When I Think About October…

I’m a Florida gal. Florida doesn’t do seasons. So, when I think about October, I don’t think about the leaves changing colors and falling slowly from the trees. I don’t think about going out and buying some new sweaters because I might need it for that nice cool breeze. (We are lucky to see 85 degrees here in October!) I don’t think about finding the perfect pumpkin patch or going to an apple orchard.

When I think about October,

I think about my childhood. I can still smell my mom’s fall candles burning in the living room. I can still see my dad sitting at the kitchen table carving our pumpkin into the PERFECT Jack-O’-Lantern. (When I say perfect, I literally mean perfect. He can carve the heck out of a pumpkin!) I can hear the laughter of my brothers and our friends as we ran through the neighborhood on Halloween night.

When I think about October,

I think about the creepy witch doll my mom would lay on my bed. I think about my little brother dressing in all black, hiding around the house waiting for the perfect moment to pop out and scare the crap out of us! I think about begging my mom to bake those fun sugar cookies with the ghosts on them that you buy from the grocery store. I think about my mom bugging my dad for weeks to get the Halloween decorations down from the attic so she could transform our house and get us in the spirit.

                                 

When I think about October,

I think about how lucky I am to have been raised by amazing parents, alongside two loving brothers, who made my Octobers more than just breezy weather and sweaters.

           

Now, Octobers as adults aren’t quite as exciting as when you are kids.

However, when I think about October,

I think about getting down on one knee and asking the love of my life to marry me! I think about how her face lights up when she hears the words “pumpkin spice”. I think about spending way too much money at bath and body works so our house can smell like there is a pumpkin pie in the oven. I think about the Halloween traditions we have started together like making spider-web guacamole and “mummy dogs” while we anxiously await the trick or treaters.

When I think about October,

I think about how I hope my future children will feel the same magic I have always felt when October rolls around. I think about how next year we will be making new memories with our baby girl Ryann. I think about how cute she will look in her costume going trick or treating for the first time! Oh, and how my wife and I will get to eat all of her Halloween candy!

Again, October isn’t quite as exciting as when I was a kid, and that’s okay! I’m lucky enough to have memories that will last me a lifetime.

It’s now my turn to make sure our future kids have their own unforgettable October memories!

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Tips On Saving For A Baby

So you’re trying for a baby, or just thinking about trying, or maybe you’re already pregnant- the absolutely last thing you want to hear is that from birth to age 17 it will cost you approximately $233,610– according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture report from 2017. I can’t think of a more debbie downer, buzz kill, or soul crushing piece of information.

SIDE NOTE: I’m pretty sure that estimate does not include the cost of getting pregnant as an LGBT family.

Well, unless you have $233,610 saved up and ready to go for the next 17 years, you might start to panic a little bit. For Regan and I, we definitely did. After the initial shock wears off, you realize that it is possible to start a family on a budget. Yes possible, but definitely not easy. We are not financial experts and have no real qualifications except trial and error, but we want to share some ideas and tips on how to make your bundle of joy become a reality. So take a deep breath, don’t throw your dream of being a parent away, and read on.

Tip #1- Save up for your maternity/paternity leave

I know some jobs offer paid leave which is AWESOME. However, most jobs don’t and the time off that you want to spend with your new baby can become financially stressful if you aren’t prepared. We are both teachers and I will be using my paid sick time for 6 weeks of leave. I want to take off 8 weeks, so we are preparing for 2 weeks without my paycheck. Right now every extra penny we have is being put towards those 2 weeks, so we can relax when the time comes and my paycheck doesn’t.

Tip #2- Stock up on freezer meals

We’ve heard more than once that we will be so tired when the baby has arrived that we won’t want to even think about cooking meals. I already feel that way some nights without the baby being here so I know it will be hard. This tip won’t seem like a money saver at first because you will need to buy and prep a lot of things ahead of time, but in the long run I think it will be worth it. We plan on doing this so that when we are tired, we can just pull something out of freezer instead of ordering food (usually costs at least $30) or getting take out (usually costs more than $30). Not only will this be a healthier option, but more cost efficient for sure.

