Wesley’s Birth Story

I wrote down all the details of my sweet boy’s labor and birth shortly after we got home from the hospital so that I wouldn’t forget anything. It wasn’t long after this that I found out that all of my torturous itching during the end of the pregnancy and postpartum was due to cancer. The lens that I viewed my son and his story through was completely different upon hearing this news. It brought up a lot of emotion in me reading the words written during this time, having no idea that deadly cells were taking over my body. The whole thing is still so surreal and my boy is such a miracle and priceless gift to me every day.

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39 weeks

I have never been more anxious to birth a baby in my entire life and at the same time dreaded the whole thing more than I ever had.  My last birth (Ellie, #3) had been the hardest and left me feeling very uneasy to do it again.  My pregnancy with Wesley had been the hardest one. My immune system seemed to be struggling (hmm) and about 3 months before Wesley was due, I started getting extremely itchy.  The itchiness slowly intensified until my feet and legs were covered in scabs from digging into my skin.  The last month or so before he was born, I wasn’t sleeping well at all. The last few weeks, I wasn’t getting to sleep until 3 a.m. and that was with the help of medication.  I have no doubt that the grace of God got me through that difficult time.  I would be up all night cleaning and organizing, keeping myself as busy as possible. The energy to do this could have only come from my gracious Father.  Staying on my feet and distracted was the only thing that seemed to help me not itch, but I had some rough “back to reality” days where my body couldn’t do anymore. (There was that one day when I had a complete meltdown at the chiropractor’s office…) I was very hopeful that as soon as Wesley arrived, my itching would magically disappear and I was so incredibly desperate for that sweet relief, but also had a lot of anxiety over the birth and not having adequate rest to be able to handle it all!

So Wesley was born at 4:32 a.m. on Wednesday morning (March 22nd), but the whole thing officially started on Monday evening. The theme for this labor story would be “Brittany is in denial”. I didn’t want to say I was 100% sure I was in labor because I had been having so many Braxton hicks contractions during this pregnancy, that it wasn’t until it changed slightly that I started questioning. These contractions were lower down and felt a tad more intense than Braxton hicks, but it was just pre-labor and easy to ignore.  I went ahead and gave my mom and Brianne a head’s up and they both decided to head this way. I was still scarred just thinking about how long it was last time and was torn on when to tell them to come because I didn’t want them to be here forever waiting.  It was a different labor in that I hadn’t been able to get adequate rest thanks to the itching, so I was forced to be up all night thinking about labor instead of laboring in my sleep and getting the rest I needed. It was also hard that everyone else was asleep and I was alone with my delirious, negative labor thoughts.  Because I had help the next day, I was able to sleep in, which was so incredibly helpful!  I am so grateful that Bri was able to be here! Trey is amazing for being willing to keep Brinlee just so she could come support me, not even knowing if she’d get to stay for the actual birth. We cried laughing that night looking at some of Lily’s new people drawings and enjoyed just talking and helping Jim with some business flyers. I got to watch some of “Planet Earth” with the girls for the first time before they went to bed, which was special and calming. I finished writing some updates on each of the girls that I really wanted to get done before Wes arrived.  After falling sleep, I didn’t wake up to any worsening pain like I expected I might, but it was probably within an hour of waking up from sleeping in again (Hallelujah!!) that the mild contractions started back up.  I tried my best to just “ignore them until I couldn’t anymore”. BEST LABOR ADVICE EVER from my wise doula friend Joan. That worked part of the time because I have three other distracting, tiny people in my life with so many needs, but you are also anxious for the baby to come asap.  I had trouble not entertaining the lie that if I didn’t concentrate on progressing the labor, that it might stop all together and I couldn’t bear that thought. I entertained WAY TOO MANY fears and negative thoughts, but God proved his unconditional love and grace once again despite my lack of faith and fears. Finally I had some “bloody show” when I went to the bathroom… another good sign that things were progressing!! I had my 39 week appointment with one of the midwives that afternoon around 2, where I was absolutely going to have her strip my membranes and even discuss whether it would be reasonable to break my water to get things moving faster, etc.  (can you tell I was getting desperate?? I never would have considered this with my other 3)  She said I was dilatated 3-4 cms, which should have been very encouraging news, but I refused to get my hopes up and I don’t think she wanted to get my hopes up either way as far as how long she thought it would take. Every labor is truly so different and impossible to predict.  I would imagine being in labor for days and being sent home multiple times for not progressing (Thanks Sadie, Ellie…) and at the same time, picturing it progressing so fast that Jim would have to catch the baby in our bathroom or car (Thanks Lil…).  It’s so hard when you’ve had such different experiences!  She went ahead and stripped my membranes. It wasn’t fun, but not the worst thing in the world… Jim made the moment extra memorable when “In the arms of the angel” happened to be playing and he started singing along with his beautiful soprano voice. So that was hysterical. She thought we should wait at least another 24 hours before considering breaking my water. (boohoo) When we got home, Mom had arrived from the hotel and had made all of my girl’s dreams come true with her presence!  I was starting to feel antsy about things progressing and Bri mentioned that she had some errands that she could run if I was interested. At first I was feeling lazy like I just wanted to sit around feeling sorry for myself, but mom encouraged me to go and I finally decided that would probably be a really good distraction and fun to have some girl time. First stops- SUSHI and then Panera for a coffee and treat.

