Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sidney's Philosophy

Sidney here! I'll be sharing some healthy recipes/quick and easy food prep tips over the next several weeks on here and on our Instagram.  But first I wanted to just share a little about what my diet consists of and why. My philosophy is simple, I believe in eating a whole food, plant-based diet. Lots of:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Regan's Infertility Journey

Paige & Sidney here! Today we’re sharing something pretty personal and extremely dear to our hearts. Our third sister, Regan, has been struggling with infertility over the past 2+ years. We wanted her to share her and her husband’s story as they take the next big step towards hopefully starting their family. They found out recently that doing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is going to be their best chance of being able to get pregnant and have a baby. We thought it would be a good idea to publicly share their story to not only create awareness, but also to ask for prayers and positive energy as they start this process. It’s huge step that will be physically, emotionally and financially taxing on Regan and her husband. In fact, IVF alone usually costs anywhere from $15-$20,000, and their insurance will not cover any of those costs. They are determined to find a way to make it happen, and will be saving money over the next several months before starting treatments. 



Some of you may not realize that Salty Blondes is a labor of love, but also is a business for us! We make commission on purchases made through the links we post on our blog and through LIKEtoKNOW.it. Instead of dividing up the little bit of commission we make each month between the 3 of us like we usually would, we will put putting 100% of any earnings we make towards Regan and her husband’s IVF treatments. We wanted to make all of our friends, family, and you amazing followers aware, and let you all know how our blog works! This can be an easy way for anyone who wants to help Regan and Daniel to contribute, just by doing any online shopping you normally would. Any commission made will be put directly towards their infertility treatments. 


HERE’s HOW IT WORKS:

We keep a list of links to our favorite online stores on the right sidebar of our blog. There are hundreds of other shops we can make a commission on as well. Any time you go to shop online, just pop over to our blog first, click the link for the website you're shopping at, then add things to your cart and shop as you normally would. Amazon and Target are even on there, so staple items you regularly buy can even be purchased through our blog. If you don't see a store you would like to shop at on our blog sidebar, let us know and we can either add it or send you a direct link. 

THANK YOU to anyone reading this from the bottom of our hearts for your support over the next few months. Their goal is to be able to start the IVF cycle in August/September. This blog has been such a fun thing for us sisters to be able to do together, and we hope it can also be used as a tool to do good, help others, and #sharethegoodness. 


Here is Regan & Daniel’s story for those of you who would like to read it…

Most of you probably don’t know that my husband, Daniel, and I have been trying to have a baby for quite some time now. We got married four and a half years ago and everyday since I have dreamt of becoming a mommy and have imagined what our children would be like. We decided we would wait to start having babies so that we could experience marriage for a couple of years, and so that I could get a degree since I was going to school at the time. I patiently waited, and have loved every minute of our married life. We have been able to do so many fun things together, and experience things we may not have been able to do had we started having babies right away. In December of 2013, we decided to finally start trying, as I could see the college graduation light at the end of the tunnel that next April.

In May of 2014 I got my first positive pregnancy test. Daniel and I were overjoyed! Then about a week later, I got my period. This was a very early on miscarriage, and I may have never even known I was pregnant, had I not taken those four pregnancy tests. We didn’t tell anyone, and still have hardly told anyone about this pregnancy to this day. My doctor told me it’s called a “chemical pregnancy” when your body registers you’re pregnant but nothing really ever starts developing. 

We were not too discouraged, because we knew this was really common. We kept trying, and trying and trying, until a year had passed since we first started. Finally I was able to get pregnant again in March of 2015. We were so excited and nervous and prayed so hard that everything would go well with this pregnancy. I had my first ultrasound at 8 weeks, and got to hear the sweetest little heartbeat I’ve ever heard. Everything was measuring perfectly at 8 weeks. At about 10 weeks we started telling most of our close friends and family. We were so excited and it was fun to share the excitement with the people closest to us. Paige also found out she was pregnant about 5 weeks after me (with sweet little MJ). So we got share the excitement together and were so excited to be pregnant at the same time. 

