Trigger warning: mention of loss. Five years ago, we were struggling with grief after our daughter was stillborn at 18 weeks. We were also desperately praying and hoping that we would have a healthy, earthside baby. In September of 2018, we found out we were pregnant with Jimmie. More about waiting for Jimmie here
These four years with Jimmie have been miraculous. The more we’ve learned about fertility and secondary infertility, Jimmie’s life becomes even more of a gift. The statistics that are widely shared related to fertility and women over 40 are quite discouraging. In spite of that, we delivered our baby Jimmie when I was 41 years and 10 months old.
Today, we celebrated this precious gift of life with a party at a park in our neighborhood.
We reserved a bounce house from Extreme Climbing and worked with the city to get a permit to have the bounce house in the park.
Jimmie had family and friends join from his preschool class and his BLL teeball team.
Jimmie loves iced donuts with sprinkles. He has called them “Happy Birthday Donuts” for a couple of years. We have this great specialty donut shop in Houston, River Oaks Donuts . I asked friends where to get donut letters so we could have donuts instead of cake. Everyone suggested River Oaks Donuts. I ordered HAPPY (small letters) 4 (large) JIMMIE (medium) and the decor was Astros, baseball and Spider-Man! They did a great job and Jimmie loved it!
We are so thankful for all of our children and especially thankful that God has given us these five earth-side. I hope they always know how loved and honored they are. Life is a gift. And, today we celebrate four years of JIMMIE! Cheers to many more!
I’ve been pregnant quite a few times over the last 19 years (I can’t believe it’s been that many years!) and have learned that there are some things that my body and baby need from day one. I’ve compiled this list of items I can’t live without from first positive test and throughout my entire pregnancy. Do you have more favorites to add? Leave a comment and let us know what we should add to this list. Be sure to subscribe to our email list to receive new blogposts directly in your inbox.
Vitamins and Prenatals
There are a lot of prenatal vitamins to choose from. I moved to a prenatal with folate instead of folic acid when trying to conceive after Jimmie. According to American Pregnancy Association, “Folate and its cousin folic acid are vital for developing a healthy baby because it prevents neural tube defects. Since the neural tube develops within the first 28 days of pregnancy, it is recommended all women of childbearing years consume folate. Folate prevents certain heart abnormalities, cleft palate and cleft lip. It also lowers the risk of developing anemia, miscarriage, preterm delivery and low birth weight.” Folic Acid and Folate are both forms of B9. However, “there is an important difference. Folic acid is the synthesized version that is commonly used in processed foods and supplements.” I took folate separately before we conceived Jimmie and throughout my pregnancy.
In addition to taking Pink Stork prenatal with Folate available here, I also take Liposomal Vitamin D3 and Magnesium. Every time we’ve had my Vitamin D levels checked throughout my adult life, they’ve been low. Increased Vitamin D levels are important when trying to conceive and throughout pregnancy.
Belly, Dry Skin and Joint Help
Body Butter lotion. I tend to get dry skin and this is especially true when I’m pregnant. I love this ultra-rich spa quality lotion formulated with naturally-soothing ingredients including cocoa butter.
Burt’s Bees Mama Belly Butter with Shea Butter and Vitamin E This lotion is my go to ease my stretching skin while baby and belly are growing. I use this every single night while pregnant and keep using it once baby is born. Burts Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter contains no phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, or SLS, and it wont irritate your skin so you can use this balm with peace of mind. Pamper yourself during your nine month stretch, or give as a gift to a new mama!
Liquid BioCell Life is the best collagen out there-by far, in my humble opinion. I love this Liquid Collagen when TTC and throughout pregnancy. It improves joint mobility and lubrication, reduces joint discomfort, increases skin’s collagen content, promotes healthy hair, nails, gums, eyes and so much more! I want to feel like my body is working well when I am trying to nourish a growing baby.
Belly Band I like this Asotony Pregnancy Support Belt sold at WalMart. It’s breathable and something that I will wear once I am about six months pregnant and until delivery. I don’t like to wear it at night, but some women say that it works well while sleeping. I need the extra support when walking and moving around throughout the day.
Leggings Over the belly leggings are my favorite when pregnant. Seriously, I love the additional support and live in leggings for all of my pregnancy. They are especially helpful once the belly gets a little bigger. I also love them postpartum.
