Shepherd and Ruth's Birth Story!

Ignore spelling and grammar errors. This mama of 4 kids, 4 and under is BUSY and proofreading isn’t my top priority at the moment.

They’re here and they’re perfect!

For 35 weeks and 4 days, my babies grew perfectly inside my body. Thank you Jesus! I am truly in awe over how smooth my twin pregnancy went. Each day that I woke up, I would smile knowing that I was pregnant for another day, which meant that the twins were that much healthier.

On Sunday, July 28th, though, I didn’t get to wake up to Kensington and Bennett asking for chocolate milk. Instead, around 5am, I became so restless. I didn’t sleep much during my pregnancy as it was, but it was different this time. I was cramping a lot, and it was stronger than most other contractions that I had ever felt in my life before. I got up to move around a little; went to the bathroom. But I just couldn’t get comfortable. 

I decided to text my mom finally around 5:51am about how I was feeling since we’d likely need to be seen at L & D triage at the very least. I explained that I was cramping and I’d start timing it all to see how serious things were getting. However, I didn’t even have the chance to time contractions because by 5:59am, I was texting my mom back about how my water had broken. I was starting to feel some major contractions after that. Water was beginning to sprinkle all over the house with each step that I took.

In a hurry, I woke Ross and the kids up. We all jumped in the van and raced to the hospital (let me be known that he missed the exit because we were all in such a panic ha). I was contracting the whole way. When we got to the hospital, I said, “I’ll walk up myself; you just take care of the kids.” Well, as soon as I stood up from getting out of the van to walk up to L & D, my pain was getting worse and my water broke even more (maybe the second amniotic sac? I have no idea). Water EVERYWHERE y’all!!! I couldn’t even walk at this point. So Ross carried both Kensington and Bennett (they had no shoes on) up to L & D to get a nurse to bring a wheelchair downstairs.

Once I was in the wheelchair and the nurses were helping me, I told Ross that he could leave and come back later once we knew more. Not to mention, Bennett had been sick for a few days and he really needed some attention and medicine. My only concerns were: 1) me getting checked and 2) Bennett getting healthier. 

Once wheeled up to L & D by the nurses, I was checked and they said I was 90% effaced and 4cm dilated around 6:45am. Things were moving quick and I had so many questions. Eventually, in between the chaos of my water leaking EVERYWHERE and my painful contractions, I finally asked the nurses what the plan was. They kind of laughed and said, “well you’re going to have these babies now.” I was extremely shocked to say the least. I have no idea why I was so surprised, but I assumed that I’d have at least until say… noon? Like, can I collect my thoughts first, please? Haha. But babies don’t follow our time schedule, do they?

Quickly, I called my husband back explaining that we’re about to give birth. Then in a panic, he tried to hurry up and find childcare at 7am for Kensington and Bennett. My mom’s side of the family was at the beach (a few hours away) so that was a no-go but thankfully we were able to get help from my dad’s side of the family. My sister and her hubby were able to watch Kensington and Bennett which allowed Ross to head his way back to the hospital. All the while, I was contracting and getting closer to pushing. Mind you - I was all alone in a pre-op room because the plan was to have a c-section, but my contractions weren’t slowing down. Everything was so up in the air. VBAC? C-Section? Who was to say?

The sweet nurse kept asking how far away my husband was. She wanted him to be there with me, obviously, so she was trying to stall. We kept waiting on him but finally she was like, “well, we’ve got to go to the operating room.” We couldn’t wait any longer because I kept feeling pressure down south. As I was walking to the OR (still contracting; still leaking EVERYWHERE - are you seeing a theme here? So.much.water.), we passed Ross and he was quickly escorted to put his gown on. 

When I reached the OR with my God-sent nurse Sabrina, the anesthesiologist kept reminding me, “I’m going as fast as I safely can” with the spinal block. I was moaning and complaining because with each contraction, I felt more of the urge to push. I kept begging them to wait for my contraction to end before attempting the spinal block but they couldn’t; I was in pure agony.

Eventually, BAM - the spinal block was in and they immediately laid me down and started preparing me for the c-section. Things happened quickly after that. Had the spinal taken any longer, we would’ve had to attempt a VBAC because of how low the babies were. The twins were engaged and ready to come out, but the safest thing to do was a c-section due to my delivery history/the size of the babies.

Ross came in just in the nick of time to witness the birth of our sweet twin babies. Twin A (Ruth) came first since she was closest to the exit. She came at 8:12am. One minute later, Twin B (Shepherd) came at 8:13am. Both screaming and both healthy as could be. It was a miraculous moment that I had prayed every single day for since implanting them back on December 10, 2018. Ross and I could barely believe we had TWO new babies that were ours. And best of all, they were safe and healthy and I was safe and healthy.
Shepherd on the left//Ruth Millie on the right
Life after the OR was slightly more uncomfortable for me. Of course there’s the obvious pain from a major surgery, but then there were issues with my catheter (it was placed 3 different times), and I even had to do a CT scan just hours after surgery that ended up not being necessary. I didn’t get to see or hold my new bundles of joy for several hours. Life was also more uncomfortable for Ross too. He got a call from my family right after the c-section, about Benentt and how he had taken a slight turn for the worse and was having issues breathing. So Ross had to rush to leave the hospital right after my surgery. Both Ruth and Shep were taken to the nursery to be cared for at that point.

Shortly after their birth and once I was settled in the postpartum wing, it was suggested that Shep would need just a little extra attention in the NICU (which I completely expected and was not emotional about at all). Our sweet little boy spent 24 hours in the NICU and was perfectly fine after that. By discharge day (Wednesday, July 31), all four of us left the hospital together and we were finally reunited with our other two babies.
Shepherd above//Ruth Millie below
This birth experience was unlike my other two in almost every way. I can officially say that all three of my labor and delivery stories were nothing alike. With my first, Kensington, everything was by the books: a long pregnancy, needed an overnight induction, fully dilated, pushed, but eventually resulted in a c-section. With my second, Bennett, it was the opposite in every way: a short pregnancy, used magnesium to stop contractions, hospital bedrest, all resulting in a vaginal birth. So to have another experience completely different was wild: water broke at home unexpectedly, rushed to the hospital, hubby barely made it, fast, fast, fast, lots of unknowns, and then eventually a repeat c-section. 

