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

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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 Consults

If you haven’t read the first part of this story you can here: the Diagnosis.

The day after the diagnosis, we were able to get an appointment at MD Anderson the following Thursday. Apparently the gyn oncologist there spoke to my MIL’s doctor and he said he would take me on (points to the MIL for not letting them pass me over). The doctor from the University of Colorado called and said we could make an appointment with him. I decided to call the University of Washington. It was my alma matter, and I have a ton of friends left in Seattle. I spoke to the kindest patient coordinator, and she said she would get me an appointment for next week. She was able to get me one Monday morning. We decided to stick to UW and MD Anderson. While we wanted every opinion available, buying last minute tickets around the country isn’t so kind to the bank account.

After a fun weekend with friends from Seattle, Dan and I woke up at 3am to head to Seattle. My friend picked us up at the airport and took us back to his house were his wife was waiting for us with breakfast and coffee. She hung out with me while Dan took a mini-nap and we waited for our appointment.

We took an Uber to UW where I met the gyn oncologist, Dr. Goff. She had a hematologist resident with her when she performed her exam. She was able to feel my tumor during the exam and said the best way to beat this would be a radicaly hysterectomy with chemo and radiation. Since I was pregnant though, that wasn’t an option and she said a cone biopsy to remove the tumor would be our best bet right now. Maybe follow it up with chemo. She also said she would reach out to the high-risk OB at UW and the resident sang Dr. Cheng’s praises. He also let me know that this chemo would make my hair fall out, but it would be worth it.

And this is where I got upset. Gone were my visions of the cute pregnant woman, instead I would be bald and whatever else the chemo would do to my body. I also couldn’t run anymore, so there went my dream of running a half marathon while pregnant. Yes, that’s right. I have wanted to run a half marathon while pregnant since I ran my first half at 24. I wanted to be the woman with the big tummy waddling her way around 13.1 miles. Being told my hair was going to fall out and I couldn’t run made me cry. I remember my friend with melanoma saying at dinner that night, “Who cares if your hair falls out if it’s going to save your life?!” And at the time I said “I do actually. I know, it’s dumb.” But now, going through what I have and knowing I’ll never be pregnant again, I would take hair falling out and bed rest in a heartbeat.

Dr. Goff said I needed an MRI, and her office miraculously got me scheduled for that afternoon because we were flying out that night. She also needed the original biopsy, which we found out… was MIA. After a few phone calls and phone tag, we spoke to someone at the lab at St. Patrick’s who said that Harvard had requested the biopsy so they sent it there. Next on the list to receive the biopsy was UC Denver.

We were angry and frustrated. We didn’t have an appointment at Harvard, they shouldn’t have asked for the biopsy. We requested that the lab ask for the biopsy back from Harvard and send straight to MD Anderson so they would have it in time for my appointment on Thursday.

Next we called insurance to make sure that the MRI would be approved. I’m not going to lie, I think it’s pretty ridiculous that you have to wait around for insurance to get an approval for a scan that could help save your life. The insurance employee said that if we told the imaging department to put a rush on our request, they would approve it within 4 hours, hopefully before our scheduled time. We told imaging and hoped for the best when we left for lunch.

Dan and I went to lunch at University Village and as we walked back to the hospital, we got in a big fight. I wanted to do treatment at UW, and I didn’t want to fly to Houston for a second opinion. I was exhausted and didn’t want to keep traveling. He wanted to know what other options were. We agreed to keep the Houston appointment since we already had tickets, but I was tired. It was raining, I was wearing suede booties and a nice coat without a hood, so I was just in a bad mood all around.

We arrived back for my MRI appointment to learn that insurance approved it. Success!

Have you ever been in an MRI machine before? If you have, you know that they’re loud and not peaceful. Yet laying in the machine for 45 minutes, listening to the Hamilton soundtrack, was the most calming thing I had experienced in almost a week. Being forced to lay down and close my eyes in fear of claustrophobia made me actually relax.

That night we did dinner with a big group of friends and headed back to Montana. I spent most of dinner chatting with a friend who has melanoma. She is such a rock, and I’m thankful I have her around for the hard questions.

We got back home at around 1am and both worked on Tuesday. We went to bed early, then got up at 4am to catch our flight to Houston. I worked a half day on Tuesday, full day Wednesday, and tried to get in full days Thursday and Friday.

