Cancer Ever After

Musings on Infertility, Adoption, Cancer and Widowhood.

The end of my world as I know it.

First off, let me start by apologizing. I left this blog so abruptly. I meant to tell more details of the birth of Baby H and neatly end the blog with our happy ending.  Make no mistake, it was a happy ending.  Our court proceedings went well and our adoption was finalized without a hitch.

I just couldn’t bring myself to take  a break from soaking him up to write.  Maternity leave was AMAZING.  Taking care of ONE baby when you AREN’T recovering from childbirth is the stuff dreams are made of.  Baby H was so easy-going, he was a dream to take care of and leave gave me extra days with P1 and H to play and have fun.

At three months, I wanted to write, but life was beautifully, wonderfully hectic with three kids under two.

I thought about it again when Baby H turned six months, but the little stinker was starting to crawl and really giving us a run for our money.  I was just so tired in my down time and I couldn’t find the time to put the words down that I kept writing in my head.

Updating you was a passing thought at nine months when Baby H was standing and trying to walk.  He was already saying words!!!!  But we’ve been basking in the milestones, and once again, I was just so tired between the kids and working.

Then Baby H got sick. I got the call from daycare and picked him up.  His temperature shot up to 104 and we made our first ER visit.  My girls had never had a fever this high and I was out of my mind with worry. The ER very condescendingly let me know we were overreacting and sent us home.

That night the fever climbed to 105.  We rotated ibuprofen every four hours religiously and continued to call the doctor with updates.  The next day, I made a quick run with the girls to get more ibuprofen.  That’s when I noticed that something was wrong with my neck.  I tried to turn my head and it felt like something “caught” in my neck.

I put it in the back of my mind and went home to take care of Baby H.  After four nerve-racking days of 104 degree fevers it abruptly broke, and Baby H was in the clear!  Somewhere during this time, I had gone to the bathroom to figure out what “caught” in my neck.

After looking closely I realized I had a lump in my neck. As soon as Baby H’s fever broke I called the Drs office to schedule an appointment.  When I told them why I was calling they said, “Why don’t you just come in to our prompt care.”  As soon as I got there, we were the first ones admitted, even though the waiting room was full.  I thought it was strange, but didn’t give it much thought.

The doctor look at my neck and recommended an ultrasound and bloodwork. As I was leaving, he casually mentioned, “We should rule out leukemia just in case.” Talk about your bedside manner!

Within the hour, Baby H and I were sitting in an ultrasound clinic and the lump was being scanned. I hadn’t been able to resist googling and knew that a cyst was a possibility.  I asked a few questions, and the tech told me enough for me to know that this wasn’t the case.

A few nurses came in to entertain Baby H while I had a very extensive scan.  The tech then asked me to go to the waiting room. I didn’t even know ultrasound clinics had waiting rooms!  After about 15 minutes she came back to tell me that the doctor would be giving me a call.

At this point, I knew that something was wrong, and it was more serious than I hoped. My mom has thyroid issues, so that seemed to be a strong possibility. The  urgent care doc said I needed to get into a specialist and he was going to make a call to an ENT clinic.  Within the hour, the clinic called me and they were going to get me in that day.

Three appointments in one day! I called my husband to let them know this was getting serious.  The ENT reviewed my ultrasound and talked about abnormal things in my thyroid and a growth with bloodflow. He wanted me to get a CT and a small biopsy so that they could learn more about the mass in my neck.

Just seven days later, my head & neck CT quickly became a head, neck & chest CT. I knew. I just knew, when they added the extra CT without telling me that something very serious was wrong.  The radiologist confirmed it.  Before he even performed the biopsy, he turned to me and said three words that turned my world upside down.

“You have cancer.”

 

 

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Death by Dresser

We splurged and got a dresser for Baby H, and now we are being punished.

Thanks to a sale and some coupons, we were able to get a dresser for a steal from The Store That Will Not Be Named. We were so proud when we made the initial purchase. I’ve been scouring websites for over a month looking for the deal of the century. We have a white crib and need a white dresser. Brand didn’t matter and we were reasonable about looks; it was really all about functionality.

Baby H’s room is actually pretty big, but it’s awkward. There are several funky walls due to structual items and the closet is the size of a thimble. This makes a dresser key. And we fully expect this kiddo to wake up a million times a night like our other ones, so we’ll kill two birds with one stone and throw a changing pad on the dresser. Seems simple enough, right?

