Valentine’s Day

We played with the camera at home today. Our little Ginger Snaps, Liam and Nora,  will be 5 months old on the 17th. They are doing great!

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4 Months Old

Here’s another picture heavy, long overdue update. The babies are now 4 months old and I can’t believe how fast time goes by. Liam is up to 9lbs 7oz and Nora is 9lbs 5oz. They are both gaining adequately and we’ve completely done away with fortified breastmilk bottles and are just breastfeeding! For the most part they are very good babies. They have a fussy time for 1-2 hours right before bedtime and sometimes randomly throughout the day but nothing out of the norm. They are good nighttime sleepers already. Technically their adjusted age is 2 months since they were so early. They are both doing well holding their heads up and are precious with their smiles and babbling.  We are still just so in love with these two.

2 Months Old!

2 Months Old!

Baths! 2 Months Old.

Baths! 2 Months Old.

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014. Dad was overseas for work- boo!

Thanksgiving 2014. Dad was overseas for work- boo!

3 Months!

3 Months!

Picture with Santa.

Picture with Santa.

Christmas Card 2014

Christmas Card 2014

Nora

Nora

Liam

Liam

Nora and her pup, Sasha.

Nora and her pup, Sasha.

Christmas Nora

Christmas Nora

Christmas Liam

Christmas Liam

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

What Liam thinks about his feisty sister sometimes.

What Liam thinks about his feisty sister sometimes.

Nora's monkey hair!

Nora’s monkey hair!

Bath! 4 Months Old.

Bath! 4 Months Old.

4 Months!

4 Months!

2 Babies, 46 NICU Days and 1 Happy Family!

I know I’m horrible for not updating for such a long time! To say I’ve been busy is an incredible understatement! I had been updating family and friends on a Facebook page that I created for the babies. (If any of you are interested, let me know on here and I can privately email you a link.) I’ll try to make this long story short and post lots of cute baby pictures instead!

   We all came home together as a family on Sunday, 11/2/2014 after 46 days in the NICU. Liam and Nora were 37 weeks and 2 days at discharge. Both babies progressed very well in the NICU for their gestational age. Nora had a bit of a delay while she overcame some feeding intolerance issues but quickly caught up with her brother. We ended up being transferred to the facility that I work at which has private rooms. Liam was discharged before Nora but we were both able to stay (live in) the hospital for 6 days until we all went home together. 
   It has been quite an adventure being home with twins but I’ve had some great help and I can’t imagine it any other way. Will is such a great father. He does diaper duty and even wakes up for some night feedings so we can both get a tiny bit of sleep. He has had to travel off and on since we’ve been home and I’m so thankful to have my mom, sister and grandmother close by for help.
   Liam and Nora have been doing so well at home. We have mastered tandem breastfeeding and both are gaining weight with a couple feedings a day of fortified breast milk. My one shining achievement is that they’ve never had anything except my breast milk from birth. It’s been a lot of hard work! They had their 2 month immunizations today. Both are over the 6lb mark. My official due date would have been two days from now on 11/20/14. 
   Enough with the words. Here are some pictures from the remainder of our journey!
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Liam (L) and Nora (R).

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Nora and Liam during bath time.

Nora and Liam holding hands.

Nora and Liam holding hands.

Liam snuggling with daddy.

Liam snuggling with daddy.

Liam's long fingers.

Liam’s long fingers.

Mommy and Nora when she was sick.

Mommy and Nora when she was sick.

One Month! Nora was puffy from fluid retention when she was sick. Poor girl!

One Month! Nora was puffy from fluid retention when she was sick. Poor girl!

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Nora and mommy.

Nora and mommy

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Liam

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9 Days Old

Just a quick update!

Liam: He had a rough go in the beginning. He was briefly intubated on low settings with umbilical lines in place and then went to a lesser form of support called NIPPV then CPAP. After he was extubated and his umbilical line was removed they inserted a PICC line. He is currently on a high flow nasal cannula and his PICC line was pulled and fluids discontinued because he is tolerating full feedings via NG tube!

