Our Journey to Parenthood

Since I was just a little girl, I dreamed of marrying my Prince Charming and having lots of kids. Particularly, five. I’ve always had this picture in my head of Christmas morning breakfast with cheerful little faces gathered around a breakfast table in their pajamas. When Sean and I got married, we had no doubt about our dreams to raise babies together. After we closed on our first home on our one year wedding anniversary, we were ready. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen as easy as we thought. The months came and went and nothing. Despite careful planning, I was just not getting pregnant. At this point, I had researched way more than any normal human being would want to know about fertility. Deep down, I knew that it wasn’t a timing issue and something was not quite right.

A few weeks later, Sean and I sat in a doctor’s office hoping for help and that it would be the reassuring answers we wanted to hear. We had searched online for a good doctor to start with and chose one based on his online bio that indicated his top interest was infertility. At the end of the appointment, it was decided that we would try our first round of Clomid. Over the next month, we waited anxiously, hoping that this was the solution. My doctor was sure that I’d ovulated and lit up with excitement when he showed me the number of follicles hanging out in my ovaries during an ultrasound at the end of my cycle. I remember looking at him thinking, “he looks so excited but he’s wrong…. something is not right”. I knew in my heart that this month was no different than the others we had planned so carefully. The next day when my progesterone level came back, it was confirmed that I had definitely not ovulated. I remember him looking at me as I sat there and I could see the concern on his face. We continued on with new hope each month. I changed my diet, my hygiene products, took vitamins and did everything we could think of to make my body as healthy as possible in addition to fertility medications. Sean visited a fertility specialist and was tested as well to rule out male infertility. The months passed in slow motion as I took more medication and went in for uncomfortable ultrasounds every other day to monitor follicle size. I can remember so clearly sitting in the car with Sean at the pharmacy after picking up my prescription and nervously giving myself an Ovidrel shot in my stomach. I’m a nurse, I give people shots every day without hesitation… but it’s different when it’s you. I had many follicles, a few would grow to the right size but then not release as they should. We waited and prayed, hoping that with a trigger shot, our problem would be resolved and I’d finally ovulate. This month brought disappointment for us though, and we picked ourselves back up and pushed through. We continued for several months back and fourth to the doctor for ultrasounds, changing medication dosages along with a month off after I developed a huge cyst and wasn’t allowed to continue stimulation. I’ll never forget sitting in a cold doctor’s office with Sean, sobbing as the doctor looked us in the eyes and told us that we had exhausted all the options he could offer. He quietly said, ” I think it’s likely that IVF would be the best option in your case”.

At this point, I was emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted. A total basket case. I cried all the time. My heart sank each time I walked through a store and saw a pregnant mama or the sweet baby clothes hanging in the baby department. It seemed like each week another friend announced their pregnancy. I was excited for them but so broken at the same time. I just couldn’t understand. At this point, I was starting to feel unstable. I couldn’t think about anything but the fact that I might never get to feel a baby kick inside of me and that those dreams I had carried since childhood may be just that… dreams.

Sean was heartbroken too. I’m so thankful for his strength in our marriage because he was a complete rock during these painful months. We were both absolutely devastated, but he held on. Without him wrapping his arms around me and holding on tight, I’m not sure where we would be. Each doctor’s appointment, each negative pregnancy test and each painful hurdle, he was there. It was such a dark time and I imagine I was tough to love at moments.

