Saturday, December 31, 2016

Walk With Me Through 2016...

2016 was the year for which we had waited and prayed for so long. After several difficult years, we were finally able to grow our family, and we are just in awe of God's grace.

Past Reviews: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 {It's crazy to look back over the past 8 years! Praise God from whom all blessings flow}.

In January, I celebrated 3 years of remission from Crohn's, which was such a blessing! We started the Save the Date Challenge with our church, which started a year of fun dates with my love. We also finalized the contracts for 4 additional embryos, and they actually ended up shipping in January as well! We got to meet our sweet niece Henley Caroline, and baby sit PK while she was being born :)

As we looked ahead to our third embryo transfer in February, I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic and started taking Metformin in preparation. Our community group started walking through the Re|Engage study, which was a great opportunity to focus on our marriage, as well as grow closer to our group. Mike had a work event that took us to College Station, where we also got to see sweet friends. And of course, we transferred 2 precious embryos, which meant starting PIO injections. We planned a weekend getaway to Stone Canyon Ranch, which was a great way to relax and spend time together as we waited for our pregnancy results. The month was also filled with fun birthday celebrations.

In March, we found out we were pregnant! We were cautious, but the Lord was gracious to provide SUPER high beta numbers that continued to rise. The high beta numbers made us wonder if both embryos implanted, and we soon found out that we were in fact expecting TWINS! Best. News. Ever. I celebrated my 10 year blog anniversary, and I also started attending the Shiloh infertility Bible study. It felt strange to start the study right after receiving our good news, but it ended up being so helpful and healing.

We got to hear the sweet sound of our babies' heartbeats in April! We had a little scare with the pregnancy that resulted in an ER visit. Thankfully, everything turned out to be ok, but I was placed on restrictions to help heal the diagnosed subchorionic hemorrhage. I also took my last PIO shot, which was a happy, happy day. I was also busy preparing for my friend Amy's wedding, and Mike's office moved to McKinney.

In May, we had our first Level II ultrasound where we found out that we were having a boy AND a girl! We could not have been more excited! We went out that same day and bought our cribs to celebrate. We made it past the first trimester and were finally able to make our public announcement. That was a very fun and special day, as we were able to share our embryo adoption story more publicly. Since our family was growing so quickly, we also purchased a new family vehicle: a new-to-us Honda Pilot that we dubbed the Babymobile :)

We headed to Chicago in June, where Mike was able to officiate Morgan and Alec's wedding. We were able to spend a fun day exploring downtown, as well as get sweet time with the Judge family. I worked a week in the office while Cindy was on vacation, and it was fun to be back in the office for a bit. We had our anatomy scan, where we were able to see the sweet profiles of our babies. I helped set up and coordinate Amy and Chad's wedding reception, and Mike preached both at his parents' church and at Mercy Church.

In July, we started our baby registry and celebrated PK's birthday with some gymnastics. We celebrated our 5th anniversary {5 years!}. Because we headed to San Diego for a week, we made that our big celebration. It was so nice to be away and on the beach for an entire week! Our air conditioning went out at the end of July, and because I was pregnant and super uncomfortable, we decided to make the best of it by renting a hotel room and heading to dinner and ice cream.

August was full and busy. I worked in the office again while Kirston was on vacation. We headed to San Antonio for our first baby shower, which was a sweet time of celebrating with a lot of people who have prayed so much for our little ones. I made a day trip to Magnolia Market with Lindsay and Susan. We revealed the names we had chosen for our babies: Eli and Maddie, and I passed my glucose test {yay!}. We also had our Dallas baby shower, started back meeting with our community group after a summer break, and we took our maternity photos {which I shared here on the blog in September}.

We had our third and final baby shower in September, which was given by sweet co-workers. While we were excitedly anticipating our little ones, we were still saddened by reaching the 1 year anniversary of our miscarriage. It was a mix of emotions as we remembered the little ones we lost and continued to prepare for the little ones to come. We were in the midst of finishing up our baby to do list, and taking a prepared childbirth class when an irregular heartbeat was found in Maddie. We were sent to Labor and Delivery for further testing, where we found out that I was also in preterm labor. Thankfully, they were able to stop labor, and I was put on bed rest until I made it full term. Mike got his own guy's diaper shower, we finished up {and revealed} the nursery, and I was able to get our freezer meals ready.