Nora: Was on NIPPV and then CPAP and is also currently on a high flow nasal cannula and her PICC line was pulled and fluids discontinued because she is tolerating full feedings via NG tube!

As many of you know, I’m actually a neonatal ICU nurse so this is what I do for a living. It was been a whole new experience seeing it from a mommy’s perspective. I know I’ll be able to take from this experience to give even better care when I return back to work. My husband says he doesn’t know how he would deal with this if I wasn’t a NICU nurse. He says he just looks at my face to gauge if he should be worried or not. All in all I am thrilled with the progress we’ve seen in our strong little babies!

They are 32 weeks today so we will be in the NICU for a minimum of another 3 weeks. And now the fun part.. Here’s a bunch of pictures!

My first time holding both of my loves together…

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Looking at my husband as I hold both of my babies together for the first time. Such an amazing moment…

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Best. Feeling. Ever.

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Daddy holding both babies…

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Nora and her gigantic (normal sized) paci…

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Nora and Liam in their first outfits and doing well!

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Weeks 21-27 Update

So much has happened during my last update that I’m not even sure where to start. I’ll try to make this post less words and more pictures with captions! Those are always more fun to look at, right?

Here we go!

Weeks 21 & 22 were fairly uneventful. I felt pretty good and continued working as usual after getting home from our camping trip. 

Week 23 started out good and then I started contracting regularly late on a Friday night. I kept track of them and they were becoming about 7 minutes apart. I tried warm baths, chugging water and laying on my left side. None of it helped. Of course, Murphy’s Law, Will was on a plane back from Tokyo at the time. I had talked to him when I started contracting but tried to put his mind at ease and told them that they would probably subside. I knew that there was nothing he could do and it would be better for him to rest on the flight and come in as soon as he got back if needed vs. staying awake worrying about something he couldn’t do anything about. (He wasn’t happy with my decision but I still stand by it! It makes sense in my head!!) The hospital (where I work and where I’ll deliver) is only about 4-5 minutes away so I drove myself (the doctor scolded me for that) because I knew I was just going to be placed on monitors and given meds. My mom lives 2 blocks away from me and I figured I would call her if needed instead of making her stay awake all night in a chair watching my contractions on a monitor. 

   My contractions started to get even closer together so they gave me an intramuscular dose of terbutaline followed by an oral dose. The babies looked great the entire time and there was no cervical change so I was sent home the next morning after the contractions stopped. (BTW, Terbutaline is no joke. It made my heart race and made me jittery!) When the doctor came in to see me prior to discharge I got the “you shouldn’t work any more” talk and we agreed to try just one shift per week.

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Week 24 Still had contractions off and on but never more than 5/hr which was acceptable.. Until I worked my 1 shift for the week. I starting contracting at work and they sent me home. I kept contracting frequently throughout the next day so I called the on-call doctor. She was busy in a delivery so we put the cribs together while waiting for her call! (nothing made the contractions better or worse, so why not?) As I thought, she told me to come in. This time Will went with me. Same routine. Monitors, terbutaline then home. Ultrasound showed no cervical change still and the babies looked great. The babies gained 1lb. 10oz. in the past month between them, I gained 1 pound in the last month- the doctor WAS happy with that! And.. I got told that my working days were over until after delivery. I was bummed about it but I’ll do what is best for these little ones!

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Baby Girl A: 1lb. 11oz at 24 weeks and 3 days

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Baby Boy B: 1lb. 14oz. at 24 weeks and 3 days (and folded like a pretzel in this picture)

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Weeks 25-26 were thankfully mostly uneventful. I found myself getting easily worn out and sore. Not contracting more than what’s acceptable. My mom helped me clean and get everything ready for my baby shower. The nursery had been painted so Will and I put most of the room together so it would be ready for the shower as well! We celebrated my grandmother’s 80th birthday and I got to swing with my cousin who is due about 5 weeks after me with a little boy! (Pictures at 26 weeks and 2 days)

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26 week 3D ultrasound that was AWFUL! Here are the only 2 somewhat distinguishable pictures..

