Survivors Guilt and The Dreaded 1st Prenatal Appointment

*Trigger Warning* for IF and RPL friends

Well, it’s been a long couple of weeks since I pee’d on that stick.

I only tested the one time, because I just didn’t want to know if things were going sideways. And I had no reason to think anything was wrong so I decided to leave well enough alone.

My neighbor friend is a “fertile” and found out she was pg with her 2nd child a few weeks ago. I was glad she told me immediately, so I had time to process the news in private. I was happy for her! But it made me wish I was pg too.

Little did I know…

So when I found out I was pg, she was one of the few people I told. I thought how great it would be, if we could do this together. But of course my thoughts turned to *unless I miscarry…*. I told my friend that due to our history of loss, we wouldn’t be sharing any news for awhile.

And then the unthinkable happened.

She went in for her first US and prenatal visit on Monday at 11 weeks, and there was no heartbeat. Measurements were all off (measuring 7 weeks). Needless to say, my friend was shocked and devastated. They scheduled a D&C for Tuesday.

I felt AWFUL. I didn’t know what to do, so I looked at my old blogger friend A Calm Persistence ‘s “What to do when your friend has a miscarriage” list. I decided to take her dinner and offer childcare and a shoulder to cry on. She took me up on all of it, and I felt a small sense of relief that I could help.

Obviously, that made me feel a lot more insecure about my first prenatal appointment today, at 6 weeks.

I won’t keep you in suspense–good news! The bean is measuring at exactly 6 weeks and has a heartrate of 121 bpm! Mr. MLACS and I were on pins and needles, and utterly relieved to get good news.

My friend had asked me to let her know how it went, so I texted her that everything looks good so far. It was very strange for me to be in this position, as I am used to being the “bad news” person. I want to be so gentle with her.

But of course, I’m thrilled! I’m nervous! I’m…already eating weird foods and popping the occassional Zofran to keep from puking (which new OBGYN said is perfectly fine).

With BG I saw Dr. Angel every week in the beginning, but this time I won’t return for several weeks, until I’m 11 weeks. So I just have to keep calm and carry on (FYI: I suck at that).

XOXO,

MLACS

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Miracles Happen

*Trigger Warning for IF and RPL ladies*

 

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My menstrual cycles have been irregular ever since my illness and surgery. What seemed especially odd and unfair is that I was *more* regular while I was sick/anemic. After surgery and weaning off steroids my body skipped periods or had 40+ day cycles. I worked hard to recover after surgery and weaning off steroids–I was really struggling mentally and physically–so I wasn’t ready to TTC. I also still have PTSD about Mr. MLACS’s health issues, and felt I couldn’t have another child unless I was fully prepared mentally/physically/financially to be a single mother to two young children. And for awhile, I was in mourning because as much as I wanted a second child, I didn’t think I could handle it on top of everything else.

But then my father passed away in March, leaving me half of my parents’ estate. This made me far more financially stable to care for BG and another child, should anything happen to Mr. MLACS. And moreover, I realized how very important it was for me to have my sister (strained/complicated as our relationship is). I also realized that *fear* was the only thing holding me back from my dream of adding to our family, and a religious friend kindly reminded me that God doesn’t want for me to live in fear–that is no way to live.

I had promised my IBD Specialist that I wouldn’t TTC until after she performed my ileoscopy in April. Her findings were that my upper GI tract was “clean” and healthy, but my rectum was/is still inflamed. Her recommendation was to have the protectomy surgery (rectum removal) ASAP, but she conceded that from a fertility perspective it is better for me to TTC and give birth prior to the protectomy. Still, she cautioned me to have the protectomy done ASAP after that. And I thought to myself ‘Lady, it could take years for me to conceive and carry a healthy pregnancy’ but I just nodded at her and said “Ok”, like sure I’ll just run along and pop out a kid and then I’ll be back here in a year to permanently sew up my butthole (aka”barbie butt”). Sure….

