Sunday, November 29, 2009

What publicity...

I can't believe how much publicity we've gotten since Rachel has been born. Today News 25 came out to the house to interview us. It'll be shown at 530 pm and 10 pm Sunday night. This is the 2nd news station and 3rd media outlet that has interviewed us. In a way its kind of embarrassing b/c I don't really feel like I've done anything note-worthy. However, I am more than willing to help educate anyone in a similar situation and/or give someone else hope in what seems like a hopeless situation. I sincerely hope that others can see that it is possible to do this kind of thing and not be depressed, horribly ill, or any of those other negative things that are easily done in situations like this. I also hope people understand that even in the world the way it is, people are fundamentally good and helpful.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Busy busy days!

Well, things have been going quite well since little Rachel made her debut. She's passed all her tests with flying colors - her APGAR was even a 9.9 out of 10 in the delivery room. Hearing, PKU, CBC, etc all coming out perfect! I'm doing quite well too. We're waiting on my doctor so we can be released.

She's even a TV star already. Channel 7 News came by yesterday to do an interview with us. The Messenger-Inquirer did a story as well. Not even 24 hours old & she had already been on Channel 7, 25 and in the M&I! Wow - what a diva!

Her doctor just came in to let me know that she's lost about 6 oz (perfectly normal & acceptable) and is just a little jaundiced, but not bad (again pretty normal & acceptable). I just fed her almost 2 oz of formula again. She's a good little eater! She's helping me type right now actually!

Simon is a great big brother. He cannot get over her! He wants to hug, touch, & kiss her all the time. He'd definitely hold her if we gave him the opportunity!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rachel has arrived!!!!

Late last night (after stuffing myself w/ turkey & other Thanksgiving goodies), we ended up going to L&D to check on some bleeding I was having (10 -11 pm). I wasn't in hard labor, but I was definitely having contractions. Since I was due in for my augmentation at 6 am they just kept me. I hadn't made any progress yet though. Around 3 or 4 am the contractions got really painful and really close together. I made some progress (finally). They finally gave me my epidural & the pain went away! When they checked again I had gone from 4 cm to 7 cm in just a matter of getting the epidural. My water didn't completely break, but I did have some fluid loss. By the time Dr. Briones arrived around 7 am to check me, my water broke and I was already fully dilated! After 3 contractions, Rachel arrived - all 8 lbs 4 oz and 20 inches of her! She's got a little bit of curly black hair. Her eyes are a little bit swollen from the delivery, but otherwise she's absolutely perfect! I'm doing well also! I'll post photos as soon as I get some available.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Less than 24 hours to go!

Well, we're still together - Rachel & I! We have less than 24 hours in this same position though! I can't wait b/c I've even gotten more uncomfortable lately. I woke up last night (early this morning) dreaming that I was in labor. Thankfully it was a false alarm. I'm still holding out for tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2 days to go!!!

Well, Rachel is actually obeying orders so far & staying put for now! I think I've progressed more, but other than having annoying and very uncomfortable contractions, there's no sign of her coming now. Hopefully, 2 days from now we'll have a baby girl in our arms instead of in my belly!

Today I'm slowly making my potato salad for our Wednesday Thanksgiving feast! Its taken me all day to boil the potatoes, mix the dressing, and I still haven't put it all together yet. However, I'm getting ready to do it so that it can soak & get that wonderful flavor we love so much!

Monday, November 23, 2009

3 more days!

Rachel is still cooking well! The ultrasound showed no problems at all. Actually, it showed that she is even more ready to come out - she's dropped a lot lower & the amniotic fluid has particles in it - something the tech said indicates baby is cooked to perfection! Hopefully my little turkey will come out of the oven well-done on Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

We made it another day...

Well, Rachel is still snug in the womb! I'm very glad! I'm still pretty miserable, but I'm happy we're still hanging out together! I *really* want to keep her in until Thanksgiving! Here's hoping!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Can she wait 6 more days?

I've been up since 4 am this morning w/ contractions. They're not getting more intense or closer together, so I'm staying home. However, they are on average 5 minutes apart & lasting for a minute each. They're also not very comfortable... not absolutely positively painful, but more than my typical contractions have been up to this point. I really don't want to have her today, but if she's determined to come, so be it! Part of my reason for not wanting her today is b/c I *really* think it'd be awesome for her to get here on Andrew's b-day, plus Thanksgiving, plus on her due date. Another reason that Andrew informed me of last night is that today is Joe Biden's birthday... I don't want her to have to share a birthday w/ him! ;-) Anyway, I'm sitting here trying to decide if I should go try to lay back down (its almost 7 am) or if I should just stay where I am (in my recliner). I'm leaning towards bed... Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One week left!!!