Dr. Goff called us on Wednesday evening and let us know that MRI scans had come back. She said the tumor looked to be 2.3cm, and that aligned with her exam. She staged me at 1b1, maybe 1b2.

My parents met us in Houston and went with me to my appointments, and so did Dan’s mom. I brought my mom and Dan back to the exam room for me and we waited for Dr. Ramirez. I kicked my mom out of the room during the exam and Dr. Ramirez brought in two male colleagues from South America who were following him for a month. He said it wasn’t often they had pregnant patients, and asked if it would be ok if the two doctors sat in on my exam. I said it was no problem. The resident following Dr. Goff stayed up by my shoulder the whole time so I assumed the same would happen.

I was wrong. There I sat, feet in the stirrups, three not-so-bad-looking doctors peering into the speculum speaking in Spanish about what they were seeing. I looked at Dan in a panic.

I don’t know what was worse, that, or having a finger surprise me in a certain orifice to feel the tumor by Dr. Goff. Though as I sit here now thinking about it two and a half months later, I think I’d rather take the 3 doctors.

Dr. Ramirez said he thought my tumor was actually smaller than it really was, maybe 1.2cm. He wanted an MRI done with MD Anderson’s machine, and scheduled me for a cone biopsy on March 15. He and Dr. Goff both had the same treatment plan for me, the only difference being that MDA has no Maternal Fetal Medicine onsite, I would have to go to one of the adjacent hospitals on the ginormous University of Texas campus. Dan, my parents, and his parents all liked that Dr. Ramirez was moving so quick. I wasn’t sure though.

They still hadn’t received my biopsies. We called St. Patrick’s again and they said they had sent them. Finally MDA said they arrived and would take about a week to review.

After another round of waiting for insurance to clear my second MRI, I went in Friday afternoon and Dan was allowed in the room with me this time. Unlike the coffin-style machine at UW, this one was a circular ring that I passed through. It was less stressful than the UW MRI, and it was nice having Dan holding onto my feet during the 45 minutes.

The x-ray tech was really kind and let us see images of our baby.

“There’s its hands, feet, spinal cord, and brain!” she pointed out. She had mentioned earlier that normally babies move a lot during MRIs, but ours had stayed pretty still. I tried not to think too much about it, but looking back now I wonder if I should have seen that was a red flag.

My parents left on Friday to head back to Mexico. Dan and I were staying through the weekend. We planned to take a tour of NASA (Dan’s stepdad works there) and then go to the Sounders vs Houston game Saturday night.

Saturday when we were at NASA I got a call from my OBGYN resident friend. She asked how everything was going and I let her know that I was going to get surgery done at MD Anderson and any follow up treatment with the gyn oncologist in Montana (who was actually a resident for Dr. Ramirez). She paused.

“I really think you need to speak with a high-risk OB before you go through with surgery.”

“What? Why?”

“Because there needs to be an OB there to make sure that the baby’s needs are taken care of because I know that is your main concern.”

She brought up a good point. I thought that just removing the tumor and putting in a cerclage (a stitch to sew up the cervix) would be a simple procedure. But what happens if they end up taking much more than that? Or if something goes wrong and they make a last minute decision. MDA is great for cancer care, but UW would be the best for cancer AND pregnancy care.

I brought this up to Dan and he got really angry. We hadn’t heard back from UW about a surgery date and if that was even the route we’d go. We got in a huge fight because MDA had scheduled a surgery for us and UW hadn’t. I told him I didn’t care, I just wanted to take care of the baby.

The resident at UW had given me his email address, so I emailed him that night letting him know that we still had some questions and that MDA had scheduled a surgery on the 15th. He replied back cc’ing Dr. Goff and she emailed she would call me the next day.

We went to the Sounders game that night, Dan still in a bad mood but not angry. I saw a friend from Seattle and told her what was going on. I was sad that I could tell people I was pregnant now, but had to add that I also had cervical cancer. It’s an odd feeling seeing people go from totally happy, to sad and concerned in 2 second space. I did tell her husband I was pregnant though without adding the cancer because we were surrounded by people. It was nice to just have that feeling of happiness.

