Keeping Perspective

Tomorrow my two best friends are hosting a small baby “sprinkle” to celebrate our twin boys. It feels so amazing to be at this point, with a healthy pregnancy, two babies on the way and my closest friends & family nearby.

A year ago I honestly wasn’t sure we’d ever get to this point again. That was dark time for me personally. One that was consumed with worry, anxiety, sadness and fear. It was around this time last year that I realized I was quite literally obsessed with my fertility or lack there of. It was all I thought about, talked about and even dreamed about. And it was draining.

I knew I had to do something to break out of my own head!

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My aunt had previously told me about how she started volunteering for Hospice in Cleveland and after hearing her describe her experience, I couldn’t get it out of my head. Have you ever had something call to you over and over again, so much so that you cannot keep ignoring it? That’s how I felt about volunteering for Hospice. It was something that just kept creeping up into my thoughts.

I kept putting it off, citing my stress around infertility as a reason to not take on anything new. But once I thought about it, I realized volunteering was actually EXACTLY what I needed to stop obsessed about myself so much, so I signed up to begin volunteer training.

I am so glad that I did because being a Hospice volunteer as been the most rewarding and uplifting two hours I spend all week. I chose to join the Threshold Choir for my volunteering. Each Tuesday a group of ladies meet at the Hospice center and sing at bedside for Hospice patients. We sing soft, sweet, lullabies for patients in varying stages of death.

Sometimes they’re alert and singing along with us, while other times they are close to passing and our songs are meant to let them know they are not alone. They say hearing is the last sense to go before death, and I’ve witnessed first hand patients, who have not responded to family in days, open their eyes and respond to our music. It’s a powerful moment.

At first I thought volunteering at Hospice would be too scary and depressing for me. That it would only add to my anxiety and stress. Oddly enough that has not been my actual experience at all. It feels like the biggest honor ever to contribute to making someone’s end of life even a tiny bit better. I always leave feeling so happy and at peace.

Plus the women I sing with are some of the sweetest, most uplifting people I have met. I’ve had to take a leave until the babies are here because I can’t stand for two hours, and they surprised me with baby gifts for the boys and many for Lila too.

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And when it comes to my own selfish reasons for signing up to volunteer, I will say it worked in helping me see the big picture of my life. I became less bogged down in the day to day happenings of my fertility and noticed my existing blessings even more. It also helped renew my courage to go on pursuing growing our family, because I saw how important family and children are to patients at the center.

Hospice is always looking for volunteers, so if you want a way to give back that is insanely rewarding, please look into your local organization. Volunteers help in a variety of ways, including meeting 1:1 with patients to talk or provide companionship, relieving a caregiver so they can get a few hours break, singing or playing music, cutting hair/doing nails, quilting or even arranging flowers for patients rooms.

I’m so grateful for my time at Hospice. If you have any questions about what it’s like to be a volunteer, please feel free to reach out!

 

 

Twin Pregnancy Update: Second Trimester

Yesterday I turned 26 weeks pregnant with our twin boys. Only two more weeks until the third trimester, which seems crazy! After a tumultuous first trimester, I’m happy to report that the second trimester has been smooth sailing.

I’m currently huge … measuring six weeks ahead (32 weeks) and am daily getting the “any day now!” comments from nice strangers. The look of horror on their faces when I tell them I’m not due until June is pretty funny. :)

26 weeks pregnant with twins

The boys are growing healthy and strong from what we can tell. They’re both measuring the same for estimated size … 60th% for all babies, and have strong heartbeats. They’re being cooperative guys for now and are in the optimal head down position side by side. Baby B is very active all throughout the day and night, while baby A is quiet except for at 4am when he gets his groove thang on.

I’m feeling good, other than typical pregnancy complaints. Namely bloody noses, leg cramps, back pain, insomnia, shortness of breath, exhaustion and broken blood vessels on my face. I also am at the point where I cannot walk more than four blocks without feeling pain and pressure. But for a twin pregnancy, this is all par for the course, so I am not complaining.

The biggest worry right now is pre-term labor. 51% of twins are born preterm, which can mean a nicu stay and possibilities for long-term disabilities. Thankfully my body seems to be handling the pregnancy well so far and I don’t have any signs of preterm labor.

Our “goal” is 36 weeks gestation, with 38 weeks being ideal. I’d love the boys to have a birth weight above 6 lbs each, which is great for twins. Lila was just 6 lbs 9 oz, so we’ll see. Finally, I am hoping to avoid any nicu time and have the babies with me immediately.

I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to move around or if I’ll have to be on bedrest, so I’ve been nesting a little earlier than a typical pregnancy. We have the nursery mostly ready. We did a travel theme this time complete with a vintage map wall mural, antique suitcases as a nightstand and a cool vintage globe. We still have to get another crib, bedding and Luke is working on building storage into their closet so I can start organizing the massive amount of baby boy clothes my friends have handed down to us.

Travel nursery decor We also got Lila situated in her new room. I read that we should do it early, so she doesn’t feel like it’s a punishment once the boys arrive. We got her a new pink chandelier to make it special for her.

Pink, green and blue girls room Pink chandelier

 

We’re all starting to get very excited to welcome these boys into our family. The next few months are going to be tough physically for me, so prayers and encouragement are appreciated. I know it will all be a distant memory once those babies are laying in my arms.

 

 

All About Our Good News!

If you follow me on Facebook, then you likely saw our recent announcement. If not, here it is…

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We are expecting twin boys!! We are beyond excited!! Here’s how this blessing came to be.

