Monday, December 12, 2011

Chemo, check

After a sizeable blog hiatus, I am happy to report that I am officially FINISHED with chemo!  I had round 4 last Wednesday and I finally have enough energy again to be ecstatic that I never (knock on wood) have to go through chemo again. 

Having gone through the previous 3 rounds,  thought I had this whole thing figured out and knew exactly what to expect.  I was wrong.  First, round 4 was the worst, by far.  Everything, from our time in the waiting room to getting blood drawn to the IV to the chemo itself went wrong.  It was a completely different experience from the first three, which were as pleasant as chemo can possibly be.  Second, this round completely knocked me on my heiney.  I was really optimistic that since I felt so good after round 3 that this last one would go as smoothly, but again, I was wrong. 

Here are some of the highlights of the ways in which #4 was very different from rounds 1-3.
  1. We spent an extra 1 1/2 to 2 hours waiting with round 4.  Just waiting. 
  2. I didn't get the same lake view room I had in rounds 1-3.  How spoiled am I that I was a little bummed out that I was "stuck" in one of the interior rooms without windows?  I still had it pretty good -- they were apparently pretty busy, so they almost had me out in the general area where about 4 patients share a cubby with recliners.  Again, I'm so spoiled that I liked having my VIP room.
  3. The phlebotomist drew my blood from my elbow rather than my hand and left me with a nasty looking and sore bruise for a good week and a half.  I had the same phlebotomist each time (she is a sweetheart), so I have no idea why I had to get a bruise this time.  I even brought her cookies.
  4. I didn't have the same nurse I've had since the beginning.  I was doing my best to stay positive even though Charlie and I were both a little cranky about how things had been going, but I was actually very upset.  I loved my other nurse.  She did such a good job of making me feel relaxed and comfortable.  I also felt like she listened to me when something didn't feel right. 
  5. The IV went very, very wrong.  As in the nurse "made a mess" (who says that??) and I bled all over, and then wasn't sure if she was in the vein, which she explained is a problem because the chemo drugs can give a person a third degree burn if they leak outside the vein.  She was nice and all, but it didn't exactly instill a lot of confidence in her abilities.  Oh, and she was in the vein -- whew!
  6. After the IV debacle, things went well again until the chemo "push."  My other nurse always asked me to tell her if it hurt, because that is an indication that the drugs were being pushed too fast.  When I told my new nurse that the push hurt, quite a bit, she said that it was because she was trying to do two at once and that, basically, I would have to just live with it.
  7. After I told the nurse that the push hurt, my blood pressure dropped really low and I spent what felt like forever but was probably closer to 15 minutes fighting the urge to pass out.  The nurses finally decided that I should roll over onto my side and I started to feel better after about 10 minutes.  One of the nurses, who used to work in labor and delivery, said that the baby was likely in a position that was pressing on one of the big veins behind the baby.  That's all well and good, but my understanding is that this is only an issue when pregnant women lie on their backs, and I was sitting almost straight up when I started to feel faint.  I am 99% sure it had to do with the way the chemo was administered, but I bit my tongue because I was glad I was feeling better and just wanted to get it over with.  Oh, and my new nurse said that she thought I almost passed out becase a snuck a peek at all of the blood all over my had and the sheets from the IV. 
  8. I had one good day after round 4 (Saturday) when I felt pretty good, and than I felt like I had been run over by a truck until this past Friday.  Even then, I could only make it at the office from 7am to 2pm and I was completely done.  We had a cocktail party last night and I was a little nervous we would have to send out a last minute text cancelling, but I felt pretty good most of the day and even made it till 1am.  Granted my back and feet were killing me by then (I kept meaning to sit down and put my feet up ...), but it was a great time and I'm more than a little proud that Charlie and I could pull it off.
  9. 
    We went to Lincoln Square for dinner with friends on my one good day.
    