Pregnancy under the belly and over the belly underwear. The under the belly underwear are a necessity for those times when your belly is more exposed. I’m not talking about mid drift action. I’m speaking about times when you are wearing something that is tighter on the belly and you don’t want to see the line of your underwear across the top of your belly. I like support like these spanx and these spanx shorts too when I’m dressing up and want the underwear support for my belly.
Pregnancy pillow I only got a pregnancy pillow with my rainbow baby pregnancy in 2019. I never used one with my previous pregnancies. Boy, was I missing out!? I had no idea what a game-changer the pregnancy pillow is. I have always been a tummy sleeper. But, the moment I am pregnant, I stop being able to sleep on my belly. It’s a mental thing for me. However, it’s been my favorite way to sleep for most of my life, so sleeping during pregnancy is a challenge. This pillow allows me to sleep with part of it between my legs and another part supporting my back. It also keeps me on my side, which is my preferred way to sleep when pregnant.
ElMomma’s favorite dresses that grow as your bump grows. Perfect for bump progression pics, here are a few everyday styles that I love wearing when pregnant. I also think it’s really fun to have one dress or outfit that can grow with you and that you can wear your entire pregnancy. I also love these Overalls and think this is a super cute maternity look.
Please let me know if you enjoyed this list by sharing on social media and commenting here. I would also love to hear what other products you recommend while pregnant and postpartum. Please comment here or join in the conversation on Instagramor Facebook. I love to hear from you! Wishing all of you who are TTC or expecting a Happy and Healthy 9 months! Xo
I had no idea how difficult this journey would be when we decided we wanted to try for one more baby…at age 39. In my mind, none of the negative statistics had impacted our fertility journey before, so I just tuned out the noise. In some ways, I’m thankful for my innocence before secondary infertility, second trimester loss and more miscarriages. In other ways, I wish I could have prepared my heart for the unimaginable. But, now that we are here, let’s press on and talk about how it is possible to have a healthy baby and pregnancy at over forty. I’ve done it! Praise the Lord.
A little bit more about our fertility story and secondary infertility
We started TTC (trying to conceive) when our oldest four children were 6, 8, 10 and 12 years old. I was 39 and DH was 41. We were blessed to get pregnant right away. I can’t remember exactly how long we were trying. I just know that I was on a girls trip in April talking about TTC and how I had read about ways to sway for a girl or a boy. And we were trying for a girl. By early May, we were pregnant with a baby girl.
We gave very little thought to the idea that we were older or that we may struggle to conceive this time around. When we miscarried due to a fetal maternal hemorrhage at 18 weeks gestation, we were 40 and 42. The months flew by as we learned what had happened to our daughter. No, she didn’t have any chromosomal or genetic abnormalities due to our age. It wasn’t an “egg quality” issue and we knew that because we knew to ask for a KB test when I was in labor.
Any other scenario and surely my age, in particular, would have been blamed for the miscarriage in my second trimester. We were really fortunate to know what happened to her. Although, it’s heartbreaking that she had a condition that went undiagnosed by our midwives and that our midwives missed huge trouble markers on our blood work that should have sent me to a high risk doctor. It’s also comforting to know what happened to her. An unexplained miscarriage can be even more devastating, in my opinion.
Our success after 40
To recap: we have one healthy conception at 39. And, another healthy conception at 41. This one resulted in a live birth. (Baby Jimmie) As far as supplements, I started taking a prenatal with folate and not folic acid. I also took a baby aspirin throughout my cycle and continued until a couple of weeks before expected delivery. I increased my vitamin D, as well as magnesium.
In this article written by Tracy Slater, the focus is on Pregnancy over 45 and how it is very possible and has a higher success rate than many of us think. I, like many women trying to conceive over 45, have done a ton of research. In April, I ordered the book It Starts with the Egg: How the Science of Egg Quality Can Help You Get Pregnant Naturally, Prevent Miscarriage, and Improve Your Odds in IVF by Rebecca Fett. The title pretty much sums it up, but this book helped me realize the things I was doing that were helpful to my fertility and the things that I was doing that could be done better. Rebecca recommends supplements specific to your situation, whether you are trying naturally or trying via IUI Intrauterine Insemination or IVF In Vitro Fertilization. There are also different recommendations for where you are in your cycle. She also recommends starting most of the supplements three months prior to trying to conceive. This is because the dominant follicle that will mature to the egg that you will ovulate, is chosen three months prior.
