Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Favs 54

Happy Friday the 13th! I'm trying to use the date to justify breaking out two of the babies' cute Halloween outfits for one last hurrah...that makes sense, right?!
Speaking of the babes, thanks so much to those of you who left sweet comments, messages, or sent me an email following Wednesday's IVF post.  You guys are the best!
Since it's Friday, here are some of my favorite things this week!

Fav #1
We got a Homegoods in our area!  This is SO major, as the closest store has been over an hour away until now.  News of a store opening had been rumored for months, and I may have squealed when I learned that the rumor was true!  It actually opened a few weeks ago, but I haven't had the chance to go until today. 

Let's hope that my giant stroller and I can fit through the aisles.  With two car seats in the backseat, and a stroller in my trunk, I won't be able to make any large purchases.  But I'm hoping to take some pics for a shopping report, and bring home something fun!

Feel free to follow along with today's trip on Instagram!

Fav #2
Cassie, from Hi Sugarplum!, debuted her new living room this week and I'm. In. Love.

The jewel tones.  That rug.  That art! Those navy bookshelves!
Can I move in please?

You must see the rest of it.  Check it out here.

Fav #3
H&M has their holiday cushion covers out!  I may have snagged a few to brighten up our furniture for the holidays!

I love their cushion covers because not only are they super affordable (many are less than 6 bucks!), and adorable, but also because it's so much easier to fold and store a few seasonal pillow cases with my holiday items than it is to store entire pillows!  I'm all about saving space and keeping things organized.

You can check out all of their cushion covers here.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What a difference a year makes...

Today is my 200th post! 
It's also been exactly one year since our IVF transfer resulting in our precious babes!  Since hearing about our IVF process is something some of you have expressed interest in, and has been on my blogger To Do List forever, today seems like the perfect day to share the details of what this experience was like for us.  This post is super word heavy, and picture if you're not interested in this process, you might just want to bounce now..
 I'll be back to regular stuff with Friday Favs on Friday!
I'll be blunt, an IVF cycle sucks.  Lots of needles, running to appointments, and not feeling that great due to the massive amounts of fertility drugs.  But I'm not writing this post to scare you off...quite the opposite, because it's also the best thing that ever happened to us!
 When we were contemplating IVF and later planning for it, I devoured posts like this in an effort to prep myself for what was coming, and so I hope this information can prove helpful for someone else out there in that position.  Also, this blog has turned into a bit of a scrapbook of our home and our life together, and having our IVF experience as a part of that ensures that we won't ever forget this time of our lives, challenging though it may have been.
Leading up to my cycle, there were a few appointments for baseline blood work and ultrasounds...but once the cycle actually started, here's what it looked like!
October 22nd- started daily injections and other drugs designed to stimulate my ovaries to produce several eggs at one time.  Overall, I tolerated the meds pretty well.  But I did have some headaches, bloating, and trouble regulating my emotions.

I'm sure it was tons of fun for Mr. M.

October 25th - November 3rd- 8 visits to the doctor's office over the course of 10 days for blood work and ultrasounds to monitor hormone levels and the growth of the follicles (which contain the eggs). It's incredibly important that the eggs are retrieved at exactly the right point in their development, so the follicles need to be checked almost daily to ensure that the window of opportunity is not missed. When these visits fell on weekdays, I could go to the office super early in the morning before work.  But when I needed to go for a monitoring visit on a weekend, I had to travel about 2 hours to Maryland to visit the main office, which is open on weekends.  This was the case for 3 of my 8 visits. All monitoring visits occurred in the early morning, so that they had time to analyze my blood work and ultrasound, and then call me in the afternoon with instructions on dosing for my nightly injections.  During this process, these near-daily visits and conversations with my nurse and ultrasound technician were my lifelines, my daily dose of hope and reassurance. 

Pretty much.

