New Year, Same Dreams

January 11, 2019

Now that the New Year has begun, I am finally excited to see what 2019 has in store for me. To be honest, I have been kind of dreading all of the changes that the New Year may bring; I know that change = growth, and growth is not only necessary but also good.

The issue is growth is scary.  In 2019, I will complete my Specialist degree, apply to a doctoral program, and attempt my third round of IVF (all while working a full-time job and raising a high school senior). Each of these ambitions are very costly and extremely challenging. I also feel guilty that my own selfish dreams take away time, money, and resources from my family.

I am kicking off 2019 with IVF, and it is one of my resolutions to chronicle the entire process in real time by blogging every raw moment of our Hail Mary attempt to have a precious baby.

Everyone is so kind to compliment me and tell me how strong I am to be able to handle my infertility challenges, but most of my friends and family only see the pre-IVF and post-IVF side of me who relatively has it together; the mid-IVF Krystal is incredibly stressed, anxious, and emotional (which can’t solely be blamed on all of the hormones).

To be honest, I am not as optimistic as everyone thinks. I am 28 years old and have undergone two IVF cycles that have not been successful, and none of my doctors know why. My biggest fear is that this cycle will end just like the others (without a successful pregnancy and with no embryos to freeze). My fears are exhausting. I am trying to remain positive, but it is hard to stomach that the $23, 983 that it will cost for treatment for this cycle (+$6,000 in medications + $3,000 for travel) could be spent in vain.

Despite my endless woes, God never fails to show up and show out. I am witnessing the miracle of pregnancy and new life all around me. I believe that God is showing me to have faith and trust Him more now than ever.

Regardless of what the outcome of this cycle will be, I am just thankful that we have the opportunity to try again. God has opened up all of the doors to point us in the direction of Dr. Schoolcraft, and I know that if this is going to work, CCRM is our best shot.

My IVF calendar began on January 3rd. I have been eating healthy, working out, and I have not had coffee in over three months. Isaac & I are still taking the slew of supplements that are preparing us for this cycle. Tomorrow will be Cycle Day 10, and I will begin testing my urine every morning to capture my luteinizing hormone (LH) surge.  I will begin the priming phase of the cycle by taking Estrace (Estrodial) 2 mg two days after I have ovulated, and I will continue this dosage until Day 2 of my next cycle. Then, I will have an ultrasound/labs on Cycle Day 3 to determine if I will start the stimming meds on Cycle Day 4.

I ask for prayers as we continue this journey!

All of my best,

KA

 

 

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Prepping for IVF Round 3

When I moved back home to Mississippi in November 2017, I was very concerned how that would impact our infertility treatment. I was very saddened to have to discontinue treatment at Arkansas Fertility and Gynecology since we had established such a deep connection with everyone in Dr. Batres’s office over the last three years. So, when Isaac’s Aunt Laura called me one night in January 2018 to tell me how she felt God had laid it on her heart to tell me about “Dr. KK”, I began to feel more at ease.

Aunt Laura raved about her experience with her new ob/gyn, Dr. Kara Brantley. Aunt Laura explained to me that during her visit at the doctor’s office,  Dr. KK described her own fertility struggles to her, and she felt that she needed to share it with me. I knew that I had to make an appointment with an ob/gyn before I could be referred to a new reproductive endocrinologist (RE), so I contacted Dr. KK’s office and met with her a month later.

During my exam, I explained my fertility journey to Dr. KK. She listened intently and quickly suggested that I go see Dr. William Schoolcraft. I was super excited that Dr. KK provided me a referral so quickly, but I was completely surprised to learn that Dr. Schoolcraft’s clinic is located in Denver, Colorado.

Dr. KK explained that she had gone to see Dr.  Schoolcraft when she and her husband were trying to conceive their two precious boys. Since then, she has sent 26 of her patients to him, and 25 of them have had babies. These are incredible odds! As impressive as these odds may be, the first red flag that popped in my head was the amount of money it would cost to fly out to Colorado and complete a 6-8 week IVF cycle.