I do believe that these lifestyle changes impacted my fertility in 2022 at age 45. After Jimmie, we began TTC again, but I did not have my cycle back for nearly a year and a half. We started FAM and after changing supplements recommended by It Starts with the Egg, we were pregnant within 3 months. On July 22, 2022, we found out we were pregnant at 44 (me) and 47 (him) years old! We were over the moon. Jimmie had just turned three two months earlier. We had blood work to confirm that HCG- the pregnancy hormone -was rising appropriately. Everything was good. Unfortunately, we miscarried at home at 8 weeks and 4 days on August 29, 2022. I had a routine ultrasound the week prior that confirmed there was no growth after six weeks and no heartbeat.
This experience was heartbreaking. We believed that our miracle was on his or her way. We believed that God would see us through this pregnancy. Of course, when it all fell apart, we wondered what went wrong? But, since we don’t have any clear answers with that, we decided to focus on what went right:
First, we got pregnant at our more advanced ages. That’s so amazing to me! We were just blown away that God created another El-Hakam baby after we had waited and prayed and tried for so long. Second, conception and implantation happened! We have no idea what happens after we do our part when TTC naturally. This time, we know that the egg made it down the Fallopian tube for conception and back up for implantation.
In October, we fell pregnant again. This time, I tested positive at 14 dpo (days past ovulation) and tested negative at 16 dpo. That’s also when AF (aunt flow aka menstrual cycle) began. This is often referred to as a chemical pregnancy. The embryo implants and HCG begins to rise and then something goes wrong. Likely the embryo had issues making them incompatible with life.
Again, I felt hopeful because we fell pregnant two cycles in a row. This was after two years of TTC with no success. Our lifestyle changes worked. I recently found this article written by a momma who just had her second child at 46! I was happily surprised to read about so many successful pregnancies and births by women in their forties. I do believe that our fertility outlook and chance of having a baby in our forties is not as bleak as the general medical community tells us.
Things I did to help improve my fertility over 40
1. Cutting out anything that is known for causing inflammation. There’s an exhausting list of things. And, we can’t cut every single one of them from our diets. However, even doing better, is helpful, in my experience. I am gluten free, so I already do not consume any gluten or wheat products. I’ve also cut out caffeine, drinking only the best decaf coffee from Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans. Reduced processed sugar, and increased fruit. These changes have also helped me feel a lot better.
2. Doing my best to remove items that are known to be unhealthy and can harm fertility. For me this means cutting out plastics, not drinking from plastic water bottles, not eating microwaved food, drinking filtered water and being mindful of the products we use in our home. I changed cleaning products, detergents, shampoos, soaps, and more to do my best to remove products that have known toxins.
3. Drinking drinks warm or at room temperature and avoiding ice cold beverages and cold treats. Apparently, these can be quite shocking to the uterus. We want to keep the womb warm and inviting, so avoiding ice cold drinks is critical.
4. Diet and supplements. I love the Mediterranean diet. I eat eggs in the morning and enjoy salad (not super cold) with lots of berries and leafy greens. I eat lots of nuts, hummus, lebne, fruit, fish, lamb and beef once a week. I also cut out soda. I’ve never been a huge soda drinker and already refuse to drink diet drinks (aspartame is terrible for our bodies and fertility). However, I would allow myself a maximum of one Coke a day- usually on ice. I love the bubbles in Coke. However, it’s probably not the best for fertility, so I gave up Coke. It was difficult for about three days, and then I was fine. There’s a lot of information out there about which supplements to take and when to take them. I take a prenatal with folate, vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin C. There are other recommendations depending on if you are doing IVF, IUI or a natural cycle. I have another post that will go into specifics and brands I use. Bird & Be goes into more detail here.
5. FAM: Fertility Activation Method. This has truly changed my fertility life. I did not get pregnant for two years and then conceived at 44 and 45 years old. I continue to focus on the acupressure massages at least two times a day. If you are interested, please follow the links above or click here.