If you’ve been following along on our fertility journey, you know that we had unexplained secondary infertility after an early miscarriage. After undergoing a surgery this spring, we decided to try on our own for another six months before seeking more help. That six months went by without any luck, so we turned to our amazing doctor, Dr. Shamma here in Toledo for assistance.

We followed his advice to a T and our treatments were successful. I cannot say enough good things about Dr. Shamma and his staff. They made a very stressful situation as positive as it could be.

My first trimester started off filled with excitement and joy that I was finally pregnant. Soon enough morning sickness reared it’s ugly head and I was so sick it was debilitating. I was pretty sick with Lila, but twin sickness was a whole new ballgame.

Thankfully I started taking Diclegis, which is a morning sickness medication made up of B6 and antihistamine, that took the edge off enough for me to be functional. Before that I was literally laying on the ground trying not to vomit much of the day. Even on Diclegis I had serious food aversions and  all-day nausea. Lets just say I have a TON of respect for women who have hyperemesis gravidarum. 

Other than morning sickness I had a very stressful and scary two weeks around weeks 12-13. I began spotting and then bleeding every night around 4am. It would stop in the morning, but each night I woke to the same nightmare. After having a miscarriage and infertility, any spotting is terrifying. Every time it happened, I would get an ultrasound, both babies looked great and there was no visible reason for the bleeding. Then around 14 weeks it stopped and hasn’t happened again. Thank goodness.

While I was so sick and having spotting, I was essentially on bedrest, which put a huge burden on Luke and our extended family to help out. Lila was definitely impacted by it all and for a few bad weeks was very angry with me. I went from her full-time caregiver to barely around. She would hardly even look at me for awhile! Thankfully I begin to feel less nauseous around week 16 and our relationship rebounded instantly.

19 weeks with twin boys

I am 20 weeks today and besides some exhaustion, I am feeling good. My bump is pretty large and the babies are big as well. At my last appointment at 18 weeks, my belly was measuring 7 weeks ahead (compared to a singleton pregnancy)! However, I’m not too uncomfortable and am still sleeping well, so no complaints here.

The boys are fraternal twins, meaning they are like two separate siblings just born at the same time. I had my anatomy scan a week or so ago and both looked perfectly healthy and ACTIVE! On the ultrasound they were already rough-housing, with the top boy smacking the bottom one in the head. Don’t worry, the bottom one quickly retaliated and hit his brother right back. It was hilarious to watch.

I have a long way to go in this pregnancy and I’m sure pretty soon it will start to get uncomfortable and challenging, but for now I am just basking in my happiness about bringing two precious boys into our family. Lila says they’ll both be named “Lila” and can wear some of her jammies that are in boy colors. :)

Our journey to conceive these babies was not easy, but I would go through it all again to get to this same conclusion. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for encouraging me to keep going when it got tough.

 

 

 

5 Things 2015 Taught Me

New Years Eve has always been a day where I think back on the year I just lived – usually with a lot of happy memories. Today feels a little different. This past year has been a doozy for me. The physical and emotional pain I felt as I experienced infertility made this honestly the hardest year of my life thus far.

They said what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger, and this year is the perfect example of that for me. Although I was brought to my knees several times, I also was stretched and grew by leaps and bounds in many areas of my life. In my experience, tough times have a way of helping you learn about yourself and life in a way happy times just cannot.

With that in mind, here are five things 2015 taught me:

1. It’s better to struggle together, than alone. I’d be lying if I said it was easy to share here on my blog that we had fertility issues. It was a huge ego blow for both Luke and me to admit this to ourselves and to my readers. We consider ourselves very healthy, so to have our fertility fail us was devastating.

BUT, by sharing so openly, we were surprised and comforted by the number of you who reached out to say “me too.” Hearing fertility stories from so many women and men I know made us feel less alone. It also made me realize that this wasn’t something I needed to feel shame or embarrassment about. So, thank you!

2. It’s possible to be happy for others, while sad for yourself. When you’re dealing with infertility, each new pregnancy announcement can feel like a stab in the heart. One skill I perfected this year was the ability to compartmentalize my hurt from the joy I felt for my friends and family for their good news. It wasn’t an act or show either. I really learned how to feel both emotions at the same time in an honest way. I guess you can say I learned to see outside myself more.

3. The best way to get support, is to ask for it. It’s difficult for me to let people help me or pick up my slack when I’m down, but this year taught me that it’s okay to ask for the support I needed. Whether that be emotional support, childcare or even just a hug. Our friends and family showed up in big and little ways once I got over myself and started asking for help in specific, tangible ways. They were there all along, but needed guidance on how best to support us.

4. I am stronger than I realized. I used to think I wasn’t strong enough to deal with life’s struggles that I had seen other people go through. I thought it would break me and used to joke I would be put “in an insane asylum” if it happened to me. Then something hard DID happen to me, and I surprised myself by dealing with it in a healthy way. Sure there were times I felt broken inside, but I always picked myself back up and moved ahead. I now know I can handle much more than I thought, which makes life’s unpredictable nature less scary.

5. Hope is a powerful thing. Through all the negative pregnancy tests, doctor’s appointments, unanswered questions and physical tolls put on my body, one thing kept me going – hope. It would have been easier to stop trying and live life as a family of three, but the burning optimism in my heart kept me going through it all.

I learned many more things this year, but these five stand out. I also am holding on to the many, many wonderful moments 2015 brought me with Luke, Lila, our families and friends.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for lifting us up this year in your words, prayers and actions. Part of me wants to say good riddance to 2015, but the other part knows this year’s struggles are part of what makes life beautiful, and hard, and a journey worth living.

XO

Liz