Saturday, August 13, 2016

Chandler Kate

The day that the test flashed the word "pregnant" I literally sat down in the bathroom floor and just let the flood of emotions take control. I ran the spectrum from shock to ecstatic as I tried to let it sink in that something I had dreamed of for a large majority of my life was finally a realization. I drove to Barnes and Noble, purchased Clay a book on becoming a dad, excitedly tied my pregnancy test to it, and waited for him to walk through the door. This little baby instantly held my heart and while the weight that came with knowing I was growing new life was a bit overwhelming, I was so thankful that we had been blessed to start this journey. We, were now three.

Like most first time moms, I did my research and I did all the right things, but at 18 weeks pregnant, we received a phone call. My elective AFP screening panel had come back positive for Downs Syndrome. During that phone call, I experienced what I now realize was my very first panic attack. Again, I found myself sitting on the floor, but this time flooded with fear and unable to catch my breath. All of a sudden all MY hopes, all MY dreams, all of MY plans for the future suddenly shifted. The love I felt for this sweet baby stayed steadfast, but the vision of what our future held with her changed. Within that week, we saw a specialist who walked in, told me we had pretty good odds of a false positive, and almost instantly calmed my anxious heart. We had multiple ultrasounds that day and were told, "we see no markers at this point," but that we still needed another appointment and testing to confirm. Throughout this experience, I did the one thing I knew to do, I prayed. I pleaded with our Lord that if this was the situation we were facing to allow us to do so with grace. I also asked of him to never allow our child to feel less than once he or she entered this world. I wanted him to work in our hearts so that we could show our baby how loved, desired, and precious he or she was to us and on repeat was "Find You on My Knees" by Kari Jobe.

    When my hope is gone,
        When the fear is strong
        When the pain is real,
        When it's hard to heal
       When my faith is shaken
       And my heart is broken
       And my joy is stolen
God I know that, you lift me up, you'll never leave me thirsty, when I am weak, when I am lost and searching, I'll find you on my knees. 
Up until this point, we had decided to keep the gender a surprise until delivery, yet I felt the desire to experience some joy in days that had been very tearful and full of the unknown, so at that same appointment, the gender of our baby was written on an ultrasound picture and my mom got to planning what would be an amazing gender reveal party! Clay and I were convinced I was having a boy and dressed accordingly. I wore a denim dress and he wore a blue plaid shirt. Surrounded by 50+ of our closest friends and family, it came time to pop the massive black balloon that would tell us boy or girl. Soon, Clay and I were showered in pink confetti and glitter. We were having a girl. 

Weeks later when the genetic testing results came back that the chance of her having Downs Syndrome was slim to none, I was equally confused as I was happy when he said that he would like to continue seeing my throughout the remainder of my pregnancy. I remember thinking, if there isn't anything abnormal, why continue, but I scheduled the follow up. At our next appointment a few months later he made mention of the fact that we had a tiny baby. For the record, I truly love take no chances type of people so when he said that he needed to see us again, this time to monitor her growth, I was all in. Each appointment, she would gain weight, but certainly not the average and with no explanation as to why. Everything about my pregnancy was textbook and our specialist said, "your body says I'm healthy, she can stay here , but her body says it's time to go." So, at 36 weeks we were given the choice of delivery her via c-section or continuing to let her stay in utero but with the risk of intrauterine death. Clearly, there was no question for us, the risk of leaving her in my belly felt too high and on February 25th, Chandler Kate made her entrance weighing 4lbs 13oz. The moment I saw her face, heard her cry, and held her in my arms is forever burned on my heart. She is every beautiful word I can think of and I cannot tell you the feeling of disbelief that comes with knowing this blessing is mine.