Overall, my recovery has been more positive this round than it was in 2015 with my last c-section. Some things have been harder, but a lot of things have been easier. I am currently extremely iron deficient and have been diligently trying to increase that. However, I am moving much easier this round after my surgery and my incision is healing perfectly (as compared to my infection from 2015). The change in my hormones are more noticeable this time around also. I am noticing my body going from hot to cold quickly, and my emotions are still trying to balance out. My number one cry sesh has been from not being able to properly say goodbye to my very last ever pregnancy. I am so content with the 4 IVF babies we’ve got. I feel complete truy. But it happened SO fast and furiously that I didn’t even have time to process the twins’ birth day. The good aspect of it happening quickly, though, is that I wasn’t able to get anxious about an upcoming c-section scheduled for August 7th (which I was nervous about). Ultimately, I know that God is in control and He sees things that I don’t, so I am trusting Him through all of my insecurities and emotions. 

In one & half weeks of getting to know my newest little babies, I can tell you that our boy Shepherd is quiet and observant. I am drawn to him in such an unexplainable way. I want to comfort him anytime he cries because it’s rare. I remember feeling similarly with Bennett too. It is such a special thing to be a boy mom. With our sweet second princess Ruth, she is absolutely full of spunk, does not cry; only screams. I see her, Kensington, and I being the best of friends our whole lives. It is such a special thing to also be a girl mom. I could just cry my eyes out over how much these last two babies of ours have blessed me. My heart is so full.

Illness + Easter + 22 Weeks With The Twins

I swear that I have an excuse. Since March 31st, I have been sick. A horrible sinus infection. Pregnant + an illness doesn't jive well with me. I'm the kind of person who hates taking medicine while pregnant (which is possibly why the head cold turned into an infection). Either way, I finally got a Z Pak, Steroid, and Antibiotic (not to mention acupuncture in the face) and eventually most of the symptoms went away. Thank you Jesus! That being said, I have still been super cautious to say that I'm completely, 100% healthy though. I still seem to have some weird congestion when I sleep/sit down - but now it's on the opposite side of my face than was the infection. I also have a small amount of residual jaw pain, however I'm starting to realize that could be because my wisdom tooth was irritated from the pressure of my sinuses.

Lucky for me, I've never had any wisdom teeth removed (I guess I was only born with one), but throughout the years, my dentist has kept an eye on the one that I do have. It's apparently sideways on my upper right side - which is where I'm currently feeling some irritation. I guess it took a sinus infection to finally feel something up there. Until my dentist told me that my X Ray showed a wisdom tooth a few years ago, I didn't even know that I had any.

Other than drowning in sinus pain for the last few weeks, I've continued growing these sweet twins. With my first two pregnancies (singleton, of course), I was able to pretty much stick with my normal routine. However, this pregnancy has forced me to really listen to my body and CHILL.OUT. I so miss keeping busy around the house with cleaning, organizing, playing with the kids, etc. But honestly, I have to be selfish right now (maybe selfish isn't even the right word). Being a Stay At Home Mom while also trying to relax as much as possible is a tricky dance; my kids need me but so do the twins. Moral of the story: we do a lot of screen time and easy crafts which keep the kids busy for a while.
Easter was a hit this year with Kensington and Bennett. This is such a fun age for both of them. They really enjoyed all the egg hunts that they got to do. Meeting the Easter Bunny wasn't even so bad. Kensington loved it. Bennett was a tiny bit skeptical (hence no smile ha). Unfortunately we haven't been to church much lately due to illnesses and my pregnancy - which is the whole point of Easter obviously. But the good news is that Jesus lives in our hearts (as my 3 year old would say) and we pray and thank Him each day. Fellowship at church is so amazing to have but we're in a short season where we also have to make sure our health is a priority.

I am now 22 weeks and 2 days pregnant. Baby A (Ruth Millicent) is head down and is finally in a position where I can feel her ALL THE TIME. Up until the last few weeks, her placenta was covering all of her kicks so I never felt much. That has all changed. Dare I say that I feel her kicks much more than her brother's. Baby B (Shepherd Beau) is head up and is virtually always facing my back. Both kids are growing right on track. I have had a weird experience with food ever since getting pregnant with the twins; I feel miserable anytime I eat. But the good news is that I gained the 20 pounds by 20 weeks like I was hoping for so now the pressure is off. It was recommended to me by my nurse and other fellow twins moms to gain the weight early because by the end of the pregnancy, your stomach is so small that you won't want to eat. I am starting to feel bloated 24/7. EEK! Honestly I miss the normal feeling of eating and my normal relationship with food. But Lord knows that I am willing to sacrifice during this pregnancy. All in due time, I'll have 2 babies in my arms and 2 big kids to help love on them.
such a proud big sister; little brother was no where to be found
Not much else going on these days. Have a happy weekend!

Pregnancy Update + Bunk Beds

I've been meaning to post for two weeks now. Whoops. Time really does get away. A lot has happened in the last two weeks. This may be a long post, so thank you to those who hang tight and read along with my thoughts.

First, I turned 32, wahoo. For my birthday, I got a new minivan (#MomLife) and some AirPods from Ross. Oh and how could I forget: he also bought me a LivePD t-shirt because I'm kinda obsessed with that show. I also celebrated 17 and 18 weeks gestation with the twins. I am getting HUGE. I would be willing to bet that my belly is measuring much further ahead - because like I've said before - there is two of everything inside of me. I find with being pregnant, people say the darndest things. When I was pregnant with Kensington (just one kid), I was constantly being asked, "are you sure it's not twins?" And now that I'm pregnant with twins, I am constantly being told, "you're due in AUGUST? that is a long time away." Haha. The doctor and nurses keep reminding me that not only is this my 3rd pregnancy (therefore I will show much quicker and larger) but I am the exact size that they'd expect me to be with twins.
sweet 18 week belly with two precious babies

My Makena injections are going well. It's basically a boost of progesterone once per week (only 1mL), whereas when we were on PIO (Progesterone In Oil), it was every day (2mL). The thing about Makena and twins is that there is nothing proven whatsoever that these injections help. Furthermore, a cerclage (which I do not have yet) has not be proven successful in twins either. If I'm being honest, I am beginning to feel like such an anomaly. There is no one else out there like me. I'm serious. Find me a mom who had a micropreemie (before 27 weeks gestation) and then got pregnant with twins. You won't find her but if you do, I'd love to be proven wrong.

