Dear Baby Gossett

To our sweet baby,

Today is the day you should have come into our world. Though if you’re anything like your mom, you would probably be a little late. A fashionable entrance I like to call it.

I’ve had a long time to think about what to say to you. I’ve started many sentences, just to mentally delete them.

I’m still not sure what to say, except that I love you. I know your dad loves you and we think about you often. We will never forget you and you will stay with us always. I had so many plans for us. I know we’ll be together one day, even if it’s much later than I would like. Our next journey together will be different since I can no longer carry you, but I will love you the same and wait with even more anticipation to see you.

I can’t believe it’s been 37 weeks since I first learned about you. 37 weeks sounds like a short amount of time, but in actuality it feels like years. I can still remember seeing the first test, then the second. Calling your auntie Jess in disbelief. Telling your dad as soon as he walked in for lunch and his shocked reaction. The look on your halmonie and halahbuji’s faces when they read the card. The joyful exclamations from both your grandparents when we FaceTimed them.

In the short time you were with us, you have brought so much joy and happiness. We thank you for everything you’ve given us and we love you so much. You’ll be with us forever, and we can’t wait to meet you one day.

Love,

Your Parents

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Radiation Treatment: Check!

You can mark radiation as completed! On my list of “Things I never imagined I would have to do”, radiation and chemotherapy have both been checked off. This week I completed two rounds of brachytherapy.

Brachytherapy, for those of you lucky enough to not be in the know, is a type of radiation in which a plastic tube called a dilator is inserted vaginally and the radiation comes from a source, and specifically targets a certain area, in my case, the apex of the vagina. The dilator looks like a church altar candle, and is closed on the end that is inserted, but has an opening on the other side that the source is fed into through a wire. You awkwardly lay on a gurney while they insert the dilator and make sure that the angle is correct, and hold it in place with an intense looking metal device. The device reminded me of the Black Widow scene in the Avengers when she’s being sterilized, guess it’s a good thing that doesn’t effect me anymore! They then take a CAT scan to ensure everything looks good, then moved me to a room that the source is held in.

What is the source you ask? That’s a great question. I am not 100% sure, but I know it’s held in a radiation specific box, that’s not that big, and just hangs out in a room by itself. It goes through a wire that gets fed through the dilator. It’s not painful, but you definitely feel a weird thump during it. Well, it is painful, because there is a lot of pressure on a sensitive spot, but not any sort of burning sensation.

The first day, the whole process takes about 45 minutes with the angling, measuring, CAT scan, moving to another room, waiting for the program to give all the information needed for the treatment, and then treatment was three minutes. The second day, I went straight to the source room, had the measuring and angling, then had the treatment, so about 15 minutes all together. Not too bad.

It feels amazing to finally be finished. I have my follow up appointment in Seattle in October with a PET scan. I’m a little scared something will grow between now and then, but one cannot focus on that. I’m still trying to recover from chemo, my appetite is slowly coming back, but I’m still sensitive to certain foods and smells. I went to yoga on Tuesday which felt amazing, and tried to “run” a mile on Wednesday which was painful. Not sure how this half marathon in 3 weeks is going to go… Hopefully I can try another “run” this weekend. I use quotes, because honestly, it’s more a shuffle than an actual run.

It’s bittersweet celebrating this moment. We should be celebrating something else tomorrow instead. I’m trying to stay positive and not focus on my alternate reality, but it’s hard. It will continue to be hard. I’ve been dreading this weekend for months. I’m hoping if I surround myself with friends and keep myself busy, it will make it easier. I’m sure it won’t be though. I know the moment that silence hits or that I’m alone I’ll start crying. And that will be ok when that happens.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

As Time Goes By

It’s been 16 and a half weeks since I was hospitalized in March. 16 and a half weeks since we last heard our baby’s heartbeat. 16 and a half weeks since I was 16 and a half weeks pregnant.

Even though so much has happened in these past couple of months, it seems like time has crawled by. To be fair, I guess there was four weeks of the pregnancy that I didn’t realize I was pregnant.

It’s hard to imagine what I would like 33 weeks pregnant. I’m pretty sure fat. My round face much rounder, my size 7 feet maybe a size 8, my stomach the size of… a beach ball? Definitely more beached whale than Beyonce.

Truthfully though, who knows if I would still be pregnant at this point. While I dream about a normal pregnancy, in actuality I would be 15 weeks into chemo with no hair. I’d be living in Seattle away from Dan. My high-risk OB sat us down in the hospital to give us the facts of pre-mature babies. She made it sound like 24 weeks was the goal, but 28 weeks would give us a greater chance.

Nobody knows how far along I would have carried the baby with the cancer. I know when I think about the pregnancy, the cancer has no place in my mind. I just imagine being the size of a small house, sitting in the Fred’s dog pool, trying to stay cool in our 100 degree summer that we’ve been having.

