Giving Thanks


I'm thankful on a daily basis - even on the tough days there are blessings to count. 

As this year's Thanksgiving approached, I couldn't help but think about where I was last year. Physically and mentally. 

I was laying in a mildly comfortable hospital bed - only able to get up to shower every other day and to use the restroom as needed (in a plastic bucket attached to a walker located two steps from my bed). Convenient, yes; modest, not so much. 

Laying in that bed, my mind easily became a mess when I (daily) lost focus of Who was in control. At times I considered my worse fear at 20 weeks gestation and I felt horrible that I pulled family members out of their daily and holiday schedules because they wanted to be with me - which, if you've ever experienced something like this, you know it's overwhelmingly humbling. 

My mom, my sweet, loving mom, spent the day prior making all our favorite Thanksgiving day dishes: over-night apple cider for the parade viewing and then turkey, gravy, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, collards, and pecan pie for our meal. She packaged it all up in containers and we had a complete Thanksgiving day meal around my hospital bed. It was as perfect as it could be. A tiny taste and feel of being at home instead of in a L&D room. 

A year later, this last Thursday in November, things are quite different. I'm home in North Carolina and there are countless blessings very present in my life. And today, I'm not just thankful; it's not just something I say or list below. When I write and recount these things, I give thanks to the One who has provided them all. I thank God for everything, big and small - even small blessing play a significant role. 

Today, this year, I thank God for:

Being able to stand up, walk around, and only be in a bed when I want. 

Being able to help my mom prepare dishes and pies for today's dinner. 

To be completely surrounded by my  own little family as well as my parents, brother, cousins, uncles, and aunts. 

To have this beautiful surprise, miracle of life growing inside of me. 

And at almost 15 weeks to have a non-eventful pregnancy this far.  

Most importantly, I'm incredibly thankful to be able to hold, play with, and bring my perfectly healthy miracle baby back to my hometown and to the house I grew up in. That's she's able to meet and be loved on by the people I love the most. That she laughs and plays; and can see and breathe. She's happy and doesn't remember even one of the 115 days she spent fighting for her life. 

Today is simply overflowing with blessings and for all of them, I give thanks. 


Thoughts on the Night Before Our First Halloween a Year Later

Tonight in this household, we go to bed with heavy hearts and a lump in our throats.  

A year ago, I woke the following morning and everything changed; Halloween 2014 was the epitome of everything can change in an instant - because it did. The situation changed. Our lives changed. The course of the life we pictured changed. My faith changed. Everything in my head changed.

Reliving the fear of that moment and that day doesn't get easier. It continues to be the most chilling, terrifying moment of my life up to that point. Within seconds of waking up, and going about my morning the same way I had for the past several weeks, I was screaming in fear. It felt like a gallon of fluid left my body and was now a puddle on my bathroom floor. I was helpless. Desperate for it to be a dream. I was certain I was hours, even minutes, away from losing my twins. As a woman, a mother, a soon to be mother... when your water breaks at 16 weeks 5 days you immediately think the worse. We hadn't even had time within this pregnancy to come up with a game plan in case of an emergency. What was next? Do I wait and see my doctor Monday morning? Do I rush to the hospital? Am I in labor? Call an ambulance? Accept that at this point in the pregnancy that the babies may already be gone? There was no emergency plan for 16 weeks gestation. There were no pre-packed bags to grab on the way out. There was no calm moment to take in our home one last time, just the two of us. There was only panic and fear. Complete chaos dancing in my mind.

In some ways this day was more frightening than the day I delivered at just 23 weeks. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because there was no warning. There was no mental preparation or plan for this moment. When you enter into a situation that wasn't planned and poses great tragedy, there's almost no recovering from the initial shock. In this particular moment, my fear was bigger than my faith. I could not remove my eyes or thoughts from what had happened and what it meant for the future of our daughters.

In these tough, scary, and challenging situations, people are quick to advise you that God will never give you more than you can handle. It sounds nice, but this is not true. There is no verse in the Bible that says this. It's merely an attempt to psychologically encourage someone that they can do it, but by falsely using God's intentions. Why would we ever need God if all situations could be handled independently?

Shortly after being admitted to Labor and Delivery and learning that if my girls had any chance of surviving I needed to first, not go into labor and second, to be on bed rest at least until 24 weeks gestation. At 16 weeks, 24 weeks sounds like it's years away. Just making it through the weekend was already going to be the biggest challenge of my life and now the best case scenario was laying there for the next eight weeks. This realization quickly taught me that I could not do this on my own. I needed God every day and every second of the day for the next eight weeks minimum. He was faithful to be there and provide. Through nurses, doctors, out of town family continuously there, friends that visited and brought food, family, friends, and strangers that prayed, keeping contractions away, keeping infection away, and keeping the girls in place while helping them to grow daily. It was a tough seven weeks being on hospital bed rest, but a lot of beauty was also revealed through God's help. 

Waking up on Halloween 2014, a year later wasn't even comprehendible. But here we are. We're living. We're smiling. We're laughing. We're moving forward. Our hearts are always a bit broken and empty from the pain of the loss of our Mary Elliott, but our hearts are also overflowing with love, happiness, and gratitude as we watch Sadie Ann grow and thrive. 
This is not the picture of my family I imagined a year ago, but I'm also not perfect at writing life's stories. God is. And our story is beautiful.