Well, I didn't go into labor last night... It felt like I could have, but I didn't, thank God! I'm still kind of miserable though, so I'm going to take it easy. I'm keeping my fingers & legs crossed that she'll stay put for another 7 days.

I think Simon is either coming down w/ something or he's sensitive enough to realize that things are changing. He's been exceptionally lovey-dovey lately. He's also actually being pretty compliant - a switch from a few weeks ago. He was having tantrums & stuff, but now all the sudden he is very good. I'm not knocking it though!

Its hard to believe that in a week we're going to have another little live in our hands. Its going to be weird, but wonderful. I just hope we're ready!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

8 days & counting!

Today is my 39 week appointment! There are only 8 days left of this pregnancy! Yippee! I wonder if I've progressed any more at this point. In a way I hope so, but I hope I haven't progressed too much. I *really* want her to arrive on Thanksgiving! Not only will it be neat for her to share Andrew's birthday and occasionally Thanksgiving, it will also signify that she is the cause of great thanksgiving throughout my family. Her continued health and good growth has had a profound impact, not only on close members of my family, but also on people who previously were only tangentially (if even that much) in contact with us. Plus she'll continue my holiday baby theme as well as my Thursday baby theme & right-on-time baby theme! Dr. Briones doesn't think we're going to make it until Thanksgiving. She said if I really want to I need to do a lot more laying around & a lot less of everything else. I've progressed to 3 cm & 80%... I'm laying here w/ my legs crossed now! ;-)

Today is also the 4 year anniversary of mine & Andrew's first meeting. At the time I was still in recovery mode from the loss of Brian. However, I was trying to open myself up to the possibilities again. That fateful day 4 years ago I was being a pack-mule for my friend. She & her now-husband had just bought a house. She was bringing boxes of her things to the new house. The guys (Andrew & her now-husband) were mowing the yard. Apparently for Andrew it was pretty instant that he wanted to know more about me. I really didn't give him a second thought. We joked for a while in the house and went our separate ways. My friend told me that he was her now-husband's best friend, so we'd be seeing a lot of each other probably. It didn't bother me either way. Eventually, one thing lead to another & now here I sit married for almost 3 years with an adorable little boy and a precocious little girl on the way! Isn't God grand?!?!

Now for some serious stuff (some of this may be directly political, so if that will offend you - please quit reading).

I am shocked & appalled at the recent news that a health panel is advising women to not get mammograms while they're in their forties. They're also recommending that instead of yearly mammograms, women get mammograms once every 2 years. Apparently this group - USPSTF - has reviewed some data & decided that its not worthwhile to catch breast cancer in a 40-49 year old woman. The American Cancer Society (ACS) uses the same data as this group as well as other sources, and begs to differ as you can read here. To summarize the ACS position, breast cancer deaths in women diagnosed at 40-49 account for 17% of all breast cancer deaths. The USPSTF acknowledges that 15% reduction of breast cancer deaths in women 40-49 is the same as the reduction in breast cancer deaths in women aged 50+. However, the USPSTF apparently doesn't think that the lower risk 40-49 year old women are worth saving. The raw numbers (from the ACS site) indicate that the screening of 1904 women (age 40-49) to save one of these women from dying of breast cancer is not worthwhile. However, the screening of 1339 women (age 50+) to save one of dying of breast cancer *is* worthwhile. I'm no mathematician, but statistically speaking, saving 0.05% of women (40-49) vs saving 0.07% of women (50+) is not statistically different. If you remove the numbers and actually think of the people you personally know in either of these age groups, you'd probably agree that all the screening in the world should be done to protect your friend, relative, associate, etc - regardless of their age!

I know that if my mom had followed these new suggestions she would either still be fighting or already dead from her breast cancer. She was diagnosed via annual/typical mammogram at age 48. She wasn't having any signs. There was no visible/palpable lump or dimple. There was no pain associated w/ her breast. However, she was a walking time-bomb. My aunt Jacqueline, through the Holy Spirit, finally convinced my mom to get her mammogram that year. Thank God for you, Jacqueline!