We then headed to Hobby Lobby, where we literally got to walk down every aisle of the store with no rush and no kids, which was wonderful.  I had to take a potty break about halfway through and after walking down a GOOD number of aisles, my hand grazed something unexpected behind me… I had a long toilet paper tail hanging out of the back of my pants!!! BAHAHAHA.  Brianne and I were crying/snorting laughing. How she didn’t notice my toilet paper tail before then is still under question. Good times.  We then headed to Target and browsed the entire the clothing section and I even bought myself a few things for post baby.  It was there that the contractions started getting more intense and I would actually find myself having to concentrate on breathing more through them and feeling a little self-conscious being in public, even though nobody had any idea. That little outing was just about the best thing we could have done to distract me and get things moving.  We got home and the contractions continued to be more intense.  At some point, Mom and Jim decided to head to bed to rest up because they had both gotten limited sleep the night before.  I made sure to keep drinking tons of water and ended up on the toilet a lot, which always makes the contractions stronger. It’s kind of hard to ever get up after you get stuck there haha.  After a while, Bri suggested I try to lay down and see if I could get any rest and she was going to get a nap in too.  It was a relief to lay down and relax for a little bit, but the time between my contractions slowed down, even though they continued to be intense, if not more intense.  It’s at this point that I wish I would have just trusted my body, which means I can’t really ever pay attention to how far apart the contractions are because I’ve always had them randomly timed even right up to the end of each labor. So as relaxed as I felt laying there, I couldn’t help but feel paranoid that things were suddenly going to slow down because I was resting.  This kind of began the dark period of the labor for me.  Everyone was asleep with me left awake alone, which was something that I had been experiencing throughout the end of the pregnancy, feeling lonely at night by myself.  I couldn’t sleep or get involved in some project and was left alone with my negative thoughts and should have just woken someone up then, but for some reason I was obsessed with not having everyone waiting around for the baby to get here.  I was at war with myself during this labor a lot.  I wanted it to feel like my last two labors when I was able to go to bed and wake up in active labor and labored by myself with my relaxing music for a good few hours before I woke anyone else. This labor was different and I DID need some support right now.  I kept being fearful that he wasn’t going to come tonight and I was going to have to go through another day of this like last time and I especially didn’t want to go to the birth center and be disappointed at my lack of progress and be sent home. At the same time, this whole pregnancy, I had visions of being in denial and waiting too long and having the baby at home unexpectedly… don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of home birth when it’s PLANNED.  Bri woke up to me rolling around on my birth ball.  I was a mess.  I opened up about all of my fears, not wanting to go through the pain again, feeling like I couldn’t do it, that my lack of willingness/enthusiasm was going to stall the labor forever, guilt about not trusting God to get me through this again. I even had been entertaining the lie that because of my lack of faith, God was probably going to punish me with the worst birth ever.  NOT TRUE.  And he proves to me again and again how his love for me doesn’t change based on my flaws and failures. (hold that thought) So I decided to call the midwife to get her thoughts on what my next move should be.  I just didn’t know when I should head to the birth center and was scared I was going to wait until I was pushing him out ha!  I opened up about being at war with myself and how far along I felt like I might be and she suggested taking a bath and seeing how I felt.  I was truthfully a little nervous about doing this because when I was in labor with Lil, the water sped things up VERY quickly, but of course I wasn’t that far along yet anyways, right?! After talking to Bri, we both agreed that it would probably be best for me to just get to the birth center and be able to labor in peace without worrying about whether I would make it in time or wondering how far along I really was, etc.  She kept trying to convince me that I was probably very far along and should probably go.  I got the water running and woke Jim up. When he was present with me, I realized how much I desperately needed him there with me.  He had been doing a ton of last minute business things the whole day/night before and I was fine with it (mostly hehe), but now that he was present in the moment there with me, I realized how badly I had needed him. While I was in the bathtub, the amount of time in between contractions widened again, but it was definitely more intense.  I got a little paranoid after a few mins and decided I should probably get out. I had Jim start loading up the car, which he did much slower than I would have liked. I had to brace myself for every contraction, either grabbing the countertop or holding onto Bri or Jim.  I was really having to make noise and concentrate now and prepare myself for the next one.  I had also been using the heated rice pack on my back all night, which has always helped with the back labor, which wasn’t too intense this time.  TMI: I felt like I had REALLY BAD hemorrhoids, which made it hard for me to not resist my contractions a little bit. I didn’t feel comfortable squatting, etc.  