  10. I felt significanly more "fogginess" this time around.  My short term memory has been seriously impacted, so I'm doing my best to write everything down so things don't fall between the cracks.  
  11. We took zero pictures!  Between the frustrations and drama we completely forgot to document my final trip to the chemo ward.  As silly as it sounds, I'm disappointed I have no pictures from my last day to look back on.  Then again, bleeding and almost passing out don't make for good memories.  I did find pictures from round 3 that I had forgotten about, though.
An awesome card I got from law school friends

Pre-chemo breakfast at the best breakfast place ever

 
Totally unnecessary, but a shot of Charlie's ridiculous french toast

Thumbs up for chemo being almost done!  And see that blanket?  My sister-in-law AND brother made it!  I have the pictures of my brother hard at work to prove it. 
I'm not ruling out having a few more not so good moments or days in the next couple of weeks until the drugs are out of my system, but I'm cautiously optimistic that the worst is over.

My sweet aunt made me a cancer cape that is signed with messages from the Walker side of my family.

I LOVED this!  Unfortunately I don't have any shots of me wearing it at the hospital :(

Because this ended up being a loooong post, I'm going to call it a day for now.  But keep an eye out for mor posts: losing my hair (finally!), one long "thankful" post, and reflections on my experience to date, to name a few.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful for chemo ...

... being almost over!  Three down, just one to go. Very much looking forward to feeling like a normal version of myself again by Christmastime. 

It looks so innocent ...

Aaaand I dripped chili on my shirt during chemo.  Classy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thankful for Charlie

Today I am thankful for the best husband who takes me out to breakfast and takes off of work to go to chemo with me. Round 3 today, see you on the other side!

Ever supportive (and addicted to computer games).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thankful

If you have a Facebook account, you've probably noticed at least one friend updating his or her status with something he or she is thankful for in the month of November.  I really like this idea, especially since I have too many things that I am thankful for for them to be reserved only for the day of Thanksgiving.  Since my cancer journey has really highlighted all of the wonderful people and things I have in my life, it seems all too appropriate that I use my blog to share with you something I am thankful for every day this month.  I may be starting a few days late, but, hey, better late than never!

I am thankful for my firm and my bosses, who are ok with me working from home so that I can try to kick this cold I've been fighting all week.  Not the best time of year to have a compromised immune system, that's for sure!

A little sick day soup

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Baby G = 20 weeks!

I really can't believe that we made it to the official pregnancy halfway point, partially because I was constantly afraid something would go wrong before now and partially because 20 weeks always felt soooo far away.  But we made it and Baby G couldn't be healthier.

Our appointment was at 3:00pm and we fnished up at chemo at about 2:50pm, so we had to get moving pretty quickly.  Luckily my OB's office is literally right around the corner from the cancer center, so we made it right on time, albeit soaking wet from the nutso storm that was raging outside.  Think rain and wind making umbrellas unusable and car doors tough to open.  It certainly made our day that much more memorable.

The appointment kicked off with an extra long ultrasound where the tech measured measured just about anything that could be measured on little Baby G, including arms, legs, head, neck, bladder, heartbeat, etc.  We got to see the little guy or girl squirming around and looking pretty content in there.  It was such an incredible experience to share with Charlie, one that I will never forget.

We then met with Dr. Mulchandani to talk about how everything is going.  She said that Baby's hearbeat is great, everything is where it is supposed to be, and Baby G is even measured at 75-90% on size!  This is extra good news because chemo can lead to smaller babies and low birthweights.  It's very reassuring to know that despite everything that we're both going through, our baby is healthy and growing well.  The final good news Dr. M had for us was that all of my doctors (and I've got a lot of them!) are in agreement that delivering at 37 weeks is the best plan for me and the baby.  Even though it's 3 weeks shy of the full 40 week gestation, it is when the lungs (which are the last major organ to fully mature) are typically fully developed.  I was told by the materal fetal medicine doctors that they would feel comfortable delivering any time after 26 weeks, so to hear that Baby G will very likely spend no time in the NICU was such a relief.  There is still plenty of time between now and then for things to change, but, God willing, Baby G should arrive sometime around Valentine's Day 2012!

The ultrasound tech told us that the next big ultrasound happens at 36 weeks, so it was music to my ears when Dr. M said she wanted to see me for an ultrasound at 24 and 28 weeks to make monitor Baby's growth.  I was sad when I thought I'd have to wait another 4 months before getting see our baby ... I can't wait to see our little baby again, and so soon! 