Dr. KK informed me that I would only have to go to Colorado for one day for my initial workup and about ten days for the stimulation cycle/egg retrieval. Then, I would fly back out there again a cycle later for the embryo transfer since Dr. Schoolcraft only does frozen embryo transfers instead of fresh ones. She said that she would do all of the other blood work and ultrasounds at her office. This opportunity sounded enticing, but I was also skeptical.

After talking to Isaac and doing my research, we decided to contact Dr. Schoolcraft at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM) in Lone Tree, CO and schedule our phone consultation with him.

We had our phone consultation with Dr. Schoolcraft in May. The purpose of this consult was for him to learn about our fertility journey. We discussed the diagnosis, my treatments, and my cycles. He was extremely surprised that we have not been able to have a baby based on my medical records. He encouraged us to come to CO to have a workup done at his clinic, so we made an appointment to fly out there in August.

For me, this is where the intense anxiety set in. Based on the research I have done about Dr. Schoolcraft, he is like the Dr. House of infertility. There are eleven CCRM locations, and he founded all of them (the first one in Colorado). He primarily deals with challenging infertility cases, and it was difficult to realize that mine qualified as one of them. So, we booked our flight, hotel, and rental car. Then, we traveled to Denver.

When we arrived at CCRM, we were directed to a conference room for our orientation session. There were four other couples in there for their one day workup, as well. Two of the couples traveled from another country, one traveled from Philadelphia, PA, and the other traveled from Chicago, IL. We were the youngest couple by far by at least 10 years. The orientation was very informative and cleared up almost every logistical question I had regarding how the protocols and procedures would operate with me living in another state during treatment. Then, we were dismissed, and the long day of blood work, ultrasounds, tests, and scans commenced.

After meeting with our IVF nurse (Erin), the genetics specialist, and the finance team, we finished up the day with a face-to-face meeting with Dr. Schoolcraft. He looked over my results from the day and looked very surprised. He told us that before we came out there, he was sure that he was going to tell us that we should consider an egg donor. However, “on paper” there is no reason why I should not be able to have a baby, so he wanted to try. I was astounded! There was honestly a part of me deep down that thought our journey would be over after this visit, but I was wrong.

We did some sight-seeing, climbed Mt Evans in the snow (in August), and came home. Isaac & I had to go see Dr. KK on day 2 of my next cycle to get more blood work and ship it to CO. Those results were perfect, so Dr. Schoolcraft called to let me know that he had written my protocol and sent it to Erin. So, I contacted Erin about our prospective cycle start date.

I am scheduled to begin my stimulation medications (the thrilling hormonal overload) in February 2019. In the mean time, Isaac & I both have been prescribed a vitamin supplement cocktail for the next three months. I have also been accepted into a clinical study trial at CCRM for a new Acai fruit supplement called OvaHealth that has shown to increase egg quality.

Many people ask me if I am excited about our third round of IVF. This is a very difficult question to answer. I am blessed for the opportunity to be under the care of a medical pioneer like Dr. Schoolcraft and to try to have a baby again. However, I am extremely nervous and anxious. It is going to cost us twice as much for this one cycle than it did for one cycle in Arkansas. Many people say, “Oh, money is just money. You can always make more.” That is true, but having to take out a $30,000 loan is going to affect our family no matter how you look at it.

I know I should not be anxious because it is all in God’s hands. He has blessed Isaac & me with really good jobs and insurance. We have recently learned that our medical insurance has a lifetime max of $7,500 for infertility treatment (like IVF) and another $7,500 lifetime max for infertility drugs. This in itself proves that God is providing a way for us to attempt another cycle.

I also believe that God has placed me at my job for this very reason. Three of my co-workers have undergone IVF, so I have a new support system that is very dear to me. Holly, in particular, listened to me cry even when she barely knew me. Her encouragement and kindness is so inspiring!

So, here we are prepping our bodies for our third IVF cycle. We have so many pills to take that I had to purchase large pill organizers! Please pray for us and our family as we continue this journey.