A few months later, we sat in the waiting room of a fertility specialist we had heard amazing things about. We nervously anticipated what he would say and how much it would cost. Sean and I both had great jobs but the cost of infertility is enormous and we were trying to wrap our minds around how we would pay for it. Dr. Lee was kind and gentle, he smiled at us and offered us hope. I remember my eyes welling up with tears as he looked at me with a smile and said, “ You are in your twenties, healthy, and the perfect age to carry a baby. We will help you get pregnant”. He did an ultrasound at that appointment and as he pointed to the strands of follicles that covered both ovaries without any fertility medication in my system, suggested that it was highly likely I had PCOS. After a long appointment, we left there with a prescription for a new medication and a schedule for our first round of IUI. Fast forward a few weeks, I was blessed with a new job I had been praying for and still experiencing the toll this journey had taken on me emotionally. Sean and I collectively decided that we needed a break from trying. Infertility is tough and I was at my breaking point. It’s so easy to allow it to consume you. We knew that the Lord had a plan and that it was far better than ours but our vision was becoming blurry in the midst of heartache and so we stopped. We stopped everything. We took a break so that we could remember what we did have, each other, our marriage and so much more. Sean and I fought this journey together alone with the support from only a few close friends. Not because we didn’t trust our families and others, but because we were so broken and it was painful to even get the words out. It all felt light a cruel nightmare. My parents have been present in everything all of my life, solid and faithful. I knew I needed to tell my mom. I remember calling her and trying to tell her the things that had unfolded over several months but I started crying and couldn’t even get the words out. I remember Sean taking the phone from me and telling her as I sobbed in a ball on the couch. Then I shared with my sisters. They were so kind and supportive and it meant the world to me. I’ll never forget my sister standing in my living room, she looked at me and said, “You know, if you want to do a surrogacy, I would be your surrogate”.

I was still broken but it took some of the weight off my shoulders to let it out and to verbalize what was happening. I tried my best to focus on my new job, and forced myself to pass the tiny baby clothes as I strolled through Target. I can’t tell you how many times I heard from people, “just stop trying and it will happen” or “it will happen when it’s meant to”. They were all comments said with pure intentions but so hurtful. If you’ve walked this journey, you probably would agree that it’s not just that easy.

At this point, we began to seriously consider adoption. I spent hours researching agencies and began sifting through papers as the agency packets filled our mailbox. I remember crying as I stared at the cost for each agency and thought to myself, “why is it more expensive to adopt a baby then to abort one?” We poured over the cost of IVF versus adoption and decided which would be best to save for.

About two months after discontinuing all medication, I sat at my desk at work, surrounded by sweet elementary kids asking for band aids and needing a little TLC. I thought to myself, “gross, I feel like I’m getting sick again”. I was so tired and my whole body ached. You know, that flu like feeling that takes over your entire body. I reached over and grabbed a thermometer from my desk. No fever but definitely a temperature higher than my normal. I had the most far fetched thought…”what if my temp is up because I’m pregnant?” I quickly reminded myself not to be cruel, not to get my hopes up and offer myself false hope. I knew my body was not capable of pregnancy with medical intervention, so how would I be pregnant without it? Something in me told me to stop that day on my way home and grab a pregnancy test. I felt guilty as I checked out at the register. Sean and I had agreed no more testing. I was obsessed y’all. The amount of stark white pregnancy tests I had taken was insane and there were tears that followed each time.

I knew I was risking big disappointment taking another. That night, I discreetly peed on that pregnancy test and sat there confused as I held it up to our vanity light trying to distinguish if it was a faint pink second line or if I was overthinking it and just hoping it was. I tucked it away in a drawer trying to figure out what to say to Sean. I finally worked up the courage to tell him I had tested again. We examined it together and Sean was convinced that there was just no way it was a true line. So, I took another right then and it was stark white like the thousands of others I had taken.

I had trouble moving on from this though and the next day I stopped and bought a few more. At this time, Sean was working nights while I worked days. I came home, took a test and could hardly believe the sight in front of me as I stared at two blatantly pink lines. How? How was I pregnant?

