Twenty Weeks

20wks-8

How in the world am I already half way through my pregnancy?! It’s been an overwhelming, but incredible ride so far.

On May 22, we had our anatomy scan which identifies the gender of the baby and ensures baby is on track with growth. Since I have solely committed to not finding out the gender of our little jalapeño, we both agreed to turn our heads away while the technician confirmed the baby’s gender, although there was a struggle for me to keep my hand over Caleb’s eyes as he desperately tried to move it out of the way! No way! There is no way one of us could know and not tell the other, so too bad for you hubby. Our baby is looking healthy as can be and we are growing more and more excited for our little one’s arrival.

Wow. What a little miracle we have here. I am truly in awe at how baby is growing and developing. I felt Baby Robinson move for the first time on the 24th of May. Caleb and I were traveling back and forth from our storage unit (lots of lifting in this heat has made me almost reach my end!) and I felt a little roll from the inside! I exclaimed to Caleb I felt it!! I felt the baby! I called my mom immediately with excitement. It’s such an unbelievable feeling: like a little massage roller from the inside out and Baby R made her/his presence known. Now baby moves daily and sometimes she/he won’t stop! I can no longer comfortably lay on my belly, which is a bummer for me because that was my go to sleeping position prior to baby, but it’s all going to be worth it in the end.

Health wise, I am hanging in there. My biggest issue was dealing with hip and back pain. When I was working my hips would dislocate and hurt often, but now that I am resting, I am feeling better.

What’s getting me through this horrendous summer of being pregnant? The indoors are a must. I cannot go outside for long. I am dying to go swimming and cool off in the water. I wish we had a community pool here, but we sadly do not so it’s either to my dad’s house to go to the lake or they have a crappy lake here, but we have no boat to access it. There is a “beachfront” access (if you can call it that), but the water is so dingy and unsanitary. Lots of cool drinks: water, sparkling juices, and an occasional diet coke help keep my hydrated. I am constantly drinking throughout the day to make sure we keep healthy! Apple slices, grapes, kiwis, strawberries, and blueberries are the perfect summer treats to cool off too. To keep my busy on the inside, I am watching Hart of Dixie, knitting, and playing Neopets (yes, once again.)

On to the fall please! 139 days left until we meet our little one.

We are registered at BabyList and Amazon although we don’t officially have a shower planned yet.

 

xo,

Cass

And Then There Were Five…

Here I am, once again running behind on blog posts and updating on my oh so glamorous life. I turned the big 25 on February 26th. I always have low-key birthdays, so I spent the day relaxing at home and my husband and I went out to Olive Garden for dinner. My husband did gift me a pair of vegan Birkenstocks and I got some Juicy Beauty products (thanks to my mama) that I had been dying to try out, but in more important news, we’ve been keeping a bit of a secret. This may or may not have contributed to my lack of posting…

Proud Sisters

We are expecting! Our very first baby is due on October 22, 2018!

Continue reading if you want to know the story of how we found out, my symptoms and cravings, how the ultrasounds went and how having Chiari while pregnant is going.

Continue reading “And Then There Were Five…”

October 7th:

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I know I have been failing at keeping up with frequent blog posts so I apologize for not being with it. My life has gone from 0 to 100 miles per hour overnight. I work a full time job (which I never would have thought been possible) which keeps me busy, busy, busy. Caleb and I officially married last month on October 7th in a small ceremony in Belton, Texas.

Surrounded by our friends and family, it was a magical day where we focused on each other and recommitted our everlasting love. My favorite weather, a stormy sky, provided the perfect backdrop behind our ceremony. We included music from our favorite films and our reception had a candy bar, lots of Venezuelan food, and dancing galore.

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Details:

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I hope you loved the insight to our wedding. Please keep an eye out because more photos to come.