To conclude, I’ve found great comfort and peace in being able to make life changes that can positively impact my fertility. I know it’s not as hopeless as some say, because my experience tells me otherwise. If you really want to carry a child, don’t give up. Pray. Ask God for guidance. I do believe that we can trust the Lord AND be proactive in our healthcare and fertility journeys. In fact, I think for many of us struggling with infertility, it’s essential that we take an active role in knowing our bodies and fertility challenges.
Wishing those of you who are in this journey all the baby dust. Please reach out, share our story and comment. We would love to support you in your fertility.
This appetizer is perfect for holiday “get togethers,” parties, or to whip up for unexpected guests! I found this recipe on Instagram and instantly saved it to make it this Winter. I finally got around to it on Christmas Day and it turned out so cute!
Heads up, don’t eat the whole peppercorns. Those are for decoration. My husband learned this the hard way as he asked me “what is the really hard thing in this?” Lol
The recipe called for Saran Wrap when placing in the fridge, but we used ziploc bags instead and they worked great. Other than that, this was the easiest dish I made all break. It was also the cutest dish!
At ELMOMMA.com, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on this past year. First, we would like to thank you for being here. You being here means a lot to us and helps us support our growing family. Since founding ELMOMMA.com in 2008, we have all grown and changed so much. We had 27,000 views on the blog this month, with this post topping them all. We shared a video of Jimmie watching Momma dance that topped 100k views on Instagram. We published beautiful gift guides focused on our brand and viewers.
Personally, we have experienced a lot of change this year. In July, Rebekah went back to work full-time after not working full-time outside of the home for nearly 4 years. In July, we also learned that we were expecting what we believed to be our last Baby El. All of the Els were over the moon excited about the baby. Sadly, we miscarried at home at 8 weeks and 4 days on August 29 after finding the baby had no heartbeat the week prior.
Rebekah’s new job has been a wonderful blessing. She is now employed at the largest Episcopal Church in North America, where she plans the contemporary worship services each week. She even gets to lead worship and sing with one of her favorite CCM artists from growing up-Wayne Watson. If you know, you know this is pretty awesome.
Bakri is 17 and applying to attend Universities majoring in Music Composition. The pandemic opened up a creative side of Bakri. He is an incredibly talented composer. We still can’t believe that college is right around the corner. He is planning to minor in piano performance.
Maddux will turn 16 this week. He has his drivers permit and will be ready for his official license in two months. We are very excited for this development. Bakri attends school downtown and hasn’t shown interest in learning to drive just yet. We are looking forward to Maddux driving the other Els around safely!
Trinity is also busy applying for schools-HIGH SCHOOLS! We don’t know how this is going to work out, so we are casting the net nice and wide and looking for the right fit. She hopes to study theatre in high school and all of the schools we are considering have top theatre programs.
Leeland is in 7th grade and seems to be really coming into his own. He has participated in football and cross country this year. He plans to tryout for the middle school baseball team after the winter break. He’s also joining a new select baseball team.
Jimmie went to preschool for the first time this November. Check out our post about the first week here. He is loving school. We are very proud of how well he has transitioned. He’s singing songs he is learning at school and he’s already made so many friends.
Moustapha and me are doing well. It’s definitely a stressful time with all of the changes. I will have some time off at the end of this year and the beginning of the new year, so I’m starting to dream and plan that. Would love your suggestions on where we should travel to. We will most likely drive, because there are 7 of us and plane trips are expensive and we need a vehicle most places we would travel to. We like the idea of taking the Els to the mountains, but neither of us have been skiing with kids, so we don’t really know what to expect or how to manage that.
As we close this update post, let me remind you of a few important philosophies we hold tight to. Take the vacation. Dream the dream. Follow your heart. Be in the photo. Life is too short to stop now. Just keep going.
When they say the years fly by, they aren’t kidding. Hard to believe this young man is now in 7th grade. We are extremely proud of you, Leeland. We are proud of the way you try new things. We are proud of how you keep going, even when experiencing adversity. We love you and have enjoyed watching you grow as a baseball player and as a person. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for your life.
Congratulations on completing 8 years of Little League play!