Much love,

KA

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My Thoughts About Infertility (So far…)

I have dreamed of being a mother since I was a little girl. As I grew into an adolescent, I had many conversations with my girlfriends about our plans, dreams, and expectations of motherhood. My biggest goals were to go to college, marry my high school sweetheart, rock my teaching career, and buy a house before I started a family. Being as headstrong and determined as I am, I worked hard and exceeded every single expectation I had for myself. After I married the love of my life, graduated college, landed my dream job, and bought a house, I assumed starting a family would come just as easily; but it hasn’t.

Infertility is especially painful to experience when all of your cohorts are birthing babies left-and-right. The extent of my infertility did not really hit me until one of my best friends had her tubes tied. I did not have the heart to tell her the amount of envy that I felt. Not only was she able to successfully get pregnant and carry two healthy babies to term, but she was choosing to potentially end her reproductive years before I could even begin mine. Although I was super supportive of her decision, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself.

Now that my 28th birthday is creeping up in a few weeks, all I can picture is my Clock-of-Chance ticking away. Isaac & I have decided to start saving for IVF again. Hopefully, we will be able to begin our third cycle this fall. After the heartbreak of the last cycle, I was not sure that I could handle another round. No one can ever understand how taxing the emotional, mental, and physical effects of IVF are unless they go through it themselves. All of our family and friends are incredibly supportive, and we will be forever grateful for their love!

Despite the million+ emotions we have experienced throughout this journey so far, God has more than exceeded our expectations. God’s timing truly is perfect. I am embarrassingly impatient, so I have to remind myself of that daily.

Although we have not had a successful IVF cycle (yet), our Little (17-year-old) Hayley would not be here if I wasn’t born with pathetic reproductive organs. God answered our prayer to become parents when He placed her in our lives. Somehow, God knows what we need even when we think we have all of our wants figured out. I am so incredibly thankful for the blessings of this struggle!

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Why I Joined Rodan & Fields

PSA: I enrolled as a Rodan & Fields Independent Consultant a couple of days ago. Now, before all of my friends start hiding my social media posts, I want to share a few reasons why I decided to join the fastest growing premium skincare brand in America.

  • I am obsessed with the products, and I think everyone else should be too. 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the products that I have tried! The entire Redefine regimen has changed the way that I view skincare. After only a couple of uses, I noticed a huge difference in my complexion. The more I use the products, the more I fall in love with the way my skin feels. A major perk to being a consultant is being able to try more products and tell everyone else about how great they are!

  • It gives me a chance to help others. 

Confession: I am typically very lazy when it comes to skincare. I cannot count the number of times I have went to bed with a full face of make-up on. I really started noticing the effects of this on my face in my mid-twenties. Now that I am creeping up on thirty, I want to keep my skin as healthy as possible. Being a Rodan & Fields consultant not only gives me a chance to help others build their self-confidence; it also gives me the opportunity to educate others about the importance of proper skin care. I BELIEVE in these products and what they can do for other people.

  • It is beneficial for my family. 

I joined Rodan & Fields to hopefully help bring in some extra money each month. We just took out another loan to pay for our third round of IVF, so money is tight right now. I do not plan on getting rich off of this business, but any residual income is worth the work.

  • It is a great opportunity.

Rodan & Fields is more than just skincare. Before I officially joined as a consultant, I did TONS of research about the company and about the products. Rodan & Fields has changed millions of lives so far, and I don’t see any signs of it stopping. People can even try the products for SIXTY days and send them back for a full refund if they don’t like them!

  • I could not find a reason not to. 

Rodan & Fields is a billion dollar business that was built by the same doctors who created Proactiv. Although I did not suffer from acne bad enough as a teenager to need Proactiv, I personally witnessed how well the product worked on my friends. I had so many objections to joining as a consultant. All I could think about was how I don’t have time to take on another “project”. I work 40+ hours a week at my job, I drive 65 miles to and from work each day, I am a student in a post-graduate degree program, and I have a family to take care of. I also have to find time to fit in sleep and have a social life, as well.

Once I realized that Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields had already created a reputable foundation and were making it easier than ever to join and grow through the Fast Start Program, I realized that I could not pass this opportunity up again. Rodan & Fields is only running in three countries right now, so I can’t wait to see how much it grows!