My frustration only grows when ignorant people reply to Facebook threads that I post. I specifically state that I'm looking to connect with people who are pregnant with twins after a micropreemie pregnancy. People will comment the most ridiculous things: "I had micropreemie twins" or "My situation is opposite: I had twins and then a mircopreemie." I'm like B - THAT IS NOT WHAT I'M ASKING. (Can you sense my frustration?) The fact of the matter is: twins + Makena or a Cerclage are not the same as with a singleton. There are studies out there showing how much Makena + a Cerclage can help singleton pregnancies. The same studies don't prove a thing in twin pregnancies. I am an anomaly. At this point in the pregnancy, we're winging it and the only thing I'm relying on is prayer to get me full term. Truthfully, you won't hear me raving about the injections - you'll hear me raving about how God did this miraculous work in me. The injections are simply to say, "we tried everything and it didn't hurt." Medicine is a GOOD THING and we are thankful to have prayer and medicine assisting us.

To be completely raw, I have had some emotional moments where I wonder the in's and out's of God's plan. "Why couldn't I have these twins sooner (even though I know the answer is simple: NOW is God's perfect timing) - why wait until our last pregnancy, especially after a micropreemie? Was it selfish of me to pray for twins?" As everyone knows, we prayed that both of these perfectly formed embryos would stick around when we had transferred them on December 10, 2018. And miraculously, with answered prayer, Shep and Ruth both stuck! It really does sound like a dream come true. Two boys and two girls to complete our family. Plus, who doesn't think twins sound like such an adventure? But the reality is that I have very weak moments because of Bennett's early arrival and complicated pregnancy which obviously impact my mindset with this twin pregnancy.

All of that being said, there are *zero* complications with my twin pregnancy and both my OBGYN + high risk doc think I'll go very far. It simply doesn't stop the devil from sneaking into my thoughts and planting fear. I work to overcome that every day by repeating Philippians 4:6 aloud constantly and remain steadfast in prayer.

Now onto a more interesting topic (maybe) for y'all. With this twin pregnancy, I am doing everything within my power to just chill and I'm doing a lot of sitting with my legs up. Ross has taken on the role of Mr. Mom in just about every aspect at home. He does it all! This also includes decorating the kids' room as I direct him. However, I still don't even have that much energy for my vision yet. So we've got a pretty plain bedroom for the kids thus far but after Shep and Ruth are born, I will be able to tackle Kensington and Bennett's room. This is our official debut of the kids' bedroom. We got the bed a couple weeks ago and the kids have been obsessed ever since. The main priority was finding them princess + Toy Story bedding so that is one thing that we've got completed.
The transition from co-sleeping to sleeping in their own beds, in their own room, has been a challenge for sure. Mostly for me, if we're being honest. I really do sleep much better when my whole family is in the room together. So, having them in their own rooms + me and Ross temporarily without babies in our room (until the twins arrive) has been different for me.

All of that being said, we've done a lot of musical beds lately. Sometimes the kids sleep in their room the whole night, other times they walk into our room in the middle of the night and we finish the night in our bed, and then some nights, we still co-sleep from the get go and don't even attempt their own room.

The biggest reason for this is pretty simple: on the very first night that the kids slept in their own room, our electricity went off F I V E different times due to high winds outside. It was in that moment that we kicked ourselves for not paying attention to the weather more closely because now, Kensington has trust issues. She does NOT want her night light + sound machine going off in the middle of the night.

On the nights that the kids sleep in their rooms the whole night, it's pretty comical to watch the camera. One time, Kensington threw a stuffed Olaf doll on Bennett (she sleeps on the top bunk + he sleeps on the bottom bunk) to see if he was awake. Another funny thing that often happens is that one of our dogs, Layla, will go in their room to check on the kids and she does this sneezing thing that is sure to wake the kids up. But they both just kinda look at her and then fall back asleep. It definitely helps that the kids have each other in the room together, but it's not a perfect system.

I will say: the sweetest thing ever is watching them crawl out of bed and run straight into our bedroom first thing in the morning. Neither kid looks to see if the other has left their bed yet, but rather, they're out for themselves: first to get to mom and dad gets the best spot on the master bed.

Anyways, regarding the kids bed itself, the thing that we loved about it immediately is that it's very much a toddler-friendly bunk bed. It is NOT the normal height of a bunk bed. It's much shorter, even if it doesn't quite look like it in pictures. We also love the stairs going up to the top bunk. I have zero fears about the kids playing in their room by themselves because of these two things. Their room has become one where we keep their clothes (previously, I kept their clothes in my craft room), where they sleep, and where they play. All of their toys fit perfectly in their room except the play kitchen - which we still have in our living room, but it actually works out great because it gets more use out in the open. It feels nice to utilize an extra room in our house that we previously never used.

There's a million other things I could type right now but I think we'll pause here for now since this is a lot as is. Thanks for sharing in the highs and lows with us!

Texas + Mickey Mouse talk

The goal I had in mind when starting back up with blogging was to post once a week - which isn't much, I know, but it's easy enough for me to commit to for now. Last week I didn't meet that goal but here I am today and back at it!

It's been the same ole, same ole over here. My mind is consumed with this precious twin pregnancy. You'd think having two toddlers would keep me busy enough, but the fact that I am already huge at 15 weeks and feeling so many bodily changes keeps my mind focused on Shep and Millie. I had a dream about them last night and that when they were born, I hadn't ordered their going-home outfits (the horror!). But in fact, I am slowly starting to accumulate matching pink and blue outfits... whew.