Dan and I are continuing to plan our future, but it’s days like this that makes me long for what we should have had.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

The Cone Biopsy

Back my story of how cervical cancer has affected my life and how I got to where I am now, we go back to April. A month after my hospitalization. When I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, multiple doctors told me that I would never have the chance to get pregnant again. My current pregnancy was the only chance we would have to be able to have a child on our own. I was supposed to have a radical hysterectomy right after the c-section I would need to deliver our baby. When we lost the baby, Dr. Goff said we could try doing a cone biopsy. Hopefully by doing this procedure, we could remove the cancer and Dan and I would have one more try to have a baby.

I was confident this would happen. The biopsy would remove the cancer, and we could try to become pregnant again in July (my timeline, who knows what it actually would have been). In my post-op appointment with Dr. Cheng, we talked about what pregnant life would be like missing a chunk of my cervix. She advised no traveling (good-bye trips to Boston and Europe in the fall), and I would be under her care at 13 weeks, which meant moving to Seattle at that point. She told us birthing horror stories of parents who went on babymoons, and then were stuck in the cities they were in until the baby was 38 weeks and could fly home. Hopefully my cervix would heal with a lot of scar tissue, meaning that there was still a slight chance that I wouldn’t need a cerclage, and could actually have a baby naturally, no c-section.

Dan and I drove out to Seattle the Sunday before the surgery. I had told my parents not to drive up for the surgery, but Dan’s mom flew out and we stayed with her at the Rainier Club. We went to an amazing seafood dinner at Anthony’s that night. Monday we had a pre-op appointment with Dr. Goff, and that night I went to Ivars for happy hour with friends were I ate as much as I could before I had to stop eating at 7pm.

My surgery was scheduled for 7am, so we arrived at the hospital at 5am. Dan hung out with me in pre-op, and we nervously waited. Dr. Goff came in and said they would be removing the lymph nodes first, and that if any of the lymph nodes looked bad or tested positive for cancer, they wouldn’t go through with the cone biopsy. Instead they would pull me out of surgery and would schedule the radical hysterectomy.

There’s always a small sense of fear when I go under. I know that my procedures are all standard, but I’m always scared of not ever waking up. In the time leading up to the cone biopsy, I texted my best friend telling her of my fear. I know it’s silly, but it’s scary. When I went in for my radical hysterectomy, I had to have blood drawn to confirm my blood type in case of a transfusion. There was a bit of drama about whether I could actually get a transfusion if need be, since I had had one within the past 3 months. I also had to mark that I was pregnant within the past 3 months.

“Was the blood transfusion needed during the birth?” the lab manager asked.

“No.” I replied with tears in my eyes and daring him to inquire further.

He didn’t ask any questions, and said it probably wouldn’t be a problem if I needed a transfusion during the hysterectomy (I didn’t).

But back to the cone biopsy. I said bye to Dan before they rolled me into surgery, and on my way to the surgery theater I prayed. Hail Mary’s, making deals with God. Begging them to let this surgery be successful. I made promises that I would go to church every Sunday. That I would never say anything bad about anyone ever again.

I remember tears rolling down my cheek as the anesthesiologist put a mask on my face. With one last prayer I closed my eyes.

I woke up a few hours with my best friend next to me. Of course I was crying. I always cry with anesthesia. The nurse was on the phone with the patient floor nurse checking to see when my room is ready.

“She’s ok. She’s just sad,” the nurse said on the phone.

Apparently I woke up in hysterics that they had gone ahead and done the radical hysterectomy. While that obviously did not happen, they did find one large, abnormal lymph node, but it had tested negative for cancer. They think it was leftover from my bout with sepsis. The tumor was much larger than they anticipated though, so surgery took longer and things in my body had to be moved around. Which meant that for about 2-3 weeks after surgery, going to the bathroom was very uncomfortable. I was scared things were never going to go back to normal, but they did. (Though now after the hysterectomy, I’m feeling the same pain and wondering if things will go back to normal ever again… again).

I was only in the hospital for one night this time. My nurses were lovely as always, and my best friend was on spring break so she hung out with me, as did Dan and his mom. I was discharged after passing the bladder test (in which they fill your bladder with saline, then seeing if you can pee out the same amount. This is the norm after spending sometime with a catheter in..). Dan had reserved us a nice hotel in the University District, so we were close to the hospital in case anything happened.

Dr. Goff stopped into see us before I left. Tumor board was Friday morning before our appointment in the early afternoon, so she would have a chance to discuss my options with other doctors. I won’t lie. She didn’t seem to happy. I know now it’s because she wasn’t confident this would work. Her demeanor between this surgery, and my radical hysterectomy were vastly different. During the cone biopsy time she was very serious and short. With the radical hysterectomy, she seemed a bit more animated and smiled more. Don’t get me wrong. Dr. Goff is a great doctor, she is amazing and smart. Very smart. Also a little intimidating, but like my resident friend said: The best doctors make their residents nervous, they always want to be do their best for these doctors.