They must have just been internal because they told me I didn’t have any when I got to the hospital?? This isn’t the first time I’ve had phantom hemorrhoids haha! So I started getting a little impatient as Jim started peeling a kiwi for “breakfast”… this is a grab and go kind of situation, babe!! I am NOT having another contraction in this kitchen…. LET’S GO. I told Bri that I would let her know when they should come as soon as we got there and I found out how far along I was.  Sooo this was probably around 4:00 a.m, keeping in mind I had him at 4:32. To give you an idea of how strange my contractions are, the last two I recorded on our way to the hospital were 7 and 9 minutes apart!  I had Jim drop me off at the door and told him to just grab the laundry basket of stuff to bring in after parking.  Of course, the male security guy (why did the girl send me with him??) took me back to the dreaded cubicle to “check-in”, get my bracelet, signature, etc… I can’t stand that. I only had to escape around the corner for one contraction before he escorted me to the elevator.  He asked if I needed a wheelchair, but I actually felt fine to walk. HA. Once we got up there, I had to go around a corner to suffer through another contraction in a small wait area and he didn’t realize I had disappeared and something like four nurses came looking for me, scared I was having the baby haha.  These birth center nurses are AMAZING.  It was as if they knew I was going to be having this baby asap and they were all ready for it.  I had called earlier in the night to let them know I was in active labor and she had assumed I was headed in and called me a few times to check on me when I didn’t show up, thinking I had the baby on the side of the road. So they were relieved to see me and took me straight to triage because I had, of course, given the midwife the impression that I feared I wasn’t far along enough. For the first time in all my labors, I took the pee cup into the bathroom and SUCCESSFULLY PEED IN IT!! I think I had one not too terrible contraction while in there. When I got back to the little triage room, the next contraction was super intense and made me cry. The sweet nurse was so comforting and wanted to check me real quick because she could tell I was in quite a bit of pain. She had been saying things like “She doesn’t know how I do it” and “You are an expert at this point”. I really wasn’t feeling that way at the moment and was doubting whether I was going to be able to do it. In fact, after one of my contractions, she asked if she could do anything for me, and I said “get me an epidural please!” and she was like “Are you serious?  Because we would need to get you there fast!”  And I think I knew it wasn’t going to be possible anyways, but it was sure tempting!! I joked about how I was right on time to have him between 6 and 7 a.m., which is when my last 3 have been born. She said “It might be a little sooner than that!” She went ahead and called the birth center to give them a heads up that she thought I would definitely be ready for a room asap and to start getting a tub filled up.  I was feeling A LOT of pressure down there, like my water might break pretty soon, which for me has always meant pushing would start pretty quick after that!  When she checked me, she said my water was bulging and I was a good 9.  The next contraction, I really tried to resist not pushing my water out before we could get to the birth center room around the corner. She started getting the wheelchair ready for me and I asked if Jim was there yet. Meanwhile, Jim had entered the parking garage and sat in the car for a few mins to text my mom and Bri to see if someone would bring him an energy drink because he assumed we still had a while to go hehe.  He also decided to bring everything in, not just the laundry basket… I knew this was going to happen haha. So after having everything stacked up just right to carry in, the laundry basket handle breaks on him.  It’s pretty comical when you think about how close he came to missing the birth!! He literally arrived as they were wheeling me out of the triage area with 5 or so mins before Wesley would make his appearance! As they were wheeling me down the hall, another contraction hit and she asked if I wanted her to stop and I really felt like she should probably keep going… “my water just broke… we better keep moving”.  As soon as we got into the entrance of the birth center room, I started handing Jim my wallet and phone and asked him to grab my swimsuit out of my bag.  The nurses started to quickly help me to get out of the wheelchair and walk straight to the tub that was almost completely filled up. Right after I got out of the wheelchair, I dropped straight down to the floor on all fours for the next contraction and suddenly felt the urge to push. I said “I feel like I need to push!! Somebody better get my pants off!” Jim is pretty sure that he was the one that pulled my pants down and he didn’t even see the birth because he moved up to be closer to my face to comfort me through the pushing (which we both imagined wouldn’t be the only one…) and just like that, ONE HUGE PUSH and he was OUT!  I couldn’t believe it. I remember one of the nurses saying “I got him!!”  I felt like I was in a dream… could it really be over? Just like that? I think I hear a baby crying, but I can’t believe it… I was still wearing my tunic with my leggings halfway off when they helped me turn around and try to hold him sitting on the nasty wet floor (haha).  So the umbilical cord was wrapped around my halfway down pants, which was pretty comical. I couldn’t believe I was holding him.  I just kept saying “Thank you God. Thank you Jesus. I can’t believe it!” I was in total shock. Trying to picture it all, it still seems like a dream and the images are foggy.