In October, we were anxiously waiting for {and counting down to!} babies. It felt a little strange to be celebrating the arrival of Eli and Maddie while also still mourning and remembering the loss of our other babies last year. We were thankful for the Lord's grace in all of our babies' lives. The days in October ticked by slowly, as I tried to make the best of bed rest. Thankfully, my restrictions were lifted at the end of the month, but no matter what we did, babies waited until November after all. I blogged about how my dad had been diagnosed with cancer, which was really difficult. But we were trusting the Lord to take care of him as we waited for his surgery.

November was officially baby month! On November 2nd, we welcomed Elijah Winn and Madeline Grace, and we were instantly in love. The month was pretty much a blur, but we tried to take as many photos and document as much as we could so we don't forget those precious early days. On more than one occasion, we turned to each other in awe... "we have 2 babies!"  :)

December was filled with all things baby, as we continued to figure out life with twins. There wasn't much time to blog, so there were only a few updates and a boat load of baby photos. Eli and Maddie turned 1 month old {!}, and we got to celebrate our first Christmas as a family of four!

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We started 2016 full of hope for our little family, and it became the year that the Lord answered our prayers. There were certainly challenges, but after so many tough years, we were able to rejoice over all that the Lord provided for us. Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!


{iPhone Rewind} :: December

This has been our life haha. Baby Central :)

When you're by yourself and both babies want to snuggle...you happily oblige :)

Date #37: Christmas Movies #wcsavethedate16

Fortune cookie wisdom #truth

The Twin Z pillow has been SO helpful! I am so glad that babies like it too :)

"This tiny noise maker has invaded my world and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. It's loud and smelly, and a total attention hog. And there's another one just like it! But mom and dad seem to love them, so I think I'm supposed to guard them." - Sasha {aka guard dog}

Just hanging out with this girlie early in the morning :)

Out bottle set up in the kitchen...good times.

I had much better luck with the Ergo carrier. Little man loved it, though he is a tiny heater!

He has the BEST facial expressions :)

I prayed so much for sweet moments like this...

We got this fun gift basket, but it didn't say who it was from...I hope the gift giver comes forward so we can say thank you!

With my girls...puppy will always be my first {fur} baby.

Multi-tasking like a boss HA! This is what it looks like to get board packages out these days :)

Date #38: A drive to see Christmas lights with babes sleeping in the back seat #wcsavethedate16

Yes, that's a 50 degree swing in less than a 24 hour period. Oh Texas.

Y'all. My friend Jill wrote a book! So excited to have her sign it :)

#reallife

"You mean to tell me I'm super cute?? // Yeah, I am!"

Eli had zero interest in taking photos, Maddie hated her cute bow, and these two refuse to take photos together. So much for the cute Pinterest photos... 

When your uncle sends your kids 26 adorable stuffed animals for Christmas...

Date #39: Starbucks Date #wcsavethedate16


Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas with Babies

Since Eli and Maddie are less than 8 weeks old, we decided that we would have a quiet Christmas at home. Our day was filled with the usual: feeding, changing, naps. But we still found time to enjoy the day celebrating our first Christmas as a family of four :)

Babies gave us the Christmas gift of a good night. We had a couple of longer stretches between feeds, so that was awesome. It's amazing the difference it makes to have 2-3 hour stretches of sleep compared to 1-2!

We enjoyed cinnamon rolls and coffee, along with sweet baby snuggles and smiles. Not a bad way to spend Christmas morning :)

Merry Christmas!

Long prayed-for snuggles...

Nap time with Daddy

We wanted to get the stereotypical baby-in-the-stocking photos, but when we went to put them in their stockings, we realized they had already grown too big! So we opted for the baby-under-the-tree-in-a-diaper photo instead. My photography skills leave much to be desired, but wrangling 2 newborns and a camera is harder than you think ha!


Mesmerized by the lights

Uncle Michael came over for lunch and to hang out for the afternoon. We were all excited to see him, even Sasha :)



I love my Christmas present from Mike: a twin mama t-shirt! Oh how I miss my sleep, though...


Mike also made a sweet video for us. He followed me around with a GoPro during the last few weeks of my pregnancy and then when Eli and Maddie arrived. This video, y'all...ALL the feels. All. The. Feels.

Eli + Maddie - Brand New from Michael McCullough on Vimeo.