We've stuck to our guns and still don't know whether Baby G is a boy or a girl.  It seems most people have very strong opinions on this topic, but I haven't regretted for one moment that we've decided to wait until our baby makes his or her appearance to find out whether we've got a his or a her on our hands.  I love the suspense, I love daydreaming about both possibilities, I love the speculation, I love that we can share in the experience that both Charlie's and my parents and grandparents had when they were expecting their kids.  I love it all! 

Finally, I have to say, I felt so much better after the second round of chemo than the first, and I know it was all due to the fact that we had such a great baby appointment.  I wish I could do it this way every time!

Now for the best part: ultrasound pictures for your viewing pleasure!

Ok, not exactly an ultrasound, but how cool is this? 
From my super thoughtful law school powederpuff team.  Thanks, guys!

Little tootsies
Thumb sucking
Profile and little fist

Close-up
Last but not least, Baby's face ... and chubby litte cheeks! 
Don't you just love him or her already?  I know we do.



Second round of chemo ... whew

Ok, so I know these posts are out of order, but first things first: chemo round two is over, which means I am halfway through!  This time was (obviously) a lot like the first, but it had a chaotic start -- I misread my appointment sheet and thought that we needed to be there by 11am, which is partly true.  Chemo started at 11am, but I needed to be there for labs and to meet with Dr. Gradishar by 9:30.  I discovered this little fact at approximately 9:20am.  Whoops!  We made it there about a half hour late, which definitely put things behind schedule. 

Dr. Gradishar said everything is going well and was happy to hear that everything is going well with Baby G.  The chemo itself went more quickly this time, probably because Lora didn't have to explain everything that was going on this time around.  Because we didn't get started until around noon my darling husband ran down to pick up some lunch for us.  Then we watched Perfect Couples, what used to be our favorite show until it was cancelled last spring (so sad!), until it was time to go. 

As much as I am really getting used to getting blood drawn and IVs put in, I am never going to enjoy it.  But then again I suppose no one really enjoys either one.  The routine was the same as the first one: IV hookup, anti-nausea meds, adriamycin (the scary red one), with cytoxin bringing up the rear.  I felt fine through all of it until the cytoxin; I can definitely feel that one right away.  I got that metallic/medicinal taste in my mouth right away and got that "zombie" feeling that I had after the first round, just not as bad.  We had to leave fairly quickly afterwards because we had our big 20-week ultrasound appointment right after, and there was no way we were going to miss that one!

Since chemo round 2 I've had lots of ups and downs.  I didn't feel as zombie-like as the first time, but I also went to bed just a couple of hours after we got home that evening.  My side effects, with the exception of the fatigue, have been much better this time around.  Almost no heartburn, no metallic taste, etc.  My sister came into town a few days later for the weekend, which was just what I needed (especially since Charlie was out of town for his brother Casey's bachelor party all weekend).  The big accomplishments of our weekend were going to my pre-natal yoga class followed by a quick cardio workout, going to the grocery store, and making dinner that night.  The rest of the weekend was full of lots of lounging and TLC on tv.

Looking back I have to wonder if I somehow overdid it over the weekend because I have been completely and totally exausted this week.  Like exhausted to the point where I had to lay down for a half hour after unloading the dishwasher.  I'm starting to feel like my energy levels are rebounding a bit, but I don't really see being a fully functioning human being this week.  Maybe next week ...

Despite how tired I've been feeling, I'm doing my best to be thankful that the rest of my symptoms are actually pretty great, and that overall I'm lucky to be doing so well.





More posts to come on Baby G's 20-week appointment, shaving my head, getting the wig, and, if I'm feeling up to it, the backstory on getting the wig. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

First round of chemo

I realize this is coming nearly two weeks after the fact, but I decided it was finally time to share my first chemo experience.  Chemo round #1 was September 28, and started bright and early at 8am, which I chose thinking I'd rather get it over first thing in the morning rather than having time to dread it.  As soon as Charlie and I pulled onto Lake Shore Drive and sat in traffic we both decided that making it downtown during the height of rushhour is not ideal ... luckily the rest of my appointments are well after the worst of the traffic AND will allow me to sleep in, which at this point is practically a necessity.

