried disappear
Just let ‘em fall right down your face
Hit the ground in a pool of grace
And feel the things you haven’t felt for years
That’s why God made tears

The waves crash hard into the harbor
But you don’t have to hold ’em back any longer
There’s a freedom found when you’re unafraid
To let the water wash it all away

Just let ‘em fall like healing rain
Watch the walls start crumbling
Let your heart beat and feel the weight
You’ve carried disappear
Just let ‘em fall right down your face
Hit the ground in a pool of grace
And feel the things you haven’t felt for years

That’s why God made tears

Watch the old become new
Let the fear fade away
Feel his arms around you
Oh,it’s ok

You’ve been waiting a long time

Just let ‘em fall like healing rain
Watch the walls start crumbling
Let your heart beat and feel the weight
You’ve carried disappear
Just let ‘em fall right down your face
Hit the ground in a pool of grace
And feel the things you haven’t felt for years

That’s why God made tears
That’s why God made tears


sneak peek: nursery, playroom + bathroom.

Who is ready for a sneak peek of our nursery, playroom, and babies bathroom!? We are so elated that we have been able to take an upstairs den, my old library/office, and guest bathroom and turn them into spaces for our babies to grow up in. And while we still have a few final details to finish, we just can’t wait any longer to show you! (And truthfully, the final details are low on my priority list as my belly grows and my eyes have a greater desire to be shut then opened, hehe!)

So without further ado …

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Here’s a peek from the doorway! We went with a mint, navy, pink, white, and gold theme … how’s that for a variety!? Haha! But we love the way it turned out. We feel like it’s complementary to both genders but also a serene, peaceful place to sleep.

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(Photo by Gina Zeidler)

Cali is ready for her brother and sister to arrive! Every morning we walk into the nursery and say hello and good morning to the babies. She now stops at the door before we head downstairs if I forget.

(And YES, when they start climbing and moving, we will rearrange the cribs so that there isn’t any risk factors with the in-between space between the two.)

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Our glider also is a recliner which is HEAVENLY and I am certain will be used and appreciated for the long nights ahead. It’s sooo comfy!

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The bins at the bottom are SO useful as we are realizing BABIES HAVE SO MUCH STUFF.

IMG_2082Our dear friend Janell blessed our family with these gorgeous hand crocheted blankets + matching elephants. Both of these bring us so much joy and we couldn’t love her more for loving our kids as much. How cute are they!? (You can follow her work on Instagram at @littlevernfieldcompany)

IMG_2080Our friend Ashley Dumler from Graced and Co custom gifted and designed this gorgeous piece of art for our family and we couldn’t love it more. For so long, we were on the journey towards parenthood and now we are ready for the ADVENTURE of parenthood. You can be encouraged by her heart on Instagram at @ashleydumler or check out her website and shop at www.gracedandco.com.

Josh spotted these mobiles and they are perfect! As a hunter, he noticed immediately that our daughters mobile has does on it, with bows in their hair, and our sons mobile has bucks, with antlers on top. It’s a detail I never would have noticed but one that we both love. Also, they play the song that my teddy bear as a child played, which is a fun thing to pass on.

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I love how the lighting turned out in here. We are able to add a little gold glimmer to the ceiling and it’s so pretty when it’s on. We have it on a dimmer as well so we can control the brightness.

IMG_2083This wall is kind of boring, as it’s just our dresser and changing table! This is one spot that still needs a lot of organizing TLC because I just don’t know how to best organize all of it! I have to nestle our wipes warmer in somehow and rearrange some of the not-every-day items … I wanted something simple above it like a mirror because every baby I know loves seeing a glimpse of themselves!

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We replaced the boring white knobs with gold glass knobs and love how it finishes off the dresser!

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/ritchiematernityamenCali has definitely claimed this pouf as her own already haha. (Photo by Gina Zeidler) I really like having the pouf vs. a glider ottoman because with the chair gliding, it helps me control the amount of “swing” I have going on. It’s super light weight and can easily be moved to the side too when the recliner goes up.

A special thanks to my girl Lindsay over at frillsanddrills.com (Instagram @frills_and_drills) for helping us create a room mock up to try out different styles and colors … she made life so much easier!)

And now onto the playroom! This room is right off of our main living space and we are thankful we have a spot like this.

