Friday, October 16, 2020

bump #109 a baby girl and all of life’s biggest adventures all at once!

On Friday, March 20, 2020 we welcomed our precious baby girl, Vivie, into the world. And what a crazy world it was (is?!) She has been an absolute joy, wonderful distraction, and amazing blessing to our family. Undoubtedly the best thing to come out of this year!

We definitely skipped ahead a few bumps, but here’s a quick catch up... We left off a year and a half ago with a failed frozen embryo transfer (our last remaining embryo) and feeling like our family still wasn’t complete. We were absolutely elated to have our 2 miracle babies, but we weren’t ready to call it quits on having just one more, if it was God’s will. So we prayed and decided to just try naturally for a year, not expecting anything to happen. And then 5 months later, in July 2019, we found out we were having a baby! And it was a girl! 

We named her Vivienne Jewell (Viv or Vivie for short) Vivienne means alive and she brought us back to life when we were feeling so defeated. Jewell was my grandmother’s maiden name and my best friend’s last name is Jew so it’s extra special. She was born on my Grandpa’s birthday and already has a great sense of humor just like he did. The boys adore her and are the perfect protective older brothers (so far.)  

This year was a very exciting one for our family. Vivie’s arrival was the biggest highlight, but just two weeks before she was born, Andrew flew to Chicago, Illinois for a job interview at Olivet Nazarene University. And he got the job! A full time, tenure track professorship at an amazing university with the greatest colleagues in the darling town of Bourbonnais. Yes, we found out that we would be moving... across the country... with a newborn... during a global pandemic. Oh yeah, and we also bought our first home basically sight unseen. And it ALL came together in the most wonderful way that can only be described as God’s divine intervention and provision. 

We are so grateful for this sweet baby girl and, despite the wild world around us, still choosing to see the good and find joy in this new, exciting season. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

bump #108: FET

*originally written January 8, 2019

Frozen embryo transfer.

This was always part of the plan. To be honest, I never in my wildest dreams thought that IVF would work for us... on the first try... or that we would go on to get pregnant naturally when Ollie was only 4 months old. I thought that IVF would fail and an FET would be our only hope.

But you know what happened.

I went from painfully longing for a baby to simultaneously having one in my arms, one in my belly, and one in the freezer! 

There is no tactful way to say that, and I have to crack jokes because it really is a perplexing pendulum that I still can't wrap my mind around. So I make inappropriate jokes and hope people know I have a good heart under the sarcasm.

Truthfully, I am so, so grateful that we have this one remaining embryo, because going into this process, it was always, always part of the plan to use it. I originally thought it was our only hope at having a child. Long story short: we had 3 embryos and implanted 2, then we held our breath knowing that there are no guarantees. That IVF resulted in our precious baby, Oliver, and then our miracle surprise ("buy one get one free" -again with the inappropriate jokes) sweet baby, Everett. I've told this story a million times to everyone I meet because I still cannot believe it. I also haven't slept in 4 years so I cannot remember one day from the next and live in this "50 First Dates" sordid reality so I apologize if you've heard it a million times! Anyway, 4 years ago we were ecstatic to have one remaining embryo. One more chance.

We still feel that way.
Excited for what may be. 

I know the odds are not great. I know how disappointment feels. I know we are beyond blessed to have our boys. None of that is lost on me. But none of that changes the hope in our hearts that we will bring home a baby in 2019.


February 19, 2019 - Transfer day

5 years later we are closing the IVF/FET chapter of our lives by transferring our last frozen embryo. We have a total peace in our hearts about this, but to be honest, we didn't know what to expect. So we went in with high hopes and the assurance that we had done everything right to prepare for a best-case-scenario FET (estrogen tablets, prenatal vitamins, folic acid, baby aspirin, ultrasounds, bloodwork, progesterone shots - ouch!). We want to give our little embryo the best chance at success.


The thawing process isn't perfect. And technology has changed over the last 5 years. And our embryo wasn't in the most perfect condition to begin with. Our hearts sank when the embryologist showed us this picture...

A day 5 FET should more closely resemble this image...

She tenderly explained that there was good news and bad news. "The blastocyst has two working parts- the inner cell mass which is a group of cells which give rise to all the cells of the baby and the trophectoderm (outer) cells that surround the inner mass and give rise to the placental cells."..."For an embryo to continue, it must have sufficient cells in each category to survive." Ours had a decent inner cell, but the placental outer cell did not survive the thawing process. Without that outer cell, implantation is unlikely. For reference, I have a picture of this embryo above the embryo that became Oliver below.

Our embryo today, at time of transfer...

Dr. Google explains it like this...

Both our embryologist and reproductive endocrinologist were encouraging and reminded us that they've transferred much "worse off" embryos that resulted in healthy babies and "better off" embryos that didn't.

Bottom line: Every life is a miracle. We're hoping and praying for a miracle.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Welcome Baby Everett

 On Thursday, April 21, we welcomed our sweet baby boy, Everett Michael into the world!
Everything about his birth went perfectly and he is just the most mellow, precious little guy.

This last week has been one of those "best of times, worst of times" weeks with the absolute highest of high moments like Everett making his grand debut, and the absolute lowest of low moments like Tuesday night (one week ago today) when my amazing Grandma Charlene went home to heaven. I've had waves of emotion washing over me and can't catch my breath sobs mixed in with tears of joy. Her memorial was yesterday and I couldn't go (physically impossible as we just got released from the hospital Sunday night and the service was 300 miles away.) I am so heartbroken! I know my hormones are out of wack after being pregnant for essentially two or three years in a row, but my poor heart has had all the feels that it can handle. My grandma was my favorite person in the world and I cannot imagine this life without her. I am just so grateful for the times I had with her and I see so much of her sweet spirit in my baby boys. 

