Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What I’m Lovin’ Wednesday: Thanksgiving Edition

Well our family arrived on Monday, some more are coming later today and then we are set to party-on Thanksgiving style.  I hope you’re not hanging around here much this weekend; instead, I hope you’re busy spending quality time with your family and of course, stuffing your face……because that is exactly what I will be doing lol  Here are some of my favorite things that I’m looking forward to this year for Thanksgiving:Thanksgiving Collage 1Thanksgiving Collage 2
Alrightie, I will see y’all next week!
Enjoy the long weekend!
xoxo Darby

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Face

On Friday I met a HUGE deadline for work.  I'm talking a deadline that hasn't been this big since my dissertation.  Thus last week was horrid; I was completely exhausted and overworked.  I was getting up early, staying at work late everyday with a minimum of 14 hours a day starring at a computer screen.  My back was killing me at the end of the day. However, I did my very best and everything was submitted and I feel good about it.
Moral of the story kids: don't procrastinate; it sucks.
All last week I was looking forward to this past weekend.  It was the last free weekend of the year and I had every intention of doing nothing but resting.  And that is exactly what I did. 
I slept late until 5:45 am on Saturday (wow, I'm an oldie) and ran all my errands, including the dreaded pre-Thanksgiving grocery run by 9am.  For the rest of the day I work on some Christmas crafts and started cooking, I napped, and I didn't leave the house again (this means I skipped a shower on Saturday too; thank God for dry shampoo!).
Sunday we went to church, and watched a ton of football.
This weekend was everything I dreamed it would be lol  Now I'm ready for the last few days of school before the big Turkey day.
What does all of this mean? 
It means I have nothing of real content for you today.  Instead I'm going to share my favorite YouTube video with you.  This one makes me laugh, every. single. time.
If you have a case of the Mondays, check this bad boy out:
xoxo Darby

Friday, November 22, 2013

Little Peep Bumpdate {Weeks 8, 9, & 10}

8 week collage
Date: 10/16/13
How far along: 8 weeks
Fruit-size comparison: We've got a raspberry this week :-)
Developmental milestones: Our raspberry is developing taste buds this week!
Maternity clothes: Not wearing them, but have purchased some when I see sales so I'm ready.  I've also purchased 2 belly bands to help me put off maternity clothes as long as possible.
Weight gain: Well as of my Dr. visit last week, 2 lbs (I better be careful here!)
Stretch Marks: Nope, but with my genes I'm certain they are coming.
Sleep: I sleep hard, but I always have.  I am still getting up 2x a night for a potty break.
Best moment of the week: Last week we saw our little one’s heart beat.  It was by far the sweetest moment the Mr. and I have ever shared.  There were no words, just loving glances exchanged and streams of tears as we stared at the most beautiful black and white image we've ever seen.
Movement: haha no! By according to that will start this week (not that I will feel it, just that it will happen)
Cravings: Not really, I want everything and nothing at the same time.
Gender: It's a girl or a boy  (obviously).
Belly button in or out: Innie
Wedding ring: It's on
Anything making you queasy/sick:  E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!
What I miss: N-O-T-H-I-N-G!
What I’m looking forward to:  Our appointment last week was really exciting (as stated above), but it was also a little scary.  Our doc is worried with how small our little one is for as far along as we are.  She said that this is most likely due to all of the hormones that I was taking in order to conceive, but she is still a little worried.  She wants us to come back in to be assessed in a couple weeks to make sure that the baby is in fact growing.  So yea this concerns me tremendously, but I'm still anxious to receive the results.  I'm just putting this in God's hands: there is absolutely nothing I can do anyways.
Labor signs: Nope
Symptoms: Nausea and exhaustion.  Last Monday (10/7/13) was probably the worst so far: I had muscle aches and nausea and I felt like I had the flu.  It seems to come and go and typically doesn't happen while I teach; I love the distraction!
Nursery: Have not put too much thought into this
Emotions: I'm so happy!  Everything in my life seems so beautiful!  Oh I do think I had my first mood swing last Friday though (thinking back to it now makes me laugh- mood swing much? LOL) I was in a faculty meeting that I though was supposed to be next week so I was already thrown off, and I had to pee so bad but I didn't want to miss anything.  I almost started crying because I felt so torn.  I've never cried at work, but this was certainly as close as I've ever gotten. lol

no picture this week, shame on me!
Date: 10/23/13
How far along: 9 weeks
Fruit-size comparison: A green olive :-)
Developmental milestones:  Our baby is about an inch long and its heartbeat is now audible, and gaining facial features that resemble a human....and less of an alien.  This is always a good thing lol
Maternity clothes:  Oh Maternity clothing inventor, I love you!  You have changed my life and I just might wear maternity pants for the rest of my life.  This may change, but for now, I heart you!  My belly bands arrived and they are working miracles for me.
Weight gain: Still only 2 l-b’s
Stretch Marks: Nope, but with my genes I'm certain they are coming.  I started using Bert's Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter to hopefully defy my genes. The Mr. asked me why I was even gunna try, and I told him with the most serious face I could muster, “The best defense is a strong offense.”
Sleep:  I sleep like a rock!  I still get up twice for a potty break but that doesn't bother me.
Best moment of the week:  We had multiple good moments this week!  Over the weekend we had our pregnancy announcement photos taken and it was the most special photo shoot we've ever had.  The last time we got our pictures taken was in 2009, so we were definitely do for some pictures, and with a baby on the way, what better time?!  Our photographer, and my bestie, took so much care of us and captured this moment in our lives so perfectly.  I cry with glee every time I look at these pictures!  (see photos here) Another great moment this week was my sister arriving in Houston last night.  This was the first time I had seen her in over a year and a half!  I have missed her so much, and we got to surprise her by telling her she was going to be an aunt.  Such a precious moment!!!
Movement: Not yet, but I'm definitely looking forward to a few weeks when I do feel those little flutters
Cravings: Not really, I want everything and nothing at the same time. I know that doesn’t make any sense!
Gender: It's a girl or a boy  (obviously).
Belly button in or out: Innie
Wedding ring: It's on
Anything making you queasy/sick: Not really.  I just try not to get hungry.  I eat many small meals during the day, and as long as I don't get hungry I do pretty well.    I have cut back on ginger ale and saltines by doing this.
What I miss: Nothing
What I’m looking forward to:  This weekend my sister and I are headed to NOLA for a sisters weekend.  Her work sent her to Houston this week and NOLA next week so I'm going to tag along with her for more time with the sweetest sister in the world.  I can't wait to take her to all of my favorite restaurants and boutiques!  (read about our trip here) Also we have our next ultrasound on Monday, I'm really looking forward to seeing how much our baby has grown in the past two weeks :-)
Labor signs: Nope
Symptoms: I am moving super slow.  My muscles still feel weak, you know, like when you have the flu.  I was trying to clean for my sisters arrival yesterday and just pushing the vacuum felt like lifting weights (now please consider the fact that the only rug we have in our house is only 11x14, so not big at all and I was exhausted after vacuuming.)  To dust, vacuum, and sweep, would normally only take about an hour for our house.  Yesterday it took me close to 3 hours and I still couldn't finish.  The Mr. had to help me because I just had to take so many breaks.  I feel borderline pathetic lol (yes I know there is a baby in my oven and I don't need to over do it)
Nursery: Have not put too much thought into this
Emotions:  Joy, I am absolutely and completely filled with joy, and I can't help but smile continuously.

