Wednesday, July 30, 2014

D Day Commeth

We often hear the phrase, "What a difference a year makes."  Right now that has never been more true for me.  As I am gearing up for my hysterectomy tomorrow I just can't help but think back to what I was doing this time last year.  I was 27 weeks pregnant and had just breathed a sigh of relief because I knew that if J was born then he had a good chance of survival.  It was a huge milestone for us and one we weren't sure we'd ever see.  I finally relaxed enough to start registering and planning for my baby shower.  It really wasn't until then that I could actually enjoy my pregnancy.  I still can't believe that one year ago I was having a baby and tomorrow everything required to conceive and carry a child will be removed from my body.  To take it a little further what a difference two years makes.  Two years ago at this same time G and I were mourning the loss of yet another pregnancy and wondering if we could even continue on our infertility journey.  I remember thinking to myself last year around this same time how things can change in just a short period.  I went from losing a baby to a year later more than half way to having one.  Seriously, in the span of two years I was losing a baby, having a baby and now losing all the parts required to make a baby.  This is all so crazy to me. 

I had no clue all the prep needed before having the surgery.  During the talks of having a hysterectomy five years ago all that was required was making sure I had time off of work and mentally preparing for the end of my fertility.  Now with J there is an entirely different dynamic in the preparation.  I have had to figure out who was going to take care of him while G and I were at the hospital.  I needed to make sure that we had plenty of diapers, wipes, formula, food and clean laundry to help G out while he is on solo parent and mommy watching duty.  G had to work out what the schedule would be with friends and family to make sure that someone was here to help while he is working because I can't lift the baby for four weeks...FOUR WEEKS!  Ahhhh, no holding my son for four weeks.  We are so blessed that G's work and our friends and family have stepped up to help out.  And good God nobody told me that I would basically have to evacuate any and everything that I have eaten or drank in the last 38 years of my life before having the surgery tomorrow.  Good times!  All that leaves now is the trying to remove the fears that are swimming in my head and reconcile that the absolute finality of our infertility story is coming to a close.  I am sure that I will get all kinds of sleep tonight. 

Many of you have sent personal messages, comments and emails with your thoughts, prayers as well as asking for an update after my surgery.  G has agreed that he will provide a blog, Twitter and Facebook update once I am safe and sound out of surgery.  On a personal note, since my surgery is being done with the Da Vinci please pray that tomorrow is not the day that the robots rise up and take over the world!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Countdown to D Day

My eyes watered as I kissed J and left for my pre-op appointment. As I made the 30 minute drive to the hospital my head began swimming with thoughts of both the past and the future. This road has been so long and difficult; it's hard to believe that it's coming to an end. Honestly, I guess I never really believed that the end to our fertility journey would be mandated by my oncologist. After almost four years being cancer free, I thought the decision would actually be mine and G's based on whether we thought we could handle trying again. Yet, there I was, driving to the hospital where my impending doom is to take place.

I sat in the reception area waiting to be called by the nurse, gripping my purse strap, and thinking that this was it; I'm never having a biological child again. I've continued to hear over the last few weeks some of those dreaded comments which I remember all too well from our days in the infertility trenches. "You can still adopt." "Everything happens for a reason." "At least you have one." You know, this time around it is different. Yes, I am very blessed that I have one. J is perfect and the fact that he is our only child makes him that much more special and I love him dearly. Yes, I know everything happens for a reason but no, you telling me that does not make me feel better. And yes, I know that we have a valid home study and can still adopt. The problem is that all the emotions and dreams of an almost seven year journey to have children don't magically disappear because my doctor says I physically can't continue on that path. I still have to mourn the loss of those dreams and the children I can't carry. I still have to make peace with what is happening both physically and emotionally with my body.

When I was faced with the possibility of a hysterectomy five years ago, the fears and emotions were the same, yet different. There are still the same desires when it comes to the outcome...I still want children and want to be a mom again. Somehow now it just feels different. I adored being pregnant. I loved feeling every movement J made inside me. After he was born I had these strange feelings as if he were still inside kicking me. I told G it was almost like phantom limb syndrome. I miss those feelings and I miss knowing that there was another human being growing inside me. A human being that G and I created. I wonder, had I never been pregnant would these feelings be quite as strong as they are now.

Dread poured over me as the nurse called my name. It finally felt real. This is happening. What new hell am I in for now? Oh, there it is...punch number one! "Is there any chance that you are pregnant?" Ouch! My heart sank. I did the standard pee in a cup and blood draw then moved on to the next obstacle in my little hell, x-rays. Punch number two, "Are you sure you aren't pregnant?" ! Shit people! I'm having a hysterectomy do you think I'm pregnant? I continued on until all my little obstacles were done and then I got my final blow. "Mrs. W, just so you know, they will require you to have a pregnancy test again on Monday before your surgery." Are you freaking kidding me? (I decided I better clean that up since this is a family blog) I'm having the end all be all of my ability to create life removed from my body but lets add a little more insult to injury and make me pee on a stick first.