November 4th-  The follicles were finally ready, so I gave myself a 'trigger shot' that caused my ovaries to release them precisely 36 hours later, at the time they would be retrieved from my body.
November 6th- Egg retrieval day!  We traveled to Maryland again for the retrieval.  It was scheduled for the early morning, so we arrived the night before and stayed in a hotel. We had a fantastic dinner that night in a restaurant that was far dressier than what we had packed for, but was the only option near our hotel. It was fun!
On retrieval day, we arrived at the clinic early for pre-op, and then they put me under anesthesia in order to go in and remove as many eggs as they could.  When I woke up, we learned that they had retrieved 8 mature eggs.
During our previous round of IVF, we had not had a great rate of fertilization (of the 9 mature eggs they retrieved, only 3 fertilized normally, and only 2 of those were healthy enough to make it to transfer).  So this time around, we added an additional procedure called ICSI, which means that instead of merely putting the eggs and the sperm in the petri dish together and letting them do their thing, they actually injected each of my 8 retrieved eggs with a single sperm. 
November 7th (one day past retrieval)- My doctor called first thing in the morning with our fertilization report.  While 7 of our 8 eggs fertilized (thanks ICSI!), only two of them had fertilized normally.  Unfortunately abnormally fertilized embryos have no potential for producing a viable pregnancy, so we went from 8 chances of success to only 2 literally overnight.  This low fertilization rate across two cycles indicates that there is probably some undiagnosed fertilization issue that would likely need to be explored if we were to pursue another IVF cycle.  But at that point, there was nothing to do but hope and pray for the two embryos we DID have!
In IVF, the transfer of the embryos back into the mom typically occurs either 3 days or 5 days after retrieval.  During the time the embryos are in the lab, they are being monitored by the embryologists for the division of cells and graded on their quality. The doctors use that information to help them decide when, which, and how many eggs to transfer for the highest chance of success.  The decision of whether to transfer the embryos on Day 3 vs. Day 5 seems to be a really complicated one, and I don't truly understand all of the reasoning that goes into making those decisions.  But that's what we relied on the doctors and embryologists for! With just two growing embryos, they told us to prepare for a Day 3 transfer. 
November 8th (two days past retrieval)- Both of our embryos looked really good on Day 2!  One of them was four cells, and the other was five cells! Since they both looked good, my doctor decided to switch us to a Day 5 transfer, in order to allow the embryos to continue to grow and provide more information regarding which of them would be more likely to achieve a viable pregnancy. Embryos that survive until Day 5 are called blastocysts, which is a really big deal!  Apparently, often something happens that inhibits continued development of embryos between Day 3 and Day 5, so making it to Day 5 is a big milestone. 
November 11th (five days past retrieval)- BOTH of our embryos made it to blastocyst stage! One was deemed good quality, while the other was of fair quality.   At this point, we discussed with our doctor and decided that we wanted to transfer both of our embryos back to me. This decision wasn't quite in line with our fertility clinic's preference for single embryo transfers (They prefer to avoid multiple births, which come with risks to mom and babies), but our doctor supported us and we really wanted to give them both a chance without the risk of losing one of them in the freezing/thawing process.  SOO many factors went into this decision, and they're all pretty I'm not going to get into them.  But I will say that we were very relieved to not have any 'left over' embryos to have to make decisions about.  We were thrilled to be able to give all of ours a fighting chance!
Mr. M. wasn't able to take more time off work to drive me back to Maryland for the transfer, and to be honest, there wasn't any real reason that he HAD to be there.  His part was already done, if you know what I mean ;)  So my mom went with me.  We joke that she's probably one of the few grandparents who was present at the conception of her grandchildren!
As I explained, we had decided to transfer both of our embryos--a decision that we made after a lot of discussion and soul searching. However, when the doctor who was performing the transfer (not my doctor) came into the room, he only brought one embryo with him. When I asked him about the other embryo, he strongly encouraged me to transfer only one, citing the risks to me and the babies if they both made it.  I remember him saying 'If you were my daughter, I would never transfer two'.  Now remember, my husband wasn't with me.  So it was on me to either follow the advice of the doctor in front of me, or to stick with the decision that we had made. It was daunting.  I'm not a super-assertive person, and it's definitely not in my nature to contend with a doctor about a medical issue...but I stood my ground and insisted that he transfer both of our embryos.
Embryo transfer is wayyy simpler than egg retrieval.  There's no anesthesia required, so I was awake during the procedure (which didn't hurt at all).  Before the procedure, they matched my identifying info to the embryos about a million times before the transfer to ensure that they were giving me our embryos, which were transferred through a tube threaded into my uterus. Aside from the fact that they had just put two babies inside was no big deal, and I was able to go home immediately afterwards.

This is really them!

November 12- November 23rd- The dreaded two week wait. After weeks packed with blood draws, ultrasounds, and appointments this period was filled with ......nothing.  Other than anticipation, an almost obsessive fixation on monitoring my body for a sign that it worked and, I'll be honest, peeing on every pregnancy test I could find within a one-mile radius.  After a few days, the tests started having a second line...but I'd been there before and knew that a positive pee stick doesn't always equal a baby.  I needed proof in the form of a blood test.  So we waited...and kept on injecting drugs designed to support whatever was going on in there.

November 24th (13 days past Day 5 transfer)- Early morning blood draw to test for pregnancy...and that afternoon they called to confirm that it was positive!  My hcg level was high--1,981--something that can be associated with multiples.  Could there be more than one baby in there?
November 26th (15 days past Day 5 transfer)- Another blood pregnancy test to monitor the rise in my hcg level.  Having the hcg number double in 48 hours is said to be a sign that a pregnancy is developing as it should.  A less than doubled number can be (but isn't always) an indication that something isn't right, and that the pregnancy is headed for trouble.  So I was praying for anything higher than 3,900. 
My hcg level? 6,219.  More than tripled in 48 hours. Holy crap...could it really be twins?
December 8th-  My first ultrasound. Two gestational sacs, two heartbeats, two babies! Twins!