Meanwhile, I started taking my preconception supplements and I decided to do an 8 week nutrition/workout program to lose some weight and feel my best prior to our Hawaiian vacation and my upcoming 20th highschool reunion. I tried using OPK’s but never got a positive, yet I had signs of ovulation so we TTC’d in May and *no dice*. I started my period on June 4th and went to see my OB on June 8th to ask him to help me with my fertility. He offered Clomid to help get my cycles on track–I said *hell no* to Clomid, but agreed to take Letrozole instead. I had hoped he’d let me start in June since I was only CD4, but he declined and told me to call him when I started my next cycle in July. I never once got pregnant on a medicated cycle though, so I was already starting to consider IVF.

The couple of weeks leading up to our Hawaii trip were frought with mental illness for me. Or maybe it was grief bubbling to the surface. I was morbidly depressed and anxious. It came in waves, especially at night. I was SO sad and angry. I sought out my EFT guru and had a tapping session, but I was still struggling. I felt alienated from people, unloved and unwanted. I fought through my mental illness but it was a very bad episode.

Finally, thanks to EFT, I started to feel somewhat better just before we left for Hawaii. And off we went on our island adventure on June 29th!

I went running. I walked a lot. I played on the beach with BG and Mr. MLACS and our friends. I ate lots of fish. I drank some wine and had some mai tai’s. My soul felt free and happy! It was joyous! Mr. MLACS and BG shared my state of bliss and contentment. It was just exactly what we needed.

So…my AF was due July 4th, not that that meant much since my cycles had been irregular. We had DTD June 19th and 20th because I was pretty sure I was ovulating, but I didn’t use OPK’s this time. I had not given much thought to being pregnant because it seemed so unlikely. I had Mr. MLACS pick up a couple FRER tests, mostly because I thought I might drink on the 4th of July. But then I forgot to use it. And drank half a bottle of wine.

However, I became suspicious when I woke up from a vivid nightmare early the next morning. I never have dreams/nightmares *unless my progesterone is high* like after I ovulate or when… I’m pregnant… ?

So I pee’d on a stick on July 5th and had this blazing positive appear before the control line and darker than the control line. I literally said aloud “No f*ing way!”

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I was stunned.

I still can’t believe it.

I called and had my OB send scripts for Crinone (progesterone) and Heparin (blood thinner injections) to Hawaii.

I definitely feel pregnant. Nauseous/aversions to foods, tired, thirsty, and my boobs are big and sensitive. But I’m not obsessing over every symptom/feeling like I did with BG. I am worried I will need Zofran again though (for acute nausea/vomiting) and that the OBGYN won’t give it to me b/c it’s now frowned upon in the first trimester. But I can’t puke like that with an ostomy–I’ll get too dehydrated. So I am nervous about how that will play out. First OBGYN appointment is July 18th, with a new OB because my current GYN stopped doing deliveries a few months after I established with him, much to my chagrin. So far I like the new OBGYN’s nurse, but we will see.

Can you believe it?! After EVERYTHING that has happened… it’s an absolute miracle.

Oh and for friends that read this blog (Katherine ❤) feel free to holler at me in a text or PM on social media to discuss, but keep it a secret for now please 🙏

XOXO,

MLACS

 

 

 

 

 

Mahalo

Mahalo means “thank you” in Hawaiian.

Thank you, to my friends that have been here for me through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

As you know, I’ve struggled recently with my mental health. It’s only natural to be anxious and depressed after a *world series* of unfortunate events. And I’m no ‘Mr. Rogers’–I’m raw and unedited and I don’t leave you with warm fuzzies when I don’t have any to give. I won’t quote the bible or post inspirational meme’s–I’m nobody’s spiritual leader or security blanket.

But you accept me as I am.

Mahalo.

Currently I’m getting ready to take my family to Hawaii. *No, we’re not going to the Big Island where the volcano is erupting, we’re going to Oahu “the gathering place”–people give me these looks of panic when I say Hawaii but there are SIX other islands so…chillax*

I lived there for 7 years and graduated from HPU. I’m excited to see my island home–my “wings”–as Missouri is my “roots”. I always felt safe on the island, like I belonged–that I was wanted. And going back feels akin to running into a mother’s embrace. I’m excited to see my friends and their kids. I’m excited to show BG my *happy place* (which is also Mr. MLACS’s happy place) and make beautiful memories.