We left for Montana the next morning and I missed Dr. Goff’s call on our first flight. Dan had been upgraded to first class and I was in economy plus. He offered to switch, but since I couldn’t eat the first class meal or drink, I told him to stay in first class. I spent the flight coloring the coloring book my artist friend with melonoma gave me. It was so calming, I get the whole adult coloring thing now.

I called Dr. Goff as soon as I got off the plane and she said she would schedule me for surgery, and that she had already talked to the high-risk OB about me, and that she would take me as a patient. We decided then we would do our treatment at UW.

While I could stay with my in-laws in Houston, they were the only people I know there, and I didn’t want to spend the summer in hot Houston. Seattle is home to me. So many of my friends are there and I have an amazing support system. My parents live 2 hours away, so I could always stay at their house.

I was happy and exhausted. We finally had a plan and could relax before surgery in a week and a half. Little did I know my placenta was hemorrhaging and that was going to change my life.

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 First Sign?

I add a question mark to this title, because one of the symptoms of cervical cancer is bleeding between periods. I was tested though, and my tests came back negative. No signs of cancer, just positive for HPV. When I had my appointment at MD Anderson, they said they would have done the same thing my doctor did, yearly check ups.

Back in July I had abnormal bleeding. I had been on birth control for the past 10 years and always had a regular period and never any spotting in between. It was like my period came out of nowhere and never stopped. And it was heavy, not light like normal. It went on for about a week before I called an OBGYN office in my town for an appointment. I was in Seattle for a week for the Adele concert and a friend’s wedding and had to wait over a week to see the doctor.

Side note: Dan and I are from Seattle, but we moved to a small town in Montana a few years ago for Dan’s job.

I called my friend who is an OBGYN resident and she suggested I double-up on my birth control pills. After 3 days I went off the double pills, but the bleeding started came back. I went back on the double pills again until I saw my local OBGYN.

At my visit, the doctor did a routine exam, even though I was only 2 years into my every 3 year exam. I had a pap smear done and other testing. Everything looked normal, except that I had cervical ectropion, which means that my glandular cells can be seen on the outside of the cervix. The doctor didn’t seem worried about it. Also, my cervix was very soft, she also wasn’t concerned.

We talked about me going off birth control to stop the bleeding. I went off it right after our trip to Peru. We were planning on trying to get pregnant a few months later, and I thought it would be nice to give my body a hormonal break before that.

We got the results of my pap smear back. I tested positive for HPV for the first time ever. I’ve always had normal pap smears. The doctor reassured me that it wasn’t the high risk strain and we would keep an eye on it with a yearly pap smear.

After a minor freak out, I figured everything would be ok and I started focusing on our upcoming Peru trip.

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

Confession

Hello!

Can I make a confession? I’ve never actually seen Gossip Girl. I was trying to think up a name for this blog, “Dear Diary”, “Gossett Life”, “Life Without Utero”, something to do with cancer… Somehow “XOXO Gossip Girl” popped into my head, even though I’m much more Pretty Little Liars. I guess cancer could be A/Uber A/Whatever A is called now?

I thought I’d start this blog as a record of everything we’ve been through and will go through. Hopefully someday I can look back at this period and reflect on everything without tears and anger, though I’m sure sadness will always be around.

I was 13 weeks pregnant (our first! So excited!) when I learned I had cervical cancer. I spent week 14 of the pregnancy traveling to Seattle and Houston for consults on how to deal with the cancer while pregnant. During week 15, I fell sick with the flu, ended up in the hospital, had to be medevaced from Montana to Seattle where I landed in the ICU with sepsis. Week 16 we lost our baby to subchorionic hematoma that had caused the blood infection in the first place. We held onto hope that doing a cone biopsy would clear me of cancer and we would be able to try again. Sadly, the margins came back positive and I would need to undergo a radical hysterectomy and chemo/radiation treatment. I sprinted through IVF treatment in hopes to create some embryos before the chance of losing all my eggs. And now, I’m just waiting for the surgery and treatment. I’ve spent the last 6 weeks away from home, and I’m finally headed back tomorrow for 2 weeks before coming back to Seattle for the surgery.

That’s my current story, and I’ll fill you in on all the details as this journey goes on.

Stay tuned.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl (Gina)

PS – This photo is from our wedding (husband: Dan) over two and a half years ago!