Another fun thing that happened during my discharge — removing the vaginal packing. This gets a little TMI, so feel free to skip this paragraph. During the surgery they put a vaginal pack in to help with the bleeding. Vaginal pack is a fancy way of saying a million feet of gauze shoved up your vagina. When the resident took out the gauze, it was like a 10 hour Brazilian wax. Ok, it was probably 30 seconds of feet after feet of gauze taken out, but it was so painful. Again, imagine having a Brazilian, but inside, and instead of a swift rip off, a looooong, slow, painful procedure. If you ever have to have a vaginal pack, I recommend you ask the doctor removing it if they can moisten the gauze before it comes out.

Dan and I spent the rest of the week relaxing. I was in a lot of pain the Wednesday after I was discharged, so I stayed in the hotel and just rested and hung out with friends. That Thursday was Holy Thursday, so I went to church that night. I was painful. Midway through mass my best friend went to her car to get blankets and towels that I could sit on. After mass some friends came over and we all hung out. I wasn’t nervous about the next day’s results. It would be ok. Dan and I would have a chance to have our baby. We had planned meticulously. I would get pregnant in July, and then things would go on as normal.

We saw Dr. Goff when we were in the waiting room. She waved to us as she walked quickly back into the office. That made me nervous, but Dr. Goff was busy doctor. She probably didn’t have time to smile and chat.

Once Dan and I were back in the room, I took out a small rosary my best friend gave me and started saying Hail Marys.

“I don’t have good news.”

That was the first thing out of Dr. Goff’s mouth when she walked in.

“The tumor was twice as large as we thought, and your margins came back positive, both the cervix and one of your lymph nodes.”

Dan and I both burst into tears. Choice four letter words came out of our mouths. We would need to go through with the radical hysterectomy and chemo/radiation. I wouldn’t be able to carry our baby.

“I called the Reproductive Health office though, I can get you an appointment with Dr. Neal-Perry and you can start IVF.”

She left to call and make the appointment for us while Dan and I sat, still shocked with my prognosis. We didn’t ask many questions about our next steps with the cancer, all we cared about was trying to have our baby.

“Ok, I made an appointment for you at 3:30.”

We had about 30 minutes before the appointment. The office was across from the hotel were were staying at. My best friend was on her way down to meet with us, and I’m pretty sure I was sending her incoherent messages of what was going on, and where to find us, asking her to come to the IVF office.

Numb, Dan and I left the office and made our way to our next adventure/life obstacle, IVF.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

The Night Before

Tomorrow I go in for my radical hysterectomy. It’s been a long road to get here, and I was hoping this would happen right after giving birth to our baby (or you know, not at all). Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t really care what you want, or your plans for your future. It does whatever it wants, sort of like a drunk girl trying to fight through her friends to get back into the club to keep dancing. Not that that was me at all this past weekend, at 1am, two shots of Jameson too many… nope…

Anyways. I can’t believe we’re at this point. I cried when the plane took off from the Missoula airport, and when we landed in Seattle. Whoever thought at 32, I would be losing the ability to ever have children. I know we are lucky that we had a successful round of IVF, but it pains me to know I’ll never be able to carry our baby. Looking at pregnant women with huge tummies pulls at my heart.

I’ll be honest, I do feel like a fraud knowing that if we have kids, it wasn’t me who carried them. It doesn’t mean I feel like less of a woman, but I wonder how I can contribute to future pregnancy conversations. I can talk about being pregnant up to 16 weeks, but I never had a prominent belly. I just looked like I was packing on the winter weight. I’ll never get to join in friendly conversations about third trimester woes and giving birth.

I’m at a weird place knowing that this needs to happen. They found microscopic cells near my vagina and in a lymph node. Obviously the cancer had spread to just beyond the tumor. But I also just want to have one full pregnancy. I would like to carry our own baby, and only have to worry about my hospital bills, not that on top of paying for everything for a gestational carrier. I know if that were to happen though, the cancer will most likely continue to spread, and who knows how far it will move in the 9 months.

I realize there is no point in having a baby if I’m not around. Dan will be an amazing father, but it’s not something he wants to do on his own, especially if we can prevent it from happening. And that’s the only reason I have any semblance of calmness and acceptance. I hate being told how strong I am. I really have no choice. I’m just living. I’m not trying to be Wonder Woman. I’m just trying to stay alive.

And so now, I sign off with my uterus intact one last time. I’m going to do some sit ups and push ups, since I’ll be stuck in a hospital the next 4 days, and who knows when I’ll be able to workout again. Also, the doctor told me chemo might make me gain weight, so… Guess I should work on combatting that now.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

The Hospitalization: University of Washington Medical Center

If you haven’t read Part 1 of the hospitalization already, you can here.

As soon as the decision was made to send me to the University of Washington Medical Center, my room was filled with people prepping me to fly. I had new IVs put in, an ultrasound, given Ativan to calm my nerves, blood drawn, and a catheter put in. I asked for something to eat since I hadn’t had much lunch. They brought me applesauce, crackers, and juice. I tried to eat as much as I could and asked for water for the ambulance ride. Because we had to wait for the plane, I was being sent to Missoula who had platelets and blood I could use while I waited.