10 week collageDate: 10/30/13
How far along: 10 weeks
Fruit-size comparison: The cutest prune on the planet!
Developmental milestones: Our baby is starting to swallow and grow finger nails and hair.  His/her vital organs are functioning and cartilage has formed and baby is kicking away.
Maternity clothes: How I love you!  I'm still rocking my belly bands or looser clothing during the day, but I switch to maternity leggings when I get home at night. These pants rock my world.
Weight gain: I have actually lost all of the weight I had gained, which is shocking because of how much I am eating LOL
Stretch Marks: Not yet, but I know I'm doomed, but I really don't care if I have those trophies or not (I don't think of them as battle scars).  I am using my Bert's Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter to help control the trophies but I'm not holding my breath.
Sleep:  I am in love with bed time.  I look forward to it from the time I wake up.  When I get up to go to the rest room (2-3x a night) I'm pretty sure my eyes don't even open; I’m a zombie hehe
Best moment of the week:  This past week was a big one for sure.  On Friday I received an unexpected package from my dear friend Joy, and it was a Steelers onesie, bib and booties.  I was sitting there on the floor next to the couch when I opened the package and as soon as I saw it, I went face down into the couch crying.  It was the first baby gift we received, the first thing hanging in our baby's closet, it was what we have always dreamed of.....bring our baby home and doing life together and teaching him/her about football and everything else.  It was the sweetest most thoughtful gift; we are so grateful for our friendship with the Sowells!  Also last weekend Kellyn and I went to New Orleans for a sisters weekend.  It was a great weekend of talking, shopping, and discovering New Orleans.  We had a blast and I'm so grateful that we finally got time to just be us.  I can't wait for our next trip (which Kellyn so keenly pointed out, might include a baby next time).  On Monday we had our follow-up appointment with the doctor.  It was by far our best appointment in the past 3.5 years.  The doctor had nothing but good things to report!  We got to see the baby dance all over the screen and everything is measuring on track....actually now we're one day ahead.  The baby did A LOT of growing over the past two weeks and we are SOOOOO thrilled.  Our next appointment isn't for a month (the day before Thanksgiving).
Movement: I can't feel it but we definitely saw it on Monday (10/28)  The baby was dancing around so much that the doc was having a hard time taking the heartbeat measurement.  I have never seen sweeter dance moves than our baby on Monday.  The Mr. says Little Peep gets these moves from him, and he is probably right ;-)
Cravings: Not really, I want everything and nothing at the same time.
Gender: It's a girl or a boy  (obviously).  We are certain it's a boy.  The old wives tale on heartbeat prediction of gender would say that we are having a girl because the baby's heartbeat was 168 on Monday. We just have to wait and see :-)
Belly button in or out: Innie
Wedding ring: It's on
Anything making you queasy/sick: Smells.  I am like a basset hound and smell everything.  Any strong smell sends my heaving.  My number one yuck-o is mouthwash.  I just can't take it.
What I miss: You know I always told myself that I would never fill in this line, because for so long we prayed to conceive and I am so joyful especially knowing how long it took us and knowing that there are still thousands of women who long to be where we are.  (Our story of infertility can be found here) It's hard for me to say anything selfish or negative because it makes me feel ungrateful & guilty.  So I have to say first, that I know that we are blessed and I know we have a miracle, and to be honest I don't miss anything, not one single thing even compares to the joy we have with this baby.  But if I look at my human nature I have to be honest, I found myself saying "I miss..." twice this week.  Both times it took me by complete surprise!  The first was saying that I miss coffee.  I still drink coffee from time to time (according to the literature, and yes of course this neuroscientist goes straight to the peer reviewed journals NOT anecdotal discussion boards online; pregnant women can safely consume up to 200mg of caffeine a day which is the equivalent of one cup of coffee), but I miss having it everyday and all day long.  I just love coffee.  The other thing is that I miss is staying up late to work.  I really love my job and I love serving my students, but I'm finding it harder and harder to stay up late.  Now I know I'm not failing at my job, I'm just not killing myself to be exceptional anymore.  I would say on a scale of 1-10 I work at a 12; I like being everything I can be and more (blame it on my perfectionistic nature).  Now I would say I'm at about a 9.  I'm not horrible but my body is just not letting me work extra hard.  Phew that was more winded than I intended. oopsies
What I’m looking forward to:  This week we are telling my parents and making our news public with our friends (and of course social media).  I cannot wait to hear/read everyone's reaction :-)
Labor signs: Nope, and I'm totally okay with that
Symptoms: Fatigue mostly.  I'm just so tired.  I feel like my body has the flu and my muscles are just so weak and achy.  I'm also starting to show a little, most people probably can't tell and think I've had one too many burgers, but the Mr. and I can definitely tell.....and so can my pants LOL  The waves of nausea have slowed down and I'm so grateful for that!
Nursery: Have not put too much thought into this
Emotions: Joy, pure joy fills my heart on a daily basis.  Our home is filled with the hums of continual praise.  We are so blessed with this miracle and we know exactly where it came from, HIM!!!
xoxo Darby

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What I’m Lovin’ Wednesday: Dry Bar

So many of you have commented on my hair from our announcement photos.  Please know that I NEVER look like that!  With the combination of a fabulous photographer and an awesome hair stylist I actually look presentable!  It’s like they had magic wands or something ;-)