Tip #3- Don’t buy too much ahead of time

We have bought A LOT of things ahead of time, but this tip is more about not buying things you aren’t sure the baby will use or need. For example, bottles. Babies are picky about bottles, so we only have a couple on our registry and haven’t bought any ourselves. Another thing is diapers and wipes. We have a small collection of diapers and wipes, but didn’t get too crazy because we have no idea how our baby will like the brand we bought. She could have sensitive skin and we wouldn’t want to waste money on a lot of wipes we can’t use.

Tip #4- Buy in bulk- once the baby has arrived

Tip #3 was about not buying too many things ahead of time before the baby comes, this tip is for once your baby is here and you know exactly which brands you like and what he or she needs. We have a Sam’s Club membership and plan on buying diapers and wipes in bulk. I also hope to breastfeed, but if I can’t I know that formula in bulk will also save money. We currently buy our meat (chicken, steak, ground turkey) as well as paper products (paper towels, paper plates, toilet paper) in bulk. This helps us save in the long run when these are items we always need!

Tip #5- If possible- bring in some extra money

Like I said earlier in this post, we are both teachers. Extra income is always a nice thing, so if you can, pick up an extra shift or a side job to help you save even more money while the baby is cooking! We both tutor after school a couple of days per week to help us do that. The extra income is going towards my maternity leave that I talked about in tip #1. There are tons of other ideas that might work better for your family such as serving in a restaurant, having a garage sale, coaching a sports team, etc. Try to find something that will work with your schedule and not add on a ton of more stress for you and your family.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again- this saving money thing is a lot easier said than done. It takes work. A lot of work and discipline. Regan and I try to follow these tips, but we all know unexpected situations come up, like your car breaks down, or your wife’s eye randomly gets infected and you have to pay to go to the eye doctor, (this actually happened to us last week!) or some other emergency arises and you feel like your budget just goes out the window. Well it might have, but just for that week. Regroup and start over the next week. I know that having a baby will be financially draining, but I can’t think of anything more deserving in my life to spend our money on!

We hope you can use some of these tips in your own life to help prepare for when your baby comes. Please let us know of any other great tips or advice in the comments below that you may have- us parents need all the help we can get!

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Parenting Styles–What Type Of Parents Will We Be?

When you know you’re about to bring a child into the world it’s natural to start PLANNING! How will we decorate the nursery? What do we need to put on the registry? Breastfeed or formula?

One thing you might forget to think about is….What kind of parents are we going to be? Do we agree on how we will parent our children? Do we have similar parenting styles? What IS my parenting style???

I think Nicole and I both have a pretty good idea about the kind of parents we will be. However, I know it’s hard to REALLY know until the kid is here! We can just pretend everything will go exactly as planned right?

We decided we wanted to have some fun with this and decided to take an extremely reliable quiz from www.buzzfeed.com 😉 I found a quiz called “What Kind Of Mom Are You Going To Be?” (https://www.buzzfeed.com/what-kind-of-mom-are-you-going-to-be)

Regan’s Results:

Nicole’s Results:

Wow, sounds like we are going to be some AWESOME moms! Of course, that was all in good fun. We know that being parents is more than what kind of birthday party you will throw and whether or not you’re a good baker! If only it were that simple.

I decided to do some reading and found out that 4 different parenting styles have been identified by researchers:

  • Authoritarian
  • Authoritative
  • Permissive
  • Uninvolved

I had never heard of these specific parenting styles before so I decided to read up on them and break it down for you below!

  • Authoritarian:

Authoritarian parents believe kids should follow the rules without exception. We all know kids want to ask “Why?” when they are told they can’t do something. The authoritarian parent does not feel they need to explain the reasoning behind their decisions. They are focused strictly on obedience. Based on my research it seems like the authoritarian parent tends to punish their children instead of discipline them. These children don’t get taught how to make better choices, they are taught strictly to apologize for their mistakes.

I will personally call this style: “Because I Said So”

  • Authoritative:

These parents definitely have rules and consequences, but they take their children’s opinions into account. The authoritative parent makes sure their child knows they are ultimately in charge while still validating their feelings. This style is all about trying to prevent bad behavior before it happens by constantly reinforcing the good behavior.

 I will call this style: “Praise Before Punishment”

  • Permissive:

Permissive parents tend to play more of a “friend” role than a parent role. They encourage their child to talk about their feelings but they don’t put much effort into trying to discourage any bad choices or behavior. Permissive parents set rules but very rarely do they enforce them. It’s hard for them to stick to their consequences and frequently cave when the child begs for their privileges back.