I was flooded with what felt like a million emotions. I remember the exact moment, standing in the middle of my quiet hallway, staring at those two pink lines. In that moment, I prayed that I would never forget our journey and that each day that we looked at the face of that sweet growing baby we would be reminded of how faithful the Lord is. I wrapped the test with the miraculous two little pink lines in a special box and gave it to Sean when he woke up. We were both in total shock and made phone calls right away to get labs drawn and confirm my levels were where they needed to be. I took more pregnancy tests than I can count as I struggled to accept that this amazing miracle could actually be happening inside of me. I was also terrified knowing that such a delicate process could be taken away at any time. I was monitored closely those first several weeks as my levels fluctuated and I started progesterone supplements to help support my pregnancy. I savored those months as my sweet miracle baby grew in my belly, as I felt his tiny body move. It was a total dream come true as I experienced those moments we had prayed and pleaded with the Lord for. We encountered a few scary moments during my pregnancy. First, at 14 weeks when I was experiencing severe abdominal pain for a few days and then fainted at customer service in Walmart of all places. Then, again around 35 weeks when I started to experience cardiac issues. After being home for a few weeks and wearing a very stylish heart monitor, I was induced at 37 weeks when his movement started to slow down and my amniotic fluid levels were lower than desired. I was blessed with a great labor experience and our lives were forever changed when we saw our precious and healthy Graham Wilson. There is absolutely nothing like being a mom. I am forever grateful for this precious gift. Since then, our sweet Harrison Tate has also joined us and his story is full of God’s grace too. I am forever changed by our journey and although it was grueling, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I am thankful for the perspective it gives me when I look at my sweet babies. It has changed who I am. On those days when parenting is tough and I feel like I’m not good enough or strong enough, I stop and remind myself of how wanted this was. How I pleaded with the Lord for this and how He chose ME to be a mama.

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Graham and Harrison’s Shared Toddler Room

Hey friends, it has been a while since I’ve posted. A new school year brings a busy schedule and we are slowly getting in the groove and remembering how to balance everything. Graham and Harrison’s shared toddler room is finally at a point where it is nearly finished and I’m so excited to share it with you guys. This project was one we have taken our sweet little time on over several months. Our hope was to create a space that we can add to over time as the boys grow. We are so thankful for extra space in our home that allowed Graham to stay in his room until we got this one close to complete. Graham transitioned from his crib to this room at the beginning of this past summer and we plan to switch Harrison over when he’s ready. When we envisioned the boys toddler room, shiplap was top priority on my list. I wanted it to be a white and neutral space with lots of texture. It’s important to me that our spaces have the ability for color to be added and taken away or changed for different seasons etc. Here’s what the room looked like before we moved in. This is a picture from our home listing. After moving in, this quickly became the room we moved things to that we couldn’t find a home for…then it became my craft room when I started my Etsy shop. Ultimately, we knew this was the best room in the house for the boys because it’s the farthest from our bedroom and we won’t wake them up when we are getting ready in the morning. Sean spent a few weekends adding shiplap to two walls and changing out the builder baseboards and trim for something with a little more of a farmhouse flair. Sean and I fell in love with all things shiplap in our previous house and did our first shiplap accent wall in our old master bedroom. We loved everything about it minus the hefty price tag. When we realized we could rip down inexpensive underlayment boards for a fraction of the cost and the same effect, we were ecstatic. It was the perfect solution for this room since we were wanting to cover two large surface areas and it would have killed our budget if we went with traditional shiplap. Sean ripped down sheets of MDF to create the door trim, window trim and baseboards. After applying wood putty, sanding and caulking, we painted the entire room Benjamin Moore Simply White and the doors got a coat of Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron. We have a lot of white in our house and the darks doors throughout are a fun touch. We looked around for several weeks trying to decide on beds for our little guys. It was a tough decision between toddler beds and twin. Ultimately, we decided on toddler beds since they were both transitioning from cribs and we felt like the smaller size might make the transition easier. We finally settled on these cute little beds and couldn’t be happier with the color, size and quality. They’re just what we needed for this stage. I was so excited when I saw these gray buffalo check sheets by Burt’s Bees. The white duvets keep things simple and make it so easy for me to change up color palettes. I’m already getting excited envisioning their space decorated for Christmas. Sean built the sweetest little book shelves from a few 1X4’s and 1X6’s and created this farmhouse sign for under $40. We grabbed this vintage cage light from a fun little antique store in McKinney, Texas and it’s perfect with our favorite LED Edison bulbs. Sean also installed 4 dimmable recessed LED’s. Lighting is so important to us and you can tell how poorly lit this room was in the shiplap installation pictures. Sean and I laugh all the time about the lighting in our house when we moved in. Most of our lights had fluorescent bulbs and it would take almost 10 minutes for the room to actually light up. We used to joke that we needed 10 minutes notice for guests to come over so we had time to turn the lights on.