Xo,

Cass

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Cassandra + Caleb

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 07/31/2017 – we had our engagement photos taken in 103 degree heat (although you cannot tell!) by the amazingly talented Robin Rogers in Belton, Texas. The bohemian themed shoot includes a vibrant rug (one that we actually own at home), a pastel pink flowy dress, and a gorgeous updo adorned with flowers. I hope you love our romantic shoot as much as we do.


Hair & Makeup: @katyreddellbeauty | Photography: @robinrogersphotography | Location: Overlook Park, Belton, Texas | His Outfit: @gap | Her Outfit: tba | Mavis + Eleven’s Collars: @madebycleo

Bachelor’s of Science 

This past May I walked across the stage at Texas Tech University and accepted my diploma after five years of intense work, tears, and way too much stress. My undergraduate started in Fall 2010 when I took a few dual-credit classes to prep me for the years ahead. I entered McLennan Community College (MCC) as a full time student in Fall of 2011 after earning my high school diploma (with honors). I continued to live at home and work part time as a waitress and a babysitter. I was inducted to Phi Theta Kappa after my first semester for my grade point average and hard work.

In Fall of 2012, I moved to Austin to attend The University of Texas at Austin. I was accepted into the school of nursing, but switched (due to the anxiety of the competiveness of the program) to a nutrition major. I worked part time as a nanny and completed a few classes, but I grew too depressed to continue on. This was one of the worst times dealing with my depression. I became suicidal and questioned my life therefore, I returned home after the semester and took the following spring semester off to deal with my mental health. I began seeing a psychologist every week and focused on my health and diet (as I put back all the weight I lost and more due to the extreme mental agony).

Summer 2013, I returned to classes online and went back full time to MCC. I lost the weight I had gained previously to get in the best shape of my life. I got my first long-time job as a Client Service Coordinator at Banfield Pet Hospital and my GPA went back up! In May 2014 I earned two associates with honors (AA & AS).
After attending full time in the summer to get all my prerequisites finished up, I transferred to Texas Tech University as a Biology major and a Chemistry minor. I enjoyed my first year full of exciting science classes and excelled academically, but I began having health issues. I had unexplained faintness, rapid heartbeat, and chronic gastrointestinal problems. In September 2014, my heart went into atrial fibrillation and it had to be cardioverted back into rhythm after IV drugs did not work. I also began having intese allergic reactions and anaphylaxis which lead to my diagnosis of Mast Cell Activation Disorder.

Despite suffering from these issues, I was on a great path until summer of 2015. I quit my job because I was discriminated against for having depression and anxiety that did NOT interfere with my job. I was targeted by the head veterinarian (who was pretentious) along with another girl I worked alongside (she was the only black employee and she also was having a tough time). We were both basically treated unfairly and made to quit. I was told if I didn’t quit, I would be placed on leave without pay. We were thinking about getting lawyers involved for discrimination, but as anxiety goes, we both dropped it. This is when I began getting increasingly ill and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I started having brain fog and trouble with words and times (which is maybe why they thought my depression interfered with the job, only it wasn’t my depression at all).


That summer I attended classes full time and worked part time as a veterinarian assistant, but this is when I started having extreme problems (hence the archives start here!). Some of the symptoms I began experiencing was muscle weakness, slurred speech, confusion and brain fog, daily headaches, migraines, loss of balance and coordination, and horrible neck and back pain. The pain was so intense I would lay on the floor crying. I started seeing multiple doctors (even at the emergency clinic). I was told that it must just be a muscle sprain over and over again. As my symptoms progressed, I was let go from my job for fear that I may get hurt. I got several images taken: X-ray, CT scan, and MRI. I was told everything was normal. Luckily I had my dad on my side and we would not give up until I had an answer. I got my hands on the actual MRI report which stated: patient has a herniation of the cerebellar tonsils; something my doctor did not think was important to mention to me. I made an appointment to talk to her and she said that shouldn’t affect me at all because “my flow was good.”

Arnold-Chiari Malformation: “structural defects in the cerebellum. That’s the part of the brain that controls balance.”