Back in September I won a gift card to Dry Bar from Greetings from Texas (thank you Megan!!!).  I was so excited but knew I wanted to wait for a perfect opportunity….thankfully I only had to wait 6 days!  If you know me that felt like eternity.  (FYI- don’t send me a present and expect me to wait until my birthday or Christmas; it’s not happening).Dry Bar 1
The Dry Bar is a salon that only does blow outs; no colors or cuts or perms!  They wash your hair (which feels ah-maz-ing) and then blow it out into a style of your choice.  What I thought was so clever was that each style is named after an adult beverage (get it, baaaaaarrrrrrr?!?!! See told ya, super clever).  For example, beachy waves are called the Mai Tai, and big volumous hair is called Southern Comfort. I got a cross between these two.  Each blow out is $35 and takes about 45 minutes from beginning to end.DSC_0288DSC_0289
So when you arrive you’re greeted with a drink and a cookie and then a stylist takes you to his/her chair to discuss what you’re wanting that day.  The chairs are set up to look like an actual bar.  Behind the bar (where normally would be a bar tender and alcohol) are TV’s playing, get this, chick flicks……ALL.DAY.LONG! (insert girlie squeal here).  During my blow out I watched the end of Bride Wars and the beginning of Clueless.DSC_0293DSC_0291
I had a blast and will definitely look forward to doing this again in the future.  It was a perfect way to prep my hair for the photo shoot; very fun and relaxing.  There are several locations and I recommend looking Dry Bar up to see if one is near you, especially with all of the fun Christmas parties on the horizon!!!!  Thank you Megan for this gift!
Obligatory Blogger Disclaimer: I was not paid for this post; I just really like the Dry Bar.
xoxo Darby

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New Tab!

First of all, I have to say thank you to everyone that commented yesterday as I shared about our struggle with infertility, for your prayers, and for your kind words of encouragement.  That was certainly a toughy for me to finally publish and I feel extremely exposed and vulnerable now, but I'm happy to share my story, especially to those who are struggling now.  It is my hope that my story and vulnerability helps someone else.  Thank you for your precious and sweet words!  Y'all have always been so wonderful to me and I just can't thank you enough!

On a completely different note:
Check this out! Little Peep tab
Thanks to Kristen, I now have a new tab for Little Peep!
Here you will be able to follow along our journey from infertility, to pregnancy, to parenthood!
Thank you Kristen
xoxo Darby

Monday, November 18, 2013

Our Struggle with Infertility

I know that this here blog is generally pretty peppy and positive place (woah that is a tongue twister!).  I try to make this blog like that; I want LWTH to be a place of encouragement not just for you, but also for me.  If I’m being honest, things are not always cheerful on the inside, and you know that, that isn’t some new genius concept of mine.  But it does lead me to today’s post.  If you’re not into something deep, that’s okay; come back tomorrow for some positivity (I won’t hold it against you).Our Struggle with Infertility
God is good all the time...and all the time God is good.  This is something that I have played over and over in my head for the past few years.  For those of you still here, I want to tell you about June 8, 2010.  This day will forever ring in my heart as a day of confusion and deep unending sorrow.  I remember every detail of that day and for the following days.  I had just completed two back-to-back 16 hour brain surgeries on two different deer.  I was teaching a summer course at UH, Psychology Research Methods.  I was wearing black pants and a blue shirt with sheer ruffles on the sleeves.  I had just gotten a haircut to deal with the summer heat.  My sister was getting ready to come visit in a couple days.  I recall the night before the 8th, that I was organizing the books in my home office, when I had sudden paralyzing back pain until I just had to lay down.  The next day I was passing back papers for a quiz my students had taken the day before when I had a sensation like I had wet my pants.  I remember thinking “I’m so glad that I’m wearing black pants.”  As soon as class was over I ran to the bathroom and knew exactly what was happening.  I was losing our first baby.  I remember being so deeply sad, so empty and alone in that dingy old bathroom stall.  I called the doctor who later confirmed the loss.  I remember coming home and sitting on the couch to tell my husband that our first baby would never breath his or her first breath on this earth.  We were devastated to learn that our sweet baby had quietly left us to go home to be with Jesus.  We loved this baby so very much- our hearts hurt to know that we won’t get to meet our first baby on this side of eternity.

We never told anyone, not our families, friends, or smallgroup at church.  The loss happened just 2 days after our nephew was born and we didn’t want to be “Debbie downers” so we waited.  We didn’t share it with our smallgroup because I was in the middle of planning a fun cowboy themed baby shower for the next month, and another girl announced she was expecting, and again we didn’t want to rain on someone else’s parade.  The timing was just off and timing was everything in our case for comfort.  So I did the typical Southern Woman coping strategy and just put on a fake smile and went through the motions until everyone had had their babies.  Then it just seemed ridiculous to bring something up that had occurred almost a year ago.  Wouldn’t they think I was crazy for still being upset?!  Wouldn’t they question why I never brought it up, and why had I waited so long? Would anyone really believe me?  Would anyone understand my feelings? Why was I not over it yet?  So instead I let it just eat away at me, and my bitterness and grief grew.  I read other blogs about miscarriages and babies born sleeping and really connected with their emotions despite never really spilling my guts to anyone.  So in the past when I have said that blogging has become a great source of encouragement, I really do not exaggerate.  Blogging became a source of comfort and a place of peace for me where I didn’t feel so alone in my grief. 

A year went by, June 8th came and left again..still no baby and I was still devastated.  I don’t consider myself a great actress either, but I managed to put a smile on with every friend and family member that announced they were expecting.  And to be honest, I was thrilled for them, and I really did have genuine joy for their new adventure, but I was so sad for my loss, my inability to conceive, and was often envious of the ease of others to conceive.  Why was conception such an issue for me? Why was my body not doing what all the textbooks said it was designed to do? If I lost a baby, I knew conception was possible at one point, but why was this so difficult for me now?  Would there ever be another baby, or did we lose our only baby?