The midwife walked in right after he was born and jokingly gave me a hard time. I sat there holding him for a few mins before Jim cut the chord and I was able to easily walk to the bed to deliver the placenta. No tearing!  I was so overjoyed and relieved.  I couldn’t believe it was over!  It couldn’t have been any easier.  God really is so GOOD and blesses us, ESPECIALLY when we feel we least deserve it.  He truly spoke to my heart that day about his unconditional love for me that doesn’t have anything to do with my performance.  Even if things had been harder, I would have praised him, because he is always good, but wow, that birth was truly a gift. Thinking through every detail and how differently the whole thing could have happened… I easily could have had him in the kitchen if I had waited ANY longer. I could tell this recovery was going to be SO MUCH BETTER than last time when I was able to easily get off the bed, walk to the bathroom alone, and pee within a few SECONDS of sitting on the toilet!  It was amazing.  Sitting there holding him was heavenly. He latched on right away and ate for an HOUR AND A HALF!! I felt like I didn’t even get a good look at his face until a few hours after he was born ha!  He was my 2nd littlest at 6 lbs 3 ounces.  It wasn’t long before Jim ordered me some breakfast and boy did I enjoy that breakfast burrito!! Mom and Bri got to come see him before Bri headed back to Louisville. I am so glad she got to meet him before having to go, even if neither of them got to be at the birth! That was my bad. Jim sent everyone a picture with me looking guilty holding Wes with the caption “Oops” haha. The girls showed up around lunch time and LOVED meeting their new little brother.  My tiny Ellie suddenly appeared HUGE to me! She was very thoughtful while sitting on the bed, taking in all of the excitement and gave him kisses when it was her turn to hold him.