During all this, I had horrible cramps and went to the bathroom. When I went, I passed a huge clot, probably the size of half my fist. I called in Dr. Camden to look at it, and she said it would be ok.

I was taken to the ambulance and I said bye to Dan who was going to meet me in Missoula, then come back to pack bags for Seattle. I was in and out of sleep on the ambulance. I was hoping the paramedics would talk to me, but they weren’t as friendly as I had hoped.

When I got to Missoula I visited by multiple OBs. They gave me two bags of platelets and one bag of red blood cells to help my body fight the infection. One of the OBs told Dan and I to expect the worst when it came to the pregnancy. We were aghast, who says that?!? Especially to someone as sick as I was and as worried as Dan was. They refused to let me eat or drink anything in the case that I needed to be taken straight into surgery at UW. They gave me more Ativan and nausea medicine. I told Dan to go home, it was almost 11pm and he needed to drive home safely, pack, and get sleep. I don’t remember much after Dan left. I slept through the transport to the Missoula airport and being put on the plane. I woke up during the flight because I was so hot and my back hurt. I wanted to roll over, but I could only roll to the left side, which put me inches from the face of one of the paramedics so I rolled back on my back. The next thing I know, I was surrounded by a bunch of doctors. I had slept through landing in Seattle and being transported by ambulance to UW.

Since I was now in septic shock, this is all I can recall. I thought I was holding my best friend’s hand when they put a PICC line in me. I have a fear of people touching my neck, and I just remember screaming and panicking. I thought they cut my neck open, and I tried to move but hands held me down yelling at me not to move.

I remember seeing my best friend through the glass window. I picked up my hand to wave to her, and she waved back. I remember waking up and she was on the couch, and my friends had come and were delivering her coffee. I remember a bunch of doctors showing up in my room that morning to visit me. I remember seeing my father-in-law sitting on a chair near the end of my bed. I know I had an ultrasound in my room, and then another in a room down the hall. I know I was harassing the ICU nurse to please let me have a real glass of water and something to eat. I still might have needed surgery so they were only giving my ice chips. So I would let the ice chips melt then take gulps of water. I know friends showed up after work, and I was very animated but I don’t remember what we talked about.

This is what happened according to my best friend. She and Dan had been up texting all night, waiting to see when my plane left and Dan watched in on FlightAware. She arrived at UW at 4am and was sent to the ICU where I was being taken. She wasn’t allowed in the room when I first arrived so she waited in the waiting room, and also watched from the changing room attached to my ICU room. The doctors did an ultrasound and other tests on me, then they let us sleep.

That morning they ran more tests on me to try and find the source of infection and check on the baby. They gave me the correct antibiotics which helped me bounce back quickly. I also had a low lying placenta which was going to make the cone biopsy impossible. Instead I was going to have to start an every 3 week chemo treatment. I also had subchorionic hematoma, which meant that I had bleeding between my placenta and uterus. This we would learn, would be the cause of my infection.

Because I recovered from sepsis quickly, I was taken to the regular oncology floor, under care of the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFA) team. They were keeping me in the hospital until they had a 5 day culture that was negative for the infection. This would hopefully mean discharge on Wednesday.

During this time my parents came and we were trying to figure out plans for staying in Seattle and doing chemo. I wanted to try and stay with friends, my mom wanted to stay with me the whole time, but we still had 6 months to go before the baby came. It was a stressful time for all of us. We argued over dumb things, but I know my parents were just worried about me, and I didn’t want them to be worried.

Sunday night I woke up to the most painful cramps. I called a nurse and asked for medicine. I couldn’t breathe and I was in tears. I held onto Dan’s hand every time a cramp came. The pain medicine finally kicked in, and that morning I passed a clot the size of my first. I was scared about what was happening to the baby. The resident OB came up and did an ultrasound and we saw our baby for what would be the last time.

Tuesday during our daily OB visit, the resident was unable to find the heartbeat. We went down to the OB clinic where we were giving an ultrasound on an old machine that couldn’t find it. And then taken to a room with an expensive machine that told us the truth. I knew it before they told me. This had been my biggest fear, and at 16 weeks we had lost our baby. The heartbeat was there on Monday, but not on Tuesday. I had lost all my amniotic fluid and our baby in the process.

I shut down completely. I refused to let anyone visit me but my best friend. I didn’t talk to anyone. My best friend told everyone and took care of everything. She brought ice cream and comfort. I was put on oxycodone which helped with the pain, physically and mentally. I had a d&c scheduled for Thursday and I was released on Friday. We flew home on Saturday with my mom.

It had been 4 weeks since I discovered I had cancer. The weeks seemed to crawl. I cannot imagine how life had been if I had stayed pregnant and going through cancer treatment. Even now, when I should be in the beginning of third trimester, I can’t imagine how stressed out and scared I would be. I know I would be scared that everything was hurting the baby. After having sepsis and given countless medications, platelet and blood transfusions, antibiotic after antibiotic, chemo, and who knows what else, I can’t imagine having a healthy baby. Dr. Cheng actually spoke with us on the Monday before the miscarriage about the high possibility of the baby being born early. 24 weeks was the earliest the baby could come out and the baby would still not be fully formed. She said our baby would never be active as the lack of development would hinder that. Who knows what other developmental issues would happen.