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When you walk into the play room, this storage space is to your right and houses everything from extra bankets to toys to books and other misc items! You can see the babies already have a few stuffed animals and trinkets to play with! :)

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A wall of storage … we love the natural light that comes in! I still want to find some art for the left hand side, as well as cover the top in foam with the fabric on top … on the list! :)

IMG_2069Josh and I put up these sticker wall decals to invite some friends to the party! :) We love how it turned out!

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As a book lover, having places to display their books was a must! We will routinely swap these out for new ones they have. Already I have read most of these out loud to Cali/Josh/the babies. They are all SO cute!

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We have a chair in the corner (that I need to recover) and this is the view from it.

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We found this changing area on clearance and have heard it’s super nice to have a changing station on the main floor as well. I need to finish organizing it and adding a spot for the wipes (a small shelf on the wall? Any other ideas?). The green basket next to it I plan to fill with some snacks for me to nibble on while breastfeeding/pumping.

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This is one special detail in our playroom that we love. Years ago I had seen a sign similar and sent it to my sister-in-law, who remembered and had one custom made for boy/girl twins. We LOVE it.

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This is another special item in our playroom. It’s a beautiful rocking bear made in Poland that my grandparents had set aside for many years for us. It’s incredibly unique. It’s sturdy and soft, made from a gorgeous wool, and we love the special touch it adds to the playroom!

And we are SO excited to share that our beautiful finished PRAYER PUZZLE that SO MANY OF YOU participated in, is now framed and ready to be hung above the changing table in the playroom. We absolutely love that you will all be a part of our daily life – your prayers have been instrumental in our miracle and we feel so incredibly blessed that each of these thousand pieces have had a sponsoring friend/family/stranger committing to praying for our babies. This is my favorite thing ever.

And last up, the kiddos bathroom!

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This room was pretty easy to transition as it was just adding some splashes of color.

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We know it will be a little while before bath toys are used, but we are ready! :) We just need to put their baby baths in this tub but know we have a little time!

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I am still trying to figure out what will be handy to have easy access too. Most of their bath items (washcloths, towels, etc) are organized under the sink.

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A few little fun details. This “For this Child…” sign comes from a gift I received. A friend, Jessica, nominated me to win this, and I won! A special thanks to @august.and.april for this beautiful gift! And the music box/snow globe was a special gift from my grandparents that we got the day we shared we were pregnant. So special!

Truly, every time we pass one of these rooms, we can’t help but pinch ourselves because our home FINALLY has rooms with real, live babies coming its way! It’s so surreal and we can’t say THANKS enough to everyone who has so generously helped us fill them with goodies, clothes, diapers, toys, and practical items for the kiddos. We are so grateful.


Nursery: Cribs, Dresser, and Recliner – Buy Buy Baby, Baby Bedding and Crib Skirts – Sweet Jo Jo Designs (available on Amazon), Pouf – The Land of Nod, Storage Unit – Ikea, Bins, Artwork and wall decor (other than custom sign), pillow, lamps and side table – Target, Chandelier – Cost Plus World Market, Dresser Knobs – Home Depot, Black out curtains – Pottery Barn Kids, Laundry basket and garbage can – Home Goods, Mirror – At Home.

Playroom: Changing table – Buy Buy Baby, Storage Unit and Book racks – Ikea, Bins and curtains – Target, Lamp shades – At Home, Playroom wall art – Home Goods, Wall Decals – Amazon.

Bathroom: Shower curtain and green rug – Ikea, Blue Rug – Target, 2 set of bathroom prints – Hobby Lobby. 

niaw: listen up.

 

1

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.

 

good friday and the hope of what’s to come.

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/ritchiematernityamen

This morning as I sat on my porch listening to the birds chirp, I thought about how the morning of Good Friday started just like that. Everything felt normal. Routine. Jesus dined with His disciples the night before, washed their feet, and the whole world went to sleep, not knowing how much would change the next day. The sun rose. Families made their breakfasts, perhaps the birds were chirping much like they were outside of my house this morning. And yet, by the end of the day, life as we know it would never be the same again. God took a waiting season that spanned thousands of years and removed a veil between Him + His people in a single weekend. Jesus suffered today for us – willingly, out of love, trusting His Father completely, even though the hours to come would be horrific. He trusted that God’s plan was bigger than His suffering. And suddenly, a regular Friday became the foundation for life eternal.

