What I’m Thankful For

What I’m Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Of course we should all be thankful for our blessings daily, but this day is a day we specifically set aside to remember all of the things we are thankful for, so here are a few things on my list.

First off, I have to say that the older I get the more these holidays mean to me — being with family and making memories with your loved ones, I’ve learned that those things are what life is really about, and I’m super thankful for that realization.

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I’m thankful for my children. After everything we went through to get pregnant and all of the time we spent wondering if we would ever be able to have children, they are a blessing every single day. And on top of that, I’m thankful that we are able to work jobs where we can each spend time with them at home throughout the week. We’ve both been able to be there as they reach each milestone of their development, and we’ve both been able to be actively present in their lives since the day they were born. I can’t thank God enough for that. I’m thankful that we’re raising sweet, thoughtful, and respectful children. It’s hard work, but it’s worth every bit of it when you hear them say “Thank you Daddy/Mommy” when you do something for them, or when they ask for “one more hug” at night before bed, even if it’s because they’re just not wanting to go to sleep yet 🙂

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I’m thankful for my wife. Alicia and I dated on and off from the 6th grade on, and that type of relationship is pretty rare. We sincerely share almost all of our interests and we joke that we share the same brain because we think almost the exact same way. When something happens that I’m happy about, she’s the first person I want to talk to. When I’m upset about something, I immediately want to tell her about it. I’m extremely thankful for her. For how great of a mother she is. For how supportive of a wife she is, and that she wanted to be with me for the rest of her life.

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My sister is 9 years older than me and yet we have an incredibly close relationship, which I think is pretty rare. She’s always helped take care of me and look out for me all throughout my life. She’s a voice of reason when I need it, and I know that I can always count on her when I need her. When Jurassic Park (the original) came out I was obsessed with dinosaurs — I remember back then that she used to take me to get lunch at McDonald’s and then take me to the movies to watch it….and she did this over and over countless times because I loved that movie so much and she loved seeing how happy it made me. I’m thankful to have her, and I’m thankful to have an awesome brother-in-law that loves her and takes care of her.

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My wife and I have had our niece and 2 of our nephews staying with us since last Friday, and we’re both extremely thankful that even though they’ve gotten older, they still actually enjoy hanging out with us now that they’re all teenagers. 😉 We’ve watched these kids teenagers grow from tiny babies into these incredible individuals with really great heads on their shoulders and we love love love any chance we get to spend with them.

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I’m thankful for my parents. I, like most teenagers, put them through so much crap back when I was a (punk) teenager, and I’m thankful they stuck it out until I finally realized that I didn’t actually know everything that there was to know about the world after all. 🙂 I’m thankful to have grown up in a house where I always knew I was loved, and I’m thankful that they taught me how to make others feel loved. I’m thankful for my Dad who has always worked so hard to provide for his family. I’m thankful that he has always loved and treated my sister and I like we were his own kids, because no matter what, we are.

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I’m thankful for my grandparents. Most of them were taken from us way too soon and I really wish that we would have had more time together, but I’m extremely thankful for all of the memories that I do have of them. I miss them like crazy. I’m super thankful for Mamaw Drenner, and that our boys were able to meet her and are able to have her in their lives <3 grandparents

I’m thankful for my in-laws, for bringing my wife into this world and for raising her to be the woman she is today. I’m thankful for them and their side of the family for accepting me and making me feel welcome in the family. I’m thankful that I got to meet Alicia’s grandparents, her Uncle Phillip, and her Aunt Barbara and spend time with them before they passed. They were all really incredible people, and I’m blessed to have known them, and I miss them too <3

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I sincerely hope that all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with your family and/or friends, making even more memories to be thankful for.

 

10 Reasons Dads Should NEVER Be Allowed to “Babysit” Their Own Kids

10 Reasons Dads Should NEVER Be Allowed to “Babysit” Their Own Kids

My wife shared a post on Facebook the other day of an article stating that everyone should stop calling it “babysitting” when dad’s have their kids without mom being around. She and I are on the same page when it comes to all of this — we share the responsibilities of our kids (and everything else in our lives) because we are a team. When it comes to kids though, we are both parents — not a mom and a babysitter, but a mom and a dad.

But hey, I totally get it, guys. Dads are awful at caring for our kids. You should never trust that we’ll take care of them because it just won’t happen. If you don’t believe me, just see the examples below:

1. Dads CAN. NOT. be trusted to hold fragile babies.

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2. There’s no way we can feed a baby. Especially 2 of them at once.

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3. If you think we can dress our kids, you’d be badly mistaken. They wouldn’t look cool or match at all.

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4. We are 100% incapable of encouraging artistic creativity in our little ones

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5. Or teaching them about music appreciation

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6. Or really,  teaching them anything, like working with them on their shapes and colors

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7. We definitely can’t get kids down for nap by ourselves

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8. We DO NOT possess the ability to make our kids happy at all

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9. Seriously. Zero fun can be had with us. For reals.

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10. See what I mean? Dads are basically just useless at parenting.

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One Amazing Year

It’s seriously mind-blowing how much can change in a year. This time last year, I was sitting in the hospital with my wife and we were both feeling a whole lot of different emotions all at once. We were excited, nervous, scared, and exhausted, all simultaneously. Our boys were trying their best to make their appearance, but they were 2 months early. Part of us really wanted to meet them, but we knew that they still needed to “cook” for a little longer so that they’d be healthier. So the wonderful team of doctors at UAB did everything to stave off their arrival for as long as they could. Poor Alicia though, she was basically in labor for a solid (agonizing) 8 days. I have to say that watching her experience that amount of pain for that long of a time was one of the hardest things I have ever endured, and it’s not something I ever want to experience again.