I had been told that this would be my only pregnancy, and that I would require a radical hysterectomy either right after my c-section delivery, or if I had had a miscarriage. The doctors changed their mind and told me they would still go through with a cone biopsy and hope that that would take care of the cancer. If the margins came back negative, then we would have a chance to have another baby naturally. I held onto this hope for the 4 weeks until the cone biopsy.

Knowing what we know now, I’m hoping that we are able to have a baby through gestational carrier and we can give that baby the world. I’ll never forget the one I carried inside of me, and I get by everyday by thinking that our baby’s soul with continue in our next one.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

The Hospitalization: Marcus Daly

Do you remember in the last post I spoke about our whirlwind trips to Seattle and Houston right after finding out I had cancer? It was exhausting and I didn’t get much sleep, so I wasn’t surprised when Monday rolled around and I started feeling tired that afternoon. Dan had flown to Colorado that morning for work, so that evening when I felt an illness coming on, I made some soup and went to bed early.

I tossed and turned Monday night, waking up shaking and sweating. I pushed both our dog and cat off me because I was so hot. I woke up Tuesday morning with a 101 degree temperature. I emailed my boss letting her know I was going to try and sleep it off and texted my best friend who said I should call the doctor. I tried to sleep for another couple of hours and I woke up and took my temperature again. 103. Yikes. I emailed my boss, texted my best friend again, who both told me to call the doctor, which I did. My doctor was out, and they passed me to the nurse of the doctor who had given me my exam in August. Her nurse said to drink fluid and take Tylenol. I texted a couple of friends and asked if they would mind running by the store and picking me up Tylenol, Sprite, and apples during lunch.

The doctor’s nurse called back and said I needed to come in now.  I was so tired and my body hurt, so I asked if I could just come in tomorrow. She said it was either coming into the office now, or going to the ER. I texted the same friends and asked if one of them could drive me to the doctor because there was no way I was getting there on my own.

I put on some sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and my heavy winter coat and made my way to the doctor’s office. When I got there I tried to stay seated in the chair and not fall on the floor. Once I got the exam room I asked if I could lay on the exam chair instead of sitting on the normal chair. My temperature was down to 101, but my heart rate and the baby’s heart rate were at dangerous levels.

“I’m admitting you to the hospital right now.”

“Right now? But I don’t have anything.”

I wasn’t lying. I had my phone and my wallet and that was it. It didn’t matter. I was put in a wheelchair and sent down the hall to a hospital room. The nurse was so sweet though and bought me a Sprite out of the machine so I could sip on it.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I live in a very small town. The population is about 4,000; 6,000 in the summer when the snowbirds come back. While a lot of it is very frustrating, lack of food, shopping, culture, etc.; it’s pretty nice for when you want to go to the doctor. Or need to be admitted to a hospital immediately. No waiting for someone to be discharged and the room to be cleaned, they just had rooms available. When my friend gave birth, she was the only one in the birthing ward for days. I was looking forward to all that attention when it was my turn.

I had all the normal hospital admitting procedures done, IV, hooked up to monitors, but they also wanted to test me for a UTI. Which meant putting a mini catheter in to get what they needed. Probably one of the most painful things I’ve been through in awhile.

I went to the bathroom afterwards and saw blood. I thought the catheter had caused the blood, but it hadn’t. I thought I was having a miscarriage. The doctor wasn’t sure. I had hourly doppler checks on the baby which helped alleviate my fear.

Every few hours my chills came back. My body was shaking so violently and my teeth were chattering so hard that I was worried I was going to crack them. The chills lasted anywhere between 15-45 minutes. The nurses would bring heated blankets and warm water bottle for my feet. This would help keep me warm until the chills subsided and my fever broke.

The hospital couldn’t find out where my infection was coming from, and I was still bleeding. By this time I told Dan what was going on and that he should stay in Colorado until his flight in the morning. There was no point in paying a few hundred dollars just to have him come home right when I was going to sleep.

The first night I woke up at 2am with another case of the shakes and they called the OB doctor in. She examined me to make sure that something hadn’t been left inside me during all my recent office visits. She was going to consult the infectious disease doctor in Missoula as well. She said if they couldn’t figure it out, they might just send me to Seattle.

Wednesday and Thursday were the same as Tuesday. A couple hours of feeling ok, then the chills would come on again. There was one point I just wanted to die. I had a conversation with God and said I was ready. I’d never been in so much pain in my life. The only thing helping were visits, texts, and flowers from friends. And the bleeding still hadn’t stopped.

They had discovered I had an e.coli infection, but still didn’t know where it was coming from and why the antibiotics weren’t working. On Thursday afternoon they told me they were sending me to Seattle. They finally figured out the antibiotics they were giving me weren’t meant for my strain of e.coli and they didn’t have the correct antibiotics or means to help me. It had just snowed and a new front was coming through, so instead of a normal helicopter, they were going to send me on a fixed-wing plane coming from Great Falls.