This new suggestion from the USPSTF to me screams ObamaCare. From their website I can't tell how their board is selected or how often. I can see from scanning the list of board members, that none of them are oncologists. In my opinion, that means that they may have book knowledge of cancer, its statistics, and such, but they're not in the trenches dealing with it day in & day out. To me, that takes away from their 'expertise' at making guidelines for cancer screening. For all we know they are selected by the current administration to toe the line. I'm not typically a fan of conspiracy theories, but I think the recent passage of the Health Care Reform and push for reduced health care costs may be driving this type of statement. Afterall, mammograms are fairly expensive and we have a very large population of women 40+ who should be getting mammograms. Since this administration is also pushing for government funded/run health care it would seem that in order to 'lower' costs, they would have to decide what programs to cut. If you watch TV commercials you'll see competing viewpoints - some say Medicare was cut, while others say those are lies. However, since I doubt anyone who actually voted on the bill read the entire thing, I'd say chances are pretty good that there are some serious restrictions and re-allocations of funds that are going to take everyone by surprise. However, it would quiet the masses tremendously if some of these restrictions and re-allocations were approved by a theoretical 'unbiased' medical group... Enter the USPSTF... I wonder what their next recommendation will be...

I feel that I'm in a unique place right now. I pay for my own health-care sort-of by working & contributing to my employers health care plan. I also pay for my own cancer insurance in the event of my getting cancer (how fortuitius for me that I started the policy 3-4 years ago). Since I am now in that dreaded category of 'cancer survivor' changes in health care could drastically affect me. My fear is not that I'll be dropped from my insurance coverage b/c of my diagnosis. My fear is that w/ new rules and regulations pressed upon them by the government (and 'unbiased' groups like the USPSTF), I will not be able to get the care I need to see my children grow up. To many, my continued treatment after removal of my 'lump' seems excessive. Some local doctors got downright pissy b/c I went to MD Anderson for consultation and treatment. The entire course of action I am doing seems excessive to some lay people as well as doctors. However, at this point my insurance company covers this course of treatment/prevention. I am lucky in this fact. The race is on for me to get everything done to the best of my benefit before any more restrictions come down the line. At least thats how it feels to me.

At this point, I don't even know if there's anything we can do. Grass-roots campaigns are great, don't get me wrong. However, I haven't seen them lately actually accomplish their goals. The current climate politically is to merely tell the people "Pay no attention to what you see behind the curtain." They aren't even really hiding their duplicity. As a point in fact, the government web-site has congressional districts that don't exist showing signs of economic improvement due to the stimulus. I heard this on the news & thought surely they'd either fix the sites errors or pull the site down for maintenance. They haven't yet... Here is what they report for my state, KY. The numbers look pretty good, don't they? However, closer inspection (and a little bit of knowledge of KY's congressional districts) reveals that all is not right on this site... KY only has 6 congressional districts and they're consecutively numbered. Therefore, reports of money & jobs in congressional district 7 for instance *has* to be fraudulant or at the very least a serious mistake. There are 9 * imaginary* congressional districts that are shown by this site as receiving funds... I challenge any of my readers from out-of-state to check their state for these same types of 'mistakes'. What can we do though? Even though this has been on the news and questions have been asked about it, I've heard no apologies or true explanations for why or how these imaginary places are reported to have been awarded stimulus funds. I'm definitely not a politician, but as a moral individual, I would be compelled to 1st pull the site down and keep it down until the numbers can be properly assigned. However, b/c this administration knows there's nothing we, the public, can do to them, they continue to put forth their bad numbers and present them as truth.

I guess I'll get off my soap-box now. Sorry for hi-jacking what has typically been a very up-beat, non-political blog. However, I just had to get some of this stuff off my mind & onto someone elses! ;-)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

9 days & counting...

Today there are only 9 days left until Rachel's arrival! I actually got some sleep last night thanks to Ambien! I may have to do the same thing tonight.

I'm still working on crocheting Rachel's hat. I got mine finished a while back, but I've not been very good at working on hers. Hopefully when she arrives I'll have guessed her size close enough so we can have a photo taken of us in our matching hats. They're elf-style sleep hats (long top-knot w/ a tassel) & I chose a multi-colored blue, lavender, etc yarn. I really like mine - its warm & kind of cute if I do say so myself!

I'm really amazed b/c today I had to have my head shaved again. I'd actually had some growth - especially on my 'characteristic' areas (widows peak, side-burns, & neck tails). It was looking kind of scraggly! Now its neatened up again just in time for Rachel's arrival!