I know that Rodan & Fields is awarding me so many more opportunities than I realize. I am investing in mine and my family’s future. Just in the few days that I have been a consultant, I have already met so many strong and ambitious women who are incredibly supportive.

I am not sure where this journey will take me. Ultimately, I pray that God uses me to help others change their lives for the better with this opportunity that I should have taken years ago.

Check out my website: krystaladcock.myrandf.biz for more information about my new business venture!

This is my unique story. Actual earnings vary significantly and no success or income is promised or guaranteed. Earnings depend on a number of factors, including: individual effort, business experience, diligence and leadership. Potential Consultants are urged to perform their own due diligence prior to making any decision to participate.

reputation Tour- New Orleans

I just left Taylor’s reputation show, and I am in shock and star-struck. It was the best show I have ever seen her perform! Taylor always puts on the best show, but I’m so amazed at all of the hard work and preparation went into making this tour such a success. And, seeing her up so close for the first time was undeniably a dream come true!

Taylor, you are incredible inside and out! Thank you for doing what you do. You have an amazing talent as a singer/songwriter/performer. I’m so impressed with how you are always so humble and so grateful for fans like me who have all 100+ of your songs playing on shuffle in the car almost every day. I am even more thankful for you! You are such a blessing in my life. I cried through the entire “Long Live/New Year’s Day” performance. It was beautiful! I will hold on to these memories forevermore.

P.S. If you’re not a Taylor Swift fan, you should be.

Taylor Swift’s 10 Most Underrated Songs

By Krystal Adcock

September 17, 2018

In honor of going to see the Reputation Stadium Tour this weekend in New Orleans with my sister and daughter, I have dubbed this week Taylor Swift Week” because it is considered a holiday in my family. This will be the fourth time I have seen Taylor perform live, and I still get more excited than a girl spinning in a brand new dress on New Year’s Eve to see her in concert.

Taylor has been performing throw-backs from her previous albums on this tour, and I have been reading article after article trying to figure out which ones she will perform at her New Orleans show. It would be impossible for me to narrow down a top 10 list of my all-time favorite songs of hers (although “All Too Well” is a definite front-runner); I tried once, and it made my head hurt worse than my college trigonometry class. Of course, every song is a hit in my opinion. I used to get up early on Sundays just to record “Tim McGraw” on the weekend countdown on the radio until I bought her first album. The only song of hers that I can’t listen to on a regular basis is “Ronan” because it may actually be the saddest song I have ever heard.

I am secretly hoping that TS will highlight at least one of the 10 Most Underrated Songs  (pre-reputation) in my opinion.

1. “All Too Well” –Red: It’s not a secret that “All Too Well” is a definite fan-favorite. This is song proves that Taylor is one of the best lyricists of all time. Every time I hear this song, I can feel the raw and honest emotion she pours into the song like it’s the first time I have ever heard it. It is brilliantly written! I really wish would have appeared on the radio, but I will settle for getting to hear it live in person.

“Time won’t fly, it’s like I’m paralyzed by it. I’d like to be my old self again, but i’m still trying to find it.”

2. “Forever & Always” (Piano Version) –Fearless: The original version of this song puts me in my feelings every time I listen to it, but the piano version makes my heart hurt even worse. “Forever & Always” is the epitome of what it is like to be dumped by your first love. It’s confusing, painful, and unforgettable.

“Cause I was there when you said forever & always.”

3. “Last Kiss” –Speak Now: “Last Kiss” exposes the real emotion immediately after a terrible breakup, especially one you never saw coming. These lyrics are haunting. At 4:26, you can hear Taylor’s voice tremble. The pain in her voice is heartbreaking and real. It gets me every time. You can’t make up that emotion.

“And I hope the sun shines, and it’s a beautiful day; and something reminds you, you wish you had stayed. You can plan for a change in the weather and time, but I never planned on you changing your mind.”

4. “Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)” –Taylor Swift: This song is special to me because it chronicles a lifetime of being in love. It’s so sweet and so good!

“Take me back to the time when we walked down the aisle. Our whole town came and our mamas cried. You said, “I do,” and I did too.”