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A little birth center lunch together.

Unfortunately, my itching didn’t magically go away like I had hoped after Wes was born. I was finally diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma about a month later. After 6 months of chemo, that chapter has come to an end and we are fully enjoying a season of good health.  He was truly a bright light during a dark time in our lives.  When I first found out I was pregnant with Wes, I was overwhelmed and frustrated because I wanted to have a bigger gap between my last two babies and certainly didn’t want to have a baby right at the beginning of Jim’s potential busy season. Since my diagnosis, I have been more than thankful for God’s perfect timing, as I might have never had my son had it been up to my timing. We all will have so many questions in this life when bad things happen and the timing isn’t what we wanted, but always look for the blessings. There is always something to be thankful for no matter what. I’ve enjoyed every moment with my little man, long nights up with him were a blessing as I cherished the time that I might not have had. He has his mama’s heart and always will.  Thank you God for every day I get to spend with my precious, miracle baby boy.

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Update 11/30/17

A little update on me…
First of all, I wrote a pretty good size update post the night before last and my phone died and all was lost, so I stewed over that, then surgery, etc.
I am “portless” as of yesterday. I am so excited and grateful! It’s such a relief getting rid of it since it was placed there for the sole purpose of administering chemo. The most challenging thing about it is not lifting my babies for a few days, but mom being here has been extremely helpful! I’m just a little stiff and barely sore.
Today was a very encouraging day, as I had a good visit with my oncologist. I decided not to do radiation. This was a difficult and stressful decision as I had met with a radiation oncologist a few weeks ago who initially told me that I was a difficult case, but that he would lean against it. He then called me a few days later and said that he had discussed it with 5 of his colleagues and they all agreed that I should, which changed his mind. I, however didn’t feel that much of the facts we had discussed had changed, besides that he confirmed that I did indeed had “bulky” disease, which means you should “heavily consider” radiation. I still felt pretty strongly that I didn’t want to do it. So I was nervous about my appointment today, somewhat expecting my regular oncologist to try to talk me into radiation. Though he didn’t say it outright, it was clear to us that he didn’t think that I should. He was very optimistic about my outcome being completely healed and calmed my fears a little about relapsing. We discussed the game plan if I were to relapse and how good my chances of a good outcome would be even then.
Today brought a lot of peace and relief. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!

2017 Fall Pictures and Reflections

My sweet friend Tonya Battista did an amazing job (again) taking our family pictures.  It’s been a year since we last walked this path, soaked in the crisp air and admired the changing leaves and beautiful fall sunset. As Tonya so accurately said “Fall sunsets are my favorite”. I could not agree more.

2016

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That was a very cold day.  We had just moved into our new house. We couldn’t wait to meet our boy. We thought we knew what tired looked like.  We thought we knew what busy looked like.  We could not have imagined the journey we were about to take.

The torturous itching started a few months later and slowly got worse as my due date approached. By 37 weeks, I was barely getting 4-5 hours a night of sleep, my skin was literally torn up from scratching. The thought of labor with no rest and the itching brought me a lot of anxiety.  But I had hope.  I had hope that when my baby arrived, the itching would be gone.  It had to be.  I couldn’t live like this for much longer. Fast forward 3 weeks… the itching has gotten worse, not better.  After finally falling asleep, I would wake up to a hungry newborn and struggle to go back to sleep. I would wake up soaked in sweat. The midwives/gynecologist send me on to my regular Dr as my symptoms persist. Chest x-ray. Call from my Dr within an hour… “Lymphoma”. Cancer.  Then comes the longest 2 weeks of my life. Lymph node removed and biopsied, CT scan… still looks like lymphoma. Not sure what kind yet. Pet scan. Bone marrow biopsy. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage 3B unfavorable. “Bulky disease”.  Port surgery. Chemo one week later. Six months of chemo every 2 weeks.  Clean pet scan after 4 treaments! YAYY!!

This was the craziest year we’ve ever had for Jim’s business. He worked almost every night until dark and lots of weekends. We have been exhausted and more excited for winter than we have ever been in our lives.  Praying for rest and full recovery as we anxiously await and pray for a new season.  We are so thankful to God for sustaining us through all that this year held for us. Somehow the last 6 months have felt like 6 days and 6 years all at the same time.  I am not thankful for cancer, but I’m thankful for the lessons I have learned and the person I am becoming every day with God’s grace.  Instead of bitterness and fear, I choose gratitude and joy as I live my life one day at a time. Of course this is a difficult choice that doesn’t come easy and I have some very bad days for sure.  Even though I still have to wait for a clear pet scan in a week, I’m looking forward and enjoying the small victories, not because I know what the future holds, but because I know Who holds the future.

