Tuesday, September 15, 2015

One Year Later

If anyone still checks this space...Hi out there, and thank you! Thank you for coming by, and thank you for your well wishes. I am still here; we are all still here. Mr. E is alive and well, and he fights and we pray every single day that his remission holds.

Last I wrote, he had received his diagnosis, but we had not yet decided on a treatment plan. I'm sorry I never updated. I kept meaning to, but every time I sat down to write, the emotions the fear would take over, and there was no time for fear at that point. There was barely any time for any feeling at all, to be honest. We just had to keep going, one foot after another, and pray that we made it through each day without completely breaking.

Even after spending February-April on hospital bed rest in 2012--even after losing my father, suddenly and unexpectedly, in February of 2013--I can honestly say that this past fall/winter was the hardest I've ever endured.

Mr. E began the first of seven rounds of chemo on August 29, 2014, one day after my 30th birthday. During the course of treatment, he lost his right leg to an above-knee amputation; suffered a life-threatening infection that landed him in the hospital for days; and had such bad reactions to one of the drugs that was meant to boost his immune system that once, he ended up passing out in the car while I drove us home in rush hour traffic.

I will never forget the sound he made as his head dropped forward. I was frantic, driving with one hand while trying to lift his head with the other, screaming at 911, screaming at him to wake up, praying that I wouldn't crash, all the while believing that I was going to lose him by the side of the road because the sounds he was making--those horrible choking, wheezing gasps--were the same ones my dad made as he lay dying.

He survived though, and we survived. That round of chemo ended, and then it was on to the next. I pray that I never have to see him, or anyone else, endure chemotherapy again. I know that it may have saved his life--that if any microscopic tumor cells had spread, the chemo was our only line of defense--and yet, it was more painful to see him undergo chemo than to see him undergo his amputation. Surgery takes what it will in hours; it isolates the problem area, but it spares the rest. Chemo though...

Chemo is relentless and debilitating and cruel. It chips away at you slowly, piece by piece, taking not just the parts that you want to be rid of, but also the parts that you are trying to save. Those were dark, hollow months. It took everything he had just to survive, so even when he was with us, he wasn't. I tried to be there for him, and to be both of us for our children, and it was the loneliest I have ever been.

His treatment ended in January, and he was given the highly coveted NED status (No Evidence of Disease). So far, his first two post-treatment scans have come back clean, and we are hoping beyond hope that so will each and every scan from here on out.

The truth is, Synovial Sarcoma is freakishly rare, and there is frustratingly little known about it. If you Go.ogle it (I shouldn't have!), his prognosis doesn't look good. At all. If you talk to his doctors, however, there is a much more hope. They specialize in sarcomas, so while his cancer is rare to the world, it is commonplace to them. They believe he has every reason to plan for a long, healthy life, and even if it takes a miracle for that to happen, he and I both know well that miracles exist.

For better or for worse, infertility has taught us that. The miracles we have already been given are sleeping right now down the hall: The two who, by all logic, should never have made it to term, and the one whose gender was given to me 9 months before his birth by my father in a dream. We have witnessed miracles of our own, and countless miracles in this community, and even though I know that things do not always go the way we pray, I have to believe that the miraculous will happen again. It has to. 

So, here we are, one year later! Again, I'm sorry for not updating sooner, and again, thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. I am not sure what direction this blog will take, though as of now, I am unwilling to let it go completely. I plan on trying to catch up with all the blogs I've missed as soon as possible, but in the meantime, I hope you are well and as always, I wish you health and joy and baby dust. XO, 

Mrs. E

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Difficult Times

I wasn't sure if I should post this update here, but I suppose it's as good a place as any. Mr. E was diagnosed with cancer last Wednesday following two years of unexplained knee pain. It's pretty bad. The tumor, a biphasic sarnovial sarcoma, is the size of an ostrich egg. It's actually located in his calf, but it's pressing on the nerve, which is causing pain in the knee and more recently, foot numbness that extends from heel to pinky toe.

The treatment for biphasic sarnovial sarcoma includes chemo and either amputation or limb salvage surgery. If he goes with the latter, he will also need pre-op radiation. We are coming to terms with the fact that he may lose his leg, or at best, retain one with compromised function. What scares the bejesus out of me is that the leg isn't the problem; the main concern is metastasis, something that this type of tumor is prone to do.

