Excuse me while I dust this blog off and remember how my site works! I am clearly out of practice.
The urge to write comes distinctly with a lack of sleep and thoughts of Facebook promises. There is much to say and a lot of it will be hard. For me and for you.
When I started this blog so long ago, it was easy to jump right in because so many of you had been there from before the beginning. Since moving to Seattle and starting a new chapter in my life, I have been putting down a warning before each blog. You really need to be prepared before you read these things. This one especially. And this will probably be the last warning I feel the need to issue.
The thoughts I express here are mine and mine alone. I speak for no one else, in total seriousness at least. I am one person with unique experiences that have shaped me into the person I am with the thoughts, feelings, emotions and beliefs that I have. Try to avoid judgement; try instead to open your heart to understanding. And remember that at the end of the day, for every person on this planet, there is a unique life experience that shapes who we are and who we will become. Thanks.
Now, where did I last leave you?
Ah, yes, my constant array of mostly male doctors telling me I WILL DIE if I try to have a child!
Well, I shut them up.
I’m not sure if it’s a dude versus lady thing to put personal survival against procreation. Or if it’s simply doctors’ code to do everything–and say anything–to get your patient to survive. Really, it doesn’t matter. What it comes down to is that I have told many doctors since I started this cancer treatment journey that it is vitally important to me to preserve the chance to have children. Or at least a child. And that I will pursue that plan as far as I can. And I had expected my doctors to really listen to me. Many times, they did not. You really have to be your own advocate when it comes to your health and your life.
And how many doctors tried to steer me away from pregnancy? “You could die if you try to have children.” Yes, and I could die trying to cross a street. I could die from a drunk driver. I could die from lightening striking. “Do you want your husband to have to raise this child alone?” Well, if your saying it’s cause I died then yes. He’s an amazing man. That’s why I married him. He can totally raise a child on his own. Plus, we have family and friends to help. I’d rather not be dead but if you insist on playing this card and assuming I haven’t considered my own death (every single day of my life since you all told me I have cancer at 28 with no history in my family and no place to presume where it came from), then, yes, my husband is more than capable of raising our child on his own. He’d be so cute in a baby bjorn!
Don’t you know I’m exactly the kind of person that when you tell me no, I want what I want even more?
I went in to the fertility doctor in June and I told him: here’s the plan, this baby thing is happening. I’m pretty sure he sighed in relief. I believe on some levels that the doctors just wanted me to make the decision 100% on my own.
I was already off tamoxifen and had been since March as we had been doing some testing to see what my egg supply looked like (it looked like the supply of someone at 41, so kinda shitty but not impossible; more like: this needs to happen sooner than later… chuck the 5 year plan out the window!). I checked in with my oncologist and had one last CT Scan (for now) to check everything. The Docs gave me 6 months to make it happen. If I’m not pregnant in 6 months then we have bigger problems. At some point I could try a medication to ensure a higher number of eggs become available during ovulation but, as previously mentioned, these were my only options for me to conceive a child of my own DNA. Egg harvesting requires intense doses of hormones, which is like crack to my addict known as cancer (that is, if there are any lone cancer cells still cruising planet Serena, and with cancer you never can be sure…)
So out with my IUD in July. And wow, to be at that place with oh-my-gosh-we-could-get-pregnant-at-any-moment-holy-shit-are-we-adults-adulting-for-real?! It was a pretty cool and unique feeling!
As an avid reader and a person who likes to be prepared, I naturally found The Impatient Women’s Guide to Getting Pregnant on dear Amazon. (http://impatientwoman.com) and started reading it cover to cover. I stopped drinking alcohol and coffee except for a rare one here and there (which, if you know Sean and I, we don’t really drink that much, we’re an old married couple!). In another book, I read that stopping those 2 things can help with polycystic ovarian syndrome, which at one point was a possible medical concern for me (check out the book Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility if you want to learn more; I ordered this book but as you will see soon, I didn’t get very far into it!).
I improved my diet and started taking prenatal vitamins to prepare. I still drank some solid beers to keep putting on weight. I started using an app that tracked my cycle (Period Calendar but on your phone it shows incognito as plain old “PC,” discreet). The book had all sorts of temperature-taking options and additional pee testing that I decided to skip with the intention to revisit if I got real frustrated. It should be noted that while I was diving way too intensely into this plan, I was driving Sean crazy! I had to scale back and have a reality check a few times to keep the balance. He is a patient man!
July was a bust because I was still getting used to the new norm after my IUD was out. August was travel and time away from hubby. My cycle was all over the place and difficult to track. 44 days, WTF? My body has always had a hard time with this aspect. I had another reality check after a negative pregnancy test in August: maybe 6 months will be a year. Maybe my doctor is comfortable with 6 months but I want to try for longer. Ok, self, just give it a few more months then we’ll try that medication.
In September, I swear things were different. I felt something change in me. I took a pregnancy test October 4, exactly 2 weeks after my calendar said it was go time. The test was negative. I was disappointed but accepted it and moved on. We went to an old school concert with friends, started to gear up for out 2nd wedding anniversary and focused on life and the next month.
Then in mid October, I had a week where after a usual amount of dinner I felt ridiculously full! Weird. I was looking at my belly and saying “what are you doing in there?” I just felt, different. I stocked up on pee-tests (we just got closer: it’s all pee all the time from here on out). And then one day (Saturday, October 24th), I woke up and before work I just decided to pee on a stick.
And wouldn’t you know it: it turned PLUS right away! Like every test before took the full 3 minutes. But when you’re pregnant, that thing lights up like a Christmas tree! It practically screams PLUUUUSSS!!! PREGNANT! YOU ARE WITH CHILD!!!!!!
As the Impatient Women’s Guide notes, to keep things simple for husband, get a pregnancy test that literally has results of “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” After I showed Sean the first +/- test, we were both like, ok, um, what? Let’s do that again. So water, OJ, water, water, water. And test number 2? After 1 minute: PREGNANT! We stared at each other disbelief and excitement for a few moments, just enjoying what we had actually accomplished!
Holy shit: it’s on! Baby Sultan has entered the womb!
*Disclaimer: Sorry for the abrupt ending and incomplete story! I know you were expecting more. I just needed to get back on the horse and get this started. I will continue our story in the next part. The last three months have felt like we have lived a lifetime and I don’t have the emotional patience to get it all out right now. I also want to preserve as separate this moment of intense joy and happiness and success before we faced the realities of pregnancy, which are still amazing but also filled with worry and fear at keeping this being that is now our whole world safe. We are also in the middle of crazy scary genetic testing that has been putting us through the ringer and will require a lot of my brain power to both recollect all of the details and then explain it all properly.