Alicia in the hospital back in 2012

Finally the boys had decided that they were donezo with being in their mommy’s belly, so on December 29th at 7:33 PM Kingston Reed made his way into the world, followed by his brother, Phoenix Cash, at 7:45 PM. I will never forget how my heart stopped when I saw Kingston’s skin was blue and that he was not breathing. The team of nurses rushed him out of the room, and before I could even say a word, it was time for Alicia to start pushing for Phoenix. A couple minutes into pushing the second time, a nurse brings Kingston back in all bundled up for us to see him. My eyes filled up with tears as I finally got to lay eyes on my first-born son — a moment I had been dreaming of for a very long time. He was absolutely beautiful. They took him down to the NICU and my focus returned once again to Alicia’s pushing. A few minutes later, Phoenix made his entrance into the world too, and he was just as beautiful as his brother. The nurses took him away and they apparently had to get him breathing as well, but luckily I hadn’t realized that at the time because he didn’t look as blue as Kingston. A few moments later they bring him back in to us, and Alicia got to hold him. We both sat there staring at him and it felt like it the world just stopped all around us in that moment. Our 2 beautiful baby boys were here. Finally. And they were healthy and breathing on their own. It was the proudest that I have ever felt in my entire life.

Fast forward to a year later and those two tiny & beautiful babies now have turned into some pretty handsome little boys with some crazy/funny (and vastly different) personalities! We’ve watched them go from not being able to hold their own heads up to be able to stand on their own, we’ve cheered them through milestones like the first time they actually played with a toy, rolled over, sat up on their own, started crawling, pulled themselves up to standing, ate their first bite of baby food, and ate their first bite of table foods, said their first words, and now they’re blowing our minds again by starting to take their first steps. This -by far- has been the best time of my life. These two boys are our everything, and every single day starts and ends with them. I just thank God every single day that he blessed us with these two amazing little guys. I am nothing without them.

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We look forward to all of the memories that are still yet to be made. Having said that, I DO NOT want to rush anything — time goes by too fast already, we don’t need anything to speed up!

Below is a project that we have worked on over the first year of the boys’ life. We saw something similar to this on Pinterest a long time ago and we decided to make this for a gift for both of our sets of parents for Christmas, as well as one for ourselves. I’m a picture-taker. I loved doing that before the boys were here, and that passion just grew exponentially after the boys arrived. I wish that we could have had the same lighting/framing with every photo to be “perfect”, but who cares — this is about seeing how much the boys changed from month to month, and it’s still incredible to see. I really think the boys will look back on this project when they’re older and they’ll love it.

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One Year!

We are absolutely blessed beyond measure and thankful for every single second we get to be with these boys. Here’s to another exciting year of awesome new experiences and even more milestones as we sit back and watch in amazement.

Happy 1st Birthday, boys. Mommy and Daddy love you, so very much.

One Amazing Year

“We’ll Set Our Course & Make It Through”

“We’ll Set Our Course & Make It Through”

This day, exactly one year ago, was one of the absolute happiest days of my life.

It started off with a super early and nervous ride to Birmingham with Alicia to have her blood drawn for a pregnancy test. We had completed our 4th IUI at the ART Fertility Clinic two weeks prior and if this test didn’t come back positive we were going to have to move to the more expensive IVF treatment. During this last IUI cycle we hadn’t even thought or worried about the outcome until that morning because we had already accepted that we were going to have to take the next step and start IVF — but that morning the nerves kicked back in, full force.

After our trip to Birmingham, we both headed into work at our separate jobs for the day. That pregnancy test was all that I could think about all day long. I worried about it so much that I gave myself a horrible headache and felt really sick by the afternoon (that was usually when they called with the results). 5pm hit and I still hadn’t heard from Alicia. I just assumed either they hadn’t called yet or she was waiting until we got home to listen to the message in case it was bad news.

We had decided to grab food at Jefferson’s instead of cooking dinner that night. Little did I know that Alicia already knew that she was in fact pregnant and that she was planning on telling me there. Her plans got kind of messed up because we ran into my parents having dinner and ended up joining them, but after dinner we headed home to let Sophie out before we headed back to the store to pick up a few items and that’s when she dropped the news on me:

“Put prenatal vitamins on our list” and I, not even realizing what she just said, grab my phone and start to write it down and she goes “because I’m pregnant!” I was instantly flooded with so many emotions, man. I was excited, overjoyed, I laughed, and even cried…I COULD NOT believe that FINALLY we got good news!! We both had totally given up hope on the IUI and had already just had it in our minds that we HAD to do the IVF…I wasn’t prepared AT ALL for those results!

Fast forward to today and we now have almost 6-month-old beautiful twin boys. They’re everything we could have ever dreamed of and so much more!

Mommy & Daddy

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We owe everything to the incredible doctors and staff at the A.R.T. Fertility Clinic in Birmingham, AL. Without them and what they did for us, our lives wouldn’t be complete like they are today. We will never forget what they did for us and what that experience was like, both the good and bad. It was a rough 2 years, but we every bit of that experience makes us appreciate our sweet boys even more and it strengthened our marriage as well. We learned that we can take on anything as long as we have each other for support.

Every single day that we see and spend time with those two little boys we are thankful that they are here and that this path in our lives was even a possibility. We truly are blessed beyond all measure, and we are forever grateful.


If anyone ever needs or wants to talk to either of us about our experiences because you too are going through or are about to start fertility treatment, please feel free to contact us! We can talk privately and will always keep our conversations absolutely confidential — we know the stresses that it puts on you and we completely understand that for some people (ourselves included) the fewer people in your lives that know what you’re going through, the better. We just want to be there for anyone that might need someone to talk to that understands a little more about what you’re feeling or going through.

The First 3 1/2 Months

Wow, it’s already been 3 1/2 months since our boys were born! It’s seriously amazing (or super alarming, depending on how you look at it) how fast time goes by now that they’re here! Days literally feel like minutes now.