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Liam

Week 27 was baby(ies) shower week! I’m so thankful that we decided to do it a little early because I’m in a good amount of discomfort as I write this post almost a week later. We had a nice time celebrating these two little lives with friends and family. We feel very fortunate and blessed to have such a great support system. 

   We had a couple’s brunch with chicken and waffles, cinnamon rolls, egg/hash brown/bacon casserole, fruit, a bloody mary bar and a mimosa bar. We had a lot of fun and hope that everyone else did as well. Here are some pictures from the shower (27 weeks and 2 days) and some of the partially completed nursery.

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“We’re what happened in Vegas” black and pink twin onesies. (Our IVF doctor is in Las Vegas)

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Daddy and our fur girls worn out from the shower.

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Still waiting for daddy’s nursery must-have to arrive: a flat screen smart TV to put above the dresser so he can Skype with all of us a little easier when he’s traveling.

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Some friends invited us to a Chief’s game later that evening so here’s a picture from Nora and Liam’s first game!

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The day after the shower, I finally went swimming for the first time and it felt. so. good!

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Today I completed the dreaded 1hr glucose tolerance test. Results should be back for my appointment on Friday.

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How far along: 27 weeks and 6 days today!

Maternity clothes: Still some maternity and some non-maternity! (most of the pants/shorts are definitely maternity!)

Stretch marks: None yet. I’m just waiting.. eekkee!!

Sleep: HA! Still frequent bathroom trips. It’s becoming more and more uncomfortable. Even rolling over seems so difficult!

Best moment of this week: Celebrating Nora and Liam with friends and family at our shower.

Miss anything: Still the same food in addition to actually being able to eat a meal, paint my own toes and the ability to sit up straight. 

Movement: SO much movement. Will can feel them and see them move often. They are most active late at night. They are getting so big that some of the movement hurts, especially when there are 4 legs and feet lodged in my ribs!

Food cravings: Not particularly. It’s hard to eat more than a few bites at a time. 

Anything making you queasy or sick: nope!

Have you started to show yet: I’m pretty sure.

Gender: Girl and Boy!!!

Labor signs: Still contracting off and on but no more than 4-5 in an hour. 

Discomforts: Occasional heartburn, general feeling of no room left, awful rib/back pain beneath my shoulder blades. Nothing I can’t handle although I’m going to try to get in to see the chiropractor for the first time since I’ve been pregnant.

Belly button in or out: In-ish… In certain positions I can see it start to protrude a bit. It’s mostly flattened out more than anything. The skin around it feel so thin and soft.

Wedding rings on or off: On. They were a little snug a couple days when it was 95+ degrees here.

Happy or moody most of the time: Happy!!!

Looking forward to: Getting the rest of the house ready for these little ones to arrive and as always, our next ultrasound!

12 Week Update

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     We’ve had a pretty uneventful week in a good way. I might be a little controlling and overzealous, but I’ve started preparing things early! This week we ordered the stroller, car seats and cribs and I bought two adorable bouncy seats! I decided that I should start doing things while I have the energy and then maybe I’ll be able to coast through the last part of pregnancy without stressing (yeah, right).

   I had an appointment today. Good news: I GET TO STOP PROGESTERONE! After 70+ intramuscular injections of progesterone alone, I’m OVER it! I must admit that I’m a little nervous to stop it, but Dr. C says if the placentas aren’t doing their jobs by now, progesterone supplementation isn’t going to help.

   Still no lifting anything more than 10lbs. I was made aware that this restriction would remain throughout pregnancy. (Say what?!? How do people with kids live?) I have a feeling this is one of the restrictions that doesn’t get followed well. I am being careful. My mom told me today that my purse was too heavy. I think I responded with something like, “??????!!!!!#####*******”.