So far, scans have shown that his lungs/spine/liver/etc. are clear. Thank God. In the best case scenario, the tumor is self-contained in the leg, the doctors remove it completely, and it never has the chance to spread. In the second best case scenario, the tumor has spread (albeit on a microscopic level), the doctors remove it, and post-op chemo kills off any baby tumor cells. In the worst case scenario, the doctors remove the tumor, but it has spread microscopically (usually to the lungs), and chemo can't get rid of it. If this happens, it will be extremely difficult to cure him.

At this point, doctors think it's possible that the tumor has spread. Its size is a poor prognostic factor, as well as the fact that it's been in there for so long. At worst, we have been quoted a 25% survival rate over the next 5 years. At best, we have heard 50-60% with the right treatment. We are praying that he is one of the lucky survivors, and I fully believe that if survival were achieved solely through faith, optimism and determination, Mr. E would win this fight. I am praying for luck though, too.

I cannot imagine a world without him. He is my best friend, the father of my children, and the one I want to be with for the rest of my life. I am terrified, blindsided, heartbroken. I am hopeful though, too. Scared, but hopeful.

Anyway. I will try to keep up with as many blogs as possible as we travel down this unexpected fork in our road. I wish you all love and health.

XO, Mrs. E

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Excuses, Excuses!

Hi! If anyone out there still checks this blog, you deserve a million thank yous and a gazillion apologies for my insanely long absence. I seriously can't believe it's been over four months since I last posted! I wish I had some thrilling excuse to offer you, but really, unless your definition of "thrilling" includes laundry and poopy diapers, and more laundry and more poopy diapers, and even more laun--well, you get the point--I've got nothing. These days, my life is literally full of crap, just in the best way possible!

I honestly can't complain. Everyone is doing really well: F&C turned two on Easter--pause for effect because seriously? TWO. I still can't believe it--and J is four days away from being five months old (I can't believe that either). I could probably fill this entire blog with all the amazing/adorable/intelligent/[insert other annoyingly bragtastic adjective here] things my children are doing, but I won't subject you to that.

I might, however, have to upload just one teeny tiny picture. And by one, I clearly mean two three. Fine, four. I'll stop at four ;)


Anyway, offspring update aside, I really wanted to get back on here because I missed this community a lot. I've been keeping tabs from afar, but my old (now defunct) phone apparently did not want me to comment on anything. Ever. Hopefully my new one plays a little nicer! Just know that I've been keeping track of as many blogs as possible and silently cheering you all on. I know these past few months haven't been easy for a number of you, and you've been in my thoughts and prayers.

I've also been hesitant to post because I wasn't quite sure what direction this blog should take. On the one hand, I want it to be about my life. On the other hand, my life is pretty much consumed by my kids, and while I don't think you can ever really "graduate" from infertility, I want to respect the fact that I'm currently in a very different place than many in this community.

So, for now, I think I'll probably just stick to photo updates when it comes to F, C and J, and maybe I'll start another, more kid-centric blog down the line. (You know, since I've been doing such a stellar job keeping up with this one, why not add another? Ha.) In the meantime, I'll keep this space for my IF-related musings, and maybe, just maybe, a TTC Baby E (Part 3) journey down the line.


Yup. I said it. Why? Because I'm probably insane. I mean, I know I said we were three and done/no more IVF/goodbye pills and needles and trans-hooha wand/etc., but yeah. It turns out that we might not be quite ready to get off this crazy train. Who knows. But for now, we're keeping that door open!

Love and baby dust~~

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Birth Story

Let's see... I should probably begin with the fact that I went into labor around 12 AM on Thursday, December 19, 2013 (aka 36w6d). That said, I didn't actually admit that I might be in labor until 14ish hours later, and I didn't truly believe it until 5 hours after that, right before my awesome(ly terrifying) ambulance ride to the hospital. 

To say I was in denial is probably an understatement, but between taking care of the twins and trying to get everything ready for the holidays, having a baby three weeks early--especially one who hadn't yet turned head down (!)--was seriously the last thing on my mind.