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Last year, I was just so weary and heartbroken, and I just wanted to skip Christmas altogether. But the Lord was gracious to answer our prayers for a family, and we have 2 babies for Christmas this year! There really are no words to adequately describe our gratitude and just how joy-filled our hearts are.

As we celebrated the birth of our Savior, the term Emmanuel {God with us} took on a deeper meaning. The God of the universe became flesh to walk among us, to walk as one of us. And while there are so many huge spiritual implications for that, it also means that on a basic human level, the God of the universe desires to be an intimate part of our lives. As we walked the hard road of infertility, God was with us. As we grieved the loss of our first 6 babies, God was with us. As we rejoiced over the news and then arrival of Eli and Maddie, God was with us. As we wake up in the middle of the night to wrangle 2 hungry babies, God is with us. And as we walk into whatever the Lord has for us next, He will be with us.

What a precious gift our babies are. But even more, what a precious gift Emmanuel is. God with us.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from the McCulloughs!


*The best you can do with a girlie who hates her bow, a self timer that takes WAY too long...and #becausetwins  :)


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Babies' First Christmas Ornaments

In the midst of the crazy, I haven't had much time to work on craft projects. But I knew we wanted ornaments for Eli and Maddie's first Christmas, and I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. Or it was too expensive. So I decided to make my own! These were SUPER simple, and had to be, since I only had short bursts of time :)

I have collected snowflake ornaments for several years, but knew I wanted some sort of snowflake theme for babies' ornaments, since they are our little snowflakes :)

So, so thankful we have these ornaments to make this year!



{Back}

Materials: frosted glass ornaments, vinyl, ribbon
Tools: Silhouette Cameo, scissors
Total Project Cost: less than $5 each


Friday, December 9, 2016

High Five for Friday!

I'll be honest...all of my days seem to blend together now; I have a hard time remembering what day it is. I tend to operate in 2-3 hour increments. But Fridays are still a big deal around here because it means that Mike is home for the weekend! Which means reinforcements :) 

{one} Eli and Maddie had their one month check up today {a week late}. They have already grown SO much! Eli is now 8 pounds, 13 ounces and Maddie is now 9 pounds, 2 ounces. Definitely puts this mama's heart at ease, after they had lost so much weight at the beginning. It's crazy to think that they are already 5 weeks old. It has been the longest and shortest 5 weeks of our lives haha. Being parents to twins is definitely hard in so many ways, but we are still so thankful and loving this precious time. And just because they're cute...


{two} My dad's surgery went really well! He is home recovering, and I am so glad that he is taking all of December off to do that. The doctors are confident he is now cancer free, but he will go back in 3 months for more testing to confirm. Continued prayers for the cancer to be gone are very much appreciated. 

{three} So the cold weather has definitely arrived! We had our first freeze of the season last night. Crazy Texas going from 80 degrees to 20 degrees. I guess since it is December, it was about time.  I was actually telling Laura the other day that having babies in November worked out well, since I would want to hibernate in the colder months anyway. So being home bound right now isn't so bad! I don't mind staying inside where it's nice and warm :)

{four} So this is the first year since I was diagnosed that I haven't blogged for Crohn's Awareness Week. I have been a *little* busy :)  So this is my short PSA for this year...this year's theme is #IBDvisible. Because IBD is often an invisible illness, there is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding these diseases. By sharing my story, I can help give a face to the disease. I still hold out hope for a cure, but I am so thankful that I have been able to achieve and maintain remission now for almost 4 years. And I am thankful for the modern medicine that has allowed me to do that.


{five} There are 16 days left until Christmas. How did THAT happen?? We decorated the house, but other than that, I haven't really thought much about Christmas. We don't really have much planned, since babies are still so young, so it will be a low key, quiet Christmas. I have done zero shopping and am not really confident that it will happen this year. I mean, it will. This is just the latest I have ever started or thought about Christmas haha. Thank goodness for online shopping! :) 


Friday, December 2, 2016

Eli + Maddie :: 1 Month


Eli & Maddie, 

I can hardly believe that you are 1 month old! I have to admit that it has been somewhat of a blur, as your daddy and I have tried to navigate first-time parenthood and life with 2 newborns. But despite the lack of sleep and the countless diapers, we have enjoyed every moment getting to know you. Sweet ones, we prayed so long for you, and the fact that you are here and already 1 month old is such a sweet blessing. We know this time is going to go by so fast, and we want to remember all the precious moments that the Lord gives to us. We love you so much, and we are so thankful to be your parents!