If you know me at all, you know I struggle with constantly questioning things. The what if of situations flash through my mind all the time. There are moments where I'm rocking her to sleep and staring at her precious face, I think what if. What if I hadn't done the AFP screening, what if that didn't lead us to our specialist, what if he was ok with letting me walk out the door instead choosing to fill his schedule with a patient who was having a seemingly healthy pregnancy? Would we have caught her deficiencies? Would I be holding her in my arms? Then, I realize that I'm holding her, because God trusted her to us. She was HIS hope, HIS dream, HIS plan of the future, not my own. There is no coincidence with my God, there is simply intent, and I fully believe he intentionally led us through the struggle to shower us in the end with the blessing that is a little girl we love more than words can express.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Favorite Things Friday!

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I fully embrace being a girly girl! With that though, comes a lot of different (and required) products to keep me oh-so-pretty! Let me share with you some of my favorites! 
1. Tarte BB Cream with SPF 30:
 As a melanoma survivor, skin care is something I am horribly passionate about. Unfortunately, I am VERY sensitive skin and most make up containing sunscreen did nothing but break me out! Then, I stumbled across this gem from Tarte! It feels so fresh and light on my face, leaving my face feeling covered and protected from the sun and his sneaky rays! Tarte's makeup is made of all natural which doesn't hurt either! 
         2. Fake Up by Benefit
As a teacher and the wife of a firefighter, sleep is something that doesn't come easy! It certainly doesn't  help with the naturally dark under eyes I have! Meet Fake Up. This is one of the best concealer I have ever used! The center of the stick is the actual tinted concealer and the outside is a Vitamin E concoction to stop creasing and moisturize under your eyes throughout the day. Talk about love..... 
     3. Naked 3
I cannot say enough about how fabulous this eye-shadow palette is! As a pale girl with reddish hair some of their previous colors were always way too dark for me and then came these lovely shades of pink/rose! They are so much fun to play around with and give me lots of room for variety. A must have in your make-up collection, for sure!
     4. Babylips by Maybelline
This is  my newest obsession! I am a lip gloss junkie, but am always looking for new ways to keep my lips hydrated! Babylips for the win! Not only are the colors so subtly beautiful, but their clear and medicated versions are just as fabulous as well. The biggest bonus? They have an SPF of 20 as well! I love things that keep me protected and kissable at the same time! 
                       5. Victoria's Secret Wild at Heart Body Spray and Lotion
I love things that smell fabulous and this lotion/body spray delivers! It is a mix of red passion fruit and sheer vanilla and I am addicted! My nose loves me. 
             6. Purity Face Wipes by Philosophy
Let's face it! There are nights where we are either too tired or simply just too lazy to wash our face. Right? These totally take that excuse away from me! I love my regular Purity face wash (when I use it). It has the cleanest smell and is super gentle. When I found these I was so excited to try them and they work the exact same way! The convenience is also nice too! Just like a baby wipe, easy to use, and has the same great smell as the actual face wash! 
         7. Not Your Mothers Hair Oil Treatment
 The smell of this product alone is worth every single penny! It smells like summer. It is the perfect scent and I can't even find words to describe what exactly it is, but it is good.... Really good. It also does everything it says it will do. It adds shine, a little lift, and smooths down my hair in ways I didn't know were possible! The best part? It is so affordable! 

Check in next Friday for my favorite home finds! :)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Story...

I’m one of the lucky ones, they say.  I never had to undergo chemo or radiation, and all my lymph nodes are still in place, but the truth of the matter is that melanoma changed me completely.  I was diagnosed at 18 during my freshman year of college.  The year prior was full of events that required me to be in evening gowns. There was prom, then the yearly pageant my school held, and don’t forget about those awful vocal music dresses that surely looked better on me when my skin was tan. Those moments in a tanning bed, defined my future.  While my friends were vacationing during Spring Break, I was undergoing a wide excision surgery to remove six inches, vertically and horizontally, skin on my back all the way down to the muscle. This surgery was my cure, but it wasn’t completely healing, because the emotional scar runs a bit deeper and has lasted far longer.

 The misconception associated with the word melanoma is that it will simply be cut out and everything  will be fine. I can’t tell you how many of my friends spoke those exact words to me when I shared my diagnosis with them.  Quite frankly, until I had my doctor tell me that there may be a chance that I could only have five to seven years left to live depending on my test results, I didn’t understand the severity either.  My friends couldn’t understand the situation I was in and it wasn’t because I had surrounded myself with people weren’t able to feel empathy; it was because they simply weren’t educated.

