I am super excited for my guest blogger today! Amy and I met through one of my best friends from childhood. She is super sweet and such a GREAT Mama...I was super happy when she said agreed to write a post for my blog.
Hey y’all! I am SO excited to be guest blogger for Emily! I met Emily through a mutual friend and I just ADORE her! I love reading her blog and secretly wish that I was as organized and on top of things as her! The truth is that most days we just get by the best that we can around here! I am so excited to introduce y'all to my family, tell you more about what keeps me going, and my two biggest passions right now!
Meet my best friend, husband, partner in this crazy life, my Steve-O!
Steve and I have been married for seven years and together for a total of almost ten years. I am a southern girl from Alabama who fell in love with a boy from St. Louis. We couldn't be more different but yet, he's my bestest =) friend in the whole world! I am the dreamer, he's the realist…I am the spender, he's the penny pincher… I love ADVENTURE, he loves routine… I love the beach, he hates the sand…y'all get the picture! Most importantly, he is my best friend and I am so lucky I get to do this crazy thing called life with him! Steve is a high school Assistant Principal and Athletic Director.
Meet Miss Caroline Grace:
Caroline Grace, our surprise baby and also miracle baby. Caroline is 5 going on 15! Everyday she makes me want to call my mom and tell her “I am sorry” because I know we have it coming for us with this one! She is independent, smart, funny, and makes our days brighter. Caroline was a surprise baby and truly the best surprise we have ever had. Currently Caroline loves all things Princess, horse back riding lessons, gymnastics, school, traveling, and staying home with mommy!
When Caroline was three days old, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called PKU. Talk about a shock to us as brand new parents! I will never forget the day she was diagnosed. The image of Steve and I sitting on our bed, as brand new parents, crying will forever be imprinted in my mind. I am going to share some information with you all about PKU before I go forward.
PKU: Phenylketonuria (fen-ul-ke-toe-NU-re-uh), also called PKU, is a rare inherited disorder that causes an amino acid called phenylalanine to build up in your body. PKU is caused by a defect in the gene that helps create the enzyme needed to break down phenylalanine.
Without the enzyme necessary to process phenylalanine, a dangerous buildup can develop when a person with PKU eats foods that are high in protein. This can eventually lead to serious health problems such as:
• Intellectual disability (formerly called mental retardation)
• Delayed development
• Behavioral, emotional and social problems
• Psychiatric disorders
• Neurological problems that may include seizures
• Poor bone strength
• Skin rashes (eczema)
• A musty odor in the child's breath, skin or urine, caused by too much phenylalanine in the body
• Fair skin and blue eyes, because phenylalanine cannot transform into melanin — the pigment responsible for hair and skin tone
• Abnormally small head (microcephaly)
For the rest of their lives, people with PKU — babies, children and adults — need to follow a diet that limits phenylalanine, which is found mostly in foods that contain protein.
Babies in the United States and many other countries are screened for PKU soon after birth. Recognizing PKU right away can help prevent major health problems.
Wouldn't you be scared?!? Luckily, the good news Caroline will be OK and if you lined her up in a room full of five year olds, you would never know anything was wrong with her! Caroline will have to on a strict diet for the rest of her life. Her diet will consist of fruit, veggies, metabolic food, and metabolic formula. PKU is very expensive. When Caroline was first born, Steve was a teacher and I was a high school guidance counselor. Needless to say, we were on payment plans due to the expense of Caroline's metabolic foods and formula. Each month we spend anywhere from $1,000 - $3,000 on her food and formula. The state of Missouri did not offer us any assistance due to the fact that we “ made “too much money” - laughable, I know! Debt started piling up! Between this and my student loan debt for my Masters Program, I had no idea how we were ever going to get ahead. I cannot tell you how many nights I spent crying rocking her to sleep. How many nights I spent worrying about our future and my daughters future.
Rewind to three years ago when I came across an opportunity that kept reaching out to me! I was introduced to It Works through a mutual friend. At first, I was very skeptical and was unsure if this was a fit for me. I was very busy with my full time job, Caroline's doctors appointments, my role as the head volleyball coach, and just being a wife. I knew something had to change! I joined It Works and the last three years we have just been so blessed by this amazing company and opportunity. It has allowed us to become DEBT FREE, I get to be a stay at home mommy, we have been able to travel more, give back more, meet new people, and truly understand what it means to have financial freedom. In 2016, I was named the Top 25 Income Earner for the entire company. I will forever be thankful for this opportunity and continue to change other lives because of the way this company has changed ours!
During our three year journey with It Works, we started trying for more more children! Steve and I both carry the recessive gene for PKU and because of this, we have a 25% chance that all of our children will have PKU. That initially scared us because we had NO idea how we would afford medical bills, daycare for two children, student loan debt, etc! It Works took all of those worries away and we started trying for more! After six months of trying, I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI).
POI: is a loss of normal function of your ovaries before age 40. If your ovaries fail, they don't produce normal amounts of the hormone estrogen or release eggs regularly. Infertility is a common result.
So that sucked, right?! We finally found a way to add to our family, provide for our daughter, and then we get hit with something else?!? Its been a crazy ride, y’all! PKU and Infertility are MY two BIGGEST passions right now! My goal is to spread awareness for both. Statistics show that 1 in 6 women are affected by infertility. This makes me believe that all of you reading this know at least one person who might be affected by infertility. Infertility is a long, emotional, raw, and an uncertain road to travel down. If my story can help ONE person, than I know that its all worth it!
One thing I know is that life is crazy and uncertain at times. You can spend a lot of time planning how you think your life should go and then BOOM, out of nowhere, something comes up that throws your “plans” out the door. This journey has taught me so much about myself. I realized over a year ago that I could wake up everyday and choose to be happy or unhappy. Two choices is what we all have each day. I choose to be happy and I know that through my faith in the Lord, everything will turn out the way it is supposed to turn out.
Romans 15:13 states: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This has truly become my life verse and one that I repeat to myself weekly, if not DAILY!
I am just a girl that loves the Lord, my family, my friends, It Works, unsweet tea, reading, occasional TV, wine, and of course, all things southern! Steve and Caroline are my goofballs that keep my going! Everyday that I get to stay at home with Caroline, thanks to It Works, is another day that I thank God for allowing this company to enter into our lives! Advocating for others with PKU and Infertility is my newest thing! I will never understand why both of these things have to be so expensive to deal with and will continue to advocate for change.
Thank you so much, Emily for allowing me this opportunity to spread awareness about two things that mean a lot to our family! This was fun! Maybe one day I can create the courage to start a blog myself =)
XOXO - Amy