One of the most important things about this room was safety. Our boys are adventurous in nature and our hope was to limit anything that could become a safety or tipping hazard. Here’s a little proof that even a squishy Pottery Barn Kids anywhere chair is fun to tip for these two. Thankfully, this bedroom has a large closet and eliminated the need for any type of dresser. If you missed their closet remodel, here it is. Their beds are low to the floor and we tried to steer clear of anything that could be used to climb. We installed this window lock since this is an upstairs bedroom. These door locks are on many doors throughout our house and we installed one on the closet door since there are cubbies that are appealing to climb. Sean installed this camera as part of our home security system and we love that we can see any activity on our bedroom TV throughout the night.

Graham has been in this room for the past few months now and loves it. He talks about his “big boy room” all the time and enjoys spending time in it. It has been a fun spot for playing and reading and we can’t wait until Harrison shows signs that he’s ready for the big transition and they can share this space.

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Laundry Room Makeover

Happy Wednesday friends, we have had a busy week over here. We had a sick kiddo over the weekend and have spent the past few days working on a fireplace project and installing a new (actually very old) back door. Can’t wait to share with you guys after we finish up.

Today, I wanted to share our laundry room with y’all. Like most other families, we go through way too much laundry each week. Like seriously, are there people living here I don’t know about? Laundry can so easily end up piled high on furniture, left in stacks somewhere or hanging out in the washer only to be washed 5 times before you remember to dry it. When we bought our house, I was a little sad that our laundry room was half the size as our previous house and determined to figure out how to make it functional for our family. We do so many loads of laundry each week and keeping laundry clean and preventing it from piling up helps save my sanity in life’s daily chaos. One of my biggest complaints about our space was not having a designated area to fold clothes and not having a spot to hang wet clothes that don’t go in the dryer. Continue reading “Laundry Room Makeover”

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Creating an Organized Kids Closet

Over the past several months, Sean and I have been slowly working on completing a shared bedroom and closet for our boys.  Today I’m sharing the closet portion of this project.

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Documentary Style Family Photos

I’m so excited to share a documentary style photo session we had recently with a dear friend and talented photographer. I’ve know Amanda from Amanda Raylee Photography since 7th grade. We spent our middle school years having countless sleepovers and have been dear friends ever since. Amanda blessed us with maternity pictures just days before the early arrival of our second son, Harrison, two and a half years ago. We look back at those photos often and cherish the sweet moments they captured for us. You can imagine the excitement I felt when Amanda asked about doing a documentary style photo shoot at our home earlier this summer. Continue reading “Documentary Style Family Photos”

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Our DIY Kitchen Renovation

Happy Tuesday friends! I get a lot of questions about our kitchen updates we made shortly after moving into our house. I wanted to share a few before and afters of our kitchen and our experience painting kitchen cabinets for the first time.

This is what our kitchen looks like now

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White Modern Farmhouse Playset Hack

I’m thrilled to share our latest project we wrapped up just in time for summer fun with the boys. Graham and Harrison have turned into little explorers and have started to really enjoy playing outside and going to the park in recent months. We live in a wonderful community filled with kid friendly spaces, but we had our hearts set on creating a fun space of our own where the boys could run free, play and explore. After checking out several stores and websites, Sean and I both agreed that the Cedar Summit Lookout Lodge Playset from Costco was the most budget friendly option and also the best fit for our little guys.

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