I shall call this style: “Kids Will Be Kids”

  • Uninvolved:

These parents don’t devote much time or energy into meeting their child’s basic needs. Children with uninvolved parents pretty much raise themselves and don’t receive much guidance. Uninvolved parents may be neglectful but it’s not always intentional. For example, parents with mental health issues or substance abuse problems might not be able to care for their child the way they need it. However, in other cases parents just lack knowledge about child development and become too overwhelmed with their own personal problems.

This style in one phrase: “Don’t Be This Parent”

I believe that sometimes parents can fit into more than one category. There are certain times and situations that you might feel like you are more permissive and other times authoritative.

Nicole and I fully intend on following the “Authoritative” style—which studies are clear is the best parenting style. We all want to be the best parents we can be, but we are not naïve in to thinking that once you decide on a style everything will be rainbows and butterflies. I think our parenting style will change and grow, as we change and grow as parents. We hope to do our best and raise our child to be a respectful and loving kid!

Let us know what your parenting style is and take the BuzzFeed quiz and let us know your results! 🙂

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How To Survive The Two Week Wait

LET’S BE REAL….

Nobody REALLY knows how to make the TWW (Two Week Wait) completely stress free. How could the possibility that you might conceive the child you have been dreaming of for months OR years not give you some anxiety?

If you’re not familiar with the TWW, this is the time between ovulation and your expected period. This is when you begin to over-analyze everything that is happening with your body. Your mind starts asking questions like—Am I pregnant? What if I really am?? What if I’m not? Will we try again next month? Can we afford to try again next month? Will I ever get pregnant???

The Two WEEK Wait can feel more like the Two MONTH Wait if you let your fears and anxieties completely take over.

I definitely don’t have any magic tricks to take all of your anxiety away but I do have 5 great tips that helped make the TWW a lot more bearable for me!

TWW Tip #1: Feed Your Anxieties

Like I said before, regardless of what anybody says–you are going to have some anxiety during the TWW. I decided to feed my anxieties (literally). I felt like I had to do something to help the process along since most of it is out of my control! Even if the things I was doing, might not be doing anything at all, it made me feel like I was helping in some way.

I started by doing research on “fertility boosters” or “fertility super-foods.” It was overwhelming to say the least. I wanted to do something that I could easily incorporate in my daily life, nothing too crazy. So I went to the website that has all the answers……..PINTEREST! I searched for fertility smoothies and about 100 different recipes popped up. Again, I wanted this to be as easy as possible so instead of following just one extremely intense recipe filled with ingredients I had never even heard of before…I wrote down several of the reoccurring ingredients that I saw in all the recipes and came up with my own TWW smoothie!

 

1/5 section of pineapple core

1/2 cup almond milk

1 tsp coconut oil or almost butter

1 tbsp maca root

1 tbsp chia seeds

1/2 frozen banana

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1 hand full of spinach

ICE (tastes much better cold)

1 tsp bee pollen for garnish

honey to sweeten (optional)

I started drinking these the day after our IUI. I only included the pineapple core for 5 days! I am NOT a doctor, fertility specialist, nutritionist, or baby making guru. The smoothies just helped me feel like I was fueling my body up for the TWW!

The only other things I did to “feed my anxieties” was I tried to eat mostly warm foods for those two weeks. I read that keeping your uterus warm helps make for a comfy place for a baby to implant! I also wore fuzzy warm socks whenever I had the chance.

Did the smoothies, warm foods, and fuzzy socks get me pregnant? Who knows….but it helped me keep some of my sanity during the TWW!

TWW Tip #2: Write Down Your Symptoms

Regan and I decided that on our 2nd cycle we would not over-analyze every little symptom. We actually decided that we wouldn’t talk about them at all! I decided that I would just start keeping track of all my symptoms in my phone as they occurred.

I did this for 2 reasons:

1) I would be able to look back on my symptoms when I tried again.

2) I had an outlet for the things I was thinking and feeling.