   Also during Dr. C’s Debbie Downer speech, she told me that I couldn’t go to Singapore later this month. At first she was on the fence about it. She asked me why I was going and I told her to tag along with my husband and lay on the beach. She didn’t like that answer. She said that if it wasn’t vitally important to go, she’d tell me no. She says textbook says yes but she and the money, time, blood, sweat and tears it’s taken to get here says NO.

   I was concerned with how big my belly had gotten and continues to get daily. She said, “I’m not sure if you’re aware how pregnancy works. There’s actually something growing in there and with you- it’s two!” Funny, funny! She didn’t sympathize with my size concerns, needless to say. She says I’m right on track and measuring 20 weeks. Yikes!

  Precautionary genetic ultrasound (nuchal translucency screening) on Friday since we are having twins, and it was IVF. As always, I’m looking forward to seeing our little plums.

How far along: 12 weeks and 4 days today.

Maternity clothes: A mixture. Maternity pants, for sure.Still wearing non-maternity skirts, dresses, etc.

Stretch marks: Not yet. Itchy though!

Sleep: Sleeping pretty well! Still only up 1-2 times. 

Best moment of this week: Getting to spend time with W and getting the OK to stop progesterone!

Miss anything: Still the same. Exercise, being able to lift things, alcohol, **Jimmy Johns**, cold lunch meat in general, bleu cheese and caffeine. 

Movement: Not yet! I can feel hard lumps where they are laying and I swear I’ve felt a couple of flutters, but nothing consistent.

Food cravings: Not really.

Anything making you queasy or sick: Not eating enough, or quickly enough!

Have you started to show yet: Ohhh yes.

Genders: Too early to find out.

Happy or moody most of the time: Happy! Happy! Happy!

Looking forward to: Our next official ultrasound on 5/16!

Symptoms: Same as the last update: Exhaustion, some heartburn, and headaches. Just a tiny bit queasy off and on. I wouldn’t call it morning sickness though. I find that I’m able to eat less and less without feeling completely stuffed. Lots of grazing days in my future!

Correction: BabIES on Board

   That’s right! We had our first ultrasound and official OB appointment today and we are having TWINS! We are totally in shock but very excited. They are measuring exactly spot on at 6 weeks 5 days. Baby A had a heart rate of 137, Baby B had a heat rate of 124. They are in separate sacs and we were told that everything looks great!

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   I’ve still been feeling pretty darn good. I don’t start working again until next Monday so my routine has been something like:

  • 1am- bathroom
  • 3am- bathroom
  • 4:30 am- bathroom, then eat apple sauce so I don’t wake up queazy from an empty stomach.
  • 8am(ish) roll out of bed. Eat.
  • 10am- go back to bed. 
  • Rest of the day: Eat (small meals), sleep, repeat. 

   Other than extreme exhaustion, I really haven’t felt that bad. I know it’s still early and it will probably hit me like a ton of bricks soon but for now..I’m knocking on wood. I’ve had some heartburn which is a new experience for me but it hasn’t gotten to the point where I’ve even had to take anything. 

   I thought I’d get this shiny packet at my appointment today with all of the Do’s and Don’ts and when to expect what.. What I got was my doctor (who I love) walking in saying “Congrats! Any questions?”.. Umm… Yes, about 478 of them. Where shall I begin? My instructions were literally: continue meds, next appointment in 3 weeks, cook lunch meat before eating it, NO caffeine until 12 weeks, still no lifting anything over 10lbs. Good thing I know where to supplement my curiosities! She said with twins I can expect to have appointments about every 3 weeks and weekly monitoring starting between 28-32 weeks. 

   This.is.so.surreal……………

Immunologic Info and (last) Treatment

I had my last intralipid infusion last Thursday! This topic has been weighing heavily on my heart to share with you all.