While we waited there were some triggers that made infertility so tough for me personally.  I would get so frustrated with women that would complain about sleepless nights because of their children crying.  This stung so deep because I laid awake many nights crying to myself wishing I could hear the crying of my own child that I could rock back to sleep, but instead only heard my own snuffles amongst the pure silence.  Yes they probably would have censored their venting had they known what I was really feeling, but again, I felt like it was too late to express that and I was too frustrated with their complaining.  It was hardest when someone else became pregnant.  Of course I was over the moon joyful for them, I was just so sad it isn't me.  Watching tons of my friends become pregnant with their first and even second child in the same amount of time I had not been able to conceive once was the pits....seriously the stinkin’ pits.

The following 3 years were challenging to say the least.  But God is so good.   From the moment I told the Mr.  that a) we were pregnant and b) we had lost the baby, he was completely supportive.  I was overly sensitive to everything.  I know I must to have confused the heck out of him, because I remember feeling relief at the very beginning.  Please don’t take this to mean that I was joyful that our baby was gone by any means, but I knew deep down that it was not the best time for us and the Mr. and I still had some work to do before we were truly ready.  So yes I felt glad that our desires matched God’s, but I still didn’t like this struggle and still desperately wanted that baby. Does that make sense?  So with the back and forth and extreme emotions that washed over me at the very site of another woman’s beautiful baby bump, I understood that God had a plan for us.  I always knew he had a family for us which may not come in the conventional way, but if we would just wait on Him, in His perfect timing we would receive the best gift of all.  So we waited and waited…..and waited.  During this period of waiting the Mr. and I grew to be better friends than we ever were.  He wasn’t just the man I married, he was the man I depended on for comfort and guidance.  He was the machine that kept my heart beating when I thought I could no longer do it alone.  He prayed over me as I cried over and over again for the next few years.  I know now looking back that the storm God provided us was good for our marriage.  He allowed the loss of a child and the loss of ability to conceive so that we could grow together and be a better team for the next step.  All of God’s provisions are, and were, for good.  Beauty does rise from ashes (Isaiah 61:1-3), and that’s how our story goes.    And while we held onto hope that we might have another child, the truth is that it would never replace the one we lost.  Still, we knew that beauty would rise from our ashes and sorrow.  We knew that He could open my womb and we just prayed that He would.  And that while we waited, we prayed for Him to fill us with peace, joy, and wisdom for how we should wait.

We spent a lot of time on our knees praying; Christ was the solid rock we were standing on.  We prayed for the doctors and nurses to have wisdom with our case, for our marriage to be strengthened, that our storm would be used to bring Him glory, and that we would find joy in this storm.  We were never angry at God.  I think a lot of people would say that about my bitterness, but not one time did I ever get angry at God.  Yes I was very frustrated with our situation, but anger was not an emotion that I, personally, encountered.  While I did not find this experience to be good, I knew that it was for His kingdom, and if nothing else, I should be happy about that.  That He would use our story to bring others to Christ.

When we decided to start looking into other avenues to grow our family I was petrified.  This was just not how I planned this family-growing process to go (God has been teaching me for decades that I’m not the one in control; I will get this concept one day….hopefully!).  Before we were married, the Mr. and I had decided that adoption was something that we felt called to do, but I struggled with the timing on this.   We even began the paper work and interviewing adoption agencies in Texas.  Adoption is something that we still feel very strongly about for various reasons I will expand upon another day, but after many discussions and lots of prayer we lacked peace with the timing.  So we started seeing our fertility specialist.  I remember a day in one February when the doctor looked at me square in the face and said, “ Mrs. Hawley, you will never conceive”.  She said it so matter of factly; I remember balling in her office, being escorted out of the office, and crying all the way home.  I remember that evening telling the Mr. the doctor’s report, and watching his face lose the hope we were so desperately looking for.  Those words stung more than any “Not Pregnant” pee stick result.  She said that she was willing to work with us despite her prediction, so like most couples who first start fertility treatments, there were a lot of tests that both the male and female have to pass, and some of these tests and procedures are not the most pleasant of experiences.  After all of these test my doctor called us in and she said, “Everything looks perfect!”  This time she was very chipper.  At first this made me very excited, after all, that was exactly what I wanted to hear.  But with some more time this made me very frustrated.  If we’re so “perfect” then why is this whole conception thing not working? Why are we still waiting? Why do I feel tortured with every baby I see at the market? Why?!?!?!

One morning while I was reading my devotional book, Empty Womb, Aching Heart (which I like to call Chicken Soup for the Infertile Soul), the Lord placed (Matthew 21:21) on my heart.  He can and DOES move mountains, and I must believe it.  I should not put my trust in a doctor, or charting, or even fertility treatments.  The barren woman will NEVER be satisfied (Proverbs 30:15-16) and God knows it.  He knows and acknowledges that incurable pain and He is okay with it.  This verse made me finally, after years of bitterness and depression, realize that it was okay to be upset, in fact God says it’s okay.  He was okay with my frustration and much bigger than my frustration, but He just wanted me to acknowledge it and give it to Him, not to put my trust into something or someone else.  He was and is the Ultimate Physician (and Ultimate Fertility Specialist).  I should also mention, that during this struggling, my husband gently recommended that I start going to counseling to help me sort out my emotions and deal with my bitterness, grief, and depression.  I love that my husband knew that this was something that I needed and brought it up at a time when it would be well received and supported me in this process by not only asking me about it, but even helping me find a counselor that would tend to me while respecting my background in science and relationship with Christ (which in the science world is VERY hard to find).

So we started fertility treatments, but our trust was not placed in whatever the doctors advised, instead our focus was on Him knowing that if He wanted this to work He would make it happen.  So when we started on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for infertile women (not to be confused with postmenopausal women; totally different treatment plans), we were relying on Him and looking forward with great expectations (2 Corinthians 8:5).  Now I have to be very honest, I really struggled with the idea of using hormones to conceive.  Charting, peeing on sticks daily (and sometimes multiple times a day), blood testing, hormones, timing marital time, ultrasounds, pills, injections, really took the romance out of conception.  I was concerned that this baby would not be born out of love but out of a bunch of pills and syringes, but now I realize that with every day that passed as we waited, my love for the child we prayed for and desired only grew.  The intimacy of waiting has provided this baby with more love than I could have ever imagined possible.