I'm spending a lot of my pregnancy doing a whole bunch of nothing. Sitting around a lot (I'm not allowed to exercise) which means watching TV shows and getting on social media. I get bored easily on social media to be honest, so there's been a lot of catching up on my DVR. The most that I do during the week is take both kids to preschool. While they're at school, I try to just sit down and take it easy, but the busy body in me just wants to clean and organize. This pregnancy has really taught me to listen to my body and relax while I have the time. I can't wait to see the twins on ultrasound next week!

Other kid updates: we are getting Kensington and Bennett's new room put together. I should have more updates about that later this month. I am so torn: I don't want to stop cosleeping, but at the same time, I need the space in bed (hello large preggo belly) and the kids really could sleep anywhere and be perfectly fine. I love that they'll be sharing a room too. That puts my mind at ease! We also installed a new camera in their new room and you can see ev.ery.thing. So, I know this is a good move for all of us!

Kensington and Bennett celebrated Texas last week at school. Look at these precious Texas Natives. I especially love that they know where in Texas they live, along with where each of their grandparents live. 
I am so amazed how much both kiddos are growing and learning every day. Kensington is about 36lbs and Bennett is about 27lbs. She can lift him up, which is hilarious and impressive! Both of my babies are obsessed with wearing shoes - specifically boots - they don't just wear them during Texas week (I have to hide their shoes so they don't drag them all out) and their love for Mickey Mouse increases daily. My favorite part about their relationship is how well they entertain each other. It's not always sunshine and roses with a 2 year old and 3 year old, but overall, they are so gentle and playful with each other.  

But speaking of Mickey Mouse, I have to say this: I'VE CHANGED. I have found myself addicted to planning Disney World vacations. I blame my sister-in-law for inviting us to go with them a couple years ago, haha! We first took the kids in 2017 (when Bennett was only 1 year old!) and it changed me. I am officially obsessed with Disney and I'm not even ashamed to say it. Our second trip in 2018 solidified for Ross and I that Disney is such a fun place to take the kids! Our goal both times was just to make sure the kids had fun; and fun they did have! We are super excited to go again in 2020 but we'll only be taking the big kids. The twins will stay back home and we can take them once they're a bit older. Maybe in 2021... I'll get on planning that probably as soon as we get back from our next trip.

Our first two Disney trips as adults, we didn't plan anything really. I didn't even know what a Fast Pass was in 2017, which is kind of funny as I look back. Now that we've been twice in two years, I am starting to learn how things work and I'm also researching all sorts of neat inside things. So, if you have any good tips/tricks/advice for a our upcoming Disney trip, please let me know!

New Dining Table + Current Toddler Favorites

When we built our house, it just made sense that the formal dining room would actually be utilized as the playroom. It's smack dab in the middle of our house and we can do things in the kitchen/living room while also being able to monitor the kids in the playroom. Practicality is my husband's middle name and it just made sense to do it this way.

Fast forward to now and living in the house for 3 years, Bennett being 2.5 years old, and him still 100% G Tube dependent: our GI doctor highly encouraged us to buy a popup table that we can eat dinners at as a family. That way we could pop it up, eat, and then pop it down. How we've always done meals is by all sitting at the kitchen island (which is plenty large enough) because, again, #practicality. We did look into popup tables but ultimately decided that buying a dining table wouldn't be a bad idea. Ta-da! We're kinda loving it. And seeing 6 chairs for our growing family makes me smile. I can't believe we're going to be a family of 6, but I am soooo thankful. Anyways, hopefully this new setup will encourage Bennett to eat more by mouth. Plus, as practical of people as we are, it's really nice having a dining table to make memories at.
Also for fun, here's a little before and after. Sorry, Shep and Millie; I know the playroom was so cool but you can thank you Big Brother Bennett for the dining table. Just kidding :-) We actually are very happy with the change. What do y'all think?! Are we crazy for getting rid of our playroom while also expecting twins?
Changing the playroom back into it's intended use as a dining room meant downsizing toys - only sticking with Kensington and Bennett's most favorites - and moving the toys into their new room. Their room? That's another post for another day. But essentially, we're going to stop cosleeping soon (sad face) in preparation for Shep and Millie's August arrival.  Though I'm sad to end our cosleeping experience with Kensington and Bennett, I am excited for their new bedroom. I'll share details next month once we get the room ready!

So yea, toys. We own entirely too many, but of course the kids have been gifted so many neat things over the years. I was recently inspired by Elena at Baby Ridley Bump to share a few of our favorite toddler toys!

  • Our play kitchen is so chic and goes perfectly with our farmhouse feel of the house. The kids love to play pretend with it and it's definitely going to be with us until all of the kids have outgrown it.
  • Keeping with the same theme, K and B love grocery shopping in the pantry while using their shopping cart. Also, this is a great tool to use when kids are learning to walk. Bennett always preferred learning to walk with this shopping cart v. the other walkers out there for kiddos.
  • Another favorite toy of theirs is the Dyson vacuum. I personally love to vacuum around the house any chance I get (clean floors are my number 1 cleaning priority) and the kids are always grabbing their vacuum to copy me.
  • Little People figurines are a huge hit in our house. The kids play with them every.single.day. Stores sell a plethora of different kinds but these superhero ones are our most recent purchase!
  • Bennett was recently gifted some Magna Tiles for his birthday and they get played with every day. They're also perfect on our metal kid's size table since they are magnetic! 

Of course there are a million other toys that I could've posted about, but these are the ones that are tried and true and are good investment toys. Eventually, I'll do a post about our favorite baby toys especially since we're about to be back in that season again. We just sent a load of baby toys home with Ross' parents since they have tons of storage at their house, whereas we are full to the brim. Once the twins are a few months old and are more playful, we'll bring those toys out and see which ones they love the most!

Pregnancy Update + Gender and Name of Twins!!!

Alarm clocks run my world. I would never remember to take all of my medicines without those sounds going off every few hours. With IVF, it's not just a one time "we transferred two babies into my uterus" thing. There is SO much that goes on behind the scenes. We started taking medicine in October and well, obviously now it's February. I am still on medicines but I have been given the all clear to temporarily stop my Progesterone In Oil Intermuscular Injections. It's actually bittersweet for some reason. I think mostly because the injections gave me so much peace of mind: "this medicine is sustaining my babies" was always on my mind. But really, by 12 weeks (which is my gestation age), the placenta for both kiddos has fully taken over and the injections are not needed at this point.