As is tradition in the Episcopal church, most families baptize their children when they are still babies. The sacrament of holy baptism is considered “full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church.” Furthermore, The Book of Common Prayer contains the liturgy for a baptismal service, and stipulates when and how an infant should receive this sacrament.
Significantly, when we choose to have our child baptized, we are demonstrating our intention to adhere to the Baptismal Covenant and raise our child as an active participant of our local church. We baptized our older children in the Presbyterian church when they were each less than one year old. (Leeland’s baptism and Trinity’s baptism)
Delayed because of Co¥!d
Jimmie was 9 months old when the pandemic began. We were in between churches at the time. I served at an Anglican Church as the worship pastor up until we were expecting baby Jimmie.
At the time of Jimmie’s birth, we were basically without a church home. We went back to our church where we attended from 2008-2014 and where I had previously been employed as a worship leader. Our church family and pastor were welcoming, but it was strange and we didn’t feel like we belonged anymore. So, when the time came to baptize Jimmie, we talked with our pastor (at the time) about it and began to look for a date.
Our new (post pandemic) church home
Once the pandemic hit, attending church moved completely away from in person and exclusively to online. Fast forward to early 2021 and I was hired by The Church of St John the Divine as a worship leader and keys player for the contemporary worship band. We officially joined the church after attending for seven months in November.
We wanted to baptize Jimmie before he turned three. Moustapha and I are eternally grateful for our church community at The Church of St John the Divine, as we commit to fully support Jimmie’s walk with Christ.
Jimmie gets baptized
Jimmie was baptized during the Children’s 915am service which is called Awesome Worship. He was so nervous. This was a completely different experience compared to our other babies who were all much younger. Jimmie knew what was coming and he had some anxiety over it. We talked him through it and showed him videos, but he was still anxious.
Okay parents. How many of you get a little frustrated with the whole Elf on the Shelf craze at Christmas time? Me too! And, with a toddler at home, I wanted to do something extra special. Last year, I decided to get help with our elf on the shelf and I bought a kit from an account I found on Instagram. (www.Instagram.com/craftyholidayhelper) CraftyHolidayHelper, Jaime has a small business focused on holiday crafts for families. I am so thankful to have found Jaime! Her craft kits are amazing!
I love having holiday parties for our littles. Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Fourth of July are holidays we don’t miss celebrating! In addition to adding Mardi Gras, we also added St Patrick’s Day with a party box and scavenger hunt from CraftyHolidayHelper to kick us off!
Jimmie is in awe of everything. He loves the rainbow centerpiece and all of the tiny details. My older kids said it’s not a party if other people don’t come. I disagree! I think Jimmie does too. It’s a party if you say it’s a party! Happy St Patrick’s Day, everyone!
El Momma, Rebekahmemusic and CraftyHolidayHelper collaborated on this post. Thank you for your support!
We are thrilled to present the 2022 Valentine’s Day gift guide. Please note that, although we have loosely categorized “who” the gift is for, many of the gift ideas we share can work for multiple recipients. We love giving more than receiving and know that your loved ones will feel loved, if you put that extra thought and effort into their gift.
Happy Valentine’s Day! May you give and receive love this year.
Rebekah, El Momma
At FindItGirl, she has gifts for every occasion. FIND IT GIRL We especially love the curated items for the home with the love theme. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t need a little more reminders of love around the home throughout every season? The velvet hearts and heart dough bowls are just a few of our favorite finds from FindItGirl this Valentine’s season.
Glow Like A Mother set of 3 beauty items for mom. https://gorgeousconfidence.com/ Momma deserves to be pampered! The GLAM set includes Cleanse, Hydralux Serum and rich Hydration cream. This has become my go to beauty routine day and night. My husband says I already look younger.
The Pink Enamel Heart Twist Cuff in gold by Isabelle Grace is one of my favorite gifts. https://www.isabellegracejewelry.com/products/enamel-heart-twist-cuff A portion of the proceeds from this cuff are donated to the fight against breast cancer. PS. everything from this line is handmade in the USA. Order soon for Valentine’s Day delivery. Click here to see more options “for her” this Valentine’s.