So, when those first intense, early morning contractions woke me up out of a dead sleep, I convinced myself I just needed to pee. And as the morning progressed and the contractions became even more uncomfortable--like, breathe-through-them-uncomfortable--I decided that I was probably just doing too much, and if I drank some water and relaxed, they would eventually settle down.

I know, it sounds ridiculous, but denial is a very powerful thing! Plus, as I mentioned in the 36 Week Update I wrote that day, while the contractions were intense, they didn't seem all that regular (though, to be fair, I wasn't timing them). And furthermore, in my defense, drinking water and lying down did help--sort of--it's just that when I stood up, the contractions seemed to hurt twice as much..

Finally, around 2:30ish, I broke down and called Mr. E for backup. The way I saw it, maybe it was The Real Deal, or maybe I just needed to rest, and there was no way that was happening if I also had to entertain two very energetic 20-month-olds. 

(Fun fact: I also called my chiropractor and canceled that afternoon's appointment. Unfortunately for me, a contraction hit just as she got on the phone, and in an effort to sound cool and nonchalant, I was the total opposite. I swear, I said something along the lines of, Hi I know it's last minute but I think I'm going into labor and I'd really rather not so I think I need to just relax would it be alright if we rescheduled? Totally normal, right?)

Anyway, two hours an eternity later, Mr. E finally got home, and I hightailed it up to bed where I lay down and tried very hard to convince myself that I wasn't actually in pain. When that didn't work, I decided I was probably focusing too hard on things and making it worse, so I attempted to distract myself by working on some Christmas stuff. And when that didn't work, I gave in and let myself acknowledge the fact that maybe--just maybe--my mind was not going to overcome my body.

So, I did the next logical thing, which was to call the doctor go on a mini cleaning spree that included picking up the kids' room, putting away clothes, throwing in a load of laundry, and scrubbing the toilets. (Please, don't judge. I was clearly not in my right mind.) Once those *highly* important tasks were finished, I finally called the doctor and--surprise--was told to go straight to Labor and Delivery.

At that point, I still felt pretty sheepish about the whole thing. Of course, the contractions were definitely painful, but during the pain-free moments in between, I couldn't help but wonder if I was overreacting. It just felt so sudden: I mean, I wasn't even 37 weeks! That said, I still made myself pack my hospital bag, and I at Mr. E's insistence, even called my doula to meet us at the hospital "just in case."

In the meantime, we called my mother-in-law to come watch the twins for us. She lives about 30 minutes away, and we only live about 12 minutes from the hospital, so we figured we'd get to L&D within the hour. At the rate my contractions were coming--about every 3-5 minutes--I thought that was totally doable. Unfortunately, we seriously underestimated rush hour traffic and how much time that would add to my mother-in-law's ETA..

Over an hour into waiting for her, we both started to get nervous. I mean, if I really was in labor, and the baby was still breech, I definitely needed to be at the hospital sooner rather than later. At that point, I was actually using my birthing ball to get more comfortable ("comfortable" obviously being a relative term!), and suddenly, the idea that I was about to have a baby didn't seem all that far-fetched.

Then (MAJOR TMI AHEAD!!!) I went to the bathroom, and well, things got real. For the record, I never really bled while in labor with the twins, so when I saw all the blood this time around, it scared the crap out of me. I started yelling for Mr. E to come look, and then this huger than huge clot fell out of me, except for a split second, I could have sworn it was E3's umbilical cord (cord prolapse being a risk with breech babies), and I started to seriously panic because after a day of thinking that maybe I wasn't in labor, it was suddenly excruciatingly obvious that I was.

That's when Mr. E called 911 because his mom still wasn't there yet, and--this was funny only in retrospect--per the dispatcher's instructions, I somehow ended up on my back in the middle of the living room floor, totally nude from the waist down, which is exactly how the EMTs and my mother-in-law found me when they arrived a few minutes later. (Good times. I swear, between this pregnancy and last, my MIL has seen WAY too much of me!)

Minor humiliation aside, however, I'm glad we called for help. By the time I arrived at the hospital--one dramatic, siren-filled ambulance ride later--my contractions were lasting one minute long and coming every two. (This was according to the paramedics; I was sort of beyond timing them myself!) On top of that, I was starting to shake, which is exactly what happened when I went through transition with the twins.