Obviously there are two bum cheeks, which means only two spots that the injections can go - one on each side. Every other day we would alternate sides. There's a lot of heating-pad-sitting and oil warming but there is virtually no time for the bum to heal after stabbing 2mLs of oil into it every day. So I have knots galore and it will be nice to have a bit of a break. But please note: I would joyfully take the injections every day if it was necessary. I am just glad that I get a small break since they aren't needed for now.

When the twins turn 16 weeks gestation (conveniently on my 32nd birthday), I will start a new round of progesterone injections but these are called 17OHP or 17OH or 17-hydroxyprogesterone. Yes medical pregnancies are funky and you learn a lot of weird things. Anyways, this injection will go in the same spots on my body: in my muscles on each side of my bum. But they're just a slightly different branch of progesterone than the kind I've always taken with my pregnancies. I may even be at a lower dose than 2mLs.

I met with my MFM (high risk doc) last week and we chatted about a lot of options, but the injections + me being monitored frequently is the plan of attack. We have a few backup options, but hopefully this plan will get us there. A lot of doctors seem to believe my pregnancy with Bennett was just a fluke how it all played out. There was one problem after another. We're still hoping, praying, and believing for a full term twin pregnancy this time around.

A day after my MFM appointment, we got some exciting news: we're having Boy/Girl twins!!! Initially when we talked with my OBGYN about genetic bloodwork, we were going to do the Harmony test. Long story short: we had to go with another test (Panorama) and that test was able to look at BOTH fetal DNA rather than just look for a Y chromosome. It was also such a gift to learn that both babies are healthy with low genetic risk.
thank you to Alyssa Martin Photography for these images! 

Such a neat (and practical) way to complete our family: keeping the score even. And not to mention, we have a plethora of boy and girl clothes already so we're fairly set. That doesn't mean I'm done shopping though. I fully intend to buy several matching pink/blue outfits. In fact, about an hour after finding out the gender of the twins, I immediately bought their going home outfits: one pink and one blue. If that ain't believing for a healthy, full term pregnancy then I don't know what is.

Of course, most of you came to my blog today not to read about pregnancy updates, but to learn what our babies names are! After much thought (months in the making), we finally agreed on the perfect names for our babies.

Shepherd Beau Skinner (Shep)
Ruth Millicent Skinner (Millie)

It's such a joy to be able to pray for our babies with their specific names. And what is still sorta mind blowing to me is that I barely know these two souls inside my body, yet God knows them perfectly well and He knew what their names would be long before we did. Years ago when I would cry out to God, "please give me a baby!", He knew Kensington, Bennett, Shep, and Millie were on their way. But I had no clue.

Keep praying and believing and if need be, trust in God's design of medicine! Your miracle is coming too.

Potty Training Bennett + New TV Shows

My life is full of, "I'll plan it this way" but somehow things always go a completely different route. Just me?

For instance: my 2 year old son, smart as he can be, doesn't get enough credit from me. I had my plans on when we'd potty train. I know this is gonna sound wacky, but specifically, I planned to start the summer before he turned 4 (next summer!) since our Mother's Day Out program only requires 3+ year old kids to be potty trained. And the way that Bennett's birthday lands, even though he'll be 3 this fall, he must stick with the 2 year olds class for fall 2019 rather than the 3 year old class. In addition to wanting to wait, I really didn't believe he'd be mentally ready. So my logic was let's wait until next summer, right?

Well, Bennett proved me wrong. 
He started going tinkle on the potty randomly all by himself a few weeks ago. I am NOT ready for this. But it's the best kind of surprise because *he* is and that makes me smile. Everyone who knows me understands that I am #TeamDiapers for life. In fact, I was soooo reluctant to potty train Kensington too and waited until the very last minute with her. Thankfully, she learned how to really stinkin' fast. I guess that's the perk of waiting until the last minute.

Precious little Bennett sees his Big Sis and hears her exclaim, "I need to potty!" so now he says that and races to the bathroom with us. At first, I didn't believe him. But I thought for kicks and gigs, I'd put him on the pot. Sure enough, he tenses up in the cutest way, has a look of concentration, and begins to go pee. Mom victories are funny. I get so excited for my kids when they successfully pee on the pot. We shout, dance, jump, squeal, and make a big scene.

So yea, the kid doesn't know how to safely chew and swallow his food, but he can go pee on the potty. The irony of trying to plan things, am I right? Although he isn't fully potty trained by any means, I did buy him some Mickey Mouse undies this week and I'm hopeful that will excite him even more. I will likely make our house a "birthday suit zone" this weekend to give him a slight push forward in the training. 
Other happenings include me having pregnancy insomnia. Like, what? If there's something I've ever been great at, it's napping. Sleeping at night has never been one of my strongest qualities, but napping? Yes, I'm a pro. No clue why I'm experiencing this, but I am. When I can't sleep, I tend to just pull out my phone and watch something in bed. I have watched a lot of good stuff lately so I feel like I should share!

  • "Three Identical Strangers" on CNN
  • "Fyre Fraud" on Hulu
  • "Fyre" on Netflix
  • "Ted Bundy Tapes" on Netflix

Other shows I have thoughts on:
  • "You" on Netflix. SO BORING. How is this show getting so much rave? I gave it a solid 6 episodes and finally decided I was wasting my precious time.
  • "Abducted in Plain Sight" on Netflix. I refuse to watch this because everyone says that it's maddening and makes no sense. I don't want to feel that way after watching a show, so I'll skip out on this one.
  • "Smiley Face Killers" on Oxygen. I watched one episode last night and it was just so-so. I may give the rest of the episodes a solid try. We'll see. 

Watching TV has always been one of my favorite ways to de-stress. Usually when our TV is on, the Disney Channel is blasting, so it's nice when I can sit down and watch one of my shows, even if it's at 3am because I can't sleep. If you have any documentary or show recommendations, let me know! I may have seen it, but it doesn't hurt to share! 