She insisted that I just needed a psych referral and basically disregarded my physical concerns, needless to say I fired her. I fought hard for a consult with a “Chiari Expert.” My dad actually found a doctor in Houston that specialized in neurology and did posterior fossa decompressions as part of treating Chiari symptoms. I made an appointment with him and had severe issues having my insurance cover it. My dad offered to pay out of pocket for one appointment; we arrived, cash in hand, only to be told that was incorrect and they didn’t take payment from the patient (only insurance companies). My dad begged for them to see me, seeing how badly my symptoms were progressing, but we were turned away. He didn’t stop until he talked to the insurance representatives and they agreed to cover an appointment.

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I finally met Dr. Parish in November and he immediately diagnosed me with Chiari Malformation. My hands and feet were numb due to the lack of proper flow of the spinal fluid cord and he assured me that he could successfully complete the operation with a good chance of aiding or resolving some symptoms. On December 9th, 2015, I under went brain surgery to correct my defect. I had a leg graft taken to be placed in the back of my skull to allow more room for the cerebellar spinal fluid (CSF) to flow. This was an extremely hard time for me as I finished my semester only days before having to be operated on. That semester was truly a grueling one; I had to battle ongoing symptoms of the defect while having to focus on school. The brain fog was immense and it was hard for me to concentrate and memorize. This was the start of working harder than everyone to maintain my grades. In addition to all of this, my grandmother passed away in November only a couple weeks before my operation, but I made it through.

I tried to use my winter break to recover. I signed up for Spring classes foolishly. I was so eager to stay on the path to graduation which was planned for December 2016. After making it all the way through April, it became too much for me to deal with. I wasn’t used to studying after the operation, which is thought to be a Traumatic Brain Injury because of the invasiveness and the aftermath. I couldn’t cope with my confusion. Although my numbness and slurred speech improved, I had much difficult thinking of the right words, staying on a schedule, and had a horrible memory. The pain, which I thought had been resolved (probably masked by the incision pain?), reappeared in March. I made the choice to medically withdraw. My anxiety was incredibly high because I had never had such problems with school as I did that semester.

That summer I had so many life changes. My previous relationship ended and I met Caleb. I questioned my ability to go through another year of school, but I pushed forward. I ran into financial issues as I had to find out the hard way that financial aid is hard. I returned to school in August 2016, determined that it would be my last fall semester. I changed my minor from chemistry to health professions because I would have had to stay an extra semester for one class and I had had enough! I somehow made it through a grueling semester in which I moved and made some serious changes.

January 2017 I started my last semester at Texas Tech, extremely terrified at the course load. I’ll admit that I’m terrible at chemistry and had to buckle down to pass. I somehow managed to make it through despite facing some discrimination along the way (short story: my chemistry teacher blew up on me for forgetting how to set up and apparatus). The months were the slowest of my life. They dragged on and on and I counted the days I had left. I finished my last final on May 12th; that feeling of waking up the day after and coming to the realization I don’t have to endure this repetitive cycle of driving 72 miles back and forth to school and constantly stressing over attendance (that’s what chronic illness does) and proficiency (grades!) is over… it’s liberating, the best feeling in the world! I can’t believe I did it. Over 5 years of hard work with so many challenges and setbacks. I’ve done it! I drove to Lubbock alongside my mom, Caleb, and Dianne to accept my Bachelor’s of Science on May 19th!

So what now? Where will my life take me? I’ve spent this past month applying for jobs left and right, in hope that the perfect one will arise and be interested in my education and experience. I’ve been looking at administration jobs because I know with my chronic pain and conditions, a standing job isn’t ideal. I’ve been working hard this month: exercising, eating healthy, and attending appointments (neurology, allergy, and my PCM to manage my care). I ended up in the ER late May after some terrifying symptoms (numb and blue limbs, confusion/brain fog [worse than usual], feeling faint, & low blood pressure) occurred. It was concluded that I had complex migraine (how can this turn your limbs blue with the blood pooling?) and I got a referral for neurology to see why I am having chronic migraines and neurological issues. The ER doctor said that he saw an old lesion on my cerebellum, which makes me wonder if it is a result of the decompression or something completely different. I fainted a couple weeks later and experienced rapid heart beat upon standing, so a referral to cardiology was put in as well. Praying that I can get these symptoms under control!

