Monday, October 29, 2012

After the Baby High

I have a 4 day old precious little boy.  He is the most beautiful and sweet little guy.  We are all so in love with him.  He continuously smiles in his sleep and yes, I know this because I can't take my eyes off of him.  He had his first appointment with his pediatrician this morning and he is perfect with the exception of his weight loss and jaundice.  They're going to keep an eye on his bilirubin levels for now but hopefully it'll resolve itself within the next couple of days.

I have been breastfeeding every two hours since he was born but I am producing nothing... not even the tiniest bit of colostrum.  I am so disappointed.  I desperately wanted to be able to nurse for the three weeks before I start chemo again.  It's an emotional loss for me and today I get weepy every time I think about it.  Today I gave up trying.  My one remaining nipple is too sore and Ezekiel has lost interest in nursing from a breast that is not producing.  This morning when John and I left for the appointment with the pediatrician, I realized that we didn't bring a bottle for him.  I've never had to carry a bottle in my diaper bag.  I'm going to have to get used to this and I don't want to.  Breast feeding was so convenient.

Today I am so emotionally and physically drained.  I am overwhelmed.  I called the plastic surgeon this morning and they scheduled my expander surgery for this Friday.  I have to take Zeek in for his circumcision tomorrow morning and they'll check his jaundice again at that time.  I have a pre-op appointment on Wednesday.  I called my oncologist to let him know I delivered and I'm ready for my PET scan to be scheduled and to get chemo scheduled again.  The nurse called me back and said they'd get me in next week for the PET scan and then I'll meet with my oncologist to go over the results and determine the treatment plan based on those results.  What?  Things could change... this is too much.  I just had a beautiful little baby.  I don't want to think about this right now.  I want to sit and stare at my beautiful boy.  I don't want to worry about what they'll find with this scan.  I don't want to hear that there's a possibility that things might change because they might find something.  I just want to pretend that cancer doesn't exist.

Maybe I just have a little bit of the post baby blues because I feel so fragile right now.  I'm irritated that I gained so much weight during the pregnancy because I know one thing that would make me feel better right now is if I could fit into a pair of my pre-pregnancy jeans.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Miracle Baby

Just in case you didn't believe that God is responsible for the perfect creation and survival of my little miracle baby, a few extra twists were thrown in to add extra awe and wonder to the situation.  His name is Ezekiel James Raymond.  Born October 25, 2012 at 7:05pm.  8lbs 4 oz and 20 1/2 inches long.  I was sure that his name would be Luke, but once he was born, it was evident that he was not a Luke.  He is Ezekiel because it means "Strengthened by God".

I had my natural child birth with the exception of cervidil to induce labor and zofran at the very end  of my labor to help with the nausea. No pain meds at all.  So those endorphins are working their magic.  I thought my labor was going to last forever when I was checked at 4 pm and still only dilated between a 3 and 4.  My doctor was in surgery all day and finally arrived at around 6 pm.  By that time I was exhausted and dreading the thought of having my water broken and the contractions getting any more intense.  She checked me and I was dilated to a 9.  I cried from relief when she told me.  My doctor left to go change into her scrubs for the delivery and the nurses prepared the room.

I have had quite a bit of pride when it comes to my child baring capabilities.  This is my third natural child birth.  I thought it was going to be a breeze but as I'm recalling it now, I'm trying to hold back my tears.  When Dr. Ramos came back from changing into her scrubs, she told me to go ahead and start pushing.  She said there was just a little lip of the cervix that needed to be pushed aside as I tried to push his head out.  Dr. Ramos applied pressure trying to push that lip aside and it felt like that extra little bit of pressure was a huge amount of force fighting against every effort I made to push the little guy out.  I felt like I was fighting a battle that couldn't be won.  I said out loud, "I can't do it."  Even when I said it, I knew I didn't have a choice and that I had to do it and I felt so silly for saying that I couldn't.  Dr. Ramos then informed me that he was coming out sunny side up.  I guess that explains all the leg numbness and lower back pain.

So I finally pushed his head out and the umbilical cord is wrapped around his neck twice.  John was so panicked that he grabbed the cord to help the doctor remove it from the baby's neck.  I pushed him out the rest of the way and the nurse put him on my chest and I started sobbing.  They I heard Dr. Ramos say, "This is the luckiest baby!"  She repeated it three times and then showed me the knot in the umbilical cord.  I don't know if it awes everyone else as much as it awes me.  My boy who has already survived so much.  I feel so blessed to be entrusted with his little life.  This is why he is Ezekiel.  He is our little miracle who is strengthened by God to survive and to thrive.