You see, I know this image above (one from our maternity shoot) seems to not match up with the gravity of the words above, but in a way, I pray that it brings you hope that a day that starts normal, like every other, can hold in it a miracle that can change your life. In 7 weeks, we pray to welcome our son and daughter into this world after a long wait that’s lasted nearly a decade, and yet, that is NOTHING in comparison to the type of waiting and suffering Jesus went through for us. And while our waiting season has shifted now to waiting for these babies, my heart still beats deeply with those who are still in the wait and I just want to squeeze each of you still aching and wondering “when”. I know holidays are especially tough, especially when feeds are flooded with families + mall bunnies pics + always a pregnancy announcement or two. I am praying for each and every one of you this weekend – so many friends stick out in my mind as I type this – and hope that you all can KEEP THE FAITH. Trust your Father, the one who sees the BIG picture and knows all the answers to the “why’s” you keep asking.

Out of the hard days – the “good Friday’s” – come the Easters. The answered prayer. The blessing. The victory. As hard as it is to see past Friday, don’t let it cloud over the hope of what is to come. Sending you all so much love as you walk through another holiday and I pray that your hearts would not stay defeated but instead turn towards the one who holds your future in His hands.

With love,

Chelsea

ps – photo by Gina Zeidler who lovingly gifted us a maternity shoot to celebrate these babies … I will have to share more of our faves soon! These images are just so special to us. <3

FertilityIQ grant.

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You guys know I simply adore FertilityIQ and what they are doing in the infertility community, right? I connected with Jake and Deb, the founders of this website last year and my love for what they are doing has only snowballed. (Here’s a post talking a little more about the site.) Then, last September, I was invited with a few other bloggers, to a basecamp they put on, that solely focused on what we could do to better help and support the infertility community. And surprise! As of last March, yours truly actually joined their team in a work-from-home role and I LOVE IT. (More on that later!)

In an nutshell, the website is an online resource for fertility patients to get detailed information on doctors, clinics, treatments, costs and more. Fertility patients can anonymously assess their doctor, clinic, nurse, billing department, etc, and after a thorough review, these assessments become available for others to read. As a reader, you can sort by geography, and the patient’s treatment type, age, race, income, orientation and more. In the past year, 100,000 patients have used our data to find their doctor and 92% considered it “helpful or extremely helpful.” As someone who has seen 3 clinics in the Twin Cities alone, I cannot TELL you how incredibly helpful it is to have a website like this one available to help others still in the thicks of determining what their next steps will be and with who.

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And now, have you heard the big news?! FertilityIQ is providing one patient, who has written an assessment of their doctor, a free IVF cycle (up to $10,000) to use, or gift to a friend. And, there’s also another way to win $2,500 by simply acting as a referrer! If you share about this contest with your friends who may be able to provide an assessment too, and they win after citing you are their referrer, then you get $2,500 to spend at your discretion! SERIOUSLY. A free IVF cycle?! This will change a family’s LIFE!

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Seriously, all you have to do is pop over to this link here https://www.fertilityiq.com/survey-intro and spend 10-15 minutes sharing your experience with a former or current doctor or clinic. The assessment is completely anonymous and to maintain credibility, we will ask you to send in something that “proves” you were a patient there, like an image of a bill or an email from a nurse or some paperwork with your name on it on their letterhead. (Patients can submit more than one assessment, but only assessments that meet our basic criteria listed here will qualify.) If you do that by April 27th, you are eligible to win this grant! If you have already submitted an assessment with verification, you also are eligible! (If you want to double check everything is good, check the website to see your assessment and make sure there is a blue check mark next to it, which signifies it’s been verified.)

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One thing I love about this is it’s not a contest, it’s a grant. This isn’t about who is most popular or can make the most tear filled video, it’s simply sharing what you have experienced from the clinics and docs you’ve seen, and helping out the next member of our fertility community get closer to their dreams. The reason I love working for FertilityIQ is because I am able to help give back to a community that has been so good to me. Every person who shares their experience on FertilityIQ is making the experience less isolating, and just plain better for their fellow patients who are starting out. YOU make the difference! It truly is empowering knowing that you can help others!

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Winners will be chosen at random on April 28th and every qualifying assessment must be submitted by April 27th.  For more details, please go to FertilityIQ.com/IVF/Grant.

So what are you waiting for?! Stop scrolling and go assess your doctor!!! (And if you submit one, mention my name!!) I AM GIDDY ABOUT THIS!!!

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My new bosses … they are pretty freaking awesome. :)