Managing my health and upcoming career is stressful to think about, not to mention my endless wedding planning for our upcoming October “I dos.” I often think about my future life and what it will turn out to be. I’ve always wanted to be a mother, but I never thought chronic illness would affect me so much. I just need a steady career and some more answers and/or treatments to manage my defect and diseases. Right now I’m battling my thyroid disease as my medication needs to be adjusted (my synthyroid dose is too low). I just found this out on Friday after my biopsy consult. My doctor that had ordered this test had my results and said nothing (why you have to investigate yourself!). No wonder I’ve been feeling so sluggish, run down, and hungry. Despite working out and eating healthy, I’m not losing any weight! So many times I haven’t been informed of my test results, which is why now I will request a copy!

Here’s to my crazy life ahead (post-undergraduate)! Let’s see where life leads me! Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

Xo,

Cass

Dog Vlog

Hello lovely followers and new readers! As most of you know I have two lovely little pug princesses that are a big part of my crazy life. I’ve been trying to keep my youtube channel somewhat updated with their troublesome adventures, therefore below, I have included two videos from the past month!

The first one is a look into the first week I brought Eleven “home” to Grandma’s house to get acquainted with Mavis and myself. This time happened to fall while Caleb was off in California for training, so it was an all girls adventure in bringing this tiny soul into our lives. Mavis and Eleven have been best friends ever since meeting and they constantly play back and forth.

The second little clip is from Mae’s first time “home alone,” while Caleb and I took a couple of hours to do errands. What a sad little girl she was. While Eleven was confined to her crate, Mavis took her “freedom” aimlessly roaming around in a confused state of solidarity.

I hope you enjoy the videos above and if you would like to subscribe to our youtube channel, we would love that (unfortunately we can’t even name our channel until we have 100 followers! Okay youtube this is one of the most stupid official rules!)!

xo,

Cass, Mav, & Ele

What’s In My Bag?

As promised to my instagram followers, here is my What’s In My Bag? Spoonie Edition! As a sufferer of multiple chronic illnesses, it is most important that when I venture from the comfort of my own home that I bring certain essentials to help me survive the cold, harsh world ( a little dramatic, I know). Above are just a few items that are my necessities for a successful outing; one that I can manage pain for the most part and have everything I could possibly need for a spoonie emergency.

My Bag: Mossimo Supply Co. miniature backpack from a while back

What’s In My Bag?

For pain:

  • Mylan Lidocaine Patch 5%: I use these pain patches for my lower back, where my nerve pain drives me crazy at times. Although, I don’t use these everyday, when I do they tend to numb the area slightly enough to provide a little relief from relentless nerve pain.
    • “Mylan Lidocaine Patch 5% is a prescription medicine used to relieve the pain of post-herpetic neuralgia, also referred to as after-shingles pain.”
  • Real Time Pain Relief© – Pain Relief Lotion: I discovered this analgesic for muscle pain and more in the exchange at a booth and I actually really like this formula in comparison with brands such as Icy Hot and BioFreeze because it has a low menthol percentage. Menthol seem to have a rough effect on my skin leading to a burning-like sensation, so I was happy to find a natural pain cream that smells good and doesn’t hurt!
    • “Real Time DAILY Relief Lotion offers hydrating moisture for your skin with Homeopathic benefits. Made with 15 of Nature’s Ingredients including Aloe Vera, Arnica, and Nutmeg, Real Time DAILY Relief nourishes the skin while relieving stiffness and pain. It supports the regenerative processes of your body and provides the relief you need on the daily. With a fast absorbing formula, invigorating light-menthol feel, and great smell, Real Time DAILY Relief is perfect for everyday use!”
  • Pain Management Medications: Dicyclomine used for IBS related symptoms such as severe stomach pain and diarrhea, Tramadol my prescribed pain medication, I’ve been taking since 2015 to help manage my chronic back and neck pain, Methocarbamol – to help with muscle spasms (back), & Zomig, my migraine medicine that I have found myself using weekly.
  • Advil: I try to limit the NSAIDS I take, but just in case the prescribed combination isn’t doing it