Daddy and the Boys

I have always known that my wife would be a fantastic mother, even back in the earlier years of us dating. She was always so good with any kids she was around, not to mention the enormous amount of love that she had for Camden (nephew) back then (and of course, still to this day). But once our boys were here…man. She exceeded everything I thought she’d be. The boys are super lucky to have such a great mom and I’m blessed to have such a great wife / mother to my boys! Thank you for everything you do, Alicia <3

Mommy and the Boys

The boys have changed so much since my last post! They’re both holding their heads up so much better nowadays, they’re smiling a whole lot more, and even doing a little giggling. We haven’t hit the full-blown laughter stage yet, but they’re getting close. They’ve started cooing too. I love hearing the sounds that they both make! It’s like a preview of their “voices”. So exciting!

Our Sweet Baby Boys

Another big change has been the amount of time they spend asleep at night. We’re now successfully getting a minimum of at least 7 to 8 hours every single night. We’ve even had a 9 1/2 hour night before! I’m super proud of our boys and how well they’re both doing with everything! I’ve got to say that having a wife that actively helped out so much with her nephew when he was growing up plus all of the years she worked at a daycare helped us handle our two boys at once. I honestly don’t think they’d be sleeping for as long if we didn’t have them on a schedule, and they definitely wouldn’t do as well with their feedings if they weren’t on a regular schedule either. When we first got home we were feeding them every 3 to 4 hours and Alicia would go to bed around 8pm and I’d stay up with the boys and feed them at 11pm, then Alicia would get up with them around 3am to feed them while I slept. It was tough, but we did it! Having said that, I like our current schedule way better, heh. They go to bed around 10:30 and sleep until somewhere around 6:30ish am every morning. It’s nice! With multiples, having a schedule is an absolute necessity. Our lives would be utter chaos if we didn’t stick to it!

Our Sweet Baby Boys

Over the last few months they’ve grown from around 4lbs 3oz when we brought them home to close to 11lbs. I think it’s safe to say that our boys are growing like crazy! They’ve both come so far from the NICU and we are so very thankful for that! Phoenix was the one that was a little lazy with his eating back in the NICU and had to have a feeding tube for a little bit, but now he’s like his daddy and he’s decided that food is good, haha. He now weighs about 11oz more than his brother!

Our Sweet Baby Boys

Because they were premies, we’ve had to really be careful with things that we expose them to over the last few months. Their risk of getting RSV and other illnesses was so much higher because their immune systems aren’t as tough due to them being born early like they were. We’ve done our best to keep them away from any/all risks. At times it was difficult, especially with people that didn’t really understand why we had to be so strict, and I’m sure that our strictness probably got some eye rolls along the way and I honestly could care less about that — the important thing is that because of our dedication to it they’ve been able to stay healthy and avoid making a trip back to the hospital! Their safety and well-being trumps everything else and it always will.

Now that it’s getting warmer, we actually ventured out for our first meal out in public as a family a couple weeks ago! We went to our favorite place, Jefferson’s. It was so nice to get out and to be able to actually take the boys with us! I’m not going to lie, we were nervous before we got there — worrying about people coming up to them and touching them, touching their hands (which go straight to their mouths, which is a bad thing when you’re worried about germs!) — but everyone was so respectful and just great. They didn’t get in their faces, touch their hands, or anything like that — they just looked at them and talked to us about them, which was so awesome and definitely relieving!

The Boys' first trip to Jeffersons!

We’ve got some exciting events coming up in the not-so-distant future that we’re really looking forward to. We’ll be attending the 2013 RNICU Reunion at UAB at the end of the month and getting to see/hang out with the amazing people that took such great care of our boys for those 2 1/2 weeks they were there! In addition to that, we’re going to make a trip to the ART Fertility Clinic and let the staff there meet the boys and thank all of them again! Kingston and Phoenix wouldn’t be in our lives today if it weren’t for those incredible people — and for that we are forever grateful!

We’re Officially Halfway There!

We’re Officially Halfway There!

Today was our 20 week Sonogram! I live for these doctor visits where we get to see the boys again, man! So exciting!

Kingston at 20 Weeks 4 Days
Kingston at 20 Weeks 4 Days

Phoenix at 20 Weeks 4 Days
Phoenix at 20 Weeks 4 Days

We had a different lady do the sonogram today than we usually have, and she was very very thorough, which was awesome! I think we seriously were in there looking at the ultrasound for like literally 30 minutes! She measured and checked everything today such as:

  • the length of their femurs to help rule out any kind of dwarfism
  • she checked their abdomens and showed us the valves of their hearts and said that they looked “beautiful”
  • showed us that they had liquid in their stomachs which meant they were swallowing fluid like they’re supposed to
  • checked their heads and said that the formation of their brains looked perfect
  • showed us their kidneys and said they were great
  • both sacks had more than enough fluid, which she said was pretty rare with twin pregnancies, but was a VERY good thing!

All in all she said that everything in this pregnancy was going perfectly. Alicia and I both were very relieved to hear that! We always LOVE these days, but that excitement always brings with it a tiny bit of worry/nervousness in us to make sure that everything is still going well and the boys are doing fine, which I would imagine is pretty normal for any pregnant couple. But either way, seeing their tiny little selves yawning, swallowing the fluid, and interacting with each other — that was a pretty emotion-filled experience. We are so very blessed and soooo very thankful that everything is going the way that it is.

Here is the link to today’s full Sonogram! At 00:48, you can see Kingston yawn, at 00:36 you see Kingston kick Phoenix in the head lol, and around 2:40 you can see Phoenix swallow and then put his hand in his mouth and suck on it. These little boys have already stolen both mine and Alicia’s hearts : ) So amazing to watch them!