At that point, I was 100% certain I was going to have the baby that night and was feeling a pretty urgent need to get him or her out. However, I apparently do not play the part of a laboring woman very convincingly* because at first, I don't think anyone else thought I was quite as progressed as I thought knew I was.

*This is funny only because I'm a pretty ginormous wimp in real life, but as I explained to Mr. E, I prefer to suffer my contractions in silence and save the yelling and cursing for the important stuff...you know, like stubbed toes and banged shins...and paper cuts! ;)

Anyway, after I had explained why I was there--the contractions, the bleeding, the breech baby--the resident asked me (very calmly) if I thought I was in labor, and when I said yes, she simply said (still very calmly) Okay, well let's see if you're dilated...

And I was. To 5 cm. And about 10 minutes later, I was at an 8 with a "big bag of waters," which meant that 1) There was zero time to turn the baby, and 2) Suddenly things went from Well, the patient might be in labor to This baby is breech and we need a c-section immediately!
(Actually, they used the word stat. It was all very Grey's Anatomy-esque, which might have been exciting if I hadn't been the patient in question!)

The events that followed passed in a sort of blur. I remember signing a gazillion forms that I never looked at and listening to a million instructions that I never really heard, all the while trying to keep my composure through each contraction. I also remember the OB on call (whom I had met when I was on bed rest with the twins and really liked) asking the nurses if she should put the IV in herself because things needed to move faster.

Overall, it was pretty hectic and overwhelming, but in the background, I could also hear Mr. E telling the team our mini birth plan--mainly that we wanted to see and hold the baby as soon as possible, c-section or not--and I remember feeling so grateful that he was around to say those things.

Then, suddenly, I was in the OR being prepped for a surgery that I hadn't ever really considered a possibility. (I'm pretty sure I said more than once, But I'm supposed to have the baby turned this Monday! as though that would miraculously put my labor on hold...) Anyway, I was lucky to have an amazing team. The anesthesiologist and nurse in particular were really good at explaining everything that was going on. Plus, in the beginning, I was concentrating so hard on getting through each contraction that I didn't have time to focus on the upcoming surgery, and then the spinal was in, the pain was gone (as was any sensation below my armpits!), and before I knew it, the anesthesiologist was telling me that they had already started.

Mr. E came in soon after, and it was really comforting to have him right next to me. (Surreal though, too, because we were able to talk and laugh almost like I wasn't in the process of having major surgery, and we weren't about to meet our third child.) Then, the doctor told Mr. E to stand up and look over the curtain, and I heard him say, It's a BOY!, and just like that, at 9:12 PM, after about 21 hours of labor, 36w6d of pregnancy, and lots of hopes and prayers, our second little boy and third little miracle was born =)

Thank you so much for listening and for your support throughout our journey to E3. It means the world to all of us! Love and baby dust and Happy New Year! XO

Mrs. E

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Came Early!

To be more specific:

Christmas at the E's arrived last Thursday, December 19, 2013, at exactly 9:12 PM, in the form of one slightly early, but thankfully, very healthy little...


J, the baby formerly known as 7 =)
Born @ 36w6d
7 lbs. 7 oz.
19.25 in.

Crazy birth story to come! For now though, Merry (early) Christmas and Happy Holidays!
The E Family

Thursday, December 19, 2013

36 Weeks (+6 Days) And a Breech Update

Weekly Questionnaire #29

How Far Along? 36w6d!!!! (Officially 5 days more pregnant than I've ever been!)

Total Weight Gain: +16 lbs!

Maternity Clothes: Yes, and word to the wise: If you are going to be pregnant in the winter, for the love of God, buy a maternity coat! I did not, which means that the past week of snowstorm+temps in the teens has been pretty darn cold... Too late now, though.

Symptoms: Well, the good news is that the chiropractor has definitely been helping with the lower back pain! Apparently, my sacrum is "stuck," possibly from the last delivery, but it's starting to loosen up a bit. I can definitely feel the weight of this baby on my hips and pelvis though...holy aching, batman! That said, if it means that 7 is growing well, I'll take it!

Stretch Marks: Nothing new, but the old ones are definitely still there.

Belly Button In/Out: Out/Flat.

Sleep: What is sleep?