Love,
Mama


E L I J A H      W I N N


Stats :: 8.4 pounds, 21.5 inches

Loves :: snuggles in the mornings, bath time

Dislikes :: tummy time, being cold, being wet/dirty, pretty much being uncomfortable in any way :)

Eat :: you were patient with mama while she tried her best to breastfeed you and your sister. when we realized that it just wasn't going to work out how we had planned, you were such a champ when it was time to take formula. once your belly was actually getting full, things were much better! you keep your sister on the feeding schedule, as you are always the one who wakes to eat first. unfortunately, you struggled a lot with gas, and your daddy and I did everything we could to try to help you. we never thought we would ever pray so much for poop! when we introduced a gentler formula, you finally started to feel better. you are eating about 8 times a day, 3.5 ounces each time.

Sleep :: once we got past the first crazy week where you were waking every hour, you started sleeping the expected 2 to 3 hours. every now and then, you make it 3.5 hours, which makes your daddy and I rejoice! your absolute favorite place to sleep? in my or your daddy's arms.

Play/Development :: you grasp our fingers, work really hard to focus your eyes, and have the strongest leg muscles, often pushing against or standing on us when we are holding you. you're not a fan of tummy time, and you definitely favor turning your head to one side. you do everything you can to try to avoid turning the other way, but you humor mama {to a point} when she makes you work out your neck muscles. but we're not too worried, because you have mastered the head butt when we are holding you :)

Unique to You :: baby boy, you have the most atrocious gas. it rivals Sasha and can clear a room! you get super frustrated, very fast...when you're wet, when you don't get a bottle fast enough, when your pacifier falls out. patience is not your thing right now haha. oh, but you have the BEST old man faces for just about everything :)





M A D E L I N E      G R A C E


Stats :: 8.6 pounds, 21.5 inches

Loves :: sleeping, having your arms free, bath time

Dislikes :: being wet/dirty

Eat :: you were patient with mama while she tried her best to breastfeed you and your brother, when we realized that it just wasn't going to work out how we had planned, you were such a champ when it was time to take formula. once your belly was actually getting full, things were much better! you were super great to always be on your brother's feeding schedule, as we always seem to wake you up when it's time to eat. you are eating about 8 times a day, 3.5 ounces each time.

Sleep :: once we got past the first crazy week where you were waking every hour, you started sleeping the expected 2 to 3 hours. since you are on your brother's schedule right now, we often wonder how long you would sleep if we didn't wake you up with him. you are our sleep champ right now!

Play/Development :: you grasp our fingers and work really hard to focus your eyes. you rock the tummy time! you don't seem to mind it as much as your brother and you turn your head all on your own. 

Unique to You :: baby girl, you have a distinctive girly squeal. you are usually pretty content, but every now and then, that shrill squeal comes out, and it is definitively girl. you have the largest, most beautiful eyes that just melt our hearts.



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

{iPhone Rewind} :: November

I apologize in advance for the baby photo overload...but it was their birth month, and they have pretty much been our entire focus this month...and I just couldn't help it :)

Sweet sleeping babes

The sweet moment before they started kicking each other :)

Daddy has been christened by Eli

With Aunt Lindsay...who was a lifesaver the first couple of weeks!

Sweet boy...granny was also a lifesaver the first couple of weeks

Baby girl...love her tiny-ness

Date #35: Sonic Date to process our first 11 days of parenthood #wcsavethedate16

Feeding time!

The many faces of Maddie...gotta send some love to daddy while he's back at work!

Eli meeting grandma

Paci partners...I mean, can you even??

Happy {?} babies :)

Men and babies...pretty adorable. They love their Uncle Michael!

Sasha made sure to sneak some snuggles in...sweet puppy.

Sasha overseeing tummy time...gotta make sure those babies lift those heads!

We actually made it out for a walk!

Soaking up some grandma and grandpa time

When you are overwhelmed by motherhood and your sweet husband brings you home flowers to encourage you #lovehim

Date #36: Boomer Jack's + Baskin Robbins for Mike's Birthday #wcsavethedate16

Eli and Maddie got their first mail! 

I finally tried my hand at baby wearing. I need some practice, but I think it will be great once I get the hang of it!

Sleeping babies are the best :)