The Mr. and I determined a timeline with HRT, since the hormones were pretty dangerous and do increase the risks of cancer.  How horrible would it be if we conceived only to find out that I was diagnosed with cancer?! I was not down with that!  If we conceived I wanted to stick around for this thing called parenthood.  When we were 3 cycles away from the end of our timeline, the Mr. and I reached a conclusion, that we were ready for this to be over.  We were physically and psychologically drained; we were completely worn out and were ready to reach the end of our timeline.  We were at peace with crossing the finish line without conception.  We gave it our best shot, we prayed, we actively waited, and still there was no baby and we had peace.  This was September of this year, and two weeks later, on 9/22/13 we found out that the Lord had blessed us with the gift of conception.  To say that we’re excited, and filled with joy really just doesn’t do the Lord justice.  There are no words in any language that describe how grateful we are.

So why do I say that God is good all the time and all the time God is good? We know that this is a miracle baby, and we know that God has and is using us for His kingdom and we know that this was all His doing.  To see the shock on our doctor’s face when she confirmed the pregnancy and telling her about Christ reminds me that He did have and still does have everything in control.  There are no coincidences or trials that go without merit.  His works are for good!

So how has infertility changed me?

I know that not everyone’s struggle with infertility looks like mine; I acknowledge that this is still part of our story, that the fight isn’t over, that the anxiety isn’t gone, but for now we find peace.  Everyone’s struggle with infertility is different and everyone processes it differently; however, a loss is a loss, grief is grief and it doesn’t matter where you are in your journey, it always hurts.  From my personal experiences this is what I’ve learned and this is how I have changed:
  • Upon the diagnosis of infertility, you start to wonder why infertility has happened to you, and feel like less of a woman. You get mad at those who undesirably get pregnant (usually those under the age of 18 or on drugs), and wonder why a loving couple like you can’t create the miracle of life. You get jealous, crabby, bitter, and you change. 
  • You dread baby showers, and sometimes you avoid people who have children because seeing them hurts too much. If it is going to add stress to you, and cause a lot of emotional pain, I say politely decline the invitation.  If you still want to send a gift, you don’t have to go to Babies R Us, just order something online and have it sent to her house.  You never have to hold the gift or see it in person.
  • Just because someone has had a hard road with infertility doesn’t make them any more entitled to sad feelings than you. When you’re doing everything right, I don’t care how many cycles you’ve gone through or how many miscarriages you have had, or how many children you have had born sleeping, infertility is hard. No one has more “rights” to sadness or grief.  Grief is grief. Period!
  • You aren’t crazy; every single woman you know really IS pregnant.  Every friend on Facebook is going to start posting pictures of sticks they have peed on with that magical second line or the glorious word "pregnant" across the screen.  A few months later all the ultrasound pictures will pop up followed by beautiful birth stories.  You will undoubtedly torture yourself over every announcement and every picture.  I wish I could tell you to stop but you won’t.  Instead, let yourself mourn each time you read or hear the news of a new pregnancy.  One of them will be your sister or your best friend, so get ready for that one.  Cry, scream, yell, whatever it takes, do it.  But then you have to move on.   They are experiencing a joyous occasion in their lives and it’s important not to shut your friends or family out; you need their support.  I wish I had learned this one sooner (in fact I wish I had started counseling much sooner so that I wouldn’t have missed out on sharing the joys of others while I was lost and drowning in my own depression).
  • It’s okay to be vulnerable and raw with your emotions.  It’s okay to acknowledge that some days are bad days.  Sharing my story with others that have experienced loss has been so healing for me.  It has helped me to feel comfortable in my misery.  It has brought peace to my heart, and brought beautiful women into my life that will forever be my best friends and sisters because we share a path of struggle together.  Pain and suffering are what makes us grow as people. Through pain, we learn to empathize better. Through suffering, we realize that others too might be suffering and we can relate and share about the difficulties of traversing the day with the weight of pain, failure, and loss bearing down on us. The stronger we become, the more we can stand with others in pain, allowing them to suffer but not to suffer alone.
  • Pain changes a person and although the cause of the pain is often a terrible tragedy, the change a person experiences is not necessarily a bad thing.  I think back to the person I was before I suffered from infertility and failure after painful failure. As I reflect on the person I was before I had to watch everyone around me get what I wanted while my body continued to fail me over and over again, I realize that I am a better person now because of my struggles. 
  • Before infertility, it never occurred to me that people may be smiling on the outside but dealing with a painful, soul-crushing loss on the inside until I was one of those people. I am now hyper aware of other’s feelings and forgiving of people’s shortcomings because I realize that they may be fighting a silent battle too.  Just like I was putting on that fake smile, many others do that as well, offer them grace and mercy.
  • I never thought about how hurtful certain statements could be: this was meant to happen, this was all in God’s plan, it will happen someday, why don’t you just adopt? I think before I speak now. I don’t try to change or justify the pain because this doesn’t help anyone.  It actually takes power away from them.  I listen more because this is what I learned that I needed during many of my hardest days.
  • In the past, I always wanted to stop and fix pain, rather than hug people and to tell them it was ok that they were hurting. Now, when people experience pain I tell them that they hurt because what happened mattered. Having experienced pain that seemed so meaningless and feeling “dumb” for being sad for what could have been but never was, I can understand that sometimes pain just needs to sit because it represents what was important to us but is now gone.
  • I feel that I have always been a kind person. I have always cared deeply about others and I have never meant to intentionally hurt anyone. The person I’ve become is a deeper, more sensitive version of this person.  I feel more, I cry more, and I love deeper. I’ve maneuvered my own grief, which has opened up my heart to other’s grief. I’m stronger and realize that soul-crushing pain, while it takes my breath away, will not crush me.  Suffering breeds experience and something beautiful can come from the darkest experience.
Through infertility I have been changed; I’m not who I was before and I’m glad that I will never be that person again.  I’m not thrilled that I have walked so many years through infertility, but I’m happy with the outcome.  I’m glad that I depended on the Father to carry me through this storm, and I’m blessed to have had a husband who constantly pointed me back to Jesus.  I’m glad to be taking a break with this struggle and while I know that life is so very short and precious, I will try my best to embrace everyday that the Lord gives us with this baby.  If you are struggling with infertility, loss, or grief, I hope you know that I pray for you on a daily basis that God would fulfill the desires of your heart and fill you with peace and joy while you wait.  You are a very special population that I am proud to be a member of to love on and pray for.
xoxo Darby

Friday, November 15, 2013

Little Peep Bumpdate- Weeks 5-7 (and the future of LWTH)

I know it’s been a bit babyish lately around here these parts.  I just want to address one question that always came to my mind whenever one of my favorite bloggers announced that she was expecting:

“Oh no, does this mean her blog is going to become a baby blog?!?!?”