For Reactions:

  • Mylan Epinephrine Auto-Injectors (EpiPen®): I have been administered epinephrine three times (one in hospital, two in clinic) due to anaphylaxis and near-anaphylaxis symptoms, so keeping these bad boys on me at all times can be a lifesaver for my reactions.
  • Allergy Relief – diphenhydramine (aka Benadryl): I never know when I am going to have a mast cell reaction. Since being diagnosed with MCAD (mast cell activation disorder), I have weekly reactions that results in severe hives, diarrhea and intentional upset, and can sometimes even lead to breathing difficulties.

For Beauty:

  • Go-To Skincare Very Useful Face Cream: I got this product in my Be Kind To One Another Box (BKTOAB) from Cass and I love how light and refreshing the formula is. It makes a perfect base before applying foundation and leaves my skin feeling gorgeous!
    • “This is face cream that is as much about anti-oxidants as it is moisturisation, because anti-oxidants are just as important. They stop free radicals (found in UV rays, smoking, environmental pollutants, toxins) attacking your skin, which is the main cause of ageing in the shape of wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity and suppleness. And since we get 50-80% of our free radical damage before we turn 21, there’s good reason to be incorporating anti-oxidants into your skin care as early as possible, (and for as long as possible.)”
  • Wet n Wild CoverAll Créme Foundation: Finding the fight foundation has been a long time problem for women. What’s the right shade? How much coverage do you get? Does the foundation fade? Is it matte or sticky? So many questions and so many foundations tried and this one has been a favorite; It’s cruelty free, light on my face (not super heavy like Kat Von D’s Lock It Foundation), and covers/blends well. With it being super affordable, it’s definitely worth a try!
    • “Acne scars? Dark spots? Under eye circles? We’ve got you covered! Our cream foundation does it all. This cream makeup blends seamlessly for all-day wear, and its flawless, lightweight formula provides buildable, medium-to-full coverage that evens out skin tone and conceals imperfections. Absorbing powders rid excess oils on the skin’s surface, leaving behind a soft, satin-matte finish. Contains VisiBright™ Technology: a skin-perfecting complex that reduces the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots, while hydrating skin’s natural collagen for a rejuvenating lift.”
  • Oil & Wind Silicone Beauty Applicator: I previously was using a Beauty blender, but was annoyed at the time it took to clean, the breaking of the sponge, and the amount of product wasted. This Silicone applicator has completely fixed all those problems! It’s extremely easy to use and doesn’t absorb any of the product! This ultimately saves money and is less messy! (Also doesn’t irritate my skin like the BB has in the past)
  • e.l.f. Bronzer – I’m very much in to bronzy looks, so this palette was a steal at only $4! It has made its way into my everyday makeup look.
    • “This bronzer creates a healthy looking glow all year round! The sheer soft powders provide the perfect hue of color. Blend all 4 colors together to achieve a blend of perfection or choose your favorite color.”
  • BH Cosmetics – Flat Top Buffing Brush: I got this wonderful set for Christmas last year and I love these brushes, plus they are cruelty free, which is a must!
    • “Professional makeup artists and beauty mavens will appreciate our Sculpt and Blend 2 – 10 Piece Makeup Brush Set. With face and eye brushes, the versatile collection was designed for use with liquids, creams, and powders. The full range of dual-fiber cosmetics brushes tackles a wide variety of application needs, from applying blush, bronzer, and powder to lining, defining, blending, and smudging to achieve a flawless look. Cruelty Free Synthetic Duo Fiber Brushes”
  • Natural Mineral Blush by Dusty Girls: in Golden Delicious – This was a BKTOAB item from Australia that I absolutely fell in love with. It has been my favorite all time blush that I have ever tried. The blush is really pigmented and perfect for my olive skin tone!
    • “Softly contour your cheeks with this versatile shade for a flawless, matte finish. Pressed with a blend of gold and terracotta tones to brighten your smile and enhance your complexion.”
  • Brow Wiz® by Anastasia Beverly Hills: I have extremely thin brows, so filling them in is something I like to do for a confidence booster. This has been my favorite brow product thus far, although the wand broke over time, but at least the pencil still is perfect. I had to go to the website to learn how to properly apply the Brow Wiz to get the perfect brows.
    • An award-winning ultra-slim, retractable pencil that creates precise, hair-like strokes. Use Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz®‘s fine tip to spot-fill areas where brow hair is sparse, and the custom spooley end to blend for a flawless finish.”
  • Better than Sex Waterproof Mascara: I discovered this mascara right before my engagement in October of last year and have loved it ever since. This mascara makes my lashes look so amazing and it truly is tear proof!
    • “Go ahead and cry happy tears, Better Than Sex Mascara is now WATERPROOF! Our iconic hourglass-shaped brush unlocks the volumizing formula that thickens, lengthens and curls for the most extreme, mind-blowing lashes. One coat and lashes are full, defined, and stretched to unbelievable lengths. Two coats and lashes look even more luscious, curled, and dramatic. Three coats and you’ve achieved the most intense, voluminous, waterproof lashes possible!”
  • Anderson Lilley Sicilian Tangerine Beach Butter Body Cream: I absolutely love this lotion! I got this wonderful body cream in my first FunFitFab box I ordered last year and this product has been one of my favorites, but being honest, everything in the box was pure gold!
    • “On a walk through the Sicilian countryside we came across a grove of tangerines that inspired us for this mouth watering fragrance.  Juicy citrus, fragrant blooms, Mt. Etna in the background and a warm summer breeze all around us. Tangerine, mandarin, peach, bergamot, jasmine, mango, black currant, musk, vanilla.”