Then I went in for my 12 week appointment and got the news I wish no women ever had to get. There was no heartbeat. Our baby had stopped growing. This miscarriage was honestly the hardest thing I had ever dealt with up to that point, and something you can only understand if you’ve gone through it yourself. I was devastated for months, and partly because I was continuing to be reminded of what I’d gone through due to some complications that came after. After my D&C (surgery to remove all of the tissue from the miscarriage), I was continuing to bleed for a couple months later. My doctor kept telling me this can be normal, until finally she referred me to a fertility center so that I could get a water ultrasound to see what’s going on in there. That’s where I was introduced to my doctor now.

The doctor said there was still some tissue in there and that he needed to go in to do a hysteroscopy to remove it. Which meant another surgery. There was some good that came from all of this though! I was able to meet my doctor, the infertility specialist I am seeing now, and he has actually been highly recommended by a lot of people we know who have also had infertility struggles. 

He was able to help me get pregnant again in December 2015. I took a low dosage of clomid to help me ovulate this time. I found out a week before Christmas. My family had been praying and fasting for Daniel and I to be able to get pregnant and I wanted to surprise them all on Christmas morning. So after we had all opened presents, I gave Daniel one last present to open. Everyone watched (no one knew except for me) as he opened it, and there was my positive pregnancy test. We all cried and the excitement set in again. The fertility center I was going to wanted to monitor me very closely this pregnancy, and right off the bat we knew there could be a possibility of another miscarriage, because my hCG levels were not rising as much as they should have been. At 6.5 weeks they did an ultrasound and were able to find a sac, but not as much development as there should have been at that point. I waited another week just in case I maybe wasn’t as far along as we thought, then went in for a second ultrasound. There still had not been anymore development. I had miscarried again.

The past two and a half years we have experienced a huge roller coaster of emotions. Lots of ups, and lots of downs. There have been countless nights where I have cried myself to sleep, but there has also never been a night where I have not knelt down and thanked God for all the things I do have to be grateful of.  And that is what has kept me going with a smile on my face.  I never want to let my trials keep me from being happy. I want them to build me up and make me stronger and want to turn to God and serve others and be more grateful and recognize the blessings in my life. We know there is a reason God has put this trial into our lives, and we are determined to hold on to our faith and make it through. The support of family and friends has been unimaginable and we are so grateful for that. After my last miscarriage I opened up about the struggles we’ve been having on social media, and every single response from our friends and family brought me to tears and helped ease the burden. 

So here’s where we are now…

After my last miscarriage they were able to do some genetic testing on the tissue removed during my D&C surgery. The doctors finally had some answers for us as to why I kept having miscarriages. After doing some testing on me, they were able to determine that I have something called Balanced Chromosome Translocation. My doctor told us that I have a 50% chance of miscarrying each time I get pregnant, depending on which chromosomes the embryo takes from me, and with that there's also a chance that even if I don't miscarry, our baby could continue to develop and end up having major birth defects. 

My doctor gave us the option to do in-vitro fertilization so that we can do PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) on the embryo before transferring it back in to me. With this, we'd be able to determine and be sure the baby will continue to grow and develop normally. Of course there is always a chance it won't work, but the success rates of IVF are pretty high, and they go up even more with doing the PGS. 

Daniel and I have given this a lot of thought and prayer as we have been deciding what we should do. It's been hard on us both and something we never imagined we'd have to go through. We have weighed all of our options heavily, and both feel confident that trying IVF is the best next step for us.

The cost of IVF with the special genetic testing we'll need to do is very expensive (we recently went over the numbers and it looks like it will be over $25k!). Unfortunately our insurance will not cover any of the costs, but we are determined to find a way to make it possible so that we can hopefully start our family that we have been dreaming of for so long. 

This blog has been such a great creative outlet for my sisters and I. It's been something we've enjoyed doing so much together over the last year and some months. My sisters have been so sweet and have decided that instead of splitting the (small) amount of money we make each month three ways, they want to put 100% of it towards mine and Daniel's infertility treatments. We can't express how much it means to us to have the support of our wonderful friends and family, and this was such a sweet gesture that my sisters came up with. 