Organization and How I Value Time

I refuse to let myself watch the hype that is Marie Kondo. Not because I don't want to - I really do. But I'm saving myself for when I can really commit. I have kind of halfway started decluttering all parts of the house based upon what I've seen on social media: does it spark joy? If not - thank it and get rid of it. See? I paid attention to the cliff notes version.

The main area of focus for my sanity has been Kensington and Bennett's closet. Clothes shopping has always been one of my favorite parts of having a boy and girl. Basically, the kids have never been short on clothes and never will be. K and B share a closet (barely) that happens to be in my sewing/craft room. Eventually, that room will be one of their bedrooms but since they both sleep with us, I won't even worry about that right now.

We recently had an organizing specialist come over (super fancy, I know!) and she really got the ball rolling in this area of focus for me. Here are some pictures but let me tell you: the pictures don't do justice! Compulsively Claire labeled everything in the drawers, separated the clothes by size, removed things too big/too small so that I could sell, and completely restructured how I manage the kids clothes.
before   /   after

Just a look at one drawer in their closet

It's basically my happy place now. My goal is to declutter all over the house as much as possible before the twins arrive in August. I am working in really small spurts because although I'm not technically on a bedrest restriction or anything, my doc still wants me to take it easy (I s'pose that's what happens when you previously give birth to a 25-weeker). So, I do juuuuust a little bit each day and it feels so good.

Time is something that I really cherish. I don't believe that my time is more valuable than another person's but the way that I view it very likely is. For me, I give time to people as a form of a gift (or if I allow an organization expert to come in and do work for me, that's like me getting time back - which is a gift to myself)! The reason I'm bringing this up is because I had an epiphany on Sunday at church. Yadda yadda long story short: the sermon was about "what are you defending?" in relation to that thing sparking anger. Is it a righteous anger or a selfish anger?

It's probably true that my time is more of a comfort and selfish defense that I have. But it has a pure center to it (a righteous defense) - I promise you that. I want to spend my time wisely and give it where I feel it will flourish. One example of me defending time - maybe not so righteously - was while Bennett was in the NICU. I remember getting absolutely, irrationally mad when people would ask me to do things with them. In my mind, I would defensively be like, "what in the heck are you talking about? You think I'd rather spend time with you than my NICU son?" Ross always had to talk me off my emotional ledge and remind me that people just care about me and want to spend time with me. I can laugh about it now and see how everyone just genuinely just wanted a little sliver of me, but in the moment, I would get so worked up. Any other past NICU mom relate? No? Just me?

Well, Sunday's sermon had me revisiting those old feelings and looking more inward, which helped make it clear to me: time is something that I value extremely highly, perhaps more than others, and that is okay! I can now explain things that I could never explain before. For instance, I have never been a "play date" kinda person. I always longed to me that type of mom - I remember pre-planning play dates with mom friends when I was preggo with Kensington. But that's just not who I am. I would rather spend my time alone at the house with the kids, tending to what needs to be done in the home, and let my kids run freely without worry of them breaking anything or hurting themselves. Also staying in PJ's and no makeup is another major perk of not being a play-date-kinda-mom. If you're a play date lover, I applaud you! In another life, I would be more like you!

So yea, time. It's a whole thing for me that I'm finally learning to embrace but also get better at. If I ever seem defensive or possessive about my time, please extend grace. But also know that when you get my time, it's viewed as a gift from me to you with a cherry on top - and that I wouldn't wanna be anywhere else in that moment.

Food Talk and Bennett Update

I know it's been a week since I last posted, but I have been so crazy tired during this first trimester. Not sure if I'm making this up, but I'm guessing there are twice the hormones with a twin pregnancy? Even if not, I am telling myself that's what it is. Or maybe I've had one too many Girl Scout cookies and the sugar is draining me. My personal favorites are the Samoas, Tagalongs, and Thin Mints - in that order. Anyone else feel me on that?

The Girl Scout cookies haven't been my only craving lately (I swear, it's just this time of year that I crave them, so thankfully January is almost over). We went to Dallas this weekend for my niece's 2nd birthday party and on our way from Austin to Dallas, I made Ross drive me through Waco to get me Taco Bueno and then after Waco, I made him stop at the famous Czech stop (obviously) for some strawberry kolaches.
One thing that Ross and I always joke about is how good of eaters we are. And then, wouldn't you know it - we give birth to a son who has a feeding tube and has no clue how to eat.

The thing with Bennett is that from the get-go, we heard "whimpy white boy." In a sense, it's a super degrading term, but in another way, it's kinda sorta applicable so it honestly doesn't bother me anymore. Bennett has never been motivated. The boy will do something when he's good and ready, but not before then. Since he was born so prematurely (25 weeks & 1 day), he never got the chance to safely learn how to suck, swallow, breathe in utero. Long story short: he needed a more permanent solution to being fed (not just an NG tube which goes down babies noses) and that's why he now has the G Tube.

He got the G Tube TWO years ago and honestly it gives me so many emotions to think about. When they placed the tube, they said, "he'll be off it in a couple months." Then a couple months came and went. Next we heard, "he'll be off it by two years old." Well, the boy is 2.5 years old and there's no end in sight.
Our Bennett in a nutshell. Wearing cowboy boots and showing off his tummy. The cloth around his button is to protect his skin from getting irritated (like his mama, he has sensitive skin).

All of that being said, a lot has changed in the last 1 of 2 years in Bennett having a feeding tube.

  1. He doesn't throw up nearly as much as he used to. Which is a huge game changer. For about a year straight, he was throwing up daily, several times. This leads me to ...
  2. He can handle a slightly higher volume than he previously was able to. In year 1 of his feeding tube, he couldn't handle 2oz of Formula in any normal amount of time. Instead we were on a continuous feed (which is exactly as it sounds) just to help him get nutrition. Now, Bennett can handle 6-8oz of blended food within a 30 minute period.
  3. Bennett previously couldn't accept texture into his mouth. He would immediately gag and throw up. Now, he will try basically anything and has even started learning how to chew. But, he still doesn't swallow 80% of his food. Therefore, it just sits in his mouth and we have to scoop it out. 
One huge silver lining is that even in the process of having him dependent on the G Tube for nutrition, Bennett successfully learned how to suck out of a straw. Y'all - he can drink by mouth! Granted, he doesn't take in as much fluid as he needs, so we still help him out by giving extra water in the tube, but it's truly an incredible thing that he mastered the straw.