 My family, they became my saviors, the people I laughed with to distract me from the constant terror I felt in my stomach, the people who held me when I cried, and the people who found strength  for me when I couldn’t find it in myself. In fact, it was my mom, who saved me. She was the one who had noticed the mole on my upper back that had gradually became dark black and she was the one who called me with the information from the doctor of my diagnosis. Often times, I still wonder how she found the strength to call me, her only daughter, to tell me I had cancer.  My melanoma diagnosis didn’t just emotionally scar me; it scarred every person in my family.

Life after melanoma is different to say the least. I’m far more cautious and I’m often fearful of reoccurrence. For the rest of my life, every six months, I will visit my dermatologist. I sit undressed in a brightly lit exam room while my doctor goes over every inch of my skin. These checks, more often than not, end with a biopsy of a something that looks suspicious leaving an open wound on my skin that takes weeks to heal. I then prepare myself to tell my loved ones that we are, yet againhedule my next 6 month appointment, I normally take 20 minutes to emotionally breakdown in my car before driving home to my family that we are, again, waiting for pathology results. I will do this every 6 months for the rest of my life. Sounds super fun, huh? All that for the sake of tan. Be smart with your skin because trust me, you don't want my routine.hedule my next 6 month appointment, I normally take 20 minutes to emotionally breakdown in my car before driving home to my family that we are, again, waiting for pathology results. I will do this every 6 months for the rest of my life. Sounds super fun, huh? All that for the sake of tan. Be smart with your skin because trust me, you don't want my routine. waiting on pathology reports. The chance of reoccurrence for me is 2% and while that may seem like a very small number, it is actually quite large in relation to melanoma.

I never dreamed that before I graduated college and said I do, I would be a cancer survivor, but it is my reality.  I wasn’t lucky, I was blessed and I feel strongly that I am meant to educate others on how to care for your skin. Unfortunately, I wasn’t educated on the effects of tanning, but don’t let that be your excuse. Don’t be like me. Your desire shouldn’t be getting tan. Your desire should be to stay alive because it is that serious. Educate yourself before you find yourself in a situation that educates you.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My defining moment (part one)

 Part One: I was eighteen and a freshman in college when I was diagnosed with melanoma. That was my defining moment. I suddenly went from worrying about mid-terms and how I would spend my first spring break,to worrying about how much time I had left to live. This moment shaped who I have become and who I will be. The repercussions were immense. During my scariest moments, I started to write about the things I wanted to accomplish in my life. In such a saddening time, I was fighting for my future and below are the things I couldn't imagine leaving this world without experiencing.  The words below I wrote 6 years ago....

  • " I want to explore all the beautiful places I have never seen. I want to travel the world and experience other cultures. I want to love the feeling of coming back to Oklahoma and knowing that no matter how far I go it will always be home.
  •  I want to graduate from college a teacher with the attitude that making a living is not making a life. I want to have my own classroom where children come in feeling safe and appreciated for being indivuals with their own view of the world. I want to make a difference in someone's life.
  • I want to fall in love with a man who becomes my best friend and lover. I want to find the man who feels like my favorite blanket, whose arms make me feel safe, whose intelligence challenges me to new thoughts, and who most importantly loves God more than he loves me. I want to build a life with him,take his last name, and be proud to call ourselves husband and wife. I want to dance barefoot in the kitchen with him.I want to fall asleep to the sound of his hearbeat and wake up to his voice. I want to kiss him in the middle of an arguement with the intention of making it impossible for either one of us to stay angry.I want passionate, intimate moments that allow us to truly feel alive. I want to experience the world as a part of someone else, not just an individual. I want to buy a home on acres of green land with a blue front door and a front porch with a swing. A place to call ours that together, we make a home.
  • I want to be a mom. I want to have a huge baby belly, spend way too much money on nursery decorations and precious little clothes. I want to feel a life growing inside me and know that I am being given the greatest blessing. I want to fall in love with my husband all over again when I first see our child in his arms. I want the sleepless nights of rocking my baby to sleep in my arms while quietly humming the lullabies that were sang to me as a child.I want to have tonka trucks and barbies dolls scattered through my living room floor. I want to watch my children grow to be people who love their God,who know they are loved unconditionally, and who know that without their prescence in my life, I would have lived feeeling incomplete."
Part Two coming soon...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Choosing me...