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I feel that this is a common problem that is overlooked by a majority of RE’s who just don’t understand or know the latest research available. If you have unexplained infertility, endometriosis, history of chemical pregnancies or failed IUI/IVF cycles- please read these articles and advocate for yourselves. Ask your RE for immunologic testing or get a second opinion! The articles and webinar listed link to my RE’s page. I’m not saying to use my RE (although he IS amazing and I would totally recommend him) but he’s always available to do skype consultations no matter where you live. He’s one of the guys leading this amazing research and is very knowledgeable! It’s worth looking into!
Here’s a quick version of what his nurse said to me about NK cells when I found out they came back abnormal..
“Your Natural Killer cells did come back as abnormal. Allow me to explain what this means and what we are going to do to counteract these.
Natural Killer cells are a normal part of everyone’s immune system. They are what patrol our bodies trying to keep foreign things out of our bodies. Some people have Natural Killer cells that are a little more aggressive. In normal life, this is usually a good thing. Maybe they don’t get sick as often, or if a bad cold is going around it won’t hit them as hard. Natural Killers don’t realize there is a difference between embryos and germs though. They just see something is foreign and doesn’t belong and end up trying to keep the embryo from implanting inside the uterus. Dr. Sher has found that doing an Intralipids Infusion can help to calm these aggressive Natural Killer cells down to allow embryos a chance to implant inside the uterus. There would be an infusion prior to starting the monitoring process. After the embryo transfer if you are confirmed pregnant, there would be a second infusion done.
There are no side effects to the Intralipids Infusion as long as you are not allergic to egg or soy.”

Now go watch this webinar, read these articles and get informed!!!

Immunologic Causes of Infertility and IVF Failure Webinar

Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction Article

IVIG & Intralipid Therapy in IVF: Interpreting Natural Killer Cell Activity for Diagnosis and Treatment Article

Baby on Board

We’re pregnant!!!!!! It’s still very, very early and there’s lots of milestones to meet but I feel like many of you were keeping track of dates and I couldn’t leave you hanging!

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I must admit I’m that girl who (this time only) ordered 25 tests online and started testing at 4dp5dt to make sure the trigger shot was out of my system. (If it was still there, it would have given a false positive as it’s the same hormone that your body makes during pregnancy.) When at 6dp5dt I still saw nothing, I started to get down even though that’s very early for a positive test sometimes. I had a second interview on Monday for a NICU position I had applied for after moving back so I gathered myself up and went. Before I was getting ready to leave I peeked at the test again and something looked different about it.. Not a faint line necessarily but something that made me go, “hmm..”. When I ordered the tests, it said on the website they could detect hcG amounts as low as 20. When I read the paperwork with the tests it said 50! I wasn’t very happy. I stopped after my interview (which went well) to buy some more sensitive tests and decided that I would test again the following morning.
Well, since I’m so incredibly patient..I was on the phone with my cousin who is a women’s health nurse practitioner and had to use the restroom. Since we aren’t very close and and are really shy (KIDDING) I of course do the yucky thing and go while I’m on the phone with her. I mean, the box of tests is just sitting there. There’s three in there. “Just PEE on me already”, it was screaming. So not expecting much, I pee on it as it demands. As soon as it started reading across the screen, one line.. two lines! Cue the hysterics! She didn’t know I had taken it and kept saying, “What’s wrong?? What’s going on?”. I was finally able to let out in some form of English, “I’m pregnant!”. We cried, we freaked out, we laughed. It was then that I decided I couldn’t just tell my husband over the phone..
W had been in Finland and wasn’t going to be back for another 3 days!! Could I wait that long?! I felt that since everything we’d done so far had been so planned, payed for, and scientific that I wanted to be in control of something! I decided that I would get a “Baby on Board” sign and put it in the back window of my car so that he’d see it putting his bags in when I picked him up from the airport. I thought it would be fun to have a photographer capture the moment but since it was very last minute, I wasn’t able to find one. It just so happens that my sister is a photographer! Of course, that meant I had to tell her early.
I gave her a belated Happy Birthday Aunt card and signed it from us and Baby(ies) Oliver! My mom and grandma were also there when I gave it to her. Everyone was thrilled and we planned our airport adventure.
It was difficult to pretend like I didn’t know anything when I talked to W in those few days. I told him that I had stopped testing because I wanted him to be here regardless of what the outcome was for support and he said he understood but also said, “I just want to know now!!”.
We arrived to the airport a few minutes early and got the sign in place and my sister got ready to hide while I went inside to get him. I didn’t make it to the gate so I met him at the baggage claim. I had said that my dad wanted us to go to dinner to give him a reason for changing into fresh clothes after 20 hours of flying. He was a bit short with me and while he was happy to see me, he just seemed strange. I chalked it up to being exhausted from traveling. We talked about my first appointment and that I didn’t have results yet because they wouldn’t let us know until after they saw a double in my numbers on Friday. He accepted my explanation but said he couldn’t believe I hadn’t tested and again, that he was anxious to know.
We walked towards the car and I text my sister to give her a heads up. As we were walking and nearing the car W said, “I thought for sure you’d show up with a tee shirt or a Baby on Board Sign”. Oh man! So I said “Hmm.. Sorry”, and when we reached the car in a few feet I said “like that one??”! It took him a few seconds to process what was going on. He said, “Are you serious? You know? Since when?” I told him I had known since Monday. He was giving me a hard time for holding out on him but I think he definitely appreciated the moment and the thought that went into it. It was beautiful!
When we got in the car, he admitted that’s why he had been so aloof in the airport. He had imagined finding out when he got back and when I collected him and didn’t say much other than the usual greetings, he was disappointed. Poor guy!

