Monday, February 29, 2016

{iPhone Rewind} :: February

I got another custom order on Etsy. I actually enjoy creating new designs for people, and I was really excited when my customer LOVED the final product! You can purchase your own here.

Ya'll. I haven't bought new running shoes since college. {All serious runners everywhere weep. I know}. But I finally thought it was time to replace my faithful tennis shoes. I really like my new ones- a little more bold than I'm used to, but super comfortable.

I attended {part of} an IF: Local. I made it Friday night and really enjoyed the speakers. I ended up getting sick on Saturday, so I missed most of the sessions, which was such a bummer. Hopefully I will get to watch some of them on Right Now Media at some point in the future.

I was actually sick on my birthday {which was a bummer}, but I got lots of sweet messages and well wishes. I loved this text from my brother :)

Sweet Lindsay had made me this YUMMY Reese's Peanut Butter cake for my birthday! Let me just say: it was delicious!

Lindsay also sent me a tub of Panera mac n cheese, because she knows it's my favorite. I have the BEST sister-in-law EVER :)

I put out a little Valentine decor this year. I think these little poms are super cute, and they're so easy to make!

Our friends Josh and Tiffany {who own the house} were in town and we got to have them over to dinner. It was such a blessing to hear about all the Lord is doing through them. They gave us this sweet gift as a reminder to pray for them and for their region. We are so blessed to partner with them in this way!

Got a sweet card from my parents for Valentine's Day :)

Just a fun little Valentine's gift for my Valentine :) {also used my Silhouette sketch pens for the first time...they're awesome!}

My sweet parents sent me a birthday card with a Starbucks and a Target gift card; pretty much the way to my heart haha. Their note was to enjoy a cup of coffee and to buy something fun. I snapped a photo of my treasures to send to them. Such a sweet gift!

We headed to Ben & Lindsay's for another homemade sushi night {which is probably one of my favorite things}. When I got home, I noticed this sticker on my shoulder and it made me smile. Because my niece was handing out stickers and she's adorable. 

I headed out to vote in the primary election and was the youngest one in the voting booth by 25 years. It's going to be an interesting election year, for sure!

Date #6: Dinner at Rick's Chophouse in McKinney #wcsavethedate16

Date #7: Mavs Game {Mike got free tickets to the Mavs game, so we got a bonus date at the end of February!} #wcsavethedate16

Friday, February 26, 2016

Embryo Adoption :: Transfer Day {FET #3}

I woke up this morning really early, so excited {and a little anxious} for today. I have done this twice before, but today I woke up with a peace from the Lord. I dressed in my snowflake leggings, put on my snowflake necklace, drank my 32 oz of water to fill my bladder {much easier with my infused water!}...and was ready to meet our tiny snowflakes!

And now our babies are on board! I am officially PUPO :)

Today we had our {third} Frozen Embryo Transfer {FET}. We transferred 2 day-five blastocysts, so yes- we are praying for twins again! I love that we both get to be there to see our tiny ones transferred together. To watch our little embryos on the ultrasound screen and know the exact time that they enter my uterus is such a sweet gift in this difficult journey. We got to see their little cells moving like crazy as they were inserted and released; how cool is that??

We made the decision to transfer one of our higher graded embryos with one of our lower graded ones. So we transferred 1 embryo that was graded AA and expanded {the grade when it was frozen, but it was starting to hatch by the time of transfer}, and 1 that was graded CA and hatching. 

Quick lesson in embryo grading:
  • Letter grades are just like in school: A is the best
  • First letter is for the inner cells that go on to make the baby 
  • Second letter is for the outer cells that go on to make the placenta
  • Expanded means there are lots of cells and the protective shell is already starting to thin so that the embryo can break out {though it hasn't yet}
  • Hatching means there are lots of cells and the embryo is already breaking out of the protective shell {a good thing!}

Look at those beautiful embabies! :)

Both the embryologist and my RE said that they both thawed perfectly and looked beautiful. They were both really excited for us, which was such an encouragement. We even had the embryologist from our last 2 transfers come in to tell us how excited she was for us. Because she was the one that had to tell us not so great news with our last embryos; so she made it a point to let us know how different this time was. There are still no guarantees, but this was such an encouragement for us! We are SO thankful for all of the doctors, embryologists, and nurses that have walked with us in this journey.

So our embryos looked great and mature and right on track for growth! :)

We left feeling excited and hopeful. There is still a twinge of fear; we know the realities of the possible outcomes, and science can only tell us so much. Our little ones are in God's hands, and we will patiently wait and pray over the next 10 days {and 9 months!} for the Lord to bring these little ones into our arms and our family.