 

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My strength lies in Joy.

I hear so often to be strong, stay strong.

It’s important to remember that it’s only when I admit my weakness, can I finally turn to where my true strength lies. So let the tears fall, feel all of the sadness, voice all of the fears, question the journey. Then hand the burden over, surrender, be filled, be strengthened. Be blessed, not by a trouble free existence, but a gracious God. Don’t pull yourself up, cling to Jesus and fly on wings like eagles. My true strength lies in joy. A joy that never dies. This world is not my home. It will disappoint every. time. I will fail, my body will fail. My Savior never will.

When I am weak, He is strong.

 

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2 Cycles Down

Treatment #4 = DONE!! You could replace the first half of this post with “BLAH BLAH BLAH” as I ramble through a few complaints.  I’m tired. Physically and emotionally.  I just don’t want to do chemo anymore. (surprise) This became very obvious when I walked into the treatment room this last time and felt a little nauseous just being there.  I’ve wished many times over the past few weeks that I could just take a day off from cancer. I’m so wanting to bring fun wife and mommy back and not be sick anymore.  I’m tired of waking up exhausted and using the TV to babysit. Though it seems to run my life at the moment, it’s still hard to believe it’s real. Sadly, I have no interest in coloring anymore because I associate it with chemo.  Praying that will pass with time!  A week or so after my 3rd treatment, I started getting a nasty “metallic” taste in my mouth that still grosses me out.  Thinking back over the 4 treatments, I can now predict certain symptoms and when they will likely show up. The day of chemo, I feel completely exhausted.  I blame this mostly on the drugs, but I honestly think some of it has to do with my body not knowing how to react to sitting in a reclining chair with no children for a few hours.  Overall, I would describe my symptoms as mild and bearable, which I am so grateful for!  In a way, it feels like pregnancy all over again sometimes. I have been pleasantly surprised by my lack of nausea issues.  I took medication after the first two treatments for a few days just in case, took less the 3rd treatment, and haven’t taken any this time with hardly an issue.  That is a huge blessing!  My hair has also been holding on for dear life.  The nurse told me that they had been talking about me (and quickly mentioned that they didn’t talk about patients a lot or anything… haha yes you do) and she was surprised I hadn’t lost my hair yet.  It’s definitely been falling out and driving me crazy, which has inspired the recent haircut.

Consistent symptoms the week or so following chemo: Tiredness, sore muscles, “raw” mouth, sensitive teeth, sore throat, huge appetite or no appetite, stomach cramping, constipation (tmi… oh well), sore scalp (bye bye hair), minor tingling in my hands (it’s called neuropathy).

The adrenaline rush is gone, the newness of the situation has worn off.  I don’t quite know how to explain it, but at the beginning, it’s easier to go into attack, fighter mode. As time drags on and you’re in the middle of it, some days are more about surviving and less about fighting.  Your resilience is tested as the days slowly come and go.  It takes extra effort to do just about everything and it’s hard not to be bitter sometimes and ask God why.  The reality of our situation slaps me in the face out of nowhere and I start asking what in the world happened to my life.  It’s been an overwhelming past few months, to say the least.  But I will tell you with certainty that this has been a blessing more than a curse, that God makes messy things beautiful.  Choosing to grown when we’re stretched, building character instead of resentment, appreciating the little things and moments that were easily taken for granted before.

I finally have my Pet scan TOMORROW afternoon and will get to see and discuss the results with my Dr on Thursday afternoon!  I feel very optimistic that we will see progress, though I know that I will likely still have a while to go with chemo.

Though this journey has been hard, it’s not for lack of help, support, love and prayers.  I have been overwhelmed with happy mail and messages that have each touched my heart.  I can’t help but feel terrible that I haven’t been able to reach out to each of you to personally thank you!  Please know that each note of encouragement, gift, prayer means the world to me and truly touches my heart. THANK YOU.  The blessings are overflowing and I continue to see God’s hand work daily in our lives.  He is good all the time.