Part 2 of the hospitalization coming soon.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

 

The Cancer; the Diagnosis

I was going to make this one post, but after writing everything out, I figured it would be best to split this in two: the diagnosis and the consults

Pregnancy does weird things to your body. You can sleep through a whole weekend and still feel exhausted, love chicken one day then abhor it the next, eat nothing but sugary carbs and still lose weight, etc. One thing I noticed that was strange was my discharge. It was sort of a milky/oily texture and had a distinct smell. After speaking to a friend who’s had two kids, I thought it was normal and I just needed probiotics.

Remember how I said I had morning sickness four weeks into the pregnancy? Two weeks later the morning sickness suddenly went away. I thought the worst and called my OB office. My second appointment was two weeks away, but I knew I couldn’t wait that long to find out if something was wrong. My doctor wasn’t available to see me, but the doctor all my friend’s had used, and who was no longer taking new patients when I called, had an appointment time for that morning.

Dan and I went in, scared and nervous for what she would find. They did an ultrasound and we were able to see the baby, and see a heartbeat. Everything was fine. I mentioned my discharge though, and she swabbed me for tests. She also said she would take me on as a regular patient. Victory! The next day she called saying I tested positive for ureaplasma, a bacteria in the vagina, and I needed to go on antibiotics. This should have cleared everything up, but a couple weeks later I noticed it was back. Dr. Camden was hesitant to give me more antibiotics due to the pregnancy, so she said we would keep an eye on it.

We went to NYC, then had our third appointment a week later (technically fourth appointment counting the vital life check at week 6). The night before my appointment I went to the bathroom and saw light pink discharged. I panicked. I called my doctor’s office and spoke to the after hour nurse. She said since I felt no cramping, to just wait for my appointment the next morning.

At the appointment, we had another ultrasound and got to see the baby again. When we saw the ultrasound at week 6, the baby looked like a little sea monkey. Week 9 showed a formed baby, it was so crazy to think that I was growing a little human inside of me. This appointment at week 12 made me feel great. We had gotten over the first trimester fear of a miscarriage, and I asked Dr. Camden what the chance of a miscarriage at this point was. “Low”, she replied. Dan and I were elated.

At the end of the appointment I mentioned the pink discharge, and the doctor set me up for another speculum exam. During this exam, she found two bumps on my cervix that weren’t there the month before. She removed them and sent them out to be biopsied. She also tested me ureaplasma again.

Dan and I were nervous, but not too worried. It was probably just polyps, right? My body was just acting up with the pregnancy, I was sure. I texted a couple friends letting them know I was pregnant, using emojis, because I’m a #millenial like that (am I really though?). It was so great being able to tell friends. I also put the preface of the bumps on my cervix, but didn’t think about it too much.

It was President’s Day weekend, and after 7 weeks of feeling nauseous, I finally felt normal. I started the weekend off with a small cold, then went into baking mode and even made dinner. Dan had done such a great job of taking care of me during the first trimester, making breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. He went to the store every time I needed juice to mix with water, carb cravings, and vitamins. He was and still is, a saint.

Tuesday morning before work started, I got a call from my doctor’s office asking me to come in for another biopsy. The biopsy had come positive for endocervical adenocarcinoma in situ, or pre-cancerous cells. Dan and I headed to down to the office where Dr. Camden performed a colposcopy. She numbed me, so I wasn’t in any pain, but I was scared. Shocked was more like it. I couldn’t believe it. This couldn’t be happening. Again I asked about the chance of miscarriage. My doctor didn’t sound so confident now.

The new biopsy was sent to Missoula (where my previous biopsy had been sent) and she said she would call me as soon as she found out results. She said Thursday afternoon.

Imagine my surprise early Wednesday afternoon when I got a call from the Dr. Camden asking Dan and I to come in. We showed up, and she started talking. I don’t remember what she said, but she never used the word “cancer”. The biopsy had come back positive for adenocarcinoma in the cervix.

“Wait. Are you telling me I have cancer?”

“Yes.”

Dan and I both started crying. I remember sitting on the exam bed and texting my best friend: “I have cancer.”

“What does this mean for the baby?”

“The baby should be ok.”

Dr. Camden gave me the name of the gyn oncologist in Montana (yes, the entire state of Montana has FOUR gyn oncologists in one office). He is based out of Billings though, 6 hours away from us, but comes to Missoula twice a month to see patients. Dan asked about going to get checked out somewhere else, MD Anderson, LA, etc. Our doctor said she would work with anyone we chose to go with, but they would contact the Billings gyn oncologist and make an appointment as back up.

Dan and I left the office in tears and on the phone with our parents. My mom cried when I told her. Dan called his mom immediately and they started calling hospitals for appointments. I called my friend in tears. She and her husband were coming out that weekend and I said I didn’t know what was going on anymore. She said anything I wanted they would do. I called my obgyn resident friend, she was shocked. She didn’t think there was any way cancer could have happened. I called my boss crying. I remember she was in the car with her daughter, and told me she’d take care of anything that needed to be done with work and to take the afternoon off, but I told her I’d finish one project. I just needed something to do instead of sitting on the couch.