I didn't know much of what to expect going in.  I wanted to know just enough so that I wasn't totally blindsided, but not so much that I was really afraid of it.  The morning started with a blood test to make sure that my blood counts could handle the chemo attack.  I've never been a fan of blood tests, but it surprised me that the only time that morning where I had to fight back tears was during the blood test.  I think it's because I didn't know it was coming and because Charlie couldn't go back with me.  Luckily no tears were actually shed.

Once they processed the test and it came back ok, they took us back to my room.  That's right -- we had a private room, with a lake view, no less!  I was expecting to be in big room with many patients receiving chemo, so this was definitely the pleasant surprise of the morning.  To some, it may seem like a small thing, but I can't say enough good things about that room.  Flat screen TV with DVD player, wood floors, nice furniture ... Chemo can be such a negative experience that I absolutely appreciated a room that made me feel comfortable and at ease.

I have officially been handed over from my oncological surgeon, Dr. Seema Khan, to my oncologist, Dr. William Gradishar.  I loved Dr. Khan and her nurse, Kay.  Because most of my time will be spent with Dr. Gradishar's nurse, I was apprehensive that nurse Lora wouldn't be as fantastic as Kay was (because she really was fantastic).  Thankfully Lora is awesome!  She came in and explained everything that was going to happen, from the IV for fluids, anti-nausea meds, having to push through the Adriamycin, and the drip of Cytoxin.  She is very sweet, very funny, and was great about explaining everything to both me and Charlie.

We brought Charlie's laptop to watch movies (because we didn't know about the TV and DVD player already there) but forgot the movies, so we ended up watching old episodes of a funny show that we both love.  Mary Margaret told me that laughing during chemo helps with the side effects and though I can't really say if it did, it certainly helped pass the time and most of the time made me forget that I was getting an anti-tumor drug and an alkylating agent pumped through my veins.

Like I said, the Adriamycin was pushed through, which means that Lora sat there and slowly administered it through a needle into my IV line.  It's done this way because the "A" is pretty harsh, and needs to be closely watched to make sure that it doesn't irritate the vein or go in too quickly.  She had to stop 2 or 3 times because it started to essentially clog in my vein and because it was slightly painful.  It was somewhat distressing seeing her inject this bright red fluid into my hand, but I knew this beforehand, so it wasn't too jarring.

The rest of the morning really went very smoothly.  I was very, very glad to go home and nap for the better part of the afternoon, and later that evening felt like a complete zombie.  The next day I got up for about 45 minutes to eat breakfast, then spent the rest of the morning sleeping on the couch.  I managed to get up and meet Julie to pick out a wig, and was completely done for the day after that.  The bulk of Friday was also spent either sleeping or vegged out on the couch.