Best Moment Last Week: I think crossing the 36 week mark wins the prize! I only made it to 36w1d with the twins, and every day from 23w4d was a struggle... I am amazed and so, so grateful to have had such a relatively easy pregnancy this time around.

Food Cravings: BACON.

Food Aversions: Breakfast sandwiches... BUT, I had Taco Bell last night! First time since getting pregnant and it was AMAZING!

Gender: Team Green. I need to do some of those old wives tales things... People have been saying boy judging from how I'm carrying, but girl based on their gut feelings. I'm still thinking boy, but honestly, Mr. E just had two dreams last night in which we had a girl, so maybe knows something I don't...

Movement: Yes.

Labor Signs: Contractions are still strong, and sometimes they get pretty regular, but nothing real yet!

What I Am Looking Forward to: Tomorrow! 37 Weeks!

Breech Update: Well, 7 is still breech. I had an appointment yesterday, and we scheduled a version (where the doctor tries to turn the baby) for this coming Monday at 10 AM. My doctors and midwife agree that I'm a good candidate because my uterus is very "malleable" (yay?), but I'm still nervous. Attempting to turn the baby means a trip to L&D and the possibility that something could go wrong--placental abruption, water breakage, fetal distress--which would then end up in an emergency C-section. The risk is very low, but it's there nonetheless. I am just praying that no matter what, 7 stays put and only comes when s/he is ready!

Monday, December 9, 2013

34/35 Weeks (+3 Days)

Weekly Questionnaire(s) #27&28

34 Week Bump Shot & Twin Selfies =)
How Far Along? 35w3d

Total Weight Gain: +13 lbs as of my last checkup two weeks ago, but after this past weekend (we went to IKEA and discovered the joys of 6 cinnamon buns for $4), I wouldn't be surprised if that number has doubled...

Maternity Clothes: Yes, though I still like squeezing into some of my comfy winter pre-pregnancy shirts when not in public. Of course, a good portion of my belly hangs out the bottom (tres klassy), but they're just so comfortable!

Symptoms: Hm. I sort of wonder if, after a certain point, the "symptoms" category should just be called "side effects." As in, The Side Effects of Growing Another Human may include: The ability to want to sleep all.the.time, yet the frustrating inability to actually fall asleep when given the chance. Hip pain, back pain, rib pain. Heart burn. Hot flashes (had forgotten about those!) ...On a positive note though, side effects also include super thick hair, awesomely strong fingernails, and of course, a BABY =)

Stretch Marks: Nothing new, though I recently noticed that a few of the ones I had before now look more obvious.

Belly Button In/Out: Out, but almost completely flat.

Sleep: Not great. After I finally do fall asleep, I proceed to wake up almost every hour because I have to pee and/or 7 decides to throw a little party that apparently involves a fetal rendition of the Can-Can, muay thai, and a touch of good old-fashioned head banging.

Best Moment Last Week: Reaching 34, bypassing it, and making it to 35!

Food Cravings: Bacon, apples, and now, cinnamon buns!

Food Aversions: Honestly, I don't know if I'll ever want a breakfast sandwich again in my life. HOWEVER, I did pass Taco Bell yesterday and got the slightest twinge of a craving!

Gender: Stubbornly Team Green =)

Movement: When doesn't this baby move?

Labor Signs: I've been getting a few strong runs of contractions almost every day now--usually at night, and they can last anywhere from 1-3 hours with contrax coming every 3-5 minutes. They're strong, but not exactly painful, though judging from my last pregnancy/labor/delivery, I'm not a good person to ask about contraction pain. (By the time we figured out I was actually in labor, I was already 9 cm) Anyway, I do get a little nervous that these contractions are changing my cervix, but since they always stop before I fall asleep, I figure it's not the real thing.

What I Am Looking Forward to: My 36 Week OB appointment on Thursday! 

Breech Update: As of last Thursday, 7 was frank breech (legs up to its face in the pike position). The doctor who did the ultrasound also said it was clear that s/he had been upright for a while because of the shape of its head... I'm pretty sure 7 has since changed position though--not head down (boo!)--but its feet are once again all over the place and s/he kept squirming from breech to transverse over the weekend. As I mentioned before, I'll have to seriously discuss our Plan of Action with my OB this week, but today, I'm biting the bullet and heading to the chiropractor. I figure it can't hurt, right??
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