It feels good to be open about our journey. We know how powerful prayer can be, and appreciate so much the prayers and love that have been sent our way from family and friends. We feel the love and recognize God’s hand in our lives. 

-Regan




Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Best Baby Products - 2016 Review

Hey guys! Paige here to do a highly requested post on all my favorite new baby products. I have a lot of the latest products and gadgets - some I got from blog collaborations, and some I spent my hard earned money on, justifying needing everything since this is only my first child and I'd use them on all my kids! Anyways, now that I'm broke I thought I might as well let everyone else know what's worth it and what's not in my opinion :)



Below is a list of some of the hottest new baby products currently on the market in order of my most to least favorite!

1. Halo Bassinet 
This is by far my number one favorite baby product. It goes right next to your bed, and swivels right over to you so you don't even have to get out of bed for night feedings. The one I got is linked above. It's the least expensive one with just a pocket on the side to hold diaper, wipes etc. There are more expensive versions that come with things like night lights and music, but I didn't think I'd use that stuff and this one has been great for me!


2. 4moms Infant Tub
The BEST baby bathtub on the market. MJ hated baths until we started using this! It circulates the water constantly so there's clean water coming in and the dirty water flows out (which is much needed since they always pee in the water), AND it comes with a thermometer attached that beeps if the water gets too hot and goes blue if it gets too cold!


3. Cake Nursing Bra
Ok this is actually a mom product, but it's the most comfortable nursing bra ever! I tried on a bunch at target and Nordstrom, and this is the only one I ever wear. I got it in tan and black :)


4. Owlet Monitor
You may have heard of the Owlet baby monitor by now. It's an awesome new product on the market that monitors baby's heart rate and oxygen levels while they sleep! It sends the info straight to your smart phone which will go off if there are any unhealthy changes. I was so paranoid when I first brought MJ home from the hospital and this product was the only way I could sleep at night! The only down side is that my baby is a little squirmy at night, so sometimes it will disconnect and alert me so I have to get up more often and adjust it on him. Overall though great product!



5. Soothe Shirt
This is one of the items I got through the blog and I love it. It's a shirt and baby carrier combined with a little pocket in front that baby fits perfectly into. I use it all the time and sometimes feel like it's the only way I can get anything done :)

6. Nuna Carseat/Stroller Travel System
Obsessed with this travel system. Especially the carseat! It has a sleeper shade that pulls down and covers the whole thing to keep out harsh weather, germs, or just to let baby sleep. It goes with the Nuna Tavo stroller which is great as well. Only down side is they are a little pricey. But hey, I figured the stroller/carseat is what goes everywhere with you right?! It's like your everyday bag or accessory. Worth spending the money on a good one!


7. Diaper Genie
The diaper genie is great for locking in odors and keeping your nursery smelling nice! Downsides are it was kind of a pain to put together, and you have to keep buying the diaper genie bag refills which can get a little expensive. If you're on a budget you can probably go without this one!


8. 4moms mamaroo
Ok, I was so excited about the mamaroo and still do love it out in my house. The only reason it's lower on the list is that I might just like it more than my baby does haha. He likes it fine but not any more than the much less expensive swing a friend of mine bought for me to keep upstairs. It's still pretty awesome to be able to control it from your phone, and I love how modern it looks out in my living room. If you want to go less expensive on something however, this would be it :)


9. Wipes Warmer
Yeah I thought I needed this, and I do use it, but I really don't think my baby cares either way! He is just fine when we're not at home and I have to change him with regular old cold wipes haha, and sometimes he fusses when being changed with the cold ones anyways!


Another mom product. I heard great things about this post pardom belly wrap, but I think any less expensive one would do the trick. Honestly who knows if they really do anything. I felt like breastfeeding is really what made my stomach go down! Some people swear by them though. I'm just not one of them. I really didn't feel like it made much of a difference.




I hope this is helpful for any new mamas and mamas-to-be out there!