The Adriamycin push

Not enjoying the A

Lora setting up my Cytoxin drip

All hooked up

Crazy that all I had to show for chemo was a teensy little bandaid

Having an amazing husband is one of the many things I am thankful for


The part I think most people are curious about is the side effects.  Here is a rundown of the typical AC side effects and what I've experienced:
  • Nausea: none.  We quickly picked up two anti-nausea prescriptions to use as needed.  I think I took one pill but then realized I wasn't really experiencing any nausea, which (especially after my rocky first trimester) I am very thankful for.
  • Bright red pee: yep.  TMI?  Believe me, this is one of the tamer ones (see below).  The bright red "A" is filtered through the kidneys, and the first few times I went to the bathroom ranged from red to orange.  Bizarre!
  • Metallic taste: just a little.  Charlie made me swedish pancakes on Thursday morning before he went to work and I asked him if they tasted metallic to him, which they didn't.  If this gets worse with subsequent rounds, they recommend using plastic utensils.
  • Decreased appetite: yes.  Though it's somewhat better now, I definitely don't get as hungry as I used to.  Unfortunately, Baby G likes it much better when I eat every couple of hours, so if I forget to eat regularly, without fail I hit a wall and feel exhausted and sick to my stomach.  So even though the hunger signals don't seem to be making it from my stomach to my head, Baby G is good at reminding me to eat frequently, whether I want to or not.
  • Heartburn: intermittent, but yes.  And it's not with the typical "trigger" foods like greasy or spicy foods.  Mine, strangely enough, is from fairly innocuous things, like water and apples.  Go figure!  I've consumed more Tums now than I did in my first trimester, but I'm grateful that it's not so bad that it keeps me up at night or that two Tums a couple of times a day can't fix.
  • Dry mouth/sore gums/bleeding gums/mouth sores: I would say this is mild to moderate.  I'm not allowed to use your regular alcohol-containing Lysterine, so Charlie picked up some Biotene for me.  It's somewhat thicker than water, which grossed me out at first, but I'm pretty used to it now.  I'm much more careful about flossing and using mouthwash than I used to be because any sort of dental problem or infection can quickly become a major problem.  I'm also not supposed to eat or drink anything really citrusy, which can irritate an already sore mouth.
  • Constipation: fake out, not going there! But this can be a side effect.
  • Chemo brain: though this isn't an official side effect, I have definitely recognized that I am much more forgetful than normal. I'm trying to be better about writing things down and making calendar appointments in my phone to keep track of everything.
  • Lowered blood counts: I suppose this isn't really a detectable side effect (for the most part), but I figured I'd include it because it is something I have to be very aware of.  I learned that my blood counts are lowest 7-10 days after chemo, which means I have to be very careful about what I do, such as avoiding crowds and sick people, and being very careful to get enough rest and wash my hands often.  I had a bit of a sore throat last week, but seem to have successfully avoided catching any bugs.
  • Fatigue: oh yeah. I saved this for second-to-last because this has been by far the most overwhelming side effect.  Anyone is tired from a full day of work, but if I spend an entire day at the office, I am utterly exhausted when I get home.  I feel best when I sleep 10-11 hours a night and get a 1-3 hour nap in the afternoon.  Unfortunately this sleep schedule is not exactly conducive to working like I used to...  Luckily everyone at work as been incredibly understanding about the whole "I'm doing chemo and can't work like I used to" thing.
  • Hair loss: not yet, but it's right around the corner.  This is probably the most recognized and dreaded of the side effects.  From the very beginning once I learned that I'd be receiving chemo, I've been preparing myself for losing my hair.  Unfortunately, as losing my hair is now just days away, I've realized that there is no good way to prepare one's self for hair loss, or at least any preparations I thought I had done for myself have not done me a lot of good.  The best thing I think I can do, which I have done since this whole jouney started, is make the best of it, which, for me, means laughing at it.  If I don't laugh at it, I'll become a sobbing, sorry mess.  Some women are lucky and don't lose their hair and I have to admit that a part of me has been hoping that I would be one of the lucky ones.  Unfortunately, Lora warned me that an achey or tingly scalp is an indication that hair loss will start in a day or two, and I started feeling both achey and tingly last night.  I'll say more about my wig and my experience trying on wigs in a separate post.
So that about sums up chemo round #1.  In a few ways it was better than expected, but overall it was a much more difficult experience than I thought it would be.  Just the fatigue alone is more overwhelming than I thought.  Apparently lots of pregnant women have an easier time with the side effects, and maybe I am one of those lucky ones since I seem to have skipped the nausea and the majority of the others have been very, very manageable, but since I'm constantly tired and my hair about to jump ship, I don't feel all that lucky.

I'm doing my best to remind myself that I AM, in fact, lucky and that I have a lot to be thankful about.  In the grand scheme of things, I know deep down that my cancer has ended up being one of the more "manageable" ones.  When I get out of my own head and take a look around, I am able to see that I really am blessed and that this truly is just a bump in the road.  There are many who have a much more difficult road.  I know that everyone knows someone affected by cancer, but please keep these very loved people in your prayers: Joe, Stacy, Jessica, and Angie's mom.

Happy Tuesday!