Other Recent Happenings

Alicia has started feeling our twins moving around in her belly more and more as the days go by! The first time she felt them was on September 28th, at 3:30 in the afternoon! — Gotta be specific, these are details we want to remember ; ) — I can’t wait until I can feel them moving too! That seriously has to be one of the coolest things ever!

Another first was on Friday October 5th — their first experience hearing music with headphones! What band would be good enough to be the first they’d ever experience? Why Mumford & Sons, of course!

They boys' first experience with hearing Mumford & Sons!

In other news, I finished painting the nursery finally. I’m definitely no pro at painting, but I think it turned out ok. It’s been so long since the last time I painted anything, I had forgotten how much time goes into it!
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After I finished painting, I started working on putting the cribs together (while Sophie supervised)!

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We also finally registered at Target and at Buy Buy Baby (which FYI, accepts coupons from Bed Bath & Beyond!) and got that taken care of! There are still like a bagillion things that we still have to take care of between now and February, but we absolutely /cannot/ wait for our boys to get here!

Each and every single day of this whole experience is an incredible blessing — even more than I ever hoped and dreamed it would be. 5 years ago, I’d be a nervous wreck if I were in our shoes, but I honestly couldn’t be more excited than I am right now. We dreamed, hoped, and prayed for our boys, and we have finally been blessed with them! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t want to wish my life away, but man I wish it were February already <3

The Twins’ 16 Weeks Gender Reveal!

The Twins’ 16 Weeks Gender Reveal!

Soooo yeah, we couldn’t wait until 20 weeks to find out what we were having…so we had a sonogram done today for the gender reveal! Today Alicia is officially 16 weeks, so we were good to go, as long as the twins would cooperate!

Our appointment was at 10 this morning and we were both excited to finally find out what they were! They started out being stubborn (I’m pretty sure they get that from their mom, but you don’t have to tell her I said that) but after a few minutes of moving Alicia’s stomach around the technician finally got them to move.

16 Week Sonogram - Gender Reveal!

Baby A was up first. All along I have said that Baby A was 100% definitely a boy…and I was right! And boy was he rambunctious! The technician said “whew, I think he’s probably going to give you fits once you start feeling them!” lol.

Next came Baby B, and it was much much more calm! It was pretty much just laid back, chilling. She finally got  a good view of its goods, and yep, another boy!! Of course we would have loved to have had a boy and a girl, but we were still super excited when we found out we were having 2 boys! I told Alicia that I’ve been outnumbered by her and Sophie for too long, now it’s time that the men took back over our household, haha!

No one knew that we were going for this sonogram today, but we invited both sets of our parents over for dinner at our house tonight with the purpose of revealing what we found out today. Alicia baked cupcakes and put some blue food coloring in the center of them.

Making Our Gender Reveal Cupcakes

Gender Reveal Cupcakes, Finished

We’ve got pink candles and blue candles for them to make their guesses as to what which twin will be what. My parents are out of town though, but were able to video chat with them so that they could be there with us too! We had each person make their choice as to what they thought each twin would be first. Alicia’s dad was the only person to have guessed tonight that both of the twins were boys, lol.

My Parents via Skype

It has been a fantastic day, man. I always knew that I would be excited about having kids whenever the time finally came, but I didn’t realize JUST HOW excited I would be! This whole process of their growth and actually seeing them all along the way is seriously mind-blowing. Life is amazing, every step of the way.

Annnd for the finale, here’s the ultrasound video from today’s visit! Play Video

10 Weeks 2 Days!

10 Weeks 2 Days!

So today we had our first appointment with our regular doctor! Our appointment was for 8:30 am and it was soooo nice to not have to get up super early and drive an hour to the appointment, lol.

Since this was our first visit here since we’ve been pregnant, we were able to have a sonogram today and we got to hear the twins’ heartbeats for the first time! I have to say, that was one of the most overwhelmingly amazing things I’ve ever experienced! I mean, I’ve known for 6 weeks that there were 2 babies in there, but hearing those tiny (and fast) heartbeats really  made it sink in! I mean, there are 2 tiny humans growing in there! Whoa, haha. That being said, I am still so flipping excited! lol.

Back to today’s visit: Baby A decided to start breakdancing for us this time during the sonogram — I guess he/she had to show out this time since the last time Baby B did, lol. It was good to see them both moving around and hear that both heartbeats were still strong! Baby A’s heartbeat was 178 and Baby B’s was 165, and both were measuring right around 11 weeks (though we’re only at 10 weeks 2 days). For now, our due date is still set for February 26th. As for the overall status of the twins, both babies seem to be perfectly healthy and growing as they should, and we are soooo very thankful (that’s not a strong enough word) for that! Because we have twins we’ll have to have more checkups (and possibly more  sonograms, score!), so we’ve got another appointment scheduled for 2 weeks from now!

In the meantime, today’s photos are posted below:

We’re Expecting!!!!

We’re Expecting!!!!

Whew, man does it feel good to be able to finally tell people!!

First off, I want to start by apologizing for any “odd” behavior from myself or Alicia over the past couple of years — Maybe you invited us to do something but we couldn’t because of an “undisclosed reason”, we seemed distant / short with you / or just awkward, or maybe you’ve said something to the effect of us needing some kids of our own and we just straight up didn’t reply — I promise we weren’t trying to be mean or anything, but we’ve had an ordeal with trying to get to this point in our lives, and I’m not lying when I say that it is by far one of the hardest things we’ve ever experienced and endured.

Alicia and I have been trying to have a baby for the last 2 full years. We started out with the “if it happens, it happens” approach, but over time we started realizing something was up. We tried for a year and then consulted with her doctor and tried Clomid for about 3 months but still didn’t get pregnant. We were then sent to the A.R.T. Fertility Clinic in Birmingham, AL where we went through treatments, surgery, procedures, what felt like thousands of blood tests & billions of trips back and forth to Birmingham, and much much more for 9 full months. We had 4 artificial inseminations (IUI) and were on the brink of having to take out a loan to pay for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) before we got the AMAZING news that we were finally pregnant! I swear to God, I’ve never been more excited in my entire life than I am right now! We’ve wanted this SO BADLY for SO LONG, and it’s finally happening!