Well I guess there's no fighting it. Pre-op is done and the date and time are set. This time next week I will officially be done with our infertility journey!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Infertility is a Cruel, Cruel Bitch!

I have had the privilege to meet some amazing women that are still in the trenches of their infertility journeys.  Talking with them about their specific stories has really brought about some of those same feelings in me that I thought I had moved past or tucked away.  Everyone assumes that once you have a child you suddenly develop infertility amnesia and are "fixed".  Having a child is amazing and I'm not going to lie, it does lessen the pain of some of those experiences, but it definitely doesn't make you forget what you have been through. 

Infertility does more than take a toll on you physically, it takes a toll on you emotionally.  The severity, length of time and type of procedures utilized during the infertility journey play a big part in the damage it does to ones body and mind.  I know, for me, infertility was more painful emotionally than physically.  I could heal from my surgeries within a few days or weeks but every setback, every failed cycle, every more advanced or expensive treatment and every loss cut a little deeper into my emotional well being.  Knowing that the reasons for our infertility lay solely in my body I felt a greater responsibility for the turmoil that was happening in our lives.  Everyday of this journey chipped a little more at my self-esteem.  You wouldn't think that having a child or not could effect your entire life but for me it did just that.  It caused me to question my abilities at my job, my relationships with my friends/family and most of all my marriage.  I felt so unworthy of anything as if the ability to not create life somehow made me inadequate at life in general.  I even went so far as to tell G he could leave me if he wanted so he could have the chance of a biological child with someone else.  If you have never struggled with infertility you may not understand this and it may seem ridiculous to you but I assure you for anyone that has been in the war zone of ultrasounds, IUIs, IVFs and FETs they get it.

As I begin to prepare for the ultimate finality in our infertility journey these feelings have come to the forefront of my thoughts.  I have once again begun to question my self-worth.  I feel as if my body has failed me one more time.  Had I never struggled with infertility, had I just ovulated like any "normal" woman, had I seen a doctor sooner would the outcome be different?  I feel as if once again I dangled the baby rattle in front of G's face only to rip it away like a cruel joke.  Now I wonder what this new life, without any of the things that allow me to biologically have a child, will be like.  Am I going to be good enough for my husband?  Will this change me as a woman?  Had I just done this or that could I have prevented this...it's all my fault. 

So where does this leave me now?  Hmm...I am not sure, maybe an even slightly more anxious basket case?  G may argue that I am just as nuts as before just my focus is on a new fear.  I hate that we infertiles have put so much of our self worth into having a child.  I hate that it allows people who I know are amazing people to question themselves and their abilities.  I hate that it took a horrible disease to bring such an amazing group of people into my life.  However, because of this same disease I know that I can get through anything with my husband, my son and those friends.  Oh infertility you are a BITCH!  You have taken too much time and joy from my life over the years.  I think its time for you to pack up my uterus and go.  You don't belong here anymore.  I'm ready for the next chapter of my life!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

G's Guest Post - I need you to please hurry home!!!!

In a moment, life can freeze.  For me, this time it came in the form of a text.  "I need you to please hurry home!!!!"  If you have never felt the elasticity of time that comes with a message such as this, be glad.  If you have, you know the feeling I describe.  In that moment your heart stops, your breath catches, sound fades and then the adrenaline hits as your heart careens towards maximum throughput and your lungs stretch towards capacity, twice as fast as normal.  When C received the call from Dr. L, I was luckily already near at hand, having run just around the corner for a few minutes.  In all, it took less than five minutes for me to get home.  However, those were five very long minutes.

Thoughts pounded through the decision tree that is my mind.  "Ok brain, should I call?" No, if she could talk she would have called me instead of texting back, besides you are almost home. Yeah, one thought path complete.  Next instruction set.  "Ok, brain, what could be the problem?"  It could be... At this, my brain reacted like a computer dumping every random bit of text on the screen at once.  I processed scenarios, each one worse than the last, so quickly I only had time to feel a growing sense of doom.  Now that J is mobile, you can imagine the number of things that I envisioned him getting in.  As I came rushing in the house, the downstairs was silent, but I saw immediately the video baby monitor was on and J was peacefully napping in his crib, right where he was when I left.  I felt silly for a moment, relief flooded through me as I realized all of those "J did this" scenarios were idle worries.  Boom, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I knew what it had to be.  As I walked into our bedroom and saw C's tear streaked face, all she said was "It's back".  I'm not sure how long I sat just holding her but J awoke before I had let go.

Fast forward, now that there has been time to process, I am just so glad that we were given the miracle that is J, and that C's doctors have stayed on top of the cancer so that even now it is it's earliest stages.  I'll let C talk about what is to come, and how we will cope with it, but for now I wanted to remind everyone that miracles can happen.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tick, Tick, Tick, BOOM!

I'm not sure what it is about babies that start your biological clock ticking. Maybe they release some sort of pheromone that makes you yearn to procreate. There's something about their smell and those tiny little fingers and toes that just tug at your uterus. After everything that we went through to get J, I wasn't sure I would ever get to the point where I could remotely consider throwing myself back into the uncertain world of infertility. About 2 months ago, I was packing up J's little clothes that he'd outgrown and donating some things to a friend when it hit me.  I was getting very emotional at how quickly he was growing up and the thought of him being our only child. It wasn't until we visited some old friends who have a baby girl a few months younger than J that it really drove home. She was so sweet and so tiny unlike our little haus. It was then that I realized I could definitely do it again.