I’m still fighting anxiety and depression, and I wish I wasn’t. But I feel better. I have my ups and downs but I’m pushing through. I’m taking good care of myself. I can feel the sunshine on my face again. I feel the warmth of BG’s embrace.

I feel the potential.

I feel the Aloha Spirit.

Will let you know how it goes.

A hui ho!

XOXO,

MLACS

 

Another Loss. More Grief.

My (maternal) Grandma Margaret passed away last week.

I am so DONE.

Now at 38 years OLD (I feel ancient) I have lost both my parents and all of my grandparents. I’ve nearly lost my husband, *twice*. I’ve lost my colon. I’ve lost my house to a fire. I’ve lost babies to miscarriage.

Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind.

My life is defined by grief and loss, grief and loss, and more grief…and loss.

I’m now paranoid that ALL the bad things are going to happen. Any scenario my anxiety-riddled brain comes up with seems plausible. I’m struggling to live in the moment while also steeling myself for the next bad thing to happen. Will my husband drop dead? Will he be home alone with 3yr old BG? Will I be lulled into a false sense of security, on a mundane trip to Target, and return home to a hysterical child and unresponsive husband??? Will it be my beloved labrador retriever? Will he develop cancer or kidney failure? Or God forbid…if anything happens to BG…I would swiftly take my own life.

I don’t like living in fear. I do the f*ing EFT tapping therapy to try to stay mentally and physically healthy. But about the time I begin to move on from one tragedy, the next one strikes. It’s like tidal waves of tragedy keep trying to drown me and I keep kicking to the surface but about the time the water calms, another wave hits.

Metaphorically speaking I feel about as desperate as Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away.

And I have nobody to talk to about it, except you–my internet friends.

XOXO,

MLACS

It’s Benign!!!

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! It was not melanoma, or any variety of skin cancer. It was a blood mole–I had never heard of such a thing and google is a b*tch for never suggesting it could be anything other than melanoma. In fact google took my paranoia to a whole new level by informing me that in men nodular melanoma is usually on the trunk of the body, but in women it’s on the legs! I almost had a brain anneurism.

Here’s how it played out…

I cried off/on all weekend and had visions of what treatment would be like, how my family suffer through the same painful process that *I* endured when my Mom was diagnosed with terminal breast/lung cancer. How awful it would be for BG to have to grow up without a Mom–would she remember me? Would any of the memories be good ones? Would Mr. MLACS die too and would my good friend and fellow blogger Steph Mignon have to raise my kid??? So. Many. Thoughts. I was overwhelmed by all these thoughts and feelings.

I had a hard time getting to sleep and when I woke up Monday morning I wasted no time–I was going to ambush my dermatologist and insist he cut this thing off/biopsy it, and let me know how screwed I was. TODAY. I didn’t even make my coffee (you KNOW it’s serious) I just got in my car, called the dermatology office, and by some miracle they had an appointment with my doctor in 30 minutes, which was precisely my commute time.

I sat on the edge of my seat as I waited, my body buzzing with anxiety. And when the nurse called me back and asked me why I was there, I tearfully told her I’m afraid I have melanoma on the back of my leg. She looked worried and gave me a gown to put on. I was in suspense as the doctor walked in and I quickly moved to show him the black growth on the back of my leg. And he said…it looks like a blood mole but we’ll take it off and biopsy it. A blood mole. He told me to call if I hadn’t heard from them by Thursday.

After rebounding from the fear of cancer and the revelation of a blood mole, I sheepishly asked him if he had time to do my botox. He did. So I left the office with a hole in my leg and a face full of botox–I haven’t had botox since before my wedding in 2012 but my 20 year highschool reunion is coming up, I’m 38 years old and I have the money, so don’t judge me, ok?? Thanks.

Anyways, I called Mr. MLACS to give him the good news, and decompressed on the way home.

But then as Thursday approached and I hadn’t heard from my doctor’s office, my anxiety started to build. What if…

I called early Thursday (yesterday) morning but no one called me back. I thought “This is a bad sign”… I cried. I rocked back and forth. And I called again…the nurse put me on hold and I thought “Oh God, maybe she’s getting the doctor so he can tell me the bad news…” But she returned on the line and said gingerly “It’s a benign mole”. BENIGN. As in NOT cancer. A wave of relief washed over me.