Alicia and I want to thank everyone at the A.R.T. Fertility clinic in Birmingham from the bottom of our hearts. This has been one of the most physically, emotionally, and financially draining experience that we’ve ever had to endure, but we seriously have never felt more cared about by any medical establishment than we did there. They made us feel like family, and I’m not exaggerating. If we called with a question, someone was calling us back later that same day with an answer. They sincerely cared about how we were doing, the /entire/ staff was ALWAYS friendly, and Dr. Long was absolutely determined that he was going to get us to this point! We never felt like just a “number” there. We want to specifically thank by name Dr. Cecil Long, Neicey Dunlap (Nurse Practitioner), Casey Graham (Nurse Practitioner), Tammy (Ultrasound Tech), Eva Addison (Lab Tech), Andy Reed (Receptionist), and every other single person at the A.R.T Clinic that help people like us on a daily basis — this group of people are absolutely amazing, and while I’m ELATED that we’re finally pregnant (!!!), I’m still going to miss all of them like crazy.

I am so incredibly thankful that our time has finally come. It’s been a long (and a lot of times, painful) road, but I know that there’s a reason we were supposed to travel down this particular path. It has definitely made our marriage stronger, opened our eyes to a lot of things in our lives, reminded us to be thankful, taught us patience, among a plethora of other things.

Before all of this, we obviously never thought that we might run into problems trying to have children. When we learned that we needed a little help to get to this point we felt like we were among very few people that have to go this route. After starting down this path though, we found out that fertility problems are more common than we had originally thought. We wrote all of this out to let other couples like us know that you’re definitely not alone! It’s not an easy situation, by any means, but the best advice we can give you is to trust in God, love each other & be there (wholeheartedly) for each other and you will make it through it <3

FYI, This is the “lite” version of our story — For the full version, click the “+” icons beside each heading below to expand the story for each time period. I warn you, it’s very long — but this has been a very very long process. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, just skim for the pictures of things like our first ultrasound photos and etc. Please feel free to post comments at the bottom of this post if you want!

In June 2010 Alicia and I decided that we were ready to start expanding our family. She stopped taking her birth control and we just decided at that point that if it happened it happened. As the months started to go by, our mindsets started changing from “if it happens” to “ok yeah, we’re definitely ready for a baby”.

Around December of 2010 we started using ovulation tests and continued that for a few months to no avail. Alicia had her yearly doctor appointment in May 2011 and talked about our situation with her doctor. The doctor said that normally they don’t start checking into why you’re not able to get pregnant until after a full year of trying, but we were right there at a full year already so she said that we could move forward. Before we started anything, she wanted me to get checked out first. After some tests, we found out that I was supposedly “fine”, so in the beginning of July she did blood work on Alicia and found that she wasn’t ovulating well. She decided to put Alicia on 50mg of Chlomid starting with her next cycle in August of 2011. During that cycle with the Chlomid they found that she did ovulate, but not “well”, so we did the same thing all over again for her September cycle. Same exact results once again.

For the October cycle, the doctor upped the dosage to 150mg of Chlomid and Alicia didn’t ovulate at all. At that point the doctor said that she couldn’t do anything else for us herself, and referred us to the A.R.T. Fertility clinic in Birmingham at the Brookwood Medical Center. 3 days after our referral, we were sitting in the Doctor’s Office at A.R.T., starting the next chapter in our story.

Once we were referred, Alicia and I were terrified. We were scared of the unknown, and we felt completely alone in this. We knew that our families and friends would have been there for us to give us support, but we wanted to be able to give them that happy surprise of us announcing that we were pregnant — not to mention this was hard enough on us already that we didn’t want the added pressure of “are you pregnant yet?!” everywhere we turned. Soooo we decided to continue down this path on our own, though we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

The ART Fertility Clinic in Birmingham, AL

I think that first trip to the A.R.T. clinic was THE LONGEST ride to Birmingham we’ve ever experienced. We both were nervous as everything, so much that we were both feeling sick to our stomachs because of our nerves. We rode in silence majority of the way in anticipation of what we were going to find out. Once we arrived, they did blood work and an ultrasound and without a doubt determined that Alicia did not ovulate in October and that she had a large cyst on her right ovary (which they said is normal, but probably was the reason she didn’t ovulate that cycle). The nurse (Neicey Dunlap) knew we were nervous because she said that Alicia’s heart was beating SO fast when she was getting her vitals, lol. After the ultrasound, we met with our amazing doctor (Doctor Cecil Long)  for the first time and we started a plan. He went over the results of the ultrasound with us and said that her uterine lining looked great, so when we do get pregnant she should have no problems with carrying the child. To get rid of the cyst, he put her on birth control for the month of November to basically “reset” everything.

The Tuesday of Thanksgiving week we had to go for a dye test procedure to make sure that her fallopian tubes weren’t blocked. The procedure was a little painful but we got the fantastic news that the dye flowed straight through with no problems, so neither tube had any blockage!

Once she started her cycle in December we had to go to Birmingham for blood work and another ultrasound (this happens pretty much every single time we go to the doctor, so I’ll refer to it as B&U from here on out). We found out that the cyst was gone and we were ready to move forward with our first plan: Follistim injections (75mg) for 6 nights, at the same time every night. On the 7th day, we made a trip to Birmingham for B&U to see if any follicles were mature. The ultrasound showed that they were not quite ready, so we had to continue Follistim injections for 2 more nights. After that, we came back again for another B&U and found out that she had one (1) mature follicle. Since she had one that was ready to go, we were to do an HCG shot that night at 8PM on the dot to trigger her ovulation. 2 days later we had our first IUI (artificial insemination), which ended up being on December 23rd. (Side note: that week we drove to Birmingham 3 times, Monday/Wednesday/Friday).