G and I talked about it for the last two months and both felt like we could dip our toes back into the infertility waters one more time and see what happens. If it worked great! If not we have J and we will happily live as a family of three. We visited Dr. L last week and let him know about our plans and I had my six month precautionary biopsy. We were doing this! No more birth control, throwing caution to the wind and letting God decide. I was starting to get excited thinking about the possibility of a sibling for J. Tick, tick, tick...BOOM! My reality just got shaken by the boom of my biological clock exploding. My seemingly innocent routine biopsy came back and the results weren't good. Looks like my cancer is back. Once again my baby train is being derailed!

My first thoughts were total sadness of not having a brother or sister for J. Those thoughts quickly shifted to my own life and being around for my son. I still have those desires for more children but I am beyond blessed to have the most amazing son. Being healthy for him far outweighs having another child. This new road is a scary one for a whole other set of reasons. I'm afraid of how I will change after having a hysterectomy. Will I feel the same? Will G still find me attractive? Will I feel like less of a woman? What if I never see J again or hold him in my arms? Nope, more children is the farthest thing from my mind at this point. My main concern is being here for the little miracle I do have!

As I sit here and think about the last seven years, it's amazing that I even made it to this point. Think about it. After trying to have a baby for a year and a half I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and told I needed a hysterectomy. One year later I was pregnant. I would conceive three more times over the next two years and actually carry one of those pregnancies to full term. Something doctors weren't sure I'd ever be able to do. I was cancer free for almost four years during which time I gave birth to the most amazingly perfect little boy. Talk about miracle!

Seeing Dr. B hold my son for the first time today was pure joy!  This woman saved my fertility almost four years ago and now she was holding the miracle that she helped us create!  So yes, I'm sad about not having any more biological children but I am much more happy because of two wonderful doctors who cared enough to help my dreams come true I have J. Being able to wake up every morning to his hugs and smiles make this new chapter of my life something I know I can get through. Once again, not the path I would have chosen for my life but how can I complain when I have my own little miracle that surprised us all?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Life Changes After Having Kids

I can't remember the number of times people "warned" us that our lives were going to change once we had a baby.  It's like people feel that they must make sure you are aware of just how your life will differ once you have kids.  "Say goodbye to sleeping in."  "You better enjoy the peace and quiet while you can before that baby gets here."  "You'll never have privacy again."  "Once they start talking they never shut up."  To say that my life has changed since the birth of J would be a total understatement!  The funny thing is I don't think everyone sees those changes the same way G and I do.

Everyone knows that once you bring a new baby into your home the possibility of getting more than a few hours sleep at a time during the first months is slim to none.  It's a gimme that you could be an extra on The Walking Dead from the shear lack of sleep.  The waste line that expanded even more than the usual fluff you had prior to conception now comes with wider hips, saggy boobs and extra rolls and wiggles where your beautiful baby once lived for nine months. There are the ever fluctuating hormones that can induce waterfalls of tears for no reason that we come to expect after giving birth. We all have at least some minute concept of changes to expect after having a child.  For me, I think it's the little things that we take for granted that surprised me most; like showering.  My life before having a child consisted of a long peaceful shower every day; if not two on days I worked out.  Now I'm lucky to get a five minute shower before G walks out the door for work or trying to squeeze a quick one in between getting chores done around the house while J naps.  Hot meal...what's that?  My meal time routine now consists of preparing meals while singing, dancing, clapping or making funny faces long enough to keep my eight month old entertained and not burn dinner.  Once we sit down and get him fed we then have to play keep away to prevent our ever moving child from taking something off our plates or table while picking up whatever item he thinks is funny to drop on the floor for mommy to get.  My wardrobe has been severely downsized.  Not just because I don't have the same body that I did prior to becoming pregnant, but my daytime and night time attire now consists of pretty much the same ensemble... yoga pants and one of G's old t-shirts; likely covered in spit-up or some other food product put there by J.  I am What Not To Wear's worst nightmare.  Going to the grocery store is no longer a quick outing.  I have to pack the diaper bag for any event that may occur, change his diaper, make sure he's been fed and get him loaded into the carseat all at the exact right moment to get to the store and back before he falls asleep in the car.

Yes, I think it is safe to say that my life has been changed since having J.  Yes, those 4:30am feedings followed by a 6:00am wake up call are exhausting.  Yes, it would be nice to have some more "me" time, but I can honestly say none of that matters to me.  I see all those changes and things that we "gave up" as blessings.  When I'm tired and feeling a little put out with the chores, errands and every day life I just have to take one look at that toothy grin from J and none of it matters.  Maybe it's all the struggles we went through to have a child that make those things so unimportant to me.  Maybe I've just learned more patience.  Who knows.  All I know is that I wouldn't give up one sleepless night of my life right now!