5. “Never Grow Up” –Speak Now: “Never Grow Up” is a song that sits somewhere between a lullaby and an anthem for me. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be an adult. It’s great being able to eat popcorn, cereal, or ice cream (or all three) for dinner if I want to, but adulthood is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Pay attention to this one, kids. I wish I could have stayed little just a while longer. My nieces love Taylor, and this is the latest song that I am teaching them.

“To you everything’s funny. You got nothing to regret. I’d give all I have, honey, If you could stay like that.”

6. “State of Grace” –RedMany people were surprised when Taylor switched over to pop on her 1989 album, but I wasn’t. I have recognized elements of the pop genre on all of her albums, but “State of Grace” solidified it for me. This is the first song on Red, and it foreshadows what goodness is yet to come in Taylor’s career. The lyrics of this song are perfect, and I have a rock concert in my car every time it comes on! I didn’t get to see the Red tour live, so this is a song I would love to experience in person.

“And I never saw you coming, and I’ll never be the same.”

7. “The Best Day” –Fearless: “The Best Day” is such an incredible tribute to Taylor’s mother. This song is one of my all-time favorites, because it reminds me so much of  my late grandmother who raised me and my sisters. She worked daily to try to give us a normal childhood and be a mother to us. She passed away last October, and this song kept popping in my head as I was writing a speech for her funeral. It was only right for me to include these special lyrics. This song is everything!

“I hug your legs and fall asleep on the way home.”

8. “This Love” –1989: I just love 1989. After this album came out, I was really concerned that I would never like another album of hers more than this one. “This Love” is not a song that I hear much about (critically or otherwise), but it is one of my favorites. I’d love to hear it live again.

“This love left a permanent mark. This love is glowing in the dark, oh.”

9. “Untouchable” –Fearless: The lyrics and melodies in this song are, in fact,  untouchable. It is beautifully written and one of my favorite tracks.

“Untouchable burning brighter than the sun.”

10. “You Are In Love” –1989“You Are In Love” is a bonus track on the deluxe version of 1989. I wish this song would have been out in 2010, because it would have been my wedding song, for sure. It perfectly describes how true love is supposed to be. It’s perfect.

“You can hear it in the silence, silence. You can feel it on the way home, way home. You can see it with the lights out, lights out. You are in love, true love. You are in love.”

Taylor Swift catches a lot of crap for simply being who she is and writing songs that reflect her own experiences. It must take so much courage for her to lay her personal emotions out there for the world to see, and I admire her for that. The way she carries herself and cares about people inspires me to do the same.

Regardless of what the set-list is going to be Saturday night, I have been looking forward to this show for a very long time! I saved up for months to be able to purchase VIP tickets. Even though I will be sitting by myself in Pit C, I’m ready for it!

My Thoughts This Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has always been a difficult day for me. When I was a kid, I was envious of all of my friends who had a traditional mother to celebrate. As a young adult, Mother’s Day became even more painful as I watched all of my friends celebrate motherhood when infertility convinced me that I wasn’t worthy enough to do the same. This year, Mother’s Day is incredibly bittersweet, but I am overwhelmed with with joy and thankfulness.

I am celebrating Mother’s Day for the first time without the woman who raised me. I prayerfully began asking God to ease this grief, so I could enjoy the blessings of Mother’s Day. Amazingly, I awoke this morning with an overwhelming peace.

Although Nanny is in heaven, I know she is always with me. Her presence is more than a memory; I see her in the things I do and the things I say. Her greatest dream was to see me become a mother, and I’m so happy she was able to spend time with Hayley before God called her Home.

On this Mother’s Day, I am more thankful for all of the great examples of mothers in my life than ever before. There are many mother figures who have personally influenced me and shaped me into the woman I am today. I know God placed each of them in my life for a very special purpose. These women are so dear to me and will always hold a special place in my heart. I am surrounded by strong women who unconditionally love their families, and I strive daily to be as selfless as each of them.

Motherhood is a blessing that I often feel I don’t deserve. God has placed an immense amount of responsibility on me to raise a teenager, but I know that He has given me the best tools and strongest support system to lead a Godly example for our daughter.