I was in shock. Dan had driven separately, and I sat in his car just staring at the office in front of us. Someone we know walked by our car and waved at us, we both waved back in silence.

We went home and I finished work. Dan was still on his mission to get me an appointment somewhere. He called a doctor at Harvard, and was also given the number of a gyn oncologist at the University of Colorado who is friends with his boss. His mom was trying to get me in at MD Anderson in Houston, but they don’t take pregnant women. His stepmom said she would try and find a contact at Stanford or somewhere in the Bay Area.

We went to a brewery that night. We went running with our run club, then sat around eating pizza and Dan drank beer. A lot of beer. I told my friends. There were more tears and shock. I didn’t know what was going to happen.

I will post part 2 of this story shortly, detailing both of my appointments at UW and MD Anderson.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

 

The Babymoon

I had always imagined going to Europe for our babymoon. Running around Paris with a baby bump, eating pain au chocolat, taking cute photos in front of the Eiffel Tower, and French women looking at my bump adoringly. In all actuality, I probably would have just looked fat and hated all the photos I was in. And truthfully, I wouldn’t have had enough vacation time to go anywhere before August.

Back in October, Dan miraculously got tickets to Hamilton on Broadway. Yes, that Hamilton. From the actual theater and not resale. It was amazing. Neither of us had been to New York City before (minus the airports), so we were excited to make a mini-vacation out of it. Little did we know it would be our babymoon.

Side note: Does a 5 day trip to NYC at 11 weeks constitute as a babymoon? Maybe not normally, but it was the only vacation we went on while I was pregnant. And since I will not be able to be pregnant again, I’m calling this as my babymoon.

Our vacation was planned for the first weekend of February. In addition to Hamilton, we were also going to go to Book of Mormon and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. We arrived at 6am on Saturday and headed straight to our hotel which was in Midtown. After dropping off our bags, we walked a couple blocks to Ess-a-Bagel and enjoyed our first New York bagels. I was relegated to an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese (and my life has changed due to that cream cheese) while Dan had a lox bagel. It was everything he dreamed of. I stole little bits of bagel, assuring myself that one little bite wasn’t going to hurt the pregnancy.

After our breakfast we took a quick nap before heading out to Little Italy. I saw that there was a Chinese festival going on during the day and thought that would be fun thing to do, besides stopping at every pizza joint to get a slice of pizza. Which Dan insisted on doing.

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Our first slice at Prince Street Pizza

We walked around Little Italy/Chinatown for a couple hours, eating more pizza, bubble tea and snacks at Ten Ren, and had a cannoli from Caffe Palermo which was recommended by multiple friends.

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Cannoli!

We walked our way up back up to Midtown, stopping by Eataly where we had second lunch? Third lunch? I wanted the burrata so bad, but Dr. Google says burrata isn’t for pregnant women, so I stuck with mozz and sparkling water. And gelato for dessert. Because during first trimester, all I wanted was sugar and carbs.

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At this point I may have asked my OB friend about gestational diabetes…

That night we went to the evening showing of Book of Mormon and made it back to the hotel to watch Kristen Stewart host SNL just 10 blocks away from us.

Sunday morning we got up for a run around Central Park. Pregnancy had taken a toll on my running. I had no energy and I just felt fat. It didn’t help when we ran by storefront mirrors and I checked myself out. Dan ran the entire Central Park loop and we split up at the reservoir and I ran that twice waiting for him. We made our way slowly back to the hotel then headed out for the day.

We took the train down to Katz’s deli and split a reuben and matzo ball soup. Then went next store to Russ and Daughters and got more bagels. Because, when in NYC, right? I wanted to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, but Dan wasn’t feeling well and it was cold. We ended up walking back up to the hotel, stopping for dessert at Mac Brenner, then doing some shopping along the way, including my first maternity wear! Yay new bras from a Pea in the Pod.

The plan for Monday was going to see the Today Show and head to wait in line for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Instead, we slept in and made our way through Rockefeller Center and then arrived at the Ed Sullivan theater at noon. Were we the first ones there? Yes. Did we need to be there that early? No. Was it the only real sunny day while we were in NYC and maybe we should have spent time in Central Park instead? Perhaps. Whatever. After 10 years I was finally going to see Stephen Colbert in person! I couldn’t wait! We ended up in the second row and watched him interview Paul Giamatti and Wendy Williams. He was just as amazing as I had hoped.

Dan still wasn’t feeling well, so we went down to BCD Tofu House and went to bed early. Without a doubt, this was the quietest trip we’ve ever been on. No bars. No dancing. No late nights.

Tuesday was Hamilton day! We got up, walked to the Met in the rain, then cabbed back to hotel. After 4 days of walking around my feet were officially done. It was cold, but at that point I’d rather wear my Nikes and have frozen ankles, then warm legs and broken feet. We took the train down to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked over for some pizza at Grimaldi’s and headed back over. We checked out the World Trade Center memorial and did some shopping at the Oculus.