Whether you’ve been thinking this or not, I would probably have this question if I were you (but maybe that is just how my mind works), and here is my answer.  To be honest, I have always considered our blog to be a lifestyle blog.  I have recorded our trips, DIY, moving, recipes, the pups, décor, faith, career choices, products I’m diggin’, my dabbling in various hobbies, and so many other random things from our lives.  Thus I think LWTH falls into the Lifestyle category.  Now that we have a new being joining the fam, I think it would be hard to completely omit that topic from our blog (keep in mind how many posts and updates were done with each pup that joined the fam lol).  So while I don’t foresee myself becoming a “mommy blogger”,  I am not going to hide that aspect of my life either.   Please note that I don’t have anything against mommy bloggers, I have followed and will continue to follow many mommy bloggers, I just don’t see myself fitting into that niche at this point in my life.  The plan is to just keep on going with all of those lifestyle topics (recipes, DIY, pups, etc.), but to just add one more category to the list: Little Peep.  I would still label LWTH as a lifestyle blog; I do not plan on removing any of the typical topics from here. I understand that I might lose some followers, especially those that are either still struggling to conceive (and if that is you, I hope you know that I pray for you on a daily basis that God would fulfill the desires of your heart and fill you with peace and joy while you wait), or are not interested in children.  I respect your decision.  Of course I would love to maintain a friendship with you, but if this aint yo thing, I get it and I’m not offended.

With all of that being said, today’s post will be mama & baby oriented (please don’t call me a hypocrite lol).  Along our journey of infertility, I always found so much joy in reading other mother's “bump-dates.”  It gave me so much hope for the future, and I always caught myself smiling when I read about the experiences of other mammas.  I always craved for the day when I could write my own.  That day starts now! (insert insanely cheesy smile here)  I always knew I wanted to have bumpdates, for others to follow along with our journey yes, but mainly for myself, the Mr., and Little Peep.  I want a record of this pregnancy because we prayed so long to get here and we want to capture and embrace every aspect of this time in our lives.  Since the day we found out that we were expecting I started recording our bumpdates and I’m going to start posting them here, multiple at a time so that I can't catch LWTH up, so please note that these are several weeks behind, they’ve just been saved as drafts.  So here we go, Little Peep’s first Bumpdate :-)
5- WeeksDate: 9/22/13
How far along: 5 weeks
Fruit-size comparison: Our baby is somewhere between the size of a poppy seed and a sesame seed.  It's amazing what hopes and dreams come from something so super teeny
Developmental milestones: Our baby has a brain and a spinal cord (this is big coming from a neuroscientist lol)
Maternity clothes: Just bloating (see above picture for evidence)
Weight gain: Not yet
Stretch Marks: Nope, but with my genes I'm certain they are coming.
Sleep: Ehhhhh it's not horrible but I'm not sleeping like a baby either (haha nice pun Darby, nice pun)
Best moment of the week: Seeing that little expensive plastic pee stick say "Pregnant" and praying with my husband as we gave thanks to the Lord for this sweet and precious blessing.
Movement: haha no!
Cravings: Nope
Gender: It's a girl or a boy  (I am so sarcastic sometimes lol)
Belly button in or out: Innie
Wedding ring: It's on
Anything making you queasy/sick: Nope
What I miss: Charting, counting, and peeing on sticks......haha just kidding!  I don't miss anything!  I've prayed for this for so long that I'm thrilled to leave that old lifestyle behind.
What I’m looking forward to: Everything.  My mind is moving a million miles a minute and I am looking forward to everything.  I have prayed for so long that I’m excited to embrace each milestone.  I want to move as slow as I can so I embrace every stage, even nausea.  I prayed for those headaches, "morning" sickness, achy joints, cankles, and weight gain, because that meant we had a baby on the way.  I am looking forward to every.single.step. in this journey.
Labor signs: Nope
Symptoms: My chest is sore and I pee a lot, but that is about it.
Nursery: Being a planner, I think I had this determined before I even met my husband lol
Emotions: I have never felt this level of joy before.  My heart is so filled that I feel like I'm splashing out all over the place.  I am beyond excited and I really don't even think there are words to say about how thrilled we are.

Date: 9/28/13
How far along: 6 weeks
Fruit-size comparison: sweet pea (the sweetest pea in the entire world)
Developmental milestones: This week we're growing a nose, ears, eyes, cheeks, and a chin!
Maternity clothes: Still a little bloated, so putting off shopping for maternity clothes for as long as I can, but I have been pricing around.
Weight gain: Not yet
Stretch Marks: Nope, but with my genes I'm certain they are coming.
Sleep: I think I'm just too excited to sleep.  I wake up between 1 and 2 and again between 4 and 5 to use the restroom, and every time I get up I'm just so smiley!
Best moment of the week: Telling our best friends in Houston the news.  Their reaction was perfect (We love y'all G+J)
Movement: haha no!
Cravings: I think it's a little early here, but I do want meat all the time.  I'm not sure if that's a craving or just me being me.
Gender: It's a girl or a boy  (obviously).
Belly button in or out: Innie
Wedding ring: It's on
Anything making you queasy/sick: Nope
What I miss:  I don't miss anything!  I've prayed for this for so long that I'm thrilled to leave that old lifestyle behind.  I'm embracing every new change.
What I’m looking forward to: I'm really looking forward to our next visit to the doctor.  We get to see the heart beat, and show our doctor how truly amazing and powerful God is; she said this would never happen.  Well Doc, nothing is impossible with God.
Labor signs: Nope
Symptoms: My chest is sore and I pee a lot.  I have had a few cramps after long days at school.  Oh and I had my first pregnancy dream last night (9/30/13).  I have had these dreams before, but this was the first when I was actually pregnant. I woke up so smiley!
Nursery: Being a planner, I think I had this determined before I even met my husband lol
Emotions: I have never felt this level of joy before.  My heart is so filled that I feel like I'm splashing all over the place.  I am beyond excited and I really don't even think there are words to say how thrilled we are