Monday, November 16, 2009

10 days to go

Only 10 more days! We saw Rachel again today & you wouldn't believe the difference in size already. I'll try to scan another ultrasound photo in, but they're not nearly as clear as the ones from last week! She was breathing & moving well again. However, this time my fluid levels were a bit low. Apparently this weekend I didn't drink quite enough & maybe did too much as well. My blood levels were ok again - altho I was a little on the anemic side as well. Everything looks to be fine for Rachel's arrival on Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 13, 2009

13 days left

Today there are only 13 days left until Rachel's arrival! Isn't it amazing?! I just can't believe she's almost here.

I'm being fairly easy on myself since I'm so close. Sometimes I don't have a choice - I don't have enough energy, I can't get anyone to help me, I can't think of anything interesting to do... However, sometimes I actually reject the idea b/4 it gets off the ground.

Not part of taking it easy was yesterday. We harnessed Febe up to my newly re-designed cart. It was our first hitching & instead of taking the chance myself, mom got behind the horse. It didn't go badly, but it didn't go as well as I had hoped. I think there's something on my equipment that she wasn't liking. However, I think we're going to post-pone any more harnessing until after Rachel arrives. Who knows, it may be another 6 months b/4 I try. As long as I get to pat her nose & breathe her horsie smell I'm sure I'll be fine!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

38 week check-up

Officially I'm not 38 weeks until tomorrow, but today was my appointment day, so that's what we'll call it! I was right about my progress... Not a whole lot, but definitely some - I'm now 2 cm dilated & 60% effaced. Dr. Briones wasn't worried about it at all. She was kind of concerned b/c I've been having times where my entire stomach gets rock hard & stays that way for quite some time. Apparently, that's called a hypertonic (I think its hyper- and not hypo-) uterus & can be bad for Rachel. Anyway, if it happens for more than 2 minutes I'm supposed to lay down & rest. If it still doesn't go away - or if it keeps up, I'm on my way to L&D again. Hopefully, I'll be good.

The big news today is that we've decided that Rachel is going to come on or before November 26 (her due date). If she's not here before (hopefully not) I will be 'augmented' in my labor on Thanksgiving day! I did the same thing w/ Simon and didn't have any trouble what-so-ever, so I'm hoping to continue that trend! Its funny the coincidences between Simon's pregnancy & this one... I had some problems early on where I thought I was going to lose Simon - same w/ Rachel. Then everything was pretty smooth sailing - same w/ Rachel. I started progressing around 34 weeks w/ Simon - same w/ Rachel. I was on 2 weeks bed-rest w/ Simon - same w/ Rachel. I was offered the option to augment my labor w/ Simon on his actual due date - same w/ Rachel. Simon's due date was a holiday - same w/ Rachel. Simon's due date was a Thursday - same w/ Rachel! I think its meant to be! :-)

Tomorrow is a red-letter day for a completely different reason. I get to try out my horse & cart tomorrow! Andrew brought the cart home yesterday afternoon. He put the bench seat out of his dad's Dodge Raider on the frame of my old cart. He even included both seat belts so that when I ride w/ kiddos I can strap them in to keep them from standing, climbing, and falling! He fabricated a new pulling bar & attached it for me. He also looked at all the welds, bolts, nuts, etc for wear and tear. Hopefully, if the weather is nice (its supposed to be) I'll hitch Febe up and go for a drive! I can't wait!

On a more serious note... I want to mention how grateful I am that we have men & women who are willing to risk their lives for our freedom & rights. Even if its not popular or safe for them, they willingly step up and protect this wonderful country of ours. Its amazing to me that I've got so many military people in the family... A brother & brother-in-law, two cousins (different sides of the family), my grand-dad, my dad (Coast Guard counts in my book), and I'm probably missing more. I wasn't called to be one of them, but my prayers, thoughts, and support are present & accounted for these fine individuals! Its heart-rending to think of the lives lost recently at Fort Hood as well as those lost in the Mid-East and other locations around the world. However, it is wonderful to know that their lives were not in vain. They will live on in our hearts, souls, and memories as heroes. God bless!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Our 1st official BPP...

Today we did something a little bit different. Dr. Briones ordered a Bio-Physical Profile (BPP) for Rachel that was done outside of her office. The key points were to check that Rachel was pretend breathing (she had the hiccups for the 1st 30 seconds or so - so she passed), heart-rate (154 bpm - good), movement (she wasn't still the whole time - pass), and my fluid levels (passed). So while we got to see her to check all these things, we didn't get any measurements, so I don't know how huge she's gotten in the past week or so. I guess since I already know she's over 7 lbs, I know she's not going to be small!