I truly believe this helped Regan and I both relax more during the TWW! It was also a lot of fun to share my symptoms with Regan afterwards. 🙂

TWW Tip #3: Don’t Test Too Early

This one is hard….like REALLY hard! Especially if you “feel” pregnant.What really helped me was to read up on the actual conception process. That way, I could talk myself out of testing 5 days past IUI because I knew implantation doesn’t even happen until days 6-12!

We did test a little early at 10 days past IUI. We probably should have waited just a couple more days because the line was extremely faint and that caused a whole new list of anxieties! Just hold off as long as you can and read up on the stages during conception so that you don’t test too early and become disappointed!

TWW Tip #4: Find Support

In our situation, we did not know a single person who was going through the same things we were. We have amazing friends and family that continue to support us through our journey, but they had never had an IUI. I needed to find a community of people who had experienced this TWW before! Whether you had an IUI, doing IVF, or conceiving naturally…you need support from people who can understand what you are going through.

I personally reached out to different communities online thru an app called “Glow”–This is a free app used to track your period and pregnancy. There are hundreds of discussion boards with women posting their experiences and questions which I found really helpful and comforting at times. My only advice about using an app like “Glow” is to remember that most of the women posting are just as worried and lost as you are. It’s important that you take any advice cautiously because it may not be true for your own experience.

I just liked not feeling alone during those two weeks. It is extremely important that you find support in ways that will really make you feel better about your experience during the TWW!

TWW Tip #5: Stay Positive

This tip is WAY easier said than done, I know. I hate being cliche or giving people obvious advice. However, this one is really important! How can you expect your body to create a miracle if you doubt it every step of the way?

Throughout my relationship with Regan, we both have always believed everything happens for a reason. I’m one of those people who believe I was stuck in traffic for an hour because if I wasn’t, I would’ve been in a car accident, or wouldn’t have ran into that old friend later in the day. Just trust yourself. You are a woman who can create miracles. Even if fertility is an issue for you, everything happens exactly when it is supposed to.

You are strong and powerful. Do not let other people’s experiences dictate your own to the point where you are comparing yourself in an unhealthy way. Take a step back and just let it happen. Whenever it happens, it will be perfect timing.

I hope my 5 TWW Survival Tips can help you during your own journey! There are several tips out there– just do your best to focus on what will help YOU get through the dreaded Two Week Wait! 🙂

 

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IUI Success Story

When we decided we wanted to try IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) we naturally spent hours researching the procedure and its success rates. The odds for IUI success depends on a number of variables such as age, how long you’ve been trying to conceive, and if you have any fertility issues, etc.

As for Nicole—age wasn’t an issue, she didn’t have any known fertility problems, and this would be her first time trying to conceive.

Our fertility specialist informed us of our odds during our first visit. He pulled up a fancy graph on his computer and shared with us that we would have about a 17% chance of conceiving on the first try.

17%……

That doesn’t seem like the best odds–but then again, this is to conceive a HUMAN LIFE!

Not even for a second did we let that 17% chance bring us down. We were ecstatic that we were about to embark on this journey to start our family!

In March of 2019 we had our first IUI. We were filled with nerves and excitement! Nicole didn’t ovulate on her own so they had given us a trigger shot (injection of HCG which triggers your ovaries to release eggs). I was given strict instructions by the Dr. to inject this into Nicole’s stomach approximately 36 hours before our scheduled IUI.

 

When the day finally came we received a phone call on our way to the clinic from one of the nurses. They needed Nicole to verify the details of our sperm donor so that they could take it out to start thawing.

The procedure was pretty simple… (easy for me to say I know)… but the Dr. just had Nicole lay back and relax. We both verified that he had the correct sperm again, and then the doctor completely caught me off guard! He asked ME if I wanted to push the plunger of sperm into Nicole!!!!!!!

My first reaction to this questions was to ask Nicole if it was okay….Of course she said yes, so in it went, all thanks to ME! (We SO wish we had a picture of this!) After the sperm was in, Nicole had to stay laying down for 15-20 minutes.

Just like that—Operation Grow A Baby was underway!

Then came the dreaded TWW (Two Week Wait). We over-analyzed every symptom and grew more anxious with each passing day. It had been 12 days since the IUI when we agreed that if AF (Aunt Flo) didn’t show the next day, we were going to test!