But lemme tell you, this experience made a profound impact on me. I am slathering BG with sunscreen, even on her ears, because *90% of sun damage occurs during childhood*. I mean I used sunscreen and hats on her before, but now that she’s a threenager it’s a chore, as we do lotion on the face/neck and spray on the body. But I make sure she’s covered because it doesn’t take long to get a sunburn and just 5 sunburns in childhood DOUBLES your kids’ risk of skin cancer. So fight the good fight with the sunscreen folks.

As for me, I diligently use sunscreen but I also cover up a lot with hats and rash guards (shirts made of SPF50 material), since I am somewhat allergic to the sun these days. But I used to blow off moles that looked suspicious–now I am on high alert.

I’m also writing a piece for a local moms blog cautioning them to be ready with the sunscreen and also to take care to have themselves looked over by a dermatologist annually and pay attention to their skin. I feel like this experience was my “call of duty”, and I’m on it.

XOXO,

MLACS

 

Trying To Keep Calm and Carry On

I had a hard time getting to sleep last night, after googling “melanoma” and desperately searching for “benign growths that look like melanoma” and coming up with nothing–just pics of melanoma–so either people don’t post their “I thought it was melanoma but it was just an XYZ!” photos, or, anything that looks like melanoma IS melanoma.

I used to go to tanning beds and the beach. Often. And I’d cover up my face because my parents had skin cancer on their faces (around the nose and mouth) and had scars where these were removed. I didn’t want scars on my face. But skin cancer didn’t seem like such a big deal.

I was so stupid.

God I hope I raise BG to be smarter than me, to make better decisions than me.

I mean I hope I get to raise her period, but what if I don’t? What if I die while she’s still a child? While she still needs me? What if it’s because I didn’t wear sunscreen and went to tanning beds?! What if she thinks I’m awful for screwing up her childhood with my cancer treatment? A kid shouldn’t have the burden of worrying about her parents dying…

Mr. MLACS had a bad Cardiology appointment recently. I didn’t even blog about it but I had BG with us because it was just a check-up. Then they told us he had been shocked by his pacemaker on March 24th–his heart rate was 300bpm (I didn’t know that 300bpm was even possible). We had no idea. And then at the appointment his BP was 150/110 and his heartbeat was irregular. I went numb. We had no clue he was in distress. The color drained from both of us. We were panic-stricken. Mr. MLACS cried. And BG was fully aware that something was very wrong. Kids are very sensitive and intuitive. She had flashbacks of when he was hospitalized. And we were at the appointment for 3 hours. Doc said Mr. MLACS *must* lose 100lbs as quickly as possible (he has been slowly losing weight but not very regimented). He is 6’6″ and about 415lbs, and he needs to be closer to 300lbs to qualify for surgery to find the part of his heart that is malfunctioning and causing arrhythmias. Or if he needed a heart transplant he doesn’t qualify because of his weight. This appointment was April 22nd and since then Mr. MLACS has been working on his diet. We dropped $1,000 and he is getting a nutrition/exercise plan from an excellent trainer friend of mine.

So you see I’m already riddled with anxiety. My dad just died–both my parents are deceased. I’m stressed dealing with the estate (my sister). I am just 6 months out from having had my total colectomy and still learning to live as an ostomate. One of my good friends just had his big toe amputated due to melanoma.

And now I have this large, inexplicable black growth on my leg. I literally want to dig it out myself, I loathe it so much right now. I’m so freaked.

But instead…

I slept in (because Mr. MLACS knew I was up fretting about this melanoma thing). We went to home depot. I took BG over to play with the neighbor girls on their blow-up waterslide. I fed her lunch and put her down for nap. I’m trying to “keep calm and carry on”.

I’m trying So. F*ing. Hard.

I don’t want to alarm BG. And I don’t want to taint her life with my fear/anxiety/depression. Which is very difficult, since we are together 24/7.

I’m calling the dermatologist and being seen first thing in the morning, and no matter what they say I’m having this thing removed and biopsied.

But in between, I am trying to live, laugh, and love. I love my family SO much. I love my BG with everything I am. And if it’s cancer, I’ll fight. 20180417_095910_Film1.jpg

XOXO,

MLACS