This is where the death part comes in.

After calling and confirming the store had the dresser we wanted in stock and would honor our coupon, we took the seats out of our super-sexy mini-van. I drove to the store, filled out all of the paperwork to get the special hutch to go with it (another coupon worked–yeah!) and then waited for them to load the dresser.

And here’s where it starts to get tricky.

Toddlers and heavy furniture don’t mix. So we dutifully unloaded the dresser in the dark of the night and left it in our walk-in basement. It took us another week to find the time and energy to attempt to move it up two flights of stairs (tri-level house–damn you, Kansas City-split!). We huffed, we puffed and we proudly got the world’s heaviest dresser into the baby’s room with minimal cussing and without waking the kiddos.

And then we started to unbox our white dresser. Except it wasn’t white. It was ESPRESSO! After two days of calling and dealing with The Store That Will Not Be Named, we finally confirmed they had a white dresser in stock. They would not, however, send someone to change them out. We had to carry the world’s heaviest dresser back down two flights of stairs. Grrrr.

So carry we did. And then trek back to the store to load ANOTHER dresser. We were wiser, and the store opened this box to confirm it was white. This time, we had an evening blocked out to move the dresser up the stairs. We unloaded it and started to move it up the first flight of stairs, when I felt a “Pop!” in my lower back and pain began to blossom. I dropped my end of the dresser.The dresser went crashing down the stairs toward my husband. Luckily, my husband was able to withstand the weight. He stood the dresser up and rushed to help me move.

I threw out my back! The pain was excruciating. And the worse part was, the dresser is STILL in the basement. We still have two flights of stairs to go. It’s enough to make me want to cry.

This dresser will be the death of me.

Want to support our adoption? Help share our story, or consider making a donation to our youcaring page.

 Baby H will be home soon!

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Getting Ready for Baby

How do we begin preparing our girls for the baby? They are still pretty young. We’ve been talking about them getting a brother, and have been pointing to the baby’s room, but I don’t think it is really registering. Now that we are drawing close to his delivery date, it’s time to really work with the girls so that they are welcoming when Baby H joins our family.

We participate in Parents as Teachers, and our counselor’s recommendation was to make sure we have toys that are new to the girls when we bring the baby home. We will want something that is exciting for them, since the baby is so exciting for us. She also suggested putting together two small baskets of “quiet toys” that they get to play with only during the baby’s feedings. We kind of like that idea.

And then we need to introduce them to the concept of a baby full-scale. We’ve played with them with baby dolls, but we’re making a trip to the library (and getting a book off Amazon) to help walk them through how to interact with a sibling. If we read this every night until he’s born, it may make the transition easier.

We also have to think about what we should prepare as we have the girls transition from a daycare center to a nanny. I want to put together busy bags that have lots of different activities the nanny can easily rotate through. I need to start requesting books and activities from the library to give her the tools she will need. We need to think through how we have everything laid out in the house. Does the layout work well with three kiddos day in and day out, or would rearranging make everything more convenient? We also need to work on a rotation system for their toys so they they stay excited about playing with them and we’re not breaking the bank.

This list keeps growing. But it’s a list I’m excited about. We’re also tackling the nursery. This is no small feat.

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As the picture above proves, we have our work cut out for us. We’re no strangers to home renovation. We bought a fixer-upper and during our infertile years used the renovations as a way to keep our minds off the pain and disappointment. We’ve installed a fence, repainted the entire exterior of our house (by ourselves) and tackled every single room. Every room but one, that is. The dreaded (former) fish room that had the most hideous fish wallpaper. We waited because we knew it was going to be the worst room in the house, but its day has finally come.

Hopefully, soon, we’ll be able to say it’s Baby H’s room and no longer the fish room (although we’ll probably call it that for the next 30 years and visitors will always wonder why).

All of these things are good problems to have. We are getting giddy as the journey nears its conclusion. We’ll juggle, we’ll find time to get it all done, and we’ll make sure our girls are as ready as a pair of 19-month-olds can be for a new baby brother.

It’s going to be fun!

Want to help support our adoption? 
Visit our youcaring page and make a donation. Until March 1, each $20 donation will get you entered to win a 3 night stay at the Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri. View here for more information.