Being a mother is one of the hardest, most rewarding jobs that I have ever been blessed with, and I never want to take my greatest responsibility for granted.

Thankfully, God has placed many examples of dedicated and faithful mothers in my life. There are so many days that my heart aches because I want to call Nanny and tell her something about Hayley or ask her for advice. But, even though I can’t do that, I know I am surrounded by a strong support system.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers who made me want to be a mother. Thank you for your love, dedication, and sacrifice. Thank you for investing your time and loving me even though you didn’t have to. I pray that I am able to bless my daughter’s life as much as you have all blessed mine.

To: My Last Class of Senior Babies—Love, KA

Dear Hampton High School Class of 2018,

Happy Graduation! I cannot believe how fast time has flown by. I have missed you every day since I left the classroom to pursue my dreams in the post-secondary education sector.

As an experienced secondary educator, I have conditioned myself to be able to handle the complex emotions that no professor warned me about during my undergraduate studies. If every excitement, stress, frustration, success, and failure was precisely described and accurately documented in the classroom arena, our country would not just be looking at a teacher shortage, but ultimately a teacher extinction.

For me, this broad-spectrum of emotions is always exemplified when I get a new group of 12th graders, and it was not any different with your class. Every August, I begin to mentally prepare myself for May, so I can emotionally process the sadness and excitement of another graduation. I had no idea that my traditional adjustment period would be cut short because of the need for me to move back home to Mississippi.

You will never understand how hard it was for me to leave you during the middle of the school year. It honestly felt like I was abandoning you because I thought no one could come in and love you all the way that I could. I also knew there was still so much wisdom that I wanted to pass on before you left to pursue your own dreams.

I am not sure if I have been as helpful and inspirational as Mr. Feeny (Boy Meets World) or Mrs. Townsend (my high school English teacher) like I dreamed of in college; all I do know is you have been the group of students I always dreamed of teaching.

Each of you have the potential to truly do great things in this world. I hope that you will always put others before yourselves, and you work harder than you are required to.

Always know that I pushed you to go above and beyond because I was encouraged to do the same. Overachievers are often criticized, but I am firm believer that hard work truly does pay off in the end.

I hope that you apply your hard-earned knowledge towards a successful career, whether you decide to go to college or not.

I pray that you wholeheartedly give all of the love, dedication, and sacrifice necessary to take care of your family. You were so understanding when I left to take care of mine, and I am forever grateful. I will never forget the kindness you all showed when my grandmother passed away. Thank you for all of the support you gave me when I decided to move home. I have never once doubted that y’all are on my team. I will always appreciate your maturity, empathy, and encouragement.

I know y’all don’t miss my lectures, but the main lessons that I want you to take with you into the real world have nothing to do with my English class. Regardless of how much I “bled” on your papers when I graded them, you will not know how to “adult” until you experience the world on your own.

I could sit here and waste your time by penning a fantastic misrepresentation about how “the world is your oyster” and some “Carpe Diem” hoopla, but y’all know I’m a realist, and I’d never lie to you like your parents did about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Here’s the run down: life is hard, love is harder, and people suck. The beauty of it all is that every trial, every success, every tear, every smile happens for a reason, and you are here for an even bigger purpose than any of us can fathom. You may not know your place in this world just yet, but I promise you will one day.

Look, I couldn’t wait to grow up, go to college, and have a family. I can proudly boast that I have accomplished those dreams, but not without struggles and heartbreaks. There have been countless times that I have wanted to give up, but I am so grateful that I didn’t. You will struggle, but you will succeed.

Tonight, I will watch my last group of seniors wall across the gym floor to mark a major academic mile-stone, and I couldn’t be prouder! Just know that whether I am asked to be a coach or forced to be a spectator, I will always be your biggest fan.

Each of you have blessed my life more than you will ever know. I hope that you will never forget how special you really are.

Class of 2018, …Are you ready for it?

All of my love,

KA

Words of Wisdom for the New Bride-to-Be

My little sister [finally] got engaged last weekend, and I couldn’t be happier for her and her beau! Although I am not a hopeless romantic at heart, I do believe in the power of love, commitment, and the sanctity of marriage. In my opinion, the engagement period is a perfect opportunity to really prepare your hearts for marriage.