Every Halloween from this point forward will remind me of the emotions and pain that I never could have predicted. It will always be a hard day as it was the start of an incredibly difficult journey. Tomorrow we face our first Halloween that will always trigger these memories. But tomorrow we also wake up thankful. For lessons learned. Faith that has grown. Thankful for the past year behind us. Thankful for the upcoming year ahead of us.  


REVIEW: ProfilePRO Customized Hair Care

For 40% off a trial size at ProfilePRO use code: DT40OFF

I've never been fussy over shampoo or conditioner. I don't have a go-to brand or type of product that I use on a daily basis. I've used everything - drug store brands like Tresemme and Herbal Essence to more expensive products like Bumble and Bumble, Paul Mitchell, and Wen. I've never stuck with one brand too long and I've never been against trying new brands. So when ProfliePRO asked me to try out their customizable products, I was happy to do so!

The Product:

Basically, ProfliePRO customizes and formulates it's products for your specific hair type based on a questionnaire you fill out prior to placing an order.

You answer these questions, customize the name of your own shampoo and conditioner, and then check out. Easy-peasy!

They've put in the work and done their homework. They've analyzed different profile results and tested them on the various hair types to make sure each custom profile works! Their products are made in a manufacturing facility for cosmetics and hair products in Italy. The products are sulfate free for a gentle clean.

The Review:

My initial thought when I read about this product was awesome. Most shampoos and conditioners I've used only consider one (maybe two) characteristics of hair (re: for blondes, thickening, or smoothing). So to come across a product that's formulated for my type, texture, behavior, and scalp - all in one - was pretty impressive and definitely got me interested.

So I customized my products. My hair is wavy, frizzy, and thick. It's colored. And my scalp is between normal and dry. I chose the Jasmine scent. And done. It was being made in Italy and soon would be at my door.

First off, the signature Jasmine scent is ahhhh-stinkin'-mazin' y'all. For real. It's perfectly pleasant. Some beauty product scents are just too much. Over-bearing and sometimes even overcompensating for the product itself. I'm sure the other ProflinePRO scent options are just as great, but I totally recommend Jasmine.

It took me a couple weeks to really use the product and feel comfortable writing about it. I wash my hair 1-2 times a week, so I wanted to get in a few washes before forming any opinions. Because I don't wash my hair daily, it's important for me to have a shampoo that really cleans the scalp. I use dry shampoo daily and between that and just being out in the elements, I get a decent amount of buildup  around my roots after a few days. So shampoo is crucial for me. I don't care about the brand, it just needs to cleanse and restore my hair.

I had just a couple issues with the shampoo. Each time I washed my hair, I found myself having to use excess amounts to cover all of my hair. The website states that the shampoo does not lather due to it being sulfate-free. I've actually used a couple of non-lathering shampoos that have been great. The problem I had with the ProfliePRO was that it didn't really distribute. Once I put the shampoo in one area, it was almost impossible for me to move the product elsewhere. It felt like it just disappeared into my hair. I subsequently had to use more and more of the product to cover my entire head. I do have a lot of hair, but I just found it annoying that I had to go back to the bottle multiple times per wash.

In addition to that, as I mentioned, I need a product that washes away the buildup and grime; however, my scalp didn't feel as clean as I wanted it following a wash - which could have just been a result of having a difficult time moving the product around in my hair. So that was disappointing. In contrast to that, the shampoo is marketed as gentle and if you're someone who washes daily, it would probably be perfect for you. I need a deeper clean because of my washing schedule.

I think if you wash your hair every day or even every other day you need to try this customizable shampoo and conditioner. If you only wash a couple times a week, you may find it to be too gentle for a really good cleaning. Either way, I highly recommend everyone giving it a try!

***For 40% off a trial size at ProfilePRO use code: DT40OFF***


One Year Later: Finding Out We Were Having Twins

I mentioned in a previous post that in the upcoming weeks and months one year anniversaries will begin to pass by. Since the last year (or so) has been a blur, I’ll be using these one-year markers to remember those moments – joyful and painful. I just want to put into words the memories and feelings those days possessed in order to remember and to share. Since beginning our infertility journey, it’s been incredibly important to me to share these moments – good or bad – in hopes that it could possibly be a small light for those in similar situations seeking some level of comfort in uncomfortable situations. I’ll be the first to tell you, when I need information, I hit the World Wide Web. So I pray that these posts will reach women, men, or families that need it.

So here we are.

One year ago, on August 12, 2014.

Last year on this day Chris and I walked into our fertility clinic and were placed in a small room with an exam bed and an ultrasound machine. I found out I was pregnant two weeks prior via a blood test. My blood work suggested a successful pregnancy with numbers increasing appropriately. Today was the day we would finally (finally!) get to see the life inside of me.

In the past two weeks we had briefly discussed and guessed how many babies we could possibly be expecting. Ultrasounds prior to our IUI showed I had three mature eggs. So we knew it was possible that there could be three babies. Or there could be one. Or two. Or even six if all three released, fertilized, and multiplied (whoa!) - as multiples do run in my family.