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We did end up meeting my dad and his wife for dinner. I had purchased a tumbler cup that had lots of words including “World’s Best Grandpa” on it. I had filled it with ice water and brought it in with us. A bit after ordering I said, “Hey dad, do you like my new cup? I just got it.” He put his glasses on and was reading all the words around it such as, “awesome, cool, wonderful”.. I pointed to the bold words about grandpa and then it clicked! What a great moment! Tears and hugs all around!
Now for the scientific stuff.. My first beta hcG on Wednesday was 160. My beta hcG today was 259. That’s a doubling time of about 60 hours. At this stage they want to see it double every 31-72 hours. So for now, we are on track! As I said, there’s still things that could go wrong and there’s still milestones we need to meet. I have my first OB appointment on 4/2 where we should be able to see how many there are and heartbeats!
I feel like I know the exact moment that the hcG really started surging through my body. If you’ll recall, I had a bit of OHSS (big bloated belly picture) after my retrieval. They said if I was pregnant, it would most likely come back when my body started producing hcG. Sunday night, I had this awful cramp that woke me up. I ended up going back to sleep but when I woke up, the bloat that had subsided was back with a vengeance! That was another thing that peaked my curiosity about the sensitivity of the tests!
So far, the worst thing is the cramping and fullness/bloating. I can hardly fit into anything that’s not stretchy. I look like I’m about 20ish weeks pregnant and have gained about 7-8 lbs. of fluid! It’s difficult to sleep at night and I’ve been averaging about 3-4 hours which doesn’t help with the exhaustion! I’ve only felt nauseous once and it was because of an empty stomach. My hips are sore from my nightly progesterone injections but I keep telling myself that it’s all worth it!
Oh yeah- I got the job! I’ll be working part time nights in the Neonatal ICU at a beautiful facility right by my house. It will be great to get back to my babies. My brain has been turning to mush! I should start the first part of April.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been checking in on me. You mean more than you will ever know- all of you! Thank you in advance for the continued prayers. We are so fortunate to have such a great support system of family, friends and all of you lovely ladies in this online community!