Everyone Needs These:

  • Guess Sunnies: My dad bought me these on sale at the exchange and they’re perfect for protecting my baby blues.
  • Hurraw! Lip Balm in Vanilla Orange: Another BKTOAB perk! I love this lip balm because it is so smooth and smells wonderful.
  • Michael Kors Wallet: a tiny little wallet, but within lies my whole life in card forms.
  • Spare Change: for those 99 cent deals that charging the card is out of line.

Just in Case:

  • Everyday Good Emoji Bandage: I love these little bandages that Cass sent my in my Be Kind To One Another Box earlier this month. I have adhesive allergies, so these bandages are perfect for sensitive skin and their good for the environment too!
    •  “Just like the Nude range, our Emoji Biodegradable Bandages break down in 2 years and decompose completely in around 4. They’re made using 15% recycled materials and the packaging was carefully sourced to be 100% from recycled material. It’s end to end as sustainable as we could find!”
  • Fresh Nap Towlette: one word: germs.
  • Little Buddha: I bought this little guy back in 2012 on Spring Break in New York City (China Town) and since then he’s kind of my lucky little charm that I bring with me when I take my college tests a few years now. He’s even made it through being sucked up in the vacuum, so I’d say he’s pretty lucky.
  • Diet Coke: Although I am now limiting my addiction, I still indulge in a couple of precious fluid ounces of Diet Coke a day. No, Coke Zero is not the same nor better.
  • Extra Hair Ties: I never know when my hair will act up becoming unmanageable or I have had several ties actually break while in my hair (thick hair problems)

I hope everyone has a great final week in April! It’s definitely been a rough couple of days this past week, but I am trying to keep pushing forward. I am most eager to graduate on May 19th and to finally be rid of my undergraduate campus! So close, yet so far.

Xoxo,

Cass