Another thing: not that it really matters to me at this point what people think about Bennett's unique eating situation, but you have to admit that he looks like he knows what he's doing in that video. He looks like a perfectly normal and healthy growing baby boy. What you don't see is us scooping the chicken out of his mouth after 30 minutes of him just sucking on the flavor.

The G Tube is an absolute blessing. But the biggest frustration Ross and I have with it is simply having to do double work. It's our responsibility to offer Bennett food by mouth EVEN THOUGH we know he's likely not going to swallow it. In addition to prepping food for him to try by mouth, we also have to blend his food to go through the tube (for nutrition sake). Bennett eats what is called Real Foods Blends which is basically packaged, blended food that the DME (medical supplier) sends us every month. We add in oils and fats to make it more caloric. Then, we put the food straight from a syringe into his belly. The Real Foods Blends are actual foods which are already blended up and are specific for tube fed patients. Funny story about that: a few times back in the day, we actually fed him these blended foods by mouth because we had no clue what we were doing. And to our surprise, Bennett liked the flavor even though it sounds awful eating blended up eggs, apples, and oats together.

There are some major benefits to having the feeding tube though, I will admit. My favorite though: giving medicine is so easy AND can be done while Bennett is asleep. If he's sick and sleeping, no problem - we just open the port and insert medicine. Boom. It really doesn't get any easier than that.
The last 2.5 years of Bennett's life has been a wild ride, but also wildly joy-filled too. He is the biggest fan of Mickey Mouse, smiles so easily, gives the best kisses on the lips, is friendly to every single person, recently started talking SO MUCH, and he sleeps 12 hours straight every single night. Now tell me what could possibly be better?

8 Weeks / I Was So Brave

Y'ALL. There are two babies in there.


Two babies, and three gestational sacs. Yes, you read that right. I kind of left that part out when talking about our current pregnancy. Apparently we were meant to have triplets but inside one of the sacs, the baby never started growing. We are confident that baby is already in heaven which completely eases my mind. How did that happen, you may ask? Well, out of the two embryos that we transferred back in December, one of the embryos split into two babies - thus creating three embryo sacs and two babies (but almost three babies).

We are overjoyed that God did this miracle of a work inside my uterus and extra grateful for the two healthy babies that we're already planning names for. I am just over 8 weeks and loving every split second of this twin pregnancy. Speaking of names, I have this irrational fear that someone who is further along in their pregnancy will name their baby the names that we've selected. Totally irrational, but I take my baby-naming very seriously.

Ross, the computer and HTML guru that he is, created a spreadsheet of hundreds of potential twin names. He has it coded so that we each select the names that we like, and then once we agree on a name, it automatically moves to a short list of our favorites. We have a good list of boy names (but of course I have a favorite which I'm thinking will win - yay), but so far, we've only agreed on two girl names. We should know the gender of our twins in the next month or two - it all kind of depends on the genetic testing. If there's a "Y" chromosome, then clearly there is at least 1 boy, but there's no telling if there's 1 or 2 boys. If there are only "X" chromosomes in my blood, then we'll automatically know that we're having twin girls. We'll be doing the genetic blood work at 10 weeks and then the gender ultrasound at 16 weeks.

Kensington has me convinced that we're having 1 boy and 1 girl. From the moment that we told her that there were two babies in my belly, she just assumed there was a brother and a sister. She has also been super interested in caring for her toy doll lately. She is truly such a special girl and we're so proud of her for the role she plays as Biggest Sibling.
My hubby snapped this picture recently when Kensington was riding her bike. I showed the picture to her, and she said, "I was so brave!" From the very beginning, Kensington has brought so much joy to our lives. Her pregnancy was (so) easy. As a baby, she was 100% by-the-books and a complete breeze. And now as a toddler, she has always been such an obedient child. We're slowly starting to experience the fruit of our parenting labor and it's really rewarding to watch her say confident things like, "I was so brave!"

A little about our parenting style, now that we've been doing this for 3.5 years:
*we all sleep in the same room
*we don't believe in the "cry it out" method or sleep training
*we don't use physical abuse as a form of punishment
*when we're hurt or mess up, we ask God to heal/forgive us
*we let the kids play/make any messes they want, as long as they aren't hurting themselves or each other
*Ross and I ask the kids for forgiveness if we screw up in parenting
*we eat sugar and Taco Bell but also try to push more nutritious options when we can

I could go on & on, but I'll stop there. We are by no means perfect. Definitely not. But we try to do our best in raising the kids that we've been entrusted with. After all, that phrase of, "it goes by so fast" is absolutely true. It could've been yesterday when we were pregnant with Kensington. And now? She is a big sister x 3 and turns four years old in less than 5 months.

For those in a desperate season of waiting for children, I urge you to hold onto hope. And pray with expectation. And speak life. Turn to God and show Him your desperation. Plead with Him. I'm here to pray alongside you. It's been such a gift to have each of you during our waiting period and I am sticking on this journey with each of you in the waiting period too.

In the next post that I write, I hope to update y'all about our Bennett. As many of you know, he was born too early at 25 weeks and 1 day. We spent 5 months in the NICU. Now that he's 2.5 years old, I can't wait to share with you how much our baby boy has grown. It gives me all the feels that he is going to be a Big Brother too, especially because I swore I was done having children after his traumatic pregnancy/birth. I can't wait to share more about how Bennett has changed and what our life looks like now with an ex-25-weeker.

Currently

We did it, friends. We survived another week! I live for the weekends and am so happy to see Friday here. I am still busy getting things up and running around these parts of the WWW but we'll get there soon. Many of you know that I started blogging years ago and my goal is to share life updates with you but also I really enjoy writing light-hearted posts too. For now, here's a little bit of what I'm currently enjoying in my life.