Our First Experience with the hCG Shot

Our First IUI

After the IUI, we were to wait 2 weeks and then return for a pregnancy test (blood test). That 2 weeks was the most excruciating time period of our lives I think. We tried our best to not think about it, but everywhere we turned there was something there to remind us about babies and pregnancy: tv commercials, movies, Facebook, everything! We went back for that blood test on January 4th and had to go back to work all day long and wait for them to call with the results. Alicia got a call that afternoon and found out that the pregnancy test was negative. Hearing that was seriously brutal and Alicia took it pretty hard. Our next instructions were to come back after her next cycle started a few days later and start this whole process over again.

On January 10th we returned for B&U. We did Follistim (75mg) injection from the 10th-15th, returned to the doctor on the 16th and had 1 follicle that was mature and 1 that was almost mature. So on the 16th we did the HCG shot to jumpstart ovulation and returned for our 2nd IUI on January 18th. Started the 2nd (excruciating) 2 week wait…

On January 30th, to save us from having to drive to Birmingham, Alicia had blood drawn in Gadsden at The Lab and we weren’t aware that we wouldn’t find out the results that day, so we were pretty pissed that we didn’t get a phone call by that night after stressing about it all day long…sooo Alicia left a voicemail later that night asking what was up and she got a callback the next morning letting us know that if we got blood work drawn at a different lab, it took an extra day to get results. Lesson learned on that one. So we began a 2nd agonizing day of waiting on those results. Around 3:30 Alicia got the bad news once again and ended up leaving work early because she was so upset.

On February 1st we had an appointment with Dr. Long to discuss what direction we wanted to go in next. He gave us 3 options: 1) To continue on with the same plan and have another IUI, 2) Go straight to IVF (in vitro fertilization), or 3) have surgery to see what everything looks like on the inside and check for any problems such as endometriosis (which he thought Alicia had a 75% chance of having due to the cyst). So we decided together that the most logical plan was to have the surgery and find out what all was going on first. So to get ready for that surgery, she was put on birth control once again (for a full month and a half, to keep her from starting a new cycle before the surgery).

Alicia’s surgery was scheduled for March 9th, and she had Hysteroscopy & Laparoscopy procedures done. Again for surgery day, it was just me and Alicia…alone. She was very nervous — I was very nervous. We struggled with the decision to not include our parents again, and that was really hard not having them for support…but again, we felt like it was the best choice for us at the time, even though it was really really really hard on us to do this alone. It was just super important to both of us that they be able to be surprised when we finally got pregnant.

We had to BE at the hospital at 6am, so we left our house at 4:30 am that day. We got her admitted and I sat in the waiting room for about an hour before they called me back to see her before she went into surgery. I got to spend a little bit of time with her in the room before they took her back, and it was /really/ hard to watch them wheel her out and me not be able to go too. I got to stay in that holding room and wait on her to come back from surgery though. I tried to “work” on some web projects while I was back there waiting,  but I basically just stared at my computer screen with my mind racing with thoughts about what her results would show. The whole procedure took a couple of hours (though it actually felt like forever). Doctor Long came in and told me that the surgery went fantastic. He told me that she did have a touch of Endometriosis but that he took care of it with the laser. She also had a slight septum in the uterine cavity that he fixed too. He told me again that both tubes were completely clear and that he thought we were “in great shape now”. A little bit later, Alicia was brought back into the room.

Alicia's Surgery Day

Alicia's Surgery Day

These are her hot leg circulation things. Sexy, right? I know!

Alicia's Surgery Day

We had to wait a bit for her to be released, but when we were we started the long ride home where every bump hurt her : ( She had a pretty speedy recovery though! The day of surgery and the day after were the worst, with the pain of the gas from surgery making her hurt extremely bad in the tops of her shoulders if she sat up at all. By Sunday we went to the track and walked a mile because she was going crazy being stuck in bed, and by Monday we biked 2 miles!

Her stitches were the kind that were supposed to dissolve on their own, but after a week or so they were starting to look like they were getting infected. The doctors office wanted us to come in to have them checked out, and we found out that for whatever reason, Alicia’s apparently allergic to those stitches and that’s why they weren’t healing. So. We had to try to get them out. After that, they healed up fine.

During first part of April, Alicia started a new cycle, which also started us back on our plan for another IUI. B&U, and in the ultrasound they saw another cyst (this time on the left ovary). Nonetheless, because it was a relatively small cyst we were told to continue on with the plan of Follistim 75mg and now we tacked on a new medicine, Menopur 75mg too. But later that afternoon, Alicia got a phone call telling her that her estrogen levels were too high: they were at 315 and needed to be less than 100 at the beginning of a cycle & they said that it was because of the cyst. We were told to NOT continue on with the plan for this month and that if we DID continue, we would not have good results. So that cycle was lost.

Randomly at the end of April she started a new cycle (yep, that is 2 in one month). Soooo. Back to the doctor + B&U, found out that the cyst was gone! We started the Follistim 75mg + Menopur 75mg Injections, and did them for 6 days and returned for B&U on May 3rd. The ultrasound showed that none of the follicles were mature, so we were to return home and do 2 more nights of injections. The blood work also showed that her estrogen level was at 833.5, which was fine for that point in the cycle, and that it was probably that high because of the number of follicles she had. We returned on May 5th for another B&U. The ultrasound on May 5th showed 2 mature follicles and 2 that were almost mature, so by the time Monday the 7th rolls around (IUI #3 Day), there is a chance that she could have 4 mature follicles. The woman doing the ultrasound made the comment of “Soo…have you been talked to about the possibility of multiples…?” since we had so many possible mature follicles this time…yeah. We about had a heart attack because of how real that just got, even though yes we were aware of that possibility.