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We took the train back to Midtown, I changed into my new booties and we headed to Hamilton! It was everything I imagined and even more. Dan loved it as well.

New York City was amazing. I miss being in the city and everything it offers. We definitely plan on going back, hopefully with our future child. There are so many museums to visit and places to eat. We can’t wait to make more memories there in the future.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

The Pregnancy

I’ve been staring at this post for days. Both because I don’t know where to start, and because it makes me sad thinking back on this. There’ll never be another excitement of taking a pregnancy test (which my best friend said I was addicted to), a look of shock on Dan’s face. I’ll never have the quiet moments with just me talking and holding onto my stomach, and much more. I look back on those memories fondly, but with a sadness that hits my stomach and tear ducts every time. This is our pregnancy story.

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Having kids was never the top the priority for Dan and me. We knew we wanted them, but it was always later. “Let’s just go on one more trip.” We spent our honeymoon in South Africa, and after that we only had two more continents to cross off our list — Antarctica and South America.

“Alright, Peru. Machu Picchu. One last adventure. Then let’s do this. Start our new adventure.”

And so we did. We went on an amazing trip to Peru where we explored Cusco, climbed Huayna Pichu, ate our way around Lima, and then waited the mandatory 3 months due to visiting a zika country.

I won’t lie. I was starting to get antsy for a baby before we left. I told Dan that if there wasn’t the fear of zika, I would have started trying before our trip. But instead, I got to enjoy ceviche and never-ending pisco sours.

I actually thought I was pregnant the month before we actually were. This is when I learned that years after having a clock-like period, maybe going off the pill was actually going to mess with my system. I went off the pill in before went went to Peru and had a normal period in September, so I thought everything was normal. Apparently not.

We celebrated my 32nd birthday surrounded by friends and watching the Sounders win MLS cup. A friend flew in to surprise me for the weekend. It was a great time spent drinking beer, spiked eggnog, and red wine. It was definitely not the same birthday craziness of my 20s, but I breathed a small breath of relief on Monday when I took a pregnancy test (late period again) and saw it was negative.

Two days later I noticed my breasts started to hurt. They just felt heavy. I attributed it to PMS, even though my boobs never hurt before my period. On Thursday, friends came over to watch the Seahawks game and I slowly sipped on a coffee porter a friend had brought for my birthday. My boobs were really starting to hurt now. I joked with Dan that maybe I was pregnant. He laughed feebly.

The next morning, I stared at my closet that held my pregnancy tests (when I thought I might have been pregnant the last time I bought a 20 pack of HGC sticks, because as mentioned above, I’m apparently addicted to peeing on a stick). I took a stick and a small Dixie cup, did my business and waited. And waited. And then there it was. That faint pink line you see in the commercials.

Wait. No. What?

I took another test. Same result. I immediately called my best friend.

“I think I’m pregnant.”

“What?!?!? Yay! I think you’re going to have a girl, I hope it’s a girl.”

“I think I’m going to pee on another stick.”

Maybe not the conversation verbatim, but close enough. I took 5 tests that morning. I waited until Dan came home for lunch to tell him. It was torture G-chatting with him, pretending like nothing was going on. As soon as he walked in the door I gave him a hug.

“So, uhh… I’m pregnant. You’re going to be a dad.”

Dan: Blank face. Shock. “What?”

“Yeah….”

So there we were. Two future parents who had no idea how to parent. We were both excited and scared. Totally normal, right?

I called my OB office to change an appointment I had made to see if my late period correlated with the non-stop bleeding I experienced in July (more on that in a later post). Instead of going in to see if something was wrong with me, I was going in for my first prenatal appointment.

We waited until Christmas to tell our parents (which was a little over a week away). We went down to Mexico to visit my parents, flying into Phoenix where I grabbed breakfast with one of my best friends.

“I thought we chose this place for the pastries?” she asked eyeing my healthy granola bowl.

“Well, yeah, I got a pain au chocolat to go. But I’m pregnant. So I thought I should try and eat healthy.”

“WHAT.”

I’m really good and casually dropping information.

My mom cried when she read the card telling them, and my dad had a huge smile on his face. She said she knew because I was being so picky about eating leftovers and washing fruit with bottled water. Dan’s parents were both estatic. This would be the first grandbaby for my parents, and for Dan’s mom and stepdad.

I had felt fine for the first two weeks of pregnancy. Then the day after Christmas, nausea and exhaustion hit. I was supposed to go golfing with my dad and Dan, and I opted to read “What to Expect” on the balcony instead. It was a gift from the doctor’s office when I had my first appointment with the nurse getting my background.

The rest of the trip was spent eating Honey Bunches of Oat with milk and grapes. I couldn’t believe I was finally back in Mexico and not enjoying any of the delicious food I had been bragging to Dan about for years. I didn’t really care though. I was so excited for the baby.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl