Saturday, April 26, 2014

National Infertility Awareness Week

Today is the last day of National Infertility Awareness Week. One in eight couples suffer from infertility. We are one of those couples. I have been very open about our struggles to conceive. It took us 5 years, multiple procedures, lots of prayers, and tears before IVF helped us conceive Harrison and Brooke. We were extremely fortunate the first time around that our insurance coverage was based with Rob's employer's corporate office in Illinois. Illinois is one of only 15 states that have some type of infertility mandate. 15 out of 50 states. Not very good odds. While the procedure still cost us a few thousand dollars, it was nothing compared to what the total cost is without insurance.

After our canceled FET cycle, we are looking at doing a fresh cycle again. A fresh IVF cycle is a very involved and often painful procedure. Multiple injections per day for weeks or even months on end. Swollen ovaries and possible OHSS. Surgery to retrieve the mature eggs. While all of that seems scary, for most couples the scariest part of IVF, and other less invasive procedures as well, is the cost. Because the majority of insurance plans won't pay a single penny. Many carriers won't even help cover the cost of diagnosis. We are looking at $11,600 plus another $3,000-$4,000 for meds, all out of pocket. (Some clinics cycles cost over $20,000 once you factor in ICSI, PGD, and assisted hatching) Indiana is not a state with a mandate, so our insurance doesn't cover any costs incurred during a cycle. Why do so many insures refuse to cover costs associated with treatment and diagnosis of infertility?

After going through a barrage of testing during our first couple years trying to conceive, we were given a less than 1% chance of conceiving naturally. That means it's almost impossible for us to get pregnant without help. I know that God works miracles, and I continue to pray for one every day. I believe that God gave us the technology to help those who struggle to conceive get pregnant, and I am thankful for that beyond words. The realist in me knows where are issues conceiving are, and I know that we won't get pregnant on our own. We will try everything possible to make it happen though. Supplements, lifestyle changes, acupuncture.

Secondary infertility sucks as much as primary infertility. Being open about our journey has brought forward so many supportive people. People who have experience infertility first hand or those who have seen loved ones battle the disease. Having the support of loved ones is helpful and comforting beyond words. I know infertility can take you to a dark place. Infertility is not who I am, but it is part of who I am. Acknowledging that has made the entire experience less painful.

Don't let infertility be a taboo topic. Please talk about it. Please be supportive for those you know that are struggling. Write to your senators and representatives. Support legislation to bring a mandate to your state. Participate in the Walk of Hope. There are so many ways you can help. Visit Resolve's website to learn more about infertility and to find out how you can help support the infertility movement. The more people who speak up about infertility, the more likely it will be that states and insures recognize infertility for what it is, a disease that requires the same care and coverage as any other disease.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Second Birthday Party Planning

Harrison and Brooke are going to be two in less than a month. I am finally in full out planning mode for their party. We decided on a Mickey party. Yes it's overdone, but they love Mickey. Brooke says all the characters by name whenever the intro for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse starts. They both get up and dance and point to the TV screaming Mickey. Planning for their party means I have been looking back through pictures of the past two years. It's crazy to see how they went from this...

 to this...

to this...

to this...

and now we're here. Just a couple weeks shy of 2.

Every month of life with these two has been amazing. While I often miss the sweet days of newborn snuggles, I love where we are now. Their personalities, independence, and knowledge amaze me on a daily basis. Before I was pregnant, I always joked that I'd happily birth a two year old. While I'm glad that didn't happen from a sheer size standpoint, I am super excited that we're almost at two. I wouldn't trade the first two years for anything, but this is such a fun age and I'm glad we're here. They say and learn new things every day. I love life with these two. It's so amazing to experience life with them and see it from their point of view, tantrums and all. Forget the "Terrible Twos," I say the "Terrific Twos." I'm sure I'll be regretting that, times two, soon enough. 

To celebrate my munchkins turning two, this is what I have in mind. Birthday brunch, Mickey and Minnie Style.

We already have invitations ordered, printed and as soon as the envelopes get here they'll go out in the mail. They're birthday, and party will be here before we know it. I still have a hard time believe they were born almost two years ago.

The amazing Meredith and Amber from Twin Talk Blog are hosting a link up today in honor of National Multiple Birth Awareness Month. If you love all things twin, stop by the link up to see what other twin bloggers are sharing today. Also, TGIF! Happy Friday!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Bone Hunt

Every year my business puts on a fundraiser for our local animal shelter. This year was our Sixth Annul Easter Bone Hunt, and it's exactly what it sounds like, an Easter egg hunt for dogs. I, along with a lot of great helpers and volunteers, spend the first first few months of the year gathering donations, lining up vendors, baking dog treats, filling thousands of Easter eggs, and making sure we are ready to put on an event for hundreds of dogs. The event consists of the bone hunt, dog games, paw print painting, pictures with the Easter bunny, a raffle, and a chance to meet local vendors. This year's event was a great success. We had 214 dogs in attendance and raised just shy of $4000. All money donated goes to Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control's adoption and volunteer programs.

The whole event last a couple hours, but the bone hunt itself is over in the blink of an eye. Within about 5 minutes, owners and their dogs collect over 8000 eggs filled with treats. We always have great feedback about the event, and usually good news coverage too. We are already looking at dates for next year's event. There's a lot of work that goes into making this happen year after year, but seeing how happy the dogs and owners are to attend, and knowing that we are helping more dogs find their forever homes makes it all worth while.

I don't like to preach about things on my blog, but I am going to give my strong opinion on this. Please do not buy a dog from a pet store. Almost all dogs in pet stores come from puppy mills. Also don't buy puppies listed in the paper, on craigslist, or a sign on the side of the road. Do your research before considering adding any pet to your family. If you still want to get a puppy from a breeder, find a responsible one who does proper health screenings, temperament testing, and conformation. Above all, please do not breed your dog unless you are doing it for the betterment of the breed. Dog breeding should not be a way for you to make money, and your dog definitely doesn't have any need or desire to be bred "just once." Spay or neuter your pets!!! That's part of the reason there are too many dogs in shelters.

When looking for a dog, visit your local shelter. Search Petfinder. Go to adoption events. There are so many great dogs in need of a home. We adopted Jules from a local rescue, and she has been a great dog from day one. There are amazing dogs out there just waiting to go to their forever home. All you need to do is be patient, take the time and look. The right dog will find you. Now I will step off my soap box.

A huge thank you to everyone who donated, volunteered, contributed, or attended this year's event. Thank you so much for helping to make it a great success!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

I hope you all are ready for a ridiculous amount of pictures, We had a fun, relaxing day. It was perfect. Church with my parents in the morning. An egg hunt at home after mass. Afternoon naps for the entire family. And finally dinner with family.

Somewhere between the egg hunt and nap time, too much chocolate was consumed. Harry had a massive meltdown, they both refused to eat anything for lunch, but we still managed to make it to nap time all in one piece. After naps we headed to my parents house for dinner, drinks and a few more Easter goodies. H and B love their new books. 

It was a great low key day which was perfect after the craziness of Saturday. I'll be sharing more about that tomorrow. I hope all of you had a great Easter as well.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter Baskets

Easter's just a few days away, and our books finally got delivered from Amazon. I try to keep things pretty much identical in their Easter baskets to avoid any jealousy issues. Brooke does have an extra item in her basket, but only because I found Hello Kitty hair clips on clearance at Target.

Their goodies are mostly from the Target Easter and One Spot sections. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a play pack, stuffed Mickey/Minnie. Their Plastic tumblers were picked up on a recent shopping trip at Meijer. I'm planning to fill the eggs in their basket with Meijer brand organic ducks, like goldfish, and various Annie's organic snacks. They will be getting some candy in the eggs they hunt.