To get you on the same page with us at that moment:

a) if we have 4 mature follicles that each release an egg, that is potentially 4 eggs being released at once

b) those 4 eggs have the possibility of all being implanted, meaning 4 children

c) even further, those eggs could each (though super duper unlikely) split into 2 (or more), bringing the grand total to a possible 8(+).

Yes. Josh & Alicia plus 8(+)…heh, just kidding…but seriously. Alicia says “please no octo-mom!” lol. It was a pretty scary moment to say the least.

Later that afternoon we got a phone call telling us that “everything looks really good!” — her estrogen level was 1,705 and her progesterone level was 1.4. We were told to continue on with the plan of giving the HCG shot at 8 pm that night and be back Monday morning for our 3rd IUI.

The IUI came and went that Monday (May 7th) and we just tried to stay really busy those 2 weeks after that we had to wait so that we wouldn’t be thinking / worrying / wondering about anything. That really helped too, the time seemed to fly by.

Sidenote– We were told going into this IUI that we needed to go ahead and schedule an appointment to meet with the doctor for the end of the month to talk about our other options IF the IUI was unsuccessful…and if it WAS successful, we could just cancel our appointment with the doctor. Anyway, moving along.

The dreaded day finally came though, and that trip to Birmingham to have a beta (blood) pregnancy test was yet another long and nervous hour-long drive followed by an excruciating wait until later that afternoon for the results. We hoped that the 3rd time was a charm, but we got the bad news that once again we were not pregnant. No matter how many times we hear that, it never get’s /any/ easier.

Since our IUI was unsuccessful and we hadn’t reached the date of our doctor visit yet and needed to make a decision as to what we wanted to do for this month (since obviously it’s a time sensitive issue), we just decided to start the whole process again for another IUI on May 25th and then meet with Doctor Long on May 29th to talk with him about if /this/ IUI was unsuccessful.

So Alicia started the shots again on May 25th. The same combo of 2 injections daily of Follistim and Menopur, which by the way was getting more and more painful for her each cycle as the Menopur really really burns when it’s injected.

Tuesday May 29th rolls around, and we’re nervous about this appointment with Dr. Long because we know what he’s going to tell us: we need to move up to IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), which is /really/ expensive. Yep, we were right. He explains to us about how the process works, and that he thinks that we’d be great candidates for it since the reason for our infertility is completely unknown. This process would just eliminate as many variables as we possibly can. He also suggests that since my count isn’t the best, we should go for the package of up to 3 “fresh” cycles of IVF. Basically what this would do is we’d get 3 cycles where they could extract any eggs, fertilize one or two (our choice), and any that were left over from those cycles we could freeze and use those frozen ones up to 3 more times. The good thing about this is: if it doesn’t work, you get more than half of your money back. The bad news is: if it works on the first try, you get zero money back (and you’d be spending about double what you’d pay for a single IVF cycle).

Either way, at this point it really feels like this is our only option, so we say sure let’s do this…now, time to talk about the cost. We head over to the financial office to speak with someone, and it’s just myself and Alicia in the room talking for a few minutes as we waited for them to come in. We’re super nervous at this point because we know and understand that it’s going to be expensive, but we both think that this really might be the only option we have to finally be able to have a child together.

The lady comes in and starts going over everything. She starts with “So the whole process Dr. Long recommended for you guys is Seventeen-five ($17,500)” — at this point, I swallow /really/ hard and my stomach hits the ground — she continues, “if you go through all 6 cycles (3 fresh, 3 frozen) without becoming pregnant, you’ll receive a refund of $10,500. If you purchase only one (1) IVF cycle, the price is $7,500.” I felt numb. I could tell that Alicia was really trying to hold it together in front of this woman. We finish talking with her, and get up to leave to pay for our visit that day and while we’re standing there at the window I’m just in this daze where I hear absolutely nothing but my own breath and heartbeat. We start walking out of the office, and Alicia’s really really getting upset but trying to hold it back until we get away from all of these people in the hospital. We get to the car and she loses it and I start crying too. I tell her don’t worry about it, that it’s just money, we’ll make it work, we both know it’s completely worth it and that one of these days it will finally be our time. That was of the worst days ever, and we were both barely holding ourselves together anymore those days.

Two days later (May 31st) we’re scheduled to come in for an ultrasound and see if any follicles are mature. At this point it’s really hard to be super excited because we just know that our odds aren’t really great that this is going to work this time, but nonetheless they do an ultrasound and see that she had 2 mature follicles and one that’s almost mature (and should be by Saturday, our 4th IUI). So we head home and I give Alicia the hCG trigger shot that night to get the ball rolling for Saturday, June 2nd.

Saturday morning comes around and we leave the house at like 6 am because my appointment is at 7:30 and Alicia’s is at 9:00 am. Got there on time for my appointment and then we headed down to the hospital cafeteria to have some breakfast while we wait. Alicia’s supposed to have a full bladder when they do the procedure, so she’s drinking her tasty beverages and thinking nothing of it. It’s like 8:30, heh. We get called back to a room at 9 and are informed that Dr. Long is the one that’s going to be doing the procedure today, but that he’s also running a little late and should be there by 9:30. Alicia’s about to die at this point because she already has to pee like whoa, lol. She cut on music (Atreyu, to be specific, heh) to get her mind off of it while we waited and she ended up falling asleep. Dr. Long finally got there at almost 10 and Alicia basically told him to hurry up because she was about to bust, haha.