P.S. Chemo round #2 is the same day as Baby G's 20-week appointment!  Makes October 19 much more exciting :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Diet is back on track

I suppose calling it a "diet" is misleading.  I am by no means on a diet or any sort of eating restrictions (except the normal pregnancy "do not eat" list), but I am finally feeling well enough to start re-implementing some of those great anti-cancer foods.  The hubs is in DC for work this week so I am on my own for dinner.  Even though I am out of the woods in terms of the horrendous morning sickness I experienced in weeks 5-14, most days I still don't exactly want to eat anything like I want to be eating to give this baby good, healthy fuel for all that growing he/she has to do.  I may or may not have ordered pizza last night ...

Tonight, however, I was feeling extraordinarily motivated to eat healthy.  Since it's been entirely too long since I've been back in Albuquerque, I'm definitely missing me some New Mexican food.  These factors led me to green chile black bean enchiladas!

The green chile, the black beans, the tomato and avocado just hit the spot.  The best thing about this is that it's totally customizable depending on what you have on hand or what you're in the mood for.  And how cute is that personal dish??  It's always fun to get to use wedding gifts!

Green chile black bean enchiladas
Filling:
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • handful of baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp chopped green chile
  • 4 grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • lime juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
4 tortillas (whole wheat are best, but we only had the good old-fashioned kind)
Your favorite enchilada sauce
Shredded cheese

Combine filling in bowl.  Spread enough of the enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of the pan (I think 8x8 would work best).  Fill each tortilla with 1/4 of the filling and roll up.  Arrange rolled tortillas in pan and cover with more enchilada sauce (how much is up to you).  Cover with foil and bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and sprinkle with cheese.  Return to oven uncovered for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

I made only 2 enchiladas (I may be extra hungry these days, but not that hungry!).  I saved the remaining 1/2 of the filling for a yummy dinner tomorrow night :)  Isn't that one lonely looking tomato on top?

Like I said, this recipe is very flexible and you can put just about anything in there that you've got a hankering for: shredded chicken, butternut squash, zucchini, pinto beans ... the possibilities are almost endless. 

Perhaps this is the start of a beautiful, healthy preggers diet ...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Betcha didn't know

I think just about everyone knows someone who has been affected by breast cancer.  I was curious and discovered some celebrities who have fought like crazy and beat the Big C.

Sheryl Crow, diagnosed 2006
"I am a walking advertisement for early detection.”


Olivia Newton-John, diagnosed 1992
"Going through breast cancer makes you really investigate what you believe in and what makes you comfortable."


Kylie Minogue, diagnosed 2005
"I'm back working and being creative and enjoying all of that. But something in the way I do these things has changed. Friends say I seem more present, more 'here'. I feel more inspired than ever."


Betty Ford, diagnosed 1974
"Maybe if I as First Lady could talk about it candidly and without embarrassment, many other people would be able to as well."


Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, diagnosed 1982
She was back at work 6 days after a mastectomy (wowza).


Julia Child, diagnosed in 1968
Her secret to a long life?  "Meat and gin."


Cynthia Nixon, diagnosed 2006
Now serves as an ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.


Edie Falco, diagnosed 2003
“It was very important for me to keep my diagnosis under the radar...because well-meaning people would have driven me crazy asking, ‘How are you feeling?’”


Christina Applegate, diagnosed 2008
Plans to launch a foundation for high-risk women who can’t afford MRI testing.


One word: Inspiring.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Updates and news!

I can't believe how long it's been since my last post ... over a month!  Sorry about that.  I don't know where the time went.

Things are progressing well with my treatment.  The last of the steri strips that covered the dissolvable stitches came off and the scars aren't too bad.  Don't get me wrong -- I don't love them and they're taking some getting used to, but they're each about 3 inches long and will fade and shrink with time.

I met with my oncologist, Dr. Gradishar, who came very highly recommended from several people.  It was a short and to the point meeting, but I was able to (finally!) figure out my chemo schedule, which had been my biggest concern up to that point.  We have several important weddings this fall as well as the holidays, which made planning a little tough.  My first round of chemo will be on Wednesday, September 28 at 8am.  I go every three weeks until my last round on Wednesday, November 30.  This schedule allows me to make all of the weddings and doesn't fall close to holidays.  So I'm a happy camper.