This is a picture of Grama and Oliver. Oh how she loved my boys! 

This is one of the last messages she sent me on facebook last week 
(Grama was super up on the trends!)

Grandma even sent Everett a card before she passed away. Such a treasure!

A dear friend told me that when someone so very special goes on to heaven, God always sends a new life to bring healing (or something like that; my brain is mush and my eyes are blurry from crying). So we are rejoicing for a life well lived and a new life beginning. But oh how I miss my grandma!

Focusing on the good times... let's take a look back at the days leading up to Everett's birth...

 39 weeks pregnant... like WHOA! Balboa Park, downtown San Diego.

I may or may not have gained 35 pounds. (That's in addition to the 15 or so pounds I was still hanging onto after Oliver's birth).  I just loved being pregnant! And the beauty of it is, I STILL look 9 months pregnant today because I did such a good job being pregnant :) Obviously being pregnant means eating ALL THE THINGS!!!

Here are our last pictures as a family of 3 the day before Everett was born.

 Everett got Oliver big brother presents. He was more impressed with the tissue wrap. Typical!

Ollie prays for baby brother to come out safely.

7 am on April 21... Everett's ZERO birthday!
 Checking into the hospital
This wasn't my first rodeo (or c section) so this time I came prepared and bought my own much more stylish hospital gown so I could tell the difference in pictures of Oliver and Everett's birth. Totally worth the $19.99 on amazon. Add it to your "must have" list for delivery. They make even cuter ones with matching pillow cases, but I'm on a budget. Hello two in diapers at the same time :)

Everything went smooth in surgery. I dare say it was pain free, just a little pressure and some tugging... felt like a monkey swinging on a vine up in there. Must have been my intestines or some other vital organ! Anyway, it was over super quick, some invisible glue to bind me up, and we were off to the recovery room in no time. And for those of you keeping track, I can proudly say I am still vomit free since '93. Woot Woot!

Everett's (slightly graphic) birth video here

Everett looks a lot like Oliver, but is a little more serious with his expressions.

 Oliver was never interested in a pacifier... until he saw Everett with one. And so it begins! Also, whoever says not to give a newborn a pacifier is right. Totally messed up his ability to nurse, but we're back on track today. Oops. Guess I still have  A LOT to learn even though this is baby #2. Also, whoever says 2 babies is just 2 babies is wrong. It's exponential, meaning 2 is 4. There are not enough arms! 
Thank you to ALL of our fabulous friends who came to visit us in the hospital. Crazy coincidence: We were in the same recovery room (#37) with Everett as we were with Oliver. And had a lot of the same nurses too! Total Deja Vu.

And here's my snuggly little sleeper now...

My mother and father in law have been so kind to stay with us since Wednesday to help with Oliver as Andrew went back to work yesterday and my parents are coming down tonight and staying a couple weeks. We are so lucky to have family helping us out! Bummed they live so far away. Ever-Bear is sleeping now and you know what they say - "sleep when baby sleeps" so I'm going to take my 2:00 percocet and take a nap :)

Thank you for all the sweet messages! 

Friday, April 8, 2016

bump #107: 37 weeks

And the super fancy mirror selfie:

It turns out it's true what they say; 2nd pregnancy and 2nd child's baby book are way less documented than the first. I have folders on my terabyte labeled "Oliver 3 weeks and 2 days morning session" and "Brenda 13 weeks and 5 days pregnant at the beach". Now I have folders labeled "February - March 2016" with 2 thousand unorganized pictures just sitting there.

That said, I have relished every moment of these last 37 weeks and once I figure out how to upload photos from my cell phone and just what the heck this "one drive" system is on my computer, there may even be a couple pictures to share.

In the meantime, here's a couple I found on Facebook...

Moving on... Everett is still breech and still scheduled to come out via c-section on Thursday, April 21st. The countdown is on!  This week I've full on embraced "nesting mode" and spent 3 hours deep cleaning the kitchen. I invested in Norwex natural cleaning products, but they haven't arrived yet, so I used good old hazardous, toxic chemicals and did my best not to breathe them in. I had good intentions of being health conscious, but that grout wasn't coming clean with water and coconut oil.

OK, so it wasn't that "radiantly" clean, but I feel alright eating food that comes out of this kitchen now.
I sadly took down *almost all of the "Fun to be One" Oliver Birthday decorations.
And I turned the nursery and spare room into guest rooms for all the family we have 
coming to help us out the first few weeks as a family of 4.

Eventually I'll put the 2 cribs back in the nursery, but sleep training is a big fat bust, so there's really no rush!

We've had some fun weekends at the beach and the lake and the zoo...

Lots of walking! Andrew teases me that I'm gonna "drop a shorty" if I don't slow down :)

So there have been lots of naps too.

Mostly for Ollie...

The last 37 weeks have flown by and I know the next few are going to be a blur, but I honestly say to Andrew every single day "Can you believe it?! We're having another baby?! How did we get so lucky?!"  And there is of course, that part of me that knows we're in for double the diapers, double the daycare expense, double the sleepless nights, and so on. But there's a bigger part that remembers the years of pain and struggle of infertility. If you told me 2 years ago, even 1 year ago that we would be where we are right now, I never would have believed it. All that to say thank God for taking our messy circumstances and turning them into beautiful miracles. I will never forget the pain of longing for our family, but I will also never forget the incredible joy that comes from being momma to my boys. They are worth every tear we cried and every year that we waited.