If your girl (or your guy) is a chocolate lover, let me introduce you to Blissfully Better. Made in small batches and handcrafted in copper kettles, Blissfully Better’s Almond Toffee, Crunchy Quinoa Toffee, Caramel, Coconut, and Mint Thins are the perfect indulgence. (I am gluten free and although not certified gluten free, there is no gluten used) Certified Organic and sweetened only with low glycemic coconut nectar, Blissfully Better is better for you and you will definitely taste the difference!
I love LOVE and I especially love ♥️ 💗 💕. These jewelry pieces are of good quality and are reasonably priced. I’m also pretty loyal to Nordstrom as they accept returns with no cost to the customer and no questions asked. If there ever is an issue, as long as they can find a record of your purchase, they will stand by the products they sell. I love that!
Barrel and Oak Hair Thickening Shampoo. Does your guy worry about the appearance of hair loss? I got this product for my husband. According to Barrel and Oak’s website “Coffee is nutrient & antioxidant-rich, which is good for scalp & hair health. Our Caffeinated Thickening Shampoo helps rebalance pH levels, which reduces dry damaged hair & breakage. Invigorating for all hair types.” He loves it so far!
For the Pet Owner
For anyone concerned with leaving the house covered in lint, the De Novo Deluxe Self Cleaning Lint Brush is the gift for them! The De Novo™ Deluxe Self-Cleaning Lint Brush is a revolutionary way to keep your clothes lint-free and in tip-top condition. The magical bristles on this brush attract the pet hair and lint directly to it, making it so much easier for you to clean.
Unlike any other lint brush on the market, the De Novo™ Deluxe Self-Cleaning Lint Brush comes completely apart, designed to make it easier for you to rinse the inside bristles so that the self-cleaning component lasts longer. Did I mention they offer a 100% money back guarantee?
For Family (kids-adults-anyone)
Send a stuffed animal package! https://sendafriend.co/ Through Send a Friend, you can send a care package with an adorable stuffed animal. Not only will you spread smiles and joy, but when you send a friend, they donate 10% of your total purchase to nonprofit organizations. See a list of recent donations here made through SendAFriend.co
You can customize a gift on collage.com. We chose to create a custom family calendar at https://collage.com In 10 minutes, I uploaded pictures from last year and placed them in the design in the appropriate month. We love how it turned out. Plus, we now have wonderful memories to look back on and hope for in the future.
We recently discovered QUOTEBOOK. https://quotebookjournal.com/ Quotebook is a notebook for recording the things people say to each other. When I read about Quotebook, we had to try it. Our kids, especially, and sometimes Mom and Dad are always saying the funniest things that I hope we remember, but we sometimes forget. This is a great way to keep the whole family involved, as we say those funny things that we never want to forget. Our very first quote written in this book was by baby Jimmie and it’s the cutest memory ever. We can’t wait to fill this QUOTEBOOK!
Here we have curated several Valentine’s Day themed items for most of our family members. The heart print lounge set for our teen daughter plus the grey heart sleep pants or shorts with a scrunchy are her favorites. We also have a couple of pajama options for Mom. My top choice right now are the navy pajamas. They are incredibly soft. Moustapha picked out these leopard print pajama pants for him. I must say, he looks so hot in them! In addition, we found this super soft Little Giraffe Luxe baby blanket also available in pink and so many adorable outfits for your little girl.
Feltman Brothers makes clothes for little ones that you will never want to give away. This Scalloped Contrast Trim Knit set is perfect for your baby girl on Valentine’s Day.
We also love this color block knit set in baby blue for our Jimmie. It comes in blue shades (pictured) and pink shades. We have always loved Feltman Brothers and have many keepsake outfits our children can hand down to their children one day. I love getting gifts that last for years and generations to come.
Mabel’s Labels are perfect to label all of your kids items. Mabel’s Labels are laundry and dishwasher safe. We got heart shaped labels with the kid’s names on them. I also got some personalized for me too.
Mabel’s Labels are also a great teacher gift. Mabel’s Labels are custom made and a thoughtful gift for that teacher that seems to have everything, but loves to be organized. Plus, they are super cute.
One month subscription to MyYogaTeacher yoga platform as a wellness gift for teachers. MyYogaTeacher provides LIVE (not pre-recorded) yoga lessons (private and group) with expert Indian yoga teachers. I’ve really enjoyed the two-way interaction which has helped me practice safely and stay motivated.