Not my ultrasound from that day...this is a several weeks later.  But it was just as surreal every time I got a peek at them.
Fast-forward 7th months and one relatively easy twin pregnancy later, and we got to meet those little embryos!  Which was worth every single needle stick, mile driven, anxious moment, and everything else that went into bringing them home.  

It's so cool to think that they've been with me, in one way or another, for a full year!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Notorious F.I.G. *An update*

And....suddenly it's Monday. I hope your weekend was as fantastic as ours!  The big news was that baby boy rolled over just 3 days shy of his four-month birthday.  It was pretty much the most exciting moment ever!
It's a weird thing, this motherhood.  Suddenly the bar for feeling pride is set super low, and you find yourself being proud of all. the. things. 
Things I've told the babes I was proud of them for:
-Rolling over (obvi)
-Being quiet in public
-Finishing their bottle
-Spitting up all over me (because I had just told the other one I was proud of them for something real, and I didn't want anyone feeling left out...)
And speaking of being proud... you may remember back to about 18 months ago, when I introduced you my fiddle leaf fig, Notorious F.I.G.
Fiddle leaf figs are hard to care for, they said.  It'll be dead in a few months, they said.
Who are 'they', you ask?  Well...the voices in my head inspired by all that I had read about these plants, and my history of being a houseplant failure.
Well....look at Figgy now!
He gets plenty of sunlight by those big windows, and basically all I do is remember to water him once a week or so.  I just pour a big drinking cup full of water on the soil each time.  If I forget, I'll notice that they bottom leaves start to turn brown (I've pulled a few off that didn't look good), but so far I've never forgotten so long that it caused major damage.
I'm thinking that it might be time to give him some plant food and start trimming the lower leaves, in order to shape him more like those in my inspiration pictures.  But I'll probably wait until spring, since I always worry that the winter chill from the windows will be stressful. 
I can't believe I've kept him alive this long, and that it was so easy!  Like I said, it doesn't take much to make me proud nowadays ;)
Want a Figgy of your very own?  Here's where I got mine.
Have a great day!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Cozy Fall Essentials (and a giveaway!)

If you're following me on Instagram, you've probably already noticed that I love fall.  Scarves, soups, hoodies, and pumpkin-everything is totally my jam. So when Parachute asked me to write about my cozy fall essentials, I was all in.
To have a chance to enjoy your own cozy fall day with one of my essentials, be sure to read to the end of the post to enter the giveaway!
For me, the fall season is the epitome of coziness-- a time to enjoy both the beauty of nature and the comfort of home. So my fall essentials allow me to savor and enjoy all that the season has to offer.
As you've probably already figured out if you've been around here for awhile, there's not much I love more than a steaming, hot cup of coffee.  And with pumpkin spice and other fall-flavored coffees dominating this time of year, it's not hard to find a great seasonal cup of coffee.  But as the weather cools, I also love to warm up with hot apple cider, hot chocolate, or a cup of tea. 
With cooler weather and decreasing amounts of sunlight daily, cuddling up with a warm blanket is key for enjoying the fall season.  I shared my love of adding blankets and throws to my décor in order to bring texture and warmth to our home in this post, and am always looking for cozy new throws to spice up our décor.  I think these striped cashmere throws from Parachute look divine!  Can you imagine how amazing it would feel to curl up under cashmere?!  It sounds heavenly.
Another essential for enjoying a cozy fall is having fall-scented candles and soaps around the house.  This season, I'm really loving my Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake scented candle.  I swear it makes my house smell like I'm baking something amazing!  Which in turn makes me want to eat cookies or something, but that's another story....
With the craziness of adding twins to our family, I spent several months without having any time to read. But now that fall has arrived (and the babies are starting to sleep for longer stretches of time), I'm finding that I can incorporate a bit of my favorite pastime back into my life.  I've spent a few quiet moments recently reading in my favorite Kindle app and catching up on issues of magazines I didn't have the chance to read over the summer.  Curling up with a book or magazine is such a great way to spend a chilly fall evening!
So to offer you your own piece of my version of a cozy fall day, I'm giving away a one-year subscription to one of my favorite magazines, Better Homes and Gardens!  Enter using the Rafflecopter below.  The giveaway will run through midnight on 10/26 and the winner will be contacted via email.  Good luck!
 So, that about wraps up all I need for a cozy fall!  Sipping a hot drink and reading under a snuggly blanket with fall candles burning in the background...sounds like heaven.