I had my first cross fit type workout last night.... All I have to say is bless my heart and thunder thighs. My legs are so sore and if we're being honest, I may or may not have thrown up. The old me might have given up, might have made an excuse, and then decided  I was too busy to never go back, but here's the thing about giving up. I just can't. I had a sweet friend who reminded me that I can do anything for an hour and she is so right. I've faced harder and scarier things. This is nothing.

I want to live a healthy life not just for myself, but for this handsome face....

I have been overweight since the day he met me. From DAY ONE. What consistently amazes me is that he loves me just like this. He didn't meet me  during high school and college when I felt skinnier and confident.  He didn't meet the girl who felt care free, who had never felt heartache, who danced on tables and on occasion, forgot that I had responsibilities. Clay met me during a time when I love myself the least. Yet, he loves me, he loves my heart and he chose me to be his wife because he thinks I'm beautiful. Now, it is my turn to choose me.  So here it goes. I owe this to myself. No excuses, puking or not, sore or not, tired or not, I'm going to learn to love me.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

27 dresses later...


Our love story started long before I met Clay.

If you really think about it, most love stories start that way. Every dark day, every lonely night, defines the way we appreciate the moments of happiness. Trust me, I had a lot of dark days and enough Mr. Wrong's to know realize when I found Mr. Right. When I met Clay it was that moment people say you wait for. The moment when you suddenly know that he is what you had been waiting for. I had heard about him before, his best friend was dating mine, but we had never been face to face until our friends got married. I was the maid of honor, he was the best man, and literally walking down the aisle together was the beginning of us. I spent my evening shamelessly flirting and maybe even doing a little bit of staring. He is seriously handsome. It was that night that led to the start of a friendship and a first date.

Our first date consisted of going nowhere we had planned to instead spend hours in parking lot playing twenty questions and learning about one another. There are so many things I will never forget about that night, but the most important of those is that I knew. I knew he was mine. He was the man God had intended for my heart to love.

Three years later, Clay proposed. He did everything right. He asked my Daddy for permission, he custom designed my ring, and he dropped to one knee in the middle of twinkle light covered trees on New Year’s Eve. He said that, “he wanted to spend forever with me and didn’t want to wait another day for our forever to start.”  Of course, I said yes.  Our wedding is set for 12-31-13 and this is bound to be the best day ever.

Is our relationship perfect? No. In fact, it never will be. Clay is a firefighter and I am a teacher and with our careers come a lot of sacrifices all of which are worth dealing with to be together. I am in love with a man who makes me laugh uncontrollably, who loves me unconditionally, and whose flaws never outweigh the parts of his character that make him a genuinely good person. God knew even before I did, that when he put Clay in my life, he would be there to stay. I wouldn’t trade this perfectly imperfect love of ours for anything.

Friday, July 12, 2013

This is happening!

Welcome to my new blog! I am so excited about this and you should be too! Thanks to Hubby Jack and his awesome blog design, I now have a space to share with you. Not only will I share my personal stories, but this will be the blog for Chelsea Cormack Photography!

My favorite part of being a photographer is that by taking a picture the emotions in that image are left perfectly captured and we are able to relive those moments time and again. The time where I have captured natural moments of pure happiness, loving embraces, and sweet, unexpected smiles are the reasons I love this job! The truth is, I belive that pictures make the world much prettier which makes me excited to be about to share my world with you!

 I'm also excited for the opprtunity to let you inside my crazy life and learn more about who I am away from the camera! All the things that make me who I am, I want you to know about! There will be more on that in the next blog!

Love, Chelsea