The next day, which was Easter Sunday/April 1st—We got pranked by Aunt Flo herself…

April Fools! You are SO not pregnant! 🙁

We spent the rest of the day feeling pretty defeated. We had tried to guard our hearts throughout those very long 12 days—reminding ourselves that it would be way too good to be true for it to happen on the first try.

However, I know we both held out hope that maybe just MAYBE we would be part of that 17% success rate.

Fast-Forward a few weeks and we were ready for Round 2! We weren’t going to let last month bring us down—We were MORE than ready this time! Nicole ovulated on her own without the trigger shot and we were already feeling more confident than the last cycle. Nicole felt more at ease because she knew exactly what to expect this time. Just like last time–We verified the sperm, Nicole laid back, and in went the swimmers! (I was totally prepared to play Dr. this time)

Nicole was READY for this TWW! She ate her pineapple (this is supposed to help with implantation), made special fertility smoothies, and made sure to always keep her uterus warm!

We decided that we weren’t going to discuss her symptoms this time. I wasn’t even allowed to ask! Little did I know….she had been keeping a list of symptoms in her phone!

We did a pretty good job at keeping ourselves distracted until about 10 days past IUI. Nicole told me she was going to test first thing in the morning…. I didn’t sleep a wink that night!

5:30 A.M. rolls around and I hear Nicole go to the bathroom—It felt like a lifetime before I heard her open the door. I had this really bad feeling it must be negative since she didn’t come out screaming and yelling.

I remember saying “So it’s negative?” She replied with uncertainty–“Well, I’m not really sure.”

WHAT!!!!

I jumped out of bed so fast that I forgot I needed my glasses—I definitely needed my glasses because it was the faintest pink line EVER! Were our eyes just playing tricks on us???

I swear–I didn’t even think about anything else besides that (maybe?) faint pink line that day. I took a picture of the test and looked at it a million times! Again, I barely slept that night because I knew when that alarm went off in the morning, Nicole would be testing again! HCG (pregnancy hormone) increases all the time so the line should be darker this time if she’s really pregnant.

I remember sitting there in bed that morning praying so hard. God, please let it be darker, please let it be darker! She opened the bathroom door and said…

“Babe, it’s there…the line is really there!”

I didn’t even need my glasses to see it. That perfect pink line was clearly there! We hugged and cried right there in the bathroom. How are we going to be able to focus at work today? How are we going to keep this a secret from our friends and family for 12 weeks???

Somehow we went to work that day as if everything was normal. We waited those long 12 weeks to share the news. Fast forward to today, Nicole is 23 weeks pregnant! We did it, well let’s be honest guys, I did it. It was the exact angle and perfect push of the sperm plunger that made this all possible.

I couldn’t be happier or more thankful for our perfect baby girl growing inside my wife.

January can’t come soon enough!

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s Make A Baby!

Doesn’t it sound so simple and fun? To most–the baby making festivities consist of dancing between the sheets until you get that BFP (Big Fat Positive). This is definitely one of the few things I envy most about you fertile heterosexuals!

Do you want to know how it went down when I said “Let’s Make A Baby” to Nicole???

Regan: “Heyyyy….Let’s Make A Baby!”

Nicole: “Okay! I guess we should start researching fertility clinics and make an appointment.”

Ahhhh….So Romantic am I RIGHT!?

It gets even more passionate when you’re sitting in a doctors office getting grilled about your family history, how many partners your wife has had, and discussing the best places to find our missing ingredient——the SPERM!

Don’t even get me started on the many hours spent searching for the PERFECT sperm donor. In case you didn’t know, the PERFECT sperm donor doesn’t exist. The PERFECT sperm donor would be myself….but as you know that’s not possible!

OH, you found a sperm donor? That’s great—-Now it’s time to get your blood drawn and start tracking your ovulation!

Romantic enough for you yet?

Okay…how about now?

“Alexa, play meditation music.” —Our 65 year old fertility Dr. minutes before sticking a syringe full of our missing ingredient into my wife’s “whoo-haa”

You might be thinking…That’s it! It can’t get any better than that!?

But then here comes the best part….

$3,000 flies out of our bank account!!!!

Actually, here comes the best part….

WE ARE PREGNANT!

Sure–it’s not the cheapest, most romantic journey we have ever had…

But I know it’s just the beginning to our greatest adventure yet!

 

 

 

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