Age of Embryos? They were created in March 2009, so they have been frozen for just shy of 7 years
Size of Embryos? About 0.1 to 0.2 mm
Development: five-day blastocysts {1 AA ExBL and 1 CA HgBL}; the entire genetic blueprint for life {chromosomes/DNA} is present
Meds: Cabergoline 2x/week, Metformin daily, day 20 of Estrace, day 7 of progesterone in oil {PIO}
Sleep: Despite my excitement and anxiety, I slept really well...nice and rested up for the transfer!
Best moment of the week: Hearing that our little ones thawed perfectly and seeing their little cells moving and growing at transfer
Miss anything? Sweet tea...I cut back after my pre-diabetes diagnosis. Could be worse; but I sure do miss my sweet tea! 
Cravings: Nothing yet
Symptoms: Just a little tired from the progesterone
Looking forward to: Our pregnancy test in 10 days, and finding out if our babies snuggled in tight!

**This post was written on our transfer day, but was not published until after we made our official announcement. I back-dated to the actual day so we could have all of this for our own records and memories.**

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Praying in Community

Tonight, several of our friends and family met together to cover us in prayer. We gathered in our living room and spent a good amount of time petitioning the Lord on behalf of our little ones. We felt the Lord's presence, and it was such a sweet time of worship before Him.

I can't express in words what this evening meant to us. We felt so much love and support. We have had it all along in our journey from these amazing people, but having them all in one room at one time meant so much. And we had so many more who weren't there in person, but still lifting us up in prayer. 

I wanted to remember this night. We have an incredible community who is committed to walking with us, willing to both rejoice and mourn with us. And we don't ever want to take that blessing for granted.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Infused Water Wednesday :: Strawberry + Lemon + Basil

Ya'll, I am terrible at drinking water. I actually don't drink a lot of liquids in general, so my water intake is pretty low. I don't really suffer from dehydration, but I know that if I drank more water I would be more healthy. Wouldn't we all?

So my new goal is to drink more water, and I have been thinking a lot about infused water. Part of my aversion to drinking water is that I think it's so...plain. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's the truth.

Enter the Chilaqua fruit infuser water bottle :)

Find it on Amazon

I am SO excited about this! I have gathered a bunch of different infused water recipes, and I am going to figure out which ones are my favorites. As accountability, I am introducing Infused Water Wednesdays. I will post the "recipe" I use each week and my verdict.

First up: Strawberry + Lemon + Basil

Ingredients {to fit in the Chilaqua 24 oz. bottle}:

  • 3 strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1/2 lemon, rind removed, diced
  • 1 basil leaf, scrunched {to release the flavor}
  • 5-6 ice cubes
  • Filtered water

I chilled it in the refrigerator for a couple hours to let the flavors infuse the water :)

Verdict: Refreshing :)  

I really liked the strawberry/lemon flavor. I could only taste a little of the basil, so I might add some more next time to see if that changes the flavor. I will definitely use this recipe again; as long as strawberries are on sale!

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Year in the Psalms

I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I was going to be digging through the Psalms in my personal quiet time. I'm only a couple months in, and it has been such a huge blessing! It has been salve to my soul, and I am glad I chose this companion devotional by Tim Keller to go along with my studies:

Find it on Amazon

I have also been listening to the Psalms II album by Shane & Shane. I have always loved their music, and I really appreciate this particular album. They have written lyrics that coincide with each chosen Psalm, and each song is just rich with truth. I find myself singing these songs throughout the day. I want them to write a song for every single Psalm! :)

Find it on iTunes

And then my sweet husband surprised me with this fun gift: a Psalms coloring book! It's the perfect compliment to my time in the Psalms, and it fills my creative cup.

Find it on Amazon

It may seem like A LOT of the Psalms, but it really has been a fun way to dig deeper and really, truly meditate on the verses throughout the day. I think there should be a complimenting music album and coloring book for every book in the Bible! Maybe I'm on to something....   :)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Secret Passage + Prayers

Today I painted the nursery.

I haven't gone {completely} crazy. I know we haven't even had our transfer yet. There is no baby on the way, at least not in the sense that most people understand. The decision was part necessity, part faith. 

For months, I have walked by the empty room that was slated to be our nursery. It's right next to our bedroom, so there's no avoiding it. And for months it has haunted me. The lone dresser, painted with a nursery in mind, and the rocking chair my parents dropped off when we thought we would be needing it last year. I had put paint samples up on the wall, and had even taped off the trim. I could see this every time I walked by the room. Just painful reminders of what was supposed to be, but now wasn't.