I also had one of my weekly blood-tests at Dr. M's office. My blood levels have all come back up to normal range. That hopefully means there won't be any complications to my delivery caused by the chemo! I'm still having paranoid thoughts about delivery for some reason, but I think knowing that my blood levels are ok will relieve some of that tension.

Yesterday we had Alix out at our house. She's from Morganfield (knows my sister-in-law & brother) and is currently studying photojournalism at WKU. She chose me as her photo story. She's to catalog my journey of being pregnant while going through chemo. She started w/ the benefit & yesterday was supposed to just be a day-in-the-life. I was afraid I'd bore her to death, but apparently w/ our 4-wheeler riding, horse petting, house-visiting, and Simon we're not terribly boring. Anyway, since I had a photographer at my mercy (he he he ;), I asked her to take some family shots of all 3 (4 if you already count Rachel) of us. One of the photos is hopefully going to end up as our Christmas card photo. Anyway, here's a small selection of the 300+ shots she took all days.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

37 weeks! 3 more to go (hopefully)!

Well, today I officially made it to 37 weeks. I was also officially released from my bed-rest. Of course, I didn't do all that much more than I have been... Well, just a load of laundry & a load of dishes in the dishwasher. I'm not entirely convinced that I needed the bed-rest to prevent pre-term labor these last 2 weeks b/c it just seems like it doesn't really matter what I did when I was pregnant w/ Simon. He was going to come when he felt like it! :-) I'm pretty sure this one is the same!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Still cookin'

I found out today that Rachel is still snug w/ no progress toward the outside! Her heart-rate is still good at 147 bpm. We didn't get an ultrasound today, but that's fine. Starting next week until delivery we'll be having Biophysical Profiles done every week. I'm not exactly sure, but I think that's an ultrasound where she's checked for breathing, movement, blood-flow, etc. I also found out that my bed-rest torture will be over tomorrow! :-) Of course, I'm not able to do a whole lot anyway, but maybe now I won't feel like I have to make excuses for doing silly stuff like fixing supper or walking to give the horse a treat! ;-) Dr. Briones also made a very favorable comment about letting Rachel decide when she wants to come! I was kind of afraid she was going to be pushing for induction/augmentation. She still has 3 weeks to change her mind, but I think she spoke to Dr. Ramariz (the high-risk OB from Houston) & found that the healthiest way for both me & Rachel is for nature to take its course. The earliest I've been considering augmentation/induction is November 23 - St. Rachel's feast day. However, the best option would be for Rachel to arrive *on* her due date - November 26. We'll see what happens! :-)

WOW! I just calculated (based on last week's ultrasound) that if Rachel comes on her due date & gains an ounce a day (like the books say) she's going to weigh a whopping 8.59 lbs (8 lbs 9 oz)... Simon was 7 lbs 14 oz... I'm glad she's growing so well, but I'm still kind of freaking out about how she's coming out that big!!! Especially since I know her head measured at 38 weeks last week at 35 wks 6 days... Fat head & fat body coming out where?!?!?!?!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Its November...

Its hard to believe that its finally November... Rachel should be here b/4 the end of the month! Its so amazing! That reminds me that I need to do some planning & get Andrew's b-day gift as well as try to get a jump on Christmas shopping! Of course, its kind of looking like I may be doing my shopping from my recliner since I'm on bed rest & too tired to really do any shopping. Oh well, its the thought that counts!

I'm not being particularly inspiring lately... I think I'm finally getting worn down by everything & it takes all the inspirations I have just to make it through the day. I'm still not feeling sick or anything, but as delivery day approaches I keep thinking of all the stuff I still need to do & how I'm afraid of how I'll feel afterwards... I think I'm thinking into the future too much. However, I'm not really worried, just overwhelmed w/ thoughts. I'm trying to make sure I lay the burdens at His feet and not try to do it on my own. I think I'm doing an OK job of it, but sometimes I try to do it by myself. I'm just lucky that I have a great husband, parents, & friends on my side. They remind me - sometimes subtly & sometimes w/ a good fussing - that I'm not supposed to be doing so much! Of course, most of the time my body agrees! :-)

My Chemo-Jane hair-style

My Chemo-Jane hair-style
I just had to have my mom buzz my hair because it was falling out so badly.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.
My loving husband is watching me distract myself with a game on his iPhone.

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs
I even have a fashionable belt to hold up my drains.

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE
The smile is fake because the TEs were irritating!