 Now if I can just get these sweet babies to sleep so that I can experience it ;)

What are your cozy fall essentials? Leave them in the comments below!


Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Favs 53

Happy Friday!  Here are some things I'm loving right now!

Fav #1

This sweet corn soup is amazing. It tastes like fresh corn on the cob.  In a bowl.  Which means I ate it almost every day until it was gone :)

Fav #2

I'm loving these wood watches by Jord right now!  My favorite is the Cora series Zebra wood and Turquoise.  I love the different tones in the wood, and think it would look great with a lot of different outfits!
Fav #3

I can't do another fav post without sharing my diaper bag with you.  I love it!  The JuJuBe BFF was such a splurge, but it's so pretty and functional! At this point in life, I use a diaper bag rather than a purse, so I needed one that looked great.  I parted with a ton of Ebates dollars that I've been hoarding for a long time in order to make the price more palatable.

The best price I can find for this print is here, and it looks as if they are always offering 10% off.
Choosing a print was SOO hard because I loved so many of them!  I gave Mr. M. some input, since he might need to carry the bag at some point, and he preferred the Queen of the Nile, which is a black and white herringbone pattern.  I love the fabric paired with the gold hardware.  Although let's face it-- had the leopard print been released when I bought my bag, he probably wouldn't have gotten a say!

Fav #4
And speaking of Ebates...if you aren't using it yet, you are missing out! It's awesome, and I use it to get cash back on almost everything I buy.

They work with almost all of my favorite stores, and it is just too easy not to use.  All you have to do is go to the Ebates website and open the website of the store you are shopping at from there.  That's it! 

You definitely should check it out! If you do, please use my referral link!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

DIY Mobile

One of my favorite parts of waiting for the babies to come was designing the nursery.  I had dreamed about it for years (I shared some of those dreams here), and one thing I knew for sure what that I wanted to DIY a mobile. 
As it turned out,  I needed to DIY two mobiles. :)
There are so many great DIY mobile inspirations out there, but my favs are the paint chip mobiles and I knew that was the direction I wanted to go in!
I can't take any credit for figuring out how to DIY these mobiles, though.  I totally adapted Merely Mothers DIY Better-Than-Pain-Chip Mobile to meet my needs, so I'll let you click on over there to read their tutorial. It's so simple! The only changes that I made were to use different colors, and to string my circles on fishing line instead of thread. 
I would recommend securing the strands of circles to the embroidery hoop with a dot of hot glue (in addition to merely tying them on), something I've had to go back and do after having two strands fall off. 
The supplies for two mobiles cost me about $15, which I thought was pretty good considering that I've seen similar mobiles listed anywhere from $30-70 on Etsy. The circle punch was the most expensive item on my list, but I got that for less than 10 bucks with a coupon.
Supplies Needed (for each mobile)
 12 inch embroidery hoop
7 inch embroidery hoop
4 sheets of cardstock for each color on mobile (16 sheets total)
2 inch circle punch
fishing line (I already had some)
white thread (I used some we had on hand)
keyring (I stole one out of our junk drawer)
Visit Merely Mothers for the instructions and to see their gorgeous mobile!
The babies just love to gaze at them!
I'm working on a full-on nursery post, but I hope you liked this sneak peek in the meantime!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Favs 52

Happy Friday!  Even though I'm on maternity leave, Fridays still get me pumped because the weekends mean that Mr. M. is home with us!  Love that...and the extra sleep that comes from his help with middle of the night feedings!

Fav #1
 I can't talk about favorites without acknowledging that October has arrived!  I LOVE this month...the weather, the foliage, the fall fashion that I can finally wear.  Welcome October! Oh, how I have missed you!
Fav #2
I recently discovered the Etsy shop Layered and Long, and I am in love.  They shop features tons of gorgeous layering jewelry that is also special enough to stand alone. I especially like that you can customize your necklace's length and material (most pieces are available in silver, gold, and rose gold).  I have my eye on the gold bar necklace, which I'd love to have engraved with my kids' names.
...but I wouldn't be mad at anyone who bought me the Herkimer diamond necklace.  Just sayin.

Fav #3
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the cutest personalized books!  Lost My Name books tell the story of a little boy or girl who has somehow lost his/her name, and embarks on an adventure to find it.  Each story uses the letters in the child's name to guide his/her journey to recover their name.  Have a kid with a short name?  They'll add in some extra part of the journey to ensure their story is at least 24 pages.

Ours arrived last week, and they are adorable!  I'm planning on giving them to my kids for their first Christmas, so I loved that I was able to include a personal message to each in the front of their books. 

Thinking this would be the perfect Christmas gift for the little one in your life?  Use my link for 15% off!

Have a great weekend!  We are watching and waiting to see what Hurricane Joaquin means for us.  Hoping your weekend is safe and dry!
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