So the necessity was to get rid of the paint samples and blue tape, making it a clean, freshly painted room. I thought that maybe having it one color would make the "in-process" look less noticeable. Maybe it would be less of a painful reminder if it looked more like the rest of the house, rather than only partially done. If it looked more like a room of hope that is ready to be decorated and filled...

The faith part is because we hope that we will be actually turning it into a nursery in a few short months. We hope and pray that the dresser and rocking chair will be joined by cribs and blankets and toys and books and all things baby. Painting a room doesn't make a baby happen; it's not some magic formula that will help us get what we want. The room is still painfully empty. But we are stepping out in faith next Friday at our transfer, asking that the Lord brings life to our little ones and allows us to bring them home to this nursery.

Maybe it's a little crazy. But it just felt right, and today I had the strength for it. So today I painted our nursery, covering the walls with the Olympic brand color of Secret Passage and filling the room with a whole lot of prayers...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Embryo Adoption :: Lining Check {FET #3}

These procedures are starting to feel like old hat....

Today we went in for our sonogram lining check. My RE joked about how I was really starting to speak their lingo since we have been through these tests several times before. Funny, but also not...

I have been taking Estrace in increasing amounts for the past 2 weeks. I have had no side effects from that, something for which I am thankful. My lining today was 7.5mm and triple stripe, so right where my RE wants it! 

She did mention my stubborn endometriosis again, as she could see it on the sonogram. But she assured me that it won't affect our transfer {just something I will always have to deal with}. She said everything else looks great, and we're all set for a transfer next Friday!

I have my Sharpie target circles drawn on my rear, and will restart the PIO injections on Saturday. Here we go again...third time's a charm, right?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Stone Canyon Ranch

This past weekend, Mike and I had a little mini-retreat. As a surprise for my birthday {and Valentine's Day!}, Mike had booked this little cabin at Stone Canyon Ranch for us, and it was such a fun little getaway! 

It was only about an hour from home, so it was close enough to find fun places to eat, but still secluded enough that we felt like we were outside the craziness of the city.

The Civil War Cabin

There was a lot of rustic charm, but still all of the modern amenities. It was a great cabin, and we loved how peaceful the property was. The cabin was tucked away at the back of the property, and there was plenty of wide open space, horses, and quiet.

We spent our time watching movies, playing games, reading on the porch, taking walks, and just talking life. It was such a relaxing weekend, and we are so grateful for the time away together.

I have decided that I like staying in bed & breakfasts and/or cabins. These places offer so much charm and just seem to be more interesting to stay in than a normal hotel {not that I'm opposed to that}. I love being able to leave our little note behind in the journals, adding a piece of our story to the place's history.

I am so thankful for this guy. I love that he plans special getaways for us to reconnect and relax outside of normal life. I love that we can sit and read and be perfectly content. I love that he asks how my heart is doing. And I love that we can laugh together and make fun memories.

Date #5: Stone Canyon Ranch Weekend Date #wcsavethedate16

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Rejoicing with Habakkuk

Suffering is part of life. No one in this life is immune, and at some point we all will suffer. Jesus promised that "in this world, you will have trouble." {John 16:33}

It looks different for everyone, but we can't escape it. Natural disaster, sickness, financial difficulty, broken relationships, death. And we are all left with hard questions. Whether we question the existence of a good and loving God or wonder why He wouldn't intervene, even the most faithful believer is often left with the ringing questions of "why?" or "how long?"

In the days of our infertility and miscarriage suffering, I have asked these questions almost daily. Why can't we have genetic children? Why do You continue to say "no," Lord? Why did our transfers fail? Why did You take my babies? How long will I have to endure this pain? How long before I can hold my baby in my arms?

Even now, as we are preparing for another transfer, praying expectantly that the Lord will allow us to meet and parent our little ones, these questions are still at the back of my mind. Will this transfer work? Will I have to endure even more heartache? Will this long journey and season of waiting finally be over?

Scripture has been such a comfort to me lately. I say "lately" because it hasn't always been on this journey. Admittedly, there have been times when I have found it offensive and heartbreaking. The comfort that is offered seemed hollow and almost like a slap in the face at times. I am so thankful for the Lord's patience and continued pursuit of my heart...

He has allowed me to find such comfort in the Psalms. I have found that I am in such good company! The Psalms are filled with anguished prayers, cries to the Lord for rescue, and questions of "why?" and "how long?" They are also filled with heartfelt praise, thanksgiving to the Lord, and prayers of surrender and trust before the Lord. Even in the midst of hard circumstances. Before the specific prayers are answered.