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A Much Needed Break

The Sunday after our Pancake Feed, Tim and I declared it an official family day.  Every single evening has been filled with lists of to do’s for the last month.  First it was the home study and filling out pages of questions, we spend lunch hours tracking down legal documents, and then try to promote our event. In the evening we’d creep out to visit places to hang flyers or try to find another way to get the word out.

We have been running in circles trying to accomplish so much in so little time.  Our regular items like laundry, cooking, and cleaning that we do in the evenings has crept into our time with the girls.  I don’t like this.  I don’t want to have to worry about getting laundry done during the evening hours that I have with them. I want to be able to enjoy story time, watch them play on the slide, and play patty cake. I want to chase them up and down the hallway playing monster.  Heck, we even play fetch with our girls. The dog won’t play fetch, so why not play it with them? For some reason, they think it’s the best game ever.  The dog– not so much.

Sunday was a rare day. All of the prepping for the home study allowed us to get completely caught up for once. Meals cooked for the week- done. Diapers washed and stuffed – done. (Yes, we use cloth) House clean- completely!  Sunday became our funday. We hung out in jammies until noon. We chased each other up and down the hall, we pretended to talk on the phone to one another, we “cooked” but this time it was in the play kitchen and we made asparagus and wooden block soup.  Anything the girls could stack on or in something, we played with it.

Even better, we sang.  My girls love to sing. We sang Itsy Bitsy Spider, I’m a Little Teapot, Row Row Row Your Boat and more. If I could think of the song, we sang it together making up motions for the song as we went.  Then we all danced in the kitchen together and exchanged sloppy kisses and group hugs.

My girls now think it’s hilarious to kiss one another. They pucker up their lips so big and will lay the sloppiest, wettest kiss on you.  It’s incredibly gross and incredibly wonderful all at the same time. Each kiss, each hug, each giggle reminded us why we are working late into the night. It reminded us why we are pursuing this adoption. We love our girls so much, and we have room in our hearts for one more.  We can’t wait until our fundays include juggling a baby while watching the girls be silly or try to climb on chairs. We have no doubt that they will teach him the word “No!” or how to play in the dogs water dish.

We can’t wait.

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What if?

I took the plunge and ordered something off Etsy for the nursery. I wanted Baby H to have something that was handmade just for him. I realize that it’s not returnable, but we’ve turned a corner in this adoption. Tim and I have been letting our fears of another loss hold part of us back, but in the last few weeks, our hearts have become even more open.

I’ve realized that I needed to turn a corner in my mind so that my heart is truly and fully ready when Baby H is born. I have to change from saying “if,” to “when.”

When I get to hold him in my arms, when we get to take him home, when he gets to meet the girls. He deserves more than me waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s my fear that’s holding me back, and I need to get past that for his sake.

So I did something small. I ordered a handmade blanket just for him. We looked at cribs and debated which one we are going to buy. We are finally tackling the nursery. This is no small project.

When we bought our house, we were able to get it for a song because, well, it was ugly. Southwest wallpaper, dead animal decor, eighties-splendor-ugly. The outside was zombie flesh with chocolate trim. We bought the house pre-infertility, and it has been cathartic to tackle renovations throughout the house as we started and stopped treatments. We had, in fact, tackled every room but Baby H’s. His room had a lovely wallpaper with fishing lures and a border of fish that our girls loved to touch and point at.

And the wallpaper was stuck directly to the drywall. They also used some strange paint that peels off in jagged sheets. Needless to say, his room would look much better if we just put new drywall in, but we’re going to tackle it the old fashioned way: with a whole lotta spackle. Hopefully over the next two weeks, we will patch our little hearts out and get the walls in a place to be primed and painted. Our baby mama (aka birth mother) asked for pictures of the nursery and I told her it was “a work in progress.” That’s the understatement of the year!

But it’s time. We have less than 60 days before Baby H makes his debut into the world, and we want him to be welcomed fully. I know a baby doesn’t care about his nursery, but preparing the nursery helps us prepare for him. We don’t have a growing belly or day-to-day aches and pains to remind us how far we are in this pregnancy. I think prepping this room will help us finish turning the corner so that we are ready for Baby H.

The question continues to hover: what if this adoption falls through? But I am banishing that thought from my mind.

When.

When we bring him home, his room will be ready. When we bring him home, he will sleep next to our beds at first. When we bring him home, our counter will overflow with bottles and sippy cups. When we bring him home, our hearts will be full to overflowing.

When.

Not if.

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