Now that two of my little sisters are engaged, It’s only polite for me to offer up some big sister advice (that I know each of my sisters yearn for daily) about this sweet time before marriage.

Take it All In, But Don’t Take It for Granted

I felt like such a celebrity when I got engaged. Everyone and their mama wanted to gawk at my new shiny diamond. If I had a quarter for every time someone said, “Ooh! He did SO good!”, I would have had a very extravagant honeymoon.

At the end of the day, your engagement ring is really insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Although your diamond is tough and pretty, it is not going to be the reason your marriage is able to weather every scary storm and shimmer during every success.

Your engagement is a prequel to your marriage. It may be fun, but it will be equally as challenging. Celebrate the love God has blessed you with, and don’t take it for granted.

Have the Wedding of Your Dreams, But Be Frugal 

I loved being engaged to my future husband, but it was one of the most exciting and most stressful times in our lives. For me, our engagement felt a lot like a 9-month-long Christmas season.

All of the hustle and bustle of planning and shopping, the saving of every penny, the spending of every penny, and the anticipation of the “big day” are all worth the end result of a beautiful wedding day, right?

For Isaac, I think it was a 9-month-long headache. He seriously begged me to just go to the justice-of-the-peace instead of having a big wedding. In hindsight, that wouldn’t have been a terrible idea because we would have been just as married, less stressed, less broke, and more comfortable, i’m sure.

It’s so important to remember that your wedding should be a ceremony reflecting you and your husband’s lifelong commitment to each other and God; everything else is simply extra.

There are so many times during our wedding planning that I made decisions based on what others wanted or what would better accommodate our guests instead of focusing on how the core of our relationship would shift once we said “I do.”

No one told me that when the celebration is over and there are nothing but mounds of trash, food, and birdseed leftover, you will have trouble even remembering exactly who came that day.

So, don’t spend your time and money focusing on having “The Perfect Wedding” because your dream of marriage will quickly turn from a fairy-tale to a nightmare if your hearts aren’t synchronized and right with the One who brought you two together in the first place.

Ask for Help 

You think that you can manage all of the planning and prepping all by your big-girl-self, but go ahead and admit that you WILL need help, and you cannot be afraid to ask for it.

Along with all of the words of congratulations and happy wishes, there were so many people who said, “Let me know how I can help” during our engagement.

As I started to get overwhelmed with the craziness of wedding planning, it dawned on me that maybe these people were not offering just to be nice, but maybe they genuinely wanted to help out. So, I started writing down their names when they offered. Then, as I made plans, I called them and asked them to help by bringing finger foods, directing traffic, serving at the reception, and many other seemingly insignificant tasks that added up to be significant.

We would not have been able to have such an amazing day without the help of our friends and family, and we are forever grateful for their kindness and generosity!

Utilize your resources. It will take a lot of stress off you.

Honor the Memory of Those Attending Your Wedding From Heaven

This will be the hardest part of your engagement and wedding day. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to plan a wedding and celebrate such an exciting time without the grief of losing a loved one potentially overpowering the joy of such a special occasion.

One of my favorite memories of my wedding day was having my grandmother walk me down the aisle. As unconventional as that may seem, it was super special for the both of us. Nanny dedicated her life to raising my sisters and me, and it was only fitting for her to offer my hand to the man who chose to make a life with me (which she specifically warned him would be a daunting and expensive task, but completely worth it– apparently, I exhibit high-maintenance behavior or something).

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It saddens me greatly that my sisters will not have this special memory to look back on (I did try to get them both to get married sooner–procrastinators). Instead, they will always remember the grief of our grandmother’s absence.

The grief of losing Nanny is a heart-crushing, gut-wrenching longing that may not be filled until we see her again. Although Nanny cannot be included in your wedding plans physically, there is no doubt that she will be smiling big and eating cake from the greatest seat in the House.