A Weekend Getaway

A few weeks ago, we noticed underneath the kitchen sink was unusually warm and the water was 1,000 degrees almost immediately after turning on the sink. After a friend took the sink apart and couldn’t access the leak, I was without a kitchen sink for a few days until a plumber finally came out and said we had a leak in the pipe in the foundation. It was going to be a minimum of $1,500.  Ewww.  After a few days of dishes piling up and washing them in the bathtub, I finally decided to escape to my sister’s last minute in Louisville. ROAD TRIP!! Even though it sounded a little crazy to hit the road alone with the 4 kiddos with everything going on, I couldn’t wait!  I’ve been dying to take a trip.  I have never gone more than a few months without a road trip in my adult life. It’s been a long 5+ months!! Silly me thought we might be able to make it all the way, but of course chaos erupted and I needed reinforcements. I was so grateful to feel comfortable asking my brother in law’s parents to take in a few weary travelers on a moment’s notice for a few mins before hitting the road again.  We missed our Daddy, but oh what fun we had!  I am so grateful for our Aunt B, Uncle Trey, and “Bringwee” (as Lil calls her).  We made so many memories and had so much summer fun that I couldn’t have attempted on my own.  It’s also a fun experience getting to stay in their top story apartment overlooking the street and shops below.  The sunset lighting up the rooftops is also beautiful.  Of course, getting to ride the elevator is pretty popular.

 

This trip was good for my soul. One top of a fun trip, I was surprised to hear the news that we didn’t have to pay a penny to fix our pipe leak!! Praise God!  Turns out the energy company that we recently switched to, happens to cover pipe leaks?? What a blessing!  The trip home wasn’t exactly smooth, but I made it thanks to low expectations and ice cream. 🙂

It’s a Good Day

First of all, my babies are all home and well!!! I did get some much needed rest while they were away as extreme tiredness has been my biggest side effect!

I headed to get, what I thought was my pulmonary function test (lung test), this morning only to find out that I had missed my appointment on Monday… oops.  So thankfully I headed downstairs in the same building to my Dr’s office to double check when my next appt with him was to find out I was actually supposed to be seeing HIM at 10:15. So at least I didn’t miss two appts… chemo brain + new mom brain is no joke. (hehe) My appointment was very encouraging!  There’s no longer swollen lymph nodes in my neck!  I said “Great! So I’m done now, right?!”  Yeah, I still have to wait to see the PET scan after 2 more treatments and most likely continue treatment for a while after that, but still very encouraging!  He also made me feel better about my blood counts.  I’ve been SUPER paranoid and he helped calm my fears. I don’t have to be a complete hermit! He said that the biggest risk is my own bacteria turning into a bacterial infection, not so much being around sick kids, though I could still get more easily. I mostly need to watch for a fever. He said I don’t have to wear a mask if I don’t want to… mostly, just be smart, wash my hands a ton, etc. My favorite part- Jim needs to be on diaper duty when he’s home.

My itching has improved DRAMATICALLY.  The constant itching and lack of sleep as a result was so much worse than any side effects I’ve been experiencing from chemo!  We appreciate the delicious meals and precious people who have loved on our kids from our church family at Cassel Hills so much! I even have someone regularly helping me with my laundry!! My sister in love Hayley is arriving tonight, which makes my heart so happy! Taking it one day at a time. Today was a good day.  God is ALWAYS good.  🙂

 

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Some days just stink.