I have also found courage and strength in the pages of Habakkuk. When I first came across these verses, I didn't know how I could ever rejoice over our heartbreak and loss. So my prayer was that the Lord would bring me to that point where I could say these verses and believe them. By God's grace, I'm getting closer. And this morning, He asked me to write down my suffering, to give it specific words, and to pray with a heart of thanksgiving. 

It's not easy, and I still have to pray for the Lord's strength, but in faith, I can now rejoice with Habakkuk...

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,
"Though my womb may be empty and there be no baby in my arms,
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
the transfer may fail and the pregnancy tests say negative,
the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
the beta numbers drop, the heartbeat can't be heard, and there is no longer life in my womb,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength"
God, the Lord, is my strength."

~Habakkuk 3:17-19a


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Embryo Adoption :: Officially Started Transfer Cycle!

Today I officially started our transfer cycle!! :)

I called my RE to schedule my sonogram lining check, and tomorrow I will start my meds. There's a lot, so I usually print out a calendar to keep everything straight. I found this cute calendar printable here, and then set to work at outlining my medication and appointment schedule.

I feel like I have my own little pharmacy running. It's a little sad how much medication I am taking right now, but I am reminding myself that it's temporary. Some medications I will continue taking for Crohn's and other underlying health issues. Others will specifically be to prep my body for a frozen embryo transfer {FET}. I at least got to drop off my birth control pill {which I take for endometriosis}. 

Medication List

For Crohn's/other underlying health issues:
  • Humira- 40mg injection, every other week; I will continue this medication throughout my pregnancy, as the risks of going off the medication and developing a Crohn's flare are higher than the risks to stay on it
  • Cyanocobalamin {B-12} injections- 1mL injection, once a month; I will continue taking these shots to keep my B-12 level up
  • Vitamin D supplements- every day; I will continue taking these supplements to keep my Vitamin D level up
  • Cabergoline- 0.25mg twice a week; I will continue this medication until I get a positive pregnancy test. This medication regulates my prolactin levels.
  • Metformin- 750mg every day; I will continue this medication at least as long as I am being monitored by my RE. This medication regulates my hemoglobin A1C number {monitoring for diabetes}. Hopefully I can wean off this medication when I graduate to my OB/GYN
For the FET:
  • Estrace- I will take this medication in increasing amounts every day {from 2mg to 6mg}. This medication helps to build the lining of my uterus, and helps my body prepare for a transfer.
  • Progesterone in Oil- After my lining check and we know that my body is ready for a transfer, I will take this medication in increasing amounts every day {from 0.5mL to 1.5mL}. This medication helps maintain a pregnancy.
  • Prenatal Vitamin- every day; for the last few years, I have just been taking the Target brand prenatal vitamins. My doctor decided to prescribe me the vitaMedMD One Rx prenatal, just to make sure my body was absorbing all the nutrients it will need. So much for my gummy vitamins :)

So. Many. Meds.

Round 3. Here we go!

Friday, February 5, 2016

High Five for Friday!

{one} Our community group started walking through the Re | Engage marriage study. Mike and I are excited about this for a number of reasons. 1. We always want to find ways to strengthen our marriage. 2. We look forward to building community with a smaller group. 3. Our group leaders are none other than our sweet marriage mentors! We walked through pre-marriage and 1st-year-of-marriage counseling with them, and we are looking forward to walking through another marriage study with them, now that we're 4.5 years in :)

{two} Laura and I hung out on Tuesday for an early birthday celebration. We enjoyed lunch at Panera {one of my favorites!}, and then went to get pedicures. Such a treat! It was a fun and relaxing afternoon, and I'm thankful for the time to just hang out and catch up with her.

{three} For our first February date night, we headed out for some sushi! We both love it, but don't get it very often, so it was a fun treat. It was an early birthday dinner, so we decided to splurge!

Shiawase Japanese Restaurant #sushidate #sushiburrito

Date #4: Sushi! #wcsavethedate16

{four} Mike had to be in College Station for work, so I decided to tag along. I had never been to Aggieland and decided to check it out. We got into town Wednesday night and met with some friends for dinner. While Mike was working on Thursday, I walked around the A&M campus, explored the George Bush Presidential Library, and spent the afternoon reading in the MSC. College Station might not be at the top of many people's "must see cities" list, but I visit historical sites for fun, so I enjoyed my day of exploring! And plus, I loved being able to walk the campus where Mike spent his college days. 

{five} Mike left for men's retreat this afternoon, and tonight I'm heading to the If: Gathering Local at Woodcreek. I have heard people talk about it for awhile, but haven't really engaged with it. Since it was being hosted at my church, I decided it would be a good time to check it out.