Never Forget The Reasons Why You Wanted to Get Engaged 

I have been in a committed relationship with my husband for over eleven years now, and we have been married for over seven years. I really wish I could pen the fantastical and say that “marriage is bliss,” but my realist tendencies will not allow me fabricate the truth.

There will be EXTREMELY hard times in your marriage; it’s inevitable. I cannot tell you how many times I have been tempted to just throw in the towel because walking away seems like the easier option.

When stresses like finances, health problems, and exhaustion get in the way, don’t forget what made you fall in love with your spouse in the first place, and what made them “the one.” Remember that your spouse is the one that you chose to commit yourself to, to have a family with, and to grow old with. The responsibility is major, but the reward of a lifetime together is everything.

People do not get married with the intention of getting divorced months or years down the road, but statistics show that over 50% of marriages end in divorce. Although that data is frightening, it does not mean that the two of you have to be another statistic.

In the end, the real accomplishment is that you truly love, honor, respect, and support each other. Life is hard, and it can definitely make marriage harder if you let it.

Never forget all of the love, the joy, and the excitement during this time of engagement. You may not see the significance yet, but I promise you will later on in your marriage.

Now, let’s go wedding dress shopping!

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The Diagnosis

I have played the moment Dr. Batres, my Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), said, “you are infertile” a thousand times in my head. I was honestly a little mad and frankly offended that he even had the audacity to speak to me that way. How dare HE?

Dr. Batres broke the news to me after a routine hysterosalpingogram (HSG) in 2015 which showed that both of my fallopian tubes had a bilateral distal blockage (meaning both of my tubes were blocked, so it would be impossible for natural conception to occur). At the time, he did know the cause of the blockage (which can be caused by Endometriosis), but we would later find out in my unique case that the blockage was caused by a birth defect, which is something he had never seen before. Because both of my fallopian tubes were blocked, Dr. Batres informed me that my next step would be to have surgery to either unblock them or have them removed (and move to IVF).

There are no words to describe the devastation I felt after I received what felt like a death sentence. I was at the hospital by myself, and I honestly did not think I could go home to face my husband. I was ashamed. I felt so useless and like such a failure (failure is not something I handle well). Ultimately, I could not face the fact that my body or I would be the cause of breaking the hearts of everyone around me (especially Isaac) if I could not naturally bear a child.

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 I wish I could lie and say I handled the news with grace; but, my heart and dreams were shattered that day, and I have never been the same since. I was so sad and angry that I literally cried, screamed, and questioned God the entire two-hour-long drive home from Little Rock. How could He let this happen to ME? Am I not a good and faithful servant? Why do I deserve this? I honestly felt like God was punishing me for something I had done, or not done, or would do. 

It took a couple of weeks for me to get over my little hissy-fit before I became rational and realized that I was not being punished. I began to pray that God would give me the peace and strength I needed to get through this seemingly impossible time, and He did.

The Sunday following my HSG procedure, Bro. Don Phillips preached about Genesis Chapter 22 when Abraham’s faith is tested by God. 

Abraham & Sarah waited and prayed for years and years for a son, and God blessed them with Isaac. And, when God called for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham proceeded to fulfill God’s will even though he did not understand why.

This sermon resonated with me for all of the obvious reasons, but something more significant stuck out to me that day. God sacrificed his one and only Son for all of us, and I know that any amount of pain that I feel will never compare to that. 

I truly believe that God is intentional, and He knows our needs and wishes before we even consider them. I have not made an A+ on this test, but I know now that God has given me all of the tools of faith necessary to endure it.

My life as a parent today is not at all how I pictured it would be when I found out I suffered from infertility, and I thank God for that every day. Many of our friends and family do not believe that we deserve to have to endure the pain of infertility, but I know that the test is necessary because it has led us to Hayley. Without these trials, we would not have been blessed with such an incredible gift! 

Even after undergoing a year of treatment with Clomid and Letrozole (which made me CRAZY!) that preceded two (unsuccessful) rounds of IVF, Isaac & I are still willing to endure the battle of infertility in order to grow our family. Even if every round of IVF fails, and we have $0 in our savings account, I know that it is all a part of God’s plan for our lives. Every success and every failure is shaping us into the people He intends us to be. 

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