The 2 week wait after this IUI was really weird. Neither of us really even thought anything about it the whole time just because we both had pretty much just come to terms with the fact that we were going to have to take out a loan for the IVF (we even went to a few banks to check into it and found the direction we wanted to go in during that 2 weeks). June 14th was the day though…the dreaded blood pregnancy test day. No matter how “not on our minds” all of this was during the 2 week wait, it allllll comes to a head on pregnancy test day. We were both nervous on our way to (and from) the doctor’s office that day, and nervous throughout the whole day while waiting for the results! They usually call around 2:45 in the afternoon, but I hadn’t heard from Alicia by the time I got off at 5, so I just assumed either they hadn’t called yet or she just has been waiting to listen to the message until we got home so that if it was bad she wouldn’t get upset at work. Well, I mentioned maybe picking something up for supper because I was exhausted, so she chimed in and said that Jefferson’s sounded fantastic. So that’s where we went. We sat outside and waited for a while for someone to come out and take our order, but no one came, so I got up and walked inside to grab a waitress when I saw my parents. They invited us to come have dinner with them, so we did, though Alicia was kind of hesitant at first (I figured she just didn’t want to be around them if the Doctor’s office happened to call with the results). After dinner we were going to swing by the store and grab a few items we needed, but first we needed to run home for a few. I had just let Sophie outside and was standing in the kitchen when Alicia comes down the hallway and says “Put prenatal vitamins on our list” and I, not even realizing what she just said, grab my phone and start to write it down and she goes “because I’m pregnant!”

We're Pregnant!!!!

Greatest moment of my life. Ever. (so far!)

I was instantly flooded with so many emotions, man. I was excited, overjoyed, laughing, and even cried…I COULD NOT believe that FINALLY we got good news!! We both had totally given up hope on the IUI and had already just had it in our minds that we HAD to do the IVF…I wasn’t prepared AT ALL for those results! Alicia then told me about how she said Jefferson’s because she wanted to tell me at dinner but we ran into my parents (and that’s the reason she was hesitant at first, but went with it and looked for another opportunity to tell me, heh).

She told me about the message from the doctor saying they considered anything over 25 on the hCG levels to be a positive…her’s was 153…so she was /definitely/ pregnant heh. So we scheduled another appointment for a week later (June 21) to have more blood work to test her hCG levels, and those tests said her levels were over 2000, so we can schedule an ultrasound for the next week!

On June 25th we had an appointment for our first ultrasound since we found out that we were actually pregnant! We were taken back to our exam room and were waiting on the ultrasound tech to come in and Neicey (one of the Nurse Practitioners) stuck her head in and told us that she wanted to give us her hypothesis about something before we had the ultrasound. That hypothesis was: twins! She thought that because Alicia’s hCG levels were so high already, we were going to see twins on our ultrasound, heh. The funny thing was, we had already been thinking it was going to be twins! We even had caught ourselves many times saying “they” when we would have conversations about the little being(s) inside of her stomach, lol.

Our First Ultrasound!

Above Photo: This was us the day of the 1st Ultrasound

The technician came into the room and started the ultrasound and sure enough, we saw two little black circles on the screen! We were only at week 5 then, but we would find out more about whether there truly were just two little ones inside on week 7. We were so so so very excited, and even more so that they were twins! That was THE BEST Monday ever, lol.

Our First Ultrasound! - Twins!!

We were scheduled for another ultrasound the next Monday (July 2nd),  and we were supposed to be meeting with our doctor to talk about “multiples” but he was on vacation that week for the 4th so that meeting was postponed until the following week. We also found out today that we’ll be continuing our visits to the ART Fertility clinic through at least week 10, possibly week 11, before we start seeing our own doctor (which made us super happy)! We’re going to be so sad when we have to leave this amazing group of people :/ I swear, they honestly feel like family to us now.

Today, July 24th, was our last visit to the A.R.T. Fertility clinic. Suuuch a bittersweet day. We had another ultrasound today and was able to see both heartbeats and got to see both babies looking a whole lot more like babies, heh. They were both a whole lot more active than they were last week too, especially Baby B! After the ultrasound, we met with Dr. Long and he told us that everything was still looking great and that now we would be released and start going to our regular doctor. We got to say goodbye to him and majority of the staff that we saw regularly, and even though we’re so incredibly happy that everything’s going really well and we’re being released, it was still a very sad day for us too. These people are amazing, and they have played such a huge role in our lives — we honestly can’t thank them enough for everything that they’ve done for us. <3


So there you go! There’s our story. It’s been a pretty long and difficult road, but we couldn’t be happier right now. We just can’t wait until we get to hold our 2 bundles of joy! Below are a couple ultrasound photos from Weeks 8 and 9!

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Random Thoughts and an Urge to Blog at 11:45PM

It truly amazes me how things can change -so much- in such a short amount of time. None of us know how long we have on this earth, but instead of appreciating the wonderful things that we have in this life, such as our families and friends, we take it all for granted. One of these days our parents aren’t going to be here anymore. Our grandparents are going to pass away. Significant others will be snatched away from us. Friendships will dissolve. Hearts will break. Tears will be shed. We all know all these things are a fate that none of us will ever truly escape, but why do we try to act like it’s something that will never happen to us, and only realize after it’s too late that we should have done things differently? It baffles me to think that anyone would go out of their way and try to deliberately push their family away instead of trying to work things out, or not communicate their true feelings to the people that they love. Why is it so hard for people to just talk and let others know how they honestly feel? Why leave anything unsaid? I don’t want to die, but I know that one day that is going to happen. When I die, I want my family, friends, and loved ones to -know- without a doubt that I loved each and every one of them with every ounce of my being for every second that I was alive. I want them all to know that I have alway appreciated everything any of them have ever done for me, and I hope and pray that when I leave this earth I have done everything in my power to make them all as proud as I possibly could. We all make mistakes in our lives, but we can all choose to turn things around at anytime too. That’s the beauty of free will — there is always a choice.