And just like that, I had to send 3 of my 4 kids away because someone puked.  You may have heard that I hardly have a white blood cell in my body at this time, meaning that I am at a very high risk of infection, getting sick, etc.  If I get said infection or sickness, I will also have a harder time fighting it off.  I have four very small children… if you have small children, you may relate to feeling like at least 50% of the time someone is sick or thinking about getting sick.  And guess who is normally the person right there holding them while they’re pathetic… paranoid, much?  So when Sadie threw up 3 times this morning, I will honestly say that I was sitting there upset asking God whyyyy??  What would happen if all of us caught this thing?? I don’t want to get a virus that will last twice as long as everyone else and possibly push my treatment back, etc etc. And I just stinking want to be able to take care of my kids when they need me!!!  It’s hard not to be constantly fearful and stressed right now, though I know that’s not going to help at all.  Please pray that I can somehow have peace and not be in a constant state of paranoia during this time.  It’s very hard to find a balance when you need to be a hermit to avoid devastating your health, but you have 4 small children that HAVE to get out of the house at some point, but don’t know how to avoid germs!  I am wearing the dreaded mask to the girl’s ballet recital this weekend because there’s no way I’m going to miss it… IF we still get to go.  I’m still hopeful the whole thing will be a fluke.  By the way, I’m dying for a road trip. I’ve never gone 5 months without one in my adult life and I’m feeling stir crazy.  Thanks for listening to some rambling.

So I will now focus on these blessings… my mother in law dropped everything and came to pick up Sadie, my husband was able to help me pack up the other two girls and get them in the car to go to G-pa and Nana’s to avoid getting sick or being around me if they do get sick.  My sweet friend picked me up LUNCH, masks, gloves, and some cleaning supplies. (Amy, you forgot the hazmat suit)  I like my house and that sure helps when I have to be stuck here the majority of the time. I am now feeling much more at ease in the newly sprayed house with the windows open, thankful that my kids are being taken care of by loving grandparents and I’m not having to try to avoid them. I am so grateful to not be alone in this battle.  God is still bigger than this giant and he has sent angels in the form of a loving family to greatly lighten the burden when the unexpected storm blows in.  One day at a time.  Just keep swimming…

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But what if?

At times during this journey I have felt numb, unable to process what is happening to me.  Recently, my mind has been working overtime taking me to scary places.  I’ve only almost finished my 2nd treatment and though I feel hopeful that I’m going to get rid of this thing, I can’t help but start worrying about cancer attacking me again in the future.  Every time I have swollen lymph nodes, pain, itchy skin… IS IT CANCER?!??!  One possible side effect of this necessary “evil” treatment is a secondary cancer.  Crazy, right?  As I was obsessing over this fear the other day, I was suddenly slapped by reality.  So maybe I will get another cancer… or maybe I’ll get hit by a car while I’m worrying about cancer.  Do any of us really know what will happen tomorrow? Or the next day?

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” Proverbs 16:9

There’s a reason we are supposed to live TODAY and not worry about tomorrow.  Of course, I believe we can make good and bad choices to help us thrive or suffer unnecessarily in life, but ultimately, we are not in control of everything that happens to us.  Not even close. This realization could have caused me to fall even deeper into the worrying pit, but it actually brought me a sudden peace.  Peace that worrying will not add a single minute to my life. That God has been in control all along and he is faithful.

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6: 27

I am not in control, but I know the One who is.  Life isn’t about prolonging the number of days we have, but making each day we’ve been given count.  Choosing to see each challenge life throws at us as an opportunity to grow closer to God, depend more on Him, and touch the lives of those around us.  We were never promised an easy, comfortable life.  Let’s not forget that the longing in our hearts should not be to make a home here, but to look forward to the perfect home being prepared for us in heaven. We’re not home yet.  Do you ever forget that this life is temporary?  I know I do.  I can tell by what consumes my thoughts 75% of the time.  We are all going to die one day and we do not know what that day is.  Though I sometimes might mourn the “easy” life I had before being given this diagnosis, I wouldn’t change it.  I have been given a wake-up call in my life that has caused me to see each day as a gift like I never have before.  There were good things in my life that I had turned into idols and this trial has caused me to let go of those things and cling to God again, placing my heart, my hope, back into His hands.  Don’t wait to be given that wake-up call.  I know it sounds cliche, but live TODAY like it is your last day.  And don’t fear the future, because with Jesus, we have nothing to fear!  He has gone before us, he is right there with us no matter what comes our way.  When our lives come to an end, we get to see our Savior face to face in a place with no fear, pain, or tears… when that day comes, I pray I hear those beautiful words “well done good and faithful servant”.

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33