Watching: NARCOS.
Ross has been trying to get me to watch Narcos for the longest time because he knows that it's totally up my alley. Well, I finally started. Apparently there are several different seasons, but I started on the newest one from 2018 involving Rafa, Kiki, etc and is based in Guadalajara. It is so good. Why did I take so long? Once I finish this season, I will plan on watching the other seasons.

Shopping: SEPHORA.
Okay so I am in need of your recs. I have a good chunk of money (Christmas gift cards) to spend at Sephora and I simply can't decide what I want. I am pretty sure of a new foundation that I want to try, but so far, that's all I've got in my cart. The problem is that I want one of everything but I'm trying to use my money wisely. Please share your favorite must-have items from Sephora!

Planning: THE TWINS.
I can't stop thinking about the two precious babies that are growing in my baby. I'm in a permanent state of nesting. All I want to do is get things ready for them. Ross and I are already brainstorming 2 boy and 2 girl names since we don't know the genders yet. With Bennett's pregnancy, we did not find out the gender and it was such a neat surprise at birth. We will likely find out the gender of these babies, but we aren't completely sure if we want to know or not. Kensington swears there is 1 boy and 1 girl, so we'll see. Other neat information about our babies: they are "Di Di" twins which means that they each have their own sacs & placentas. Thank you to each of you for being so supportive of us since 2014. It has been a journey to say the least. We're so grateful to have y'all pray and cheer us on.

Reading: THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW. 
Well, I haven't actually started reading it yet but I did check it out from our library today. I got myself a library card and basically the possibilities are endless. Also my bank account thanks me for not buying a plethora of books on Amazon that I will read once and then never touch again. It's amazing how many books I came across today just by browsing our local library. I snapped pictures of the books I want to read next. Anyways, I'm super excited to jump into this book asap. Leave your recommendations for favorite books of yours!

Excited: ORGANIZATION.
Organization has always been something that I've been a fan of. I love to keep order, write every little detail down in my planner about our schedule, lay things out nicely, make lists, etc. It's kinda my thing. Since becoming a mom, I've definitely sacrificed some of my preferences in order to keep a laid back atmosphere in the home. But lately, I've decided to make it more of a priority - in a healthy way of course. My mother-in-law gifted us a session with a professional organizer (fancy right?) and she is coming over next week. I am excited to brainstorm ways with her to make our house more presentable for my own sake. In the meantime, I took it upon myself to make our pantry more easy on the eyes. I am so happy with how it turned out!

IVF Pregnancy #3: T W I N S

Not only am I back to blogging again (yay!), but we are completely overjoyed to share with y'all that we are pregnant with TWINS. Yes, you read that right: T W I N S! As many of you know, we only get pregnant via IVF due to Unexplained Infertility. In 2014 after doing a fresh cycle, we ended up with 6 beautiful embryos (5 day blastocysts).

Two embryos were immediately transferred in 2014 (fresh transfer) and we got pregnant with our precious Kensington. Eight months after Kensington was born, we decided that we wanted another baby in our life. In 2016 we transferred two more embryos (frozen transfer) and got pregnant with our angelic Bennett. Neither of those times were we expectant to get twins; I think we just desperately wanted a baby and didn't think to specifically pray for both embryos to stick around. Anyways, after both of those transfers, we still had 2 embryos left, which brings me to...

This pregnancy: I'll share more later in detail for those who don't know - although many of y'all do! - but our pregnancy with Bennett was very complicated and ended in a traumatic birth. (But rest assured, he is doing awesome these days)! I was pretty distraught after having such an intense labor/delivery so I knew I wouldn't be ready for quite a while for any more kids - if ever again. However, all along, my husband was pretty adamant that he wanted our kids close in age and he was ready for more when I was.

After talking about it a lot on occasion (it took us 2 years to talk about, in fact), we finally decided that we'd be ready for our final Frozen Embryo Transfer at the end of 2018. Not only for insurance purposes (an unexpected blessing to find out that Ross' insurance pays for 90% of fertility treatments) but also because I felt healed enough to proceed forward.

With the first two transfers (Kensington and Bennett), I followed all the old wives tales (ex: eating pineapple core) in the books to "ensure" I'd get a positive pregnancy test. For this transfer using our final two embryos, I really felt at peace with whatever would happen, so I opted out of doing all the old wives tales. The one and only thing that I did differently this time was to NOT use the restroom right after our transfer.

For those who don't know, in order to transfer embryos into your uterus, doctors require that you have a full bladder. It somehow help to guide the catheter into jusssst the right spot if your bladder is full. Well, as you can imagine, you generally need to pee pretty bad afterwards. With our first two transfers, I immediately went to the bathroom since I just couldn't hold it any longer. However, this time was different. I had remembered our nurse telling us (years ago, no less) that twin pregnancies happen more frequently when you don't use the restroom immediately after an embryo transfer.

So I thought, "Hmm... I'll give it a whirl." And while the old wives tale turned out to be true in that regard, I don't think it's the very reason we got pregnant. I attribute God, prayer, and His design of medicine for the reason we got pregnant with twins. Ross and I were very intentional in praying for both babies this time. We also asked our friends, small group, and family to pray specifically for that too.
Kensington (3) and Bennett (2)

Tears have been frequent lately. I have been crying so many happy tears ... and some anxious tears too - if I'm being honest - but mostly happy, joyful tears! We're excited to be due in the middle of August and are expectant and prayerful for two healthy and full-term babies to complete our family.

In the next month or so, my doctor wants me to do genetic testing, which may also indicate the gender of the babies - it's not guaranteed though. In addition to seeing my OBGYN regularly, I'll also be seen by a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor. It's likely that I'll be on injections for the rest of my pregnancy, which really stinks, BUT I am happy (without complaint) to do whatever it takes to help my babies reach full-term.

In unrelated news, I am working hard on getting the blog up and running with my new template and all that jazz. Thanks so much to each of you who stuck with it, even though I went MIA for quite a while. In the next few posts, I'll try to update y'all on other happenings in our life (I also want to hear about what's new with y'all!) and of course some more lighthearted posts too. Hugs to each of you! It feels so natural to be back here typing away.