7- weeksDate: 10/5/13
How far along: 7 weeks
Fruit-size comparison: We've got a blueberry this week :-)
Developmental milestones: Little Peep has both cerebral hemispheres and developing 100 new cells per minute (for this neuroscientist this makes me very happy).  Our little blueberry is also sprouting arms and legs!
Maternity clothes: I have resisted this as long as possible.  I didn't want to purchase any maternity clothes (probably because I thought I might jinx myself and didn't want to lose another baby).  But I realize logically that this baby's life is not in my hands.  God's will has more power than my maternity clothing purchases (of course!) So when some went on sale, I purchased.  I got a few staples, hoping that they will last throughout the seasons and pregnancy.
Weight gain: Nope
Stretch Marks: Not yet, but I'm certain they are on their way
Sleep: I sleep hard, but I always have.  Lately I've been getting up between 1am-2am and between 4am-5am.
Best moment of the week: I heard 3 separate groups of students talking around campus discussing whether or not they thought I was expecting (sidebar- I think it's funny when they think I'm not listening hehe).  I also got an email asking me if I was pregnant because I have a "glow".  I'm thrilled to know that the way I feel on the inside is splashing out in every facet of my life.  I am tickled to pieces!  Now to keep this a secret.....
Movement: haha no!
Cravings: No, I just want to eat everything.
Gender: It's a girl or a boy  (obviously).
Belly button in or out: Innie
Wedding ring: It's on
Anything making you queasy/sick:  My morning tea. I switched to decaf tea and I don't know if it's the tea or the time of day, but a nice wave of nausea follows.
What I miss: This is something that I didn't anticipate would be a challenge for me.  I figured that if we ever conceived I would shout it from the mountain top; like you wouldn't be able to keep me quiet.  Well obviously since you're readying this weeks later, I had to learn to keep a BIG secret.  This is so hard for me!  I can't even keep Christmas/birthday gifts a secret.  Keeping our miracle secret???? Killer!
What I’m looking forward to:  Our prenatal appointment was scheduled for 10/23/13, but it got moved up to this Thursday (10/10/13) because my doc has a conference.  I'm totally fine with this, because we finally get to see our baby this week.  We have waited for this moment for so long, that I can't believe this is the week we finally get to see our sweet miracle baby.  So many years of waiting, and to see that heart beat will be the most precious moment.  The amount of joy I am filled with cannot even be put into words.
Labor signs: Nope
Symptoms: Woah those hormones are kicking in, and they mean business!  Waves of nausea have set in and they seem to start in the early morning and last until about 4pm.  Evenings are my best time as far as that is concerned.
Nursery: Not even thinking about this right now
Emotions: Pure joy, this is the only way I can explain myself.  I don't think I've had crazy mood swings; my mood pendulum is simply stuck on the joyous side.

I’m still several weeks behind with these posts so I will be trying to catch up with several weeks at a time.
Have a great weekend friends!
xoxo Darby

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What I’m Lovin’ Wednesday: Special Delivery, Special Thanks

The past week has been a wonderful whirlwind since we made our announcement about Little Peep.  We have received so much encouragement and love from you and we are immeasurably grateful.  There is one individual that I especially want to thank that made our announcement reveal so precious. 

Without Grace Hill Photography we would not have had our fabulous photos. Grace is a fabulous photographer with amazing talent.  Her work is unlike any I have seen before where she not only captures a moment in time, but also the sweet emotions of life.  Grace took our pictures back in 2009 (that are all over this blog) and then took our pregnancy announcement photos.  I highly recommend her if you’re near Houston.  I am so grateful to Grace for making our announcement so special and to come alive.  She worked so diligently with such attention to detail, and made us feel completely comfortable!  Thank you Grace!  Check out more of her work, and then schedule an appointment with Grace Hill Photography!!!!  Make sure that you start following her on Facebook too!
Can you pick a favorite?!Grace Hill Photography 1Grace Hill Photography 2Grace Hill Photography 4Grace Hill Photography 3Grace Hill Photography 5
See I told you she was talented!!!
I can’t even pick my favorite…..actually can I pick all of these as my favorite? lol
Which is your favorite?
Seriously, your assignment is to GO “LIKE” Grace Hill Photography on Facebook!!!!
Obligatory Blogger Disclaimer: I was not paid for this post; I just really like Grace Hill Photography.  She doesn’t even know that I’m writing this post about her.
xoxo Darby

Monday, November 11, 2013

Telling the Mr. About Little Peep

Friends, I cannot even begin to tell you how excited the Mr. and I are about the pending arrival of Little Peep.  “Excited” really doesn’t even do it justice.  We want to thank every single person that commented on our announcement post, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, text, and calls……we feel so loved and we are so encouraged by your prayers and kind words.  The outpouring of your love just makes us even more thrilled to continue the beginning of this journey, but please keep those prayers coming!

In the next coming weeks I will be sharing about our years of struggles with infertility.  While this post has been in my draft box for about two years, I still don’t think I’m ready to share it.  It’s probably definitely the deepest post I’ve ever written, and I feel like I just need to pray about it a little more before I share that part of our story.  So today, I just want to share with you about how we found out that Little Peep was on the way.

We found out on Sunday, September 22, 2013.  I was late, but I am never regular so that was nothing new.  The previous cycle had really done a number on me psychologically and physically.  We had switched over to new hormones and I thought for sure we had conceived in July; I had so many symptoms and was so excited.  But as you know, the higher the expectations, the more the words “Not Pregnant” sting on a plastic home pregnancy test.  So in September when I was late and didn’t have a single symptom, besides no cycle, I decided I just didn’t want to take the test.  I just didn’t want to read it again; I didn’t want to be hurt again.  So that Friday (9/20) we went to a wine tasting (because I was sure I wasn't pregnant…God is so funny sometimes when He humbles me).  Saturday (9/21) at our date night, the Mr. told me that he thought we should buy a test because "tests being expensive" wasn’t a good reason not to (this was the reason I blamed for not really wanting to take a test.  If I'm being honest here, we all know I just didn't want to get hurt by the words "Not Pregnant" again.  But seriously, I didn’t want to take a test if my cycle was just going to come anyways, those little boogers are the most expensive pieces of plastic that women pee on just to throw away!)  When I look back now, I should have realized I was pregnant for a few reasons: I fell asleep during a Steelers game the Monday before (this never happens folks), I was exhausted every evening though I thought that was due to my work load increase, I was easily agitated, and I was craving meat (I even had pepperonis for breakfast one morning).