But it didn’t matter. God was in control and how ever many were in there would be a blessing and a gift.

In the forefront of my mind, I felt like there was one. Deep in a tiny, quiet and calm part of my heart, I knew there would be two. I knew. God had been preparing me for two. I could not deny that and it was an indescribable deep-in-my-gut-feeling. But no matter what I felt or thought, the answer to our question of how many (a question only those who go through fertility treatment are thinking at the first ultrasound) was going to be answered in a matter of minutes.

I was sitting on the exam bed. Chris was holding my left hand and my right hand was keeping the paper sheet in place that covered my lower body. It didn’t take long and in walked our nurse practitioner and the sonographer.

It felt like a matter of seconds that I was lying on the exam table and anxiously looking at the ultrasound screen. Before I could even cock my head to look at the screen straight on, before I could even make sense of the black and gray images constantly changing shape, before I could even take a deep breath in preparation for the news I was about to hear, I heard the words, “So how do y’all feel about two?”

“What? There are two? Twins?”

“Yes, there are two. You’re having twins! Congratulations!”

It was like confetti was flying across the room and a loud applause began. I wanted to shout in excitement! Scream! Cry! Jump! Do cartwheels! It was the #BestNewsEver

We squeezed each other’s hands. We exchanged a look that I won’t even attempt to describe. Chris leaned down to give me a kiss. I had faint tears in my eyes for the pure joy of the entire situation. I was really pregnant. It was no longer an hCG number or a double line. I saw my baby. I could see BOTH of my babies. I’d finally reached a point in my life that I had desired so badly. I was pregnant. Really pregnant. And there was proof on the screen. Nine beautiful months lied ahead. Life could not get better.

The NP went on to show us baby A and baby B in detail. I was five weeks and two days along. Baby B already had a heartbeat and we got to stare and gawk at the most beautiful and miraculous flicker. Baby A did not have a heart beat yet, but our NP assured us that the baby implanted after baby B and she was confident that A would have a heart beat next week. We trusted her. And sure enough, the following week both babies had strong heart beats in the 140’s.

We spent the rest of that day basking in the fact that we were expecting twins in the Spring of 2015. That our lives would inevitably be flipped upside down in a matter of nine months – but in the best way imaginable. Life was unfolding into something amazing and it was just getting started. We called our parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and close friends.

That night we went to bed with smiles on our faces – we were glowing from the day’s joyous news.  Praising God for the two lives growing inside of me. Hands down, the best day of our lives.


A Year Later

A lot of days, and sometimes even weeks, seem to pass by at an unimaginably slow pace. It's like crawling through deep mud with no end in sight. Then, one morning, you wake up and an entire year has passed. My mother and grandmother both warned me of this: the older you get, the faster time flies. Not a literal truth, but the true none the less. And here we are. A year later.

A year ago today we found out I was pregnant. 

It was two weeks following our second IUI. Our second IUI last year was on our fourth wedding anniversary, July 17. We conceived on our anniversary. A beautiful thing to celebrate moving forward with each passing year. We obviously didn't know it at the time, but confirmed it after the fact.

I actually took a home pregnancy test before my blood work appointment that morning at 7a.m. and it was positive. The strongest positive I'd ever seen. I knew that it was possible for the test to be a false positive since I'd given myself a hCG injection several days prior, but I also calculated the half-life of my does and determined that it was unlikely that this was a false positive. But still possible. So I was hesitant to start the celebration.

On the drive to my doctor's office I felt happy. I had that feel-good feeling that only comes around when intuitively you know something great is about to unfold. I stopped by to get my favorite coffee drink before heading over to Montgomery. I went to my doctor's office, had the blood drawn, and then went about my work day. At the time I was doing home health, so I was in my car a lot during the work day. I remember it being a beautiful, sunny day. I rolled back the sunroof and listened to K-Love a little bit louder than usual. I just felt great. I knew.

Later that afternoon, around 3:30p.m. I received a phone call. It was a Birmingham number so I knew it was my doctor's office. This was it. All I needed to be considered pregnant was a hCG higher than 25. Mine was in the 70s. You're pregnant!, she said.

I feel it is a bit of a cliche to describe that day and actually hearing the words, you're pregnant, as surreal. But it was surreal. There's no other way of describing it.

Becoming pregnant a year ago closed our chapter of infertility. Perhaps once day that chapter will be reopened. Perhaps never again. I don't know. I don't even think of that possibility yet. I can't even consider doing all of this again. But becoming pregnant a year ago opened up a new chapter as well. A chapter that - in my mind-  had nothing but positive, joyful expectations. A beautiful, flawless story to share years from now.

The one year anniversary of our pregnancy rolling around means that in the upcoming weeks and months a lot of other one year anniversaries will be rolling around. Some that will put a smile on my face and others that will elicit tears and stir up emotions I wish to forget. But this is our story and our journey. I wouldn't have chosen it for myself, but I try to never question the plans God lays out for our life.

So I choose to embrace our beautiful storm.