I haven't been to a wig shop yet.  I've gotten several good recommendations and I know that I need to go sometime in the next two weeks.  But once I go, that means that chemo is real and rapidly approaching.  True to my procrastinating nature it keeps getting put off.  Maybe next weekend ... The wig is a precaution since chemo affects everyone differently.  But I think the smartest thing to do is get the wig and count on my hair falling out so that in the off chance it doesn't, it will be the loveliest of surprises.

Speaking of lovely surprises, big news: we're having a baby!

Surprised?  Welcome to the club!  My blood pregnancy test on the day I was diagnosed (June 16) was negative, and a short 3 weeks later we found out I was 5 weeks pregnant.  As of yesterday, I am 15 weeks (or, in non-obstetrician terms, almost 4 months) pregnant.

Before you freak out (believe me, we, including both of our families, have done plenty of that), the chemo that I will be undergoing is okay during the second and third trimesters.  In case you're interested in reading a little more about it, here is an article on the topic that we found very, very reassuring:  http://houston.culturemap.com/newsdetail/06-14-11-when-breast-cancer-and-pregnancy-collide-groundbreaking-new-study-gives-more-hope-to-cancer-children/

We've waiting this long to officially share the news because we wanted to make sure that the baby is doing well and that everything is progressing normally, which it is.  We also wanted to talk to my oncologist and develop a game plan, which we have done.  As a general rule, chemo and radiation should happen within 10-12 weeks of each other.  For obvious reasons, my radiation will have to wait until Baby Gough makes his or his big entrace into the world.  BUT my doctors don't want to delay my chemo for fear that it will give the cancer time to do something sneaky, so from the beginning everyone has been operating under the assumption that Baby G will arrive several weeks early.  With my current chemo schedule, I will be 26 weeks along when I finish my last round of chemo.  Add 10 weeks to that and I will be 36 weeks -- not even full term.  As my high risk OB has told me, my delivery date is going to be a moving target.  They don't want to deliver any earlier than the have to, but they also don't want to give the cancer yet another chance to do something sneaky by delaying the radiation.  My official due date is March 6, but I would imagine the actual day will be sometime around Charlie's 28th birthday, February 20, but time will tell.

As I said, things are going really well.  My first trimester was rough, to say the least.  It's a good thing Charlie is a shoe in for the husband of the year award, because I couldn't even look at anything but Eggo waffles and Taco Bell bean burritos for about a month, couldn't stomach going to the grocery store or anywhere that smelled strange, and was basically confined to the well air-conditioned areas of our apartment.   He was so patient and supportive and always willing to run out and get me Sunny D or applesauce or whatever sounded good to me at the moment.  It's been a slow road back to eating normally, but I am thankfully finally feeling almost like myself.  I've had 5 ultrasounds so far and Baby G is growing just fine wth a strong heartbeat.  One upside of this, ahem, complicated situation is that I am getting plenty of attention from both of my OBs, regular and high risk, which means lots of ultrasounds :)

The moral of the story is that this baby is an incredible blessing.  Two days before finding out the big news I was agonizing about what to do (ask my friend Katie -- it dominated our twice-per-year meeting!).  IVF or no IVF, that was the question.  I knew what the ultimate answer was going to be, i.e., no IVF, but it certainly didn't make the possibility or even probability of never having children of my own any easier to accept.  With this baby, I've never so profoundly felt God's work in my life, and I am thankful every day for this little, tiny answer to a prayer I didn't even know I would have to say.

Charlie and I are both very, very excited about this baby.  And I hope this explains why we've both been somewhat absent in the last few months ... it's been tough keeping it a secret!
5 weeks -- there's a baby in there!
9 weeks -- baby took surgery like a champ
11 weeks -- starting to look more like a little person
11 weeks -- little legs sticking up
15 weeks -- hey, Baby G
15 weeks -- can't wait to meet you in about 5 months, baby


The day we got the big baby news

15 weeks (and new short pre-chemo 'do)



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