Baskets from SewYouBoutique

One of my favorite books growing up was The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. If memory serves me right, it still might be a little long for H and B, but they are sitting for longer and longer books each day. B is getting it in her basket. We purchased a Pete the Cat book for a friend for Christmas, and it was so cute. We may have read it a couple times before wrapping it. I thought Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure would be perfect for Harry's basket.

We've been playing with their eggs in tub for the last few nights. Tonight I decided to use glow sticks so we could have glow in the dark eggs. It was super cute, but they were more interested in taking the bracelet glow sticks out of the eggs so they could wear them. At least they let me get a picture before they took them all apart.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

23 Months

Another month down, and another month closer to two. The next update won't be a month update, it will be a year update, crazy.

Spring finally arrived this month so we've been spending crazy amounts of time outside. Last year I picked up a slide, climber and picnic table at a garage sale. They've all been sitting on our back porch, along with the water table, waiting to be used. The first day it hit 50* outside we were all over the back porch. The kids were climbing, sliding, and running everywhere. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, oversize play balls, it has been toddler heaven in our back yard. Thanks to a fenced back yard, they can even play outside while I get dinner ready or switch over the laundry.

Someone was not happy about pictures.

I have to laugh at myself when I think about how worried I was that they were barely talking at 18 months. As much as I know every child develops differently, it's hard not to worry when you see that other kids their age are speaking two word sentences and they're barely saying anything. Seeing how much their speech has improved over the last couple months puts my mind at ease. B knows that H's name is Harrison and calls him "Harris," all the time. If you ask her her name, she responds with "my name." It's probably my favorite new speech development this month.

They are both getting better with letters and numbers. B knows most of her letters and can tell you them in order through J if you ask her what letter comes next. Both of their number recognition has increased to around 10. They are also both starting to sing along with songs. Brooke repeats the last word of every line in a song as you sing. Harry doesn't sing as much, but you better believe he's singing along if you sing one of his favorite songs. "Wheels on the Bus," "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat," "Ants Marching."

We aren't potty training yet, but we are encouraging them to use the toilet any time their diapers are off. Brooke's favorite sentence right now is "I pook." She says "I pook" at least 429 times a day which means her diaper comes off just as many times, and of course she never actually goes on the potty. They have both successfully went on the potty a couple times, but it's become obvious they are no where near ready. Right now it's just a fun game to them.

In an effort to get Brooke to eat more, we have implemented a new dinner rule. Everyone has to stay at the dinner table until we're all done. Harrison eats a lot and takes a while to eat, so this means we are all usually at the table for a good 30 minutes. Little miss picky will push her plate away from her and then gradually start eating off her plate while we sit at the table waiting on Harrison to finish. We only do this at dinner time and are pretty lax about breakfast and lunch. In the morning they have smoothies and cereal or toast while running around the house or watching TV. We usually sit down for lunch, but it's usually a much quicker meal.

Another struggle we've been facing this month comes in the sleep department. Brooke started climbing out of her crib again. She also taught Harrison how to climb out of his crib. I was greeted by B at the door to their room on more than one occasion. There was one afternoon where I went into their room 6 times to tell them to get back into their cribs. We invested in a Tot Clock, and it seems to be helping. The last few days they have gone down for naps without playing in their crib for 45 minutes first. They're also staying in bed until 8 every morning again. Brooke's wake time seemed to keep moving forward in 10 minute increments. We are trying to hold off on the conversion to toddler beds as long as possible. We also want to keep them in the same room, so we're trying everything possible to keep them in their cribs. I think the next step will be strapping them down.

Harry always wants hugs and asks for them frequently. Most of the time when he gets a hug, he also gets a few pats, a rub, or a tickle on his back. Now when I give him a hug, he pats me on the back. I just about die every time he does it. He is the sweetest little boy.

I am so looking forward to the last month before they turn two. We have lots of fun planned. The zoo opens in just over a week, Easter is almost here, 2 year pictures, and maybe even a trip to the lake. I haven't started planning their birthday party yet, so I better get on that.

Happy 23 months, Harrison and Brooke!