Sunday morning (9/22) the Mr. got up early to walk the dogs.  When he left I got up to take the test, so that I could hurry up and cry at the “Not Pregnant” before he got back.   I had been mentally preparing myself for the BFN (Big Fat Negative; this is what those who suffer from infertility have to do, mentally prepare ourselves for seeing the worst again).  I just stared at the test sitting on the window in the bathroom, anticipating another cry fest, but this time I got a different answer.  When “Pregnant” came across the screen the only thing I could do was to hit my knees crying and praying.  I just spent the next 15 minutes crying and praising God on the bathroom floor.  I’m so glad God doesn’t care where we pray.  I prayed and prayed thanking God; this was all His doing.  Not mine, not the Mr’s, not the doctors, not the hormones.  This was HIS timing.  I wanted to surprise the Mr. some way….even though he purchased the test the night before, so I brushed my teeth really fast (and as best I could because I was shaking like you would not believe), and got to work on his surprise.

Four years ago when we decided to start trying for a baby I bought the Mr. a football burb cloth, swaddle blanket, and onesie.  I just kept moving it from closet to closet over the years as we waited.  But before the Mr. got back from the walk I dug out that box and wrapped the positive pregnancy test in the items.  When he got back I told him that I found a Christmas present as I was cleaning out the office closet that I forgot to give him (at this point we were remodeling my office, and it’s not unusual for me to find Christmas presents later in the year because I hide them so well I forget them). So he opened it and I will never forget the look on his face; it was joy, fear, shock, excitement, surprise, all at the same time.  So we went to our bedroom, knelt by our bed and just prayed to God for this blessing.  Then we went to a couple grocery stores for more tests and a doughnut shop because what's great news without doughnuts?!  When all of the other tests quickly came back positive, we prayed some more, got ready for church and that was that.  This day, 9/22/13, was one of the most special days we’ve ever experienced as husband and wife, and we rejoice in the years of struggle that we have waited through for this day. 

September 22, 2013 was when one journey came to an end (for now), and the next journey begins.  We feel so blessed, and we are so grateful for this opportunity.  We take every single day with this baby as a gift and we embrace this life.  Thank you again for the prayers, please keep them coming!
xoxo Darby

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Special Delivery

We’re taking a break from our normal Wednesday schedule to bring you the most exciting news we’ve ever received:
Special Delivery 1Special Delivery 2D Hawley_66F Hawley_57
Special Delivery 3Special Delivery 4Special Delivery 5O Hawley_45P Hawley_53
Special Delivery 6Special Delivery 7
V Hawley_61
Special Delivery 8Special Delivery 9Z-3 Hawley_05Z-4 Hawley_68Z-5 Hawley_12
The arrival of our special delivery is due May 2014 :-)
More news about our Little Peep will be coming soon, but for today we are just glowing as we share the news of our miracle baby with you.  We are over the moon and filled with joy to know that Little Peep is on the way, and an answer to many years of prayer.  We ask you to please remember us in your prayers as we continue through this pregnancy for a healthy baby and mamma as well as a smooth transition into parenthood.  Thank you so much friends!
Many thanks to Grace Hill Photography for these amazing announcement pictures.  If you’re in Houston you MUST look her up (here now folks, I'm not kidding!!!).  She is the most talented and artistic photographer I have ever worked with, and her attention to detail is incomparable!
xoxo Darby

Monday, November 4, 2013

Back From Nola…and My First Flash Mob Dance!

Well I’ve actually been back for a week now, but with coming back and trying to catch up there is about a week lag around here.  But I still want to tell you about my trip with my sister.  Kellyn was here in Houston for a week for work and then last week she was in New Orleans for work.  So for the weekend in between we thought we would have a sisters weekend getaway.  I have traveled to NOLA many times, but this was Kellyn’s first time so there were many things we just had to see (and taste).  It was a fabulous weekend, filled with sites, walking, shopping, and lots and lots of yummy food! 
To be honest, my favorite part about New Orleans is always the food.  I just can’t control myself….I don’t even want to quite frankly!  The beignets and café au lait are always at the top of my list…closely followed by all of the spicy seafood!!New Orleans 1
There is something about New Orleans that I just find so beautiful.  I truly love the older European inspired architecture.  Perhaps because Houston is so new and we lack a lot of the older buildings, I always fall in love with the older vibes in NOLA.New Orleans 2New Orleans 7New Orleans 8The first night we were in NOLA we hit up one of my favorite spots: Pat O’brien’s.  Blame it on my Irish blood or the fact that I’m always a tourist when I visit, but the dueling pianos always have me singing and dancing in my seat.  I think Kellyn enjoyed the music too!New Orleans 3

I love all of the different people and acts on the sides of the street.  NOLA is never lacking creativity.New Orleans 4New Orleans 5This happened twice while we were visiting NOLA, but we saw two weddings!  It was so fun to watch the bride and groom parade down the streets with their fun umbrellas, followed by a band and their entire guest list dancing and waving hankies in the air. At first we were shopping (in a Christmas store no less) and we heard the music, and we noticed that it was getting louder, then we saw the white dress out of the store front window and screamed “A WEDDING!” in unison lol  So neat! We are total girlie girls who will always love a wedding :-)New Orleans 6Since we were there the weekend before Halloween we had the opportunity to go to one of the parades.  It was so awesome and the floats were extraordinary!  New Orleans 9New Orleans 10This might have been the coolest part of the trip: While we were in a restaurant having dinner, a group that had been in the parade came and laid down on the street in front of the patio.  Kellyn and I looked at each other like, those ladies dressed as zombie circus monkeys must be cra cra!  Then Thriller started playing and the entire group got up and did the dance…..the entire dance!  I’m talking straight from the video (80’s kids you know what I’m talking about)!  Seeing our first flash mob dance…….indescribable!  New Orleans 11Then of course we had to stroll down Bourbon Street and see all of the fabulous costumes.  I have to say some were very impressive!!!!  There was only one that was totally horrible and disgusting (dressing as a Boston Marathon Victim, seeeeeeee isn’t that so inappropriate?!?!).  Ok so here is my list of top 4 costumes:
4. Dexter
3. A group of guys dressed as lego men
2. A couple dressed as Flo from the Progressive commercials and a Geico Gecko
1. A group dressed as the villains from Disney movies….even Jafar and Hook were represented!New Orleans 12
Kellyn and I had a great sisters trip!
I think we should do it again, don’t you?
Where should we explore next?
Happy Monday friends!
xoxo Darby
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...