I'm crying from joy in this picture.

The knot in the umbilical cord
The proud brothers and sister
Tobias, Ephraim, Daphne and Ezekiel Raymond

Thursday, October 25, 2012

D Day - Part 2

It's 4:30 and I feel like this day will never end.  The nurse just checked me and I'm dilated to a 4. Contractions are coming regularly every 2 minutes for the past several hours.  I'm waiting for my OB to get out of surgery and break my water so I can hopefully progress some more.  The pain is getting extremely draining but well worth it for the end result.

It's funny how physical pain can force you to be more emotional than normal.  I'm getting irritable and anxious.  John is taking a nap and my mom is on her way.  I kept telling her to wait until I had progressed more but she wants to be here and honestly, she provides a comfort and security that no one else can.

I'm a little bit sad that this is it for me as far as pregnancy goes.  I will never experience this again.

I've had to stop typing 5 times already to allow myself to relax through the pain.  So, the next update will be a picture of my little boy. :)

D Day - Part 1

Under normal circumstance, I am completely against induction.... but here I am at the hospital getting induced.

I had my 39 week appointment at 3:30 yesterday.  Baby boy is still head down, I was dilated to a two and ready to meet my sweet baby boy.  I haven't been sleeping well for quite a while because of the lower back and hip pain.  I never experienced this with my other pregnancies. It is very unenjoyable. My OB (Dr. Ramos) stripped my membranes and said she could have me come into the hospital at 8 pm and start cervidil and hopefully I would deliver in the morning.  This idea worked well for me because I wanted him to be born on the 25th anyhow.  Ephraim and Tobias both are born on the 25th of different months and Daphne, John and I are all born on the 1st of different months.  Today is also my parents 44th wedding anniversary, my brother-in-law's 38th birthday and my nephew, Caleb's 10th birthday.  So, why not just add one more event to the day?

We got to the hospital at 8 pm and by 10, I had the cervidil in place and consumed some ambien to get some sleep.  The ambien only worked for 5 hours because I've been up since 3 watching the monitor showing my boy's heart rate in the 130's and my contractions registering small but frequent.  These contractions need to kick it up a notch so I can meet my boy.

John is here with me being the dutiful husband, forced to sleep on a sofa that is way too small for his 6'8" frame.  He is very excited to meet this little boy too.

John sleeping on the sofa across the room.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


I am waiting... waiting to have a baby... waiting to start my next rounds of chemo... waiting to have scans done... just waiting.  It's hard to find something to blog about while I'm just sitting around and waiting.  I like to plan and I like action so this part of the process is a little bit frustrating for me.  

I had an appointment with my OB on Wednesday.  My little guy has turned.  He is now head down and in the correct position for a natural delivery.  I figured that he would get ready in his own timing.  I'm just hoping he cooperates and stays head down.  For the past day I've started experiencing a lot of pain in my pelvic area.  I think he has dropped and is putting lots of pressure on my girl parts.  He's getting ready and I can't wait to meet him.  When I see him I will finally be able (or forced) to decide on his name.  

I planned to have another surgery after delivery to remove the botched expander and have a different one placed (this time in the correct place).  I was told I would need to have the breast skin stretched before radiation in order to salvage that skin and not ruin it's elasticity.  I met with the new plastic surgeon and he is recommending a TRAM flap reconstruction.  This is where they take skin, tissue, and a muscle from the stomach and reconstruct a breast from that.  I'm not really sure what to do now.  I will have 3 to 4 weeks after the baby is born to nurse and the idea of taking one to two days off of nursing in order to have surgery is unappealing.  For right now I've decided to have the surgery after the baby is born to replace the expander in the correct position so at least I have options and later I can decide whether or not I want to mutilate the rest of my body in order to create a second breast.  

It's been so strange since the article about me was in the paper.  I have strangers coming up to me and telling me that they read the article.  It's awkward at times because I don't know what to say.  When someone says, "I read the article about you in the paper", do you say thank you?  Sometimes I just say, "oh" and then laugh uncomfortably.  Sometimes I say, "what gave me away, the bald head and the belly?"  

I can't really say I have a bald head anymore because my hair is growing.  It's not a full and thick head of hair but it's not just patches of growth anymore.  I was surprised because I had been told it usually takes a couple of months for the hair to start growing back.  What to do with my hair is another dilemma I've had to contemplate.  Am I just growing it back to have it all fall out again during the next rounds of chemo?  I think I'll just take my chances and hope it doesn't fall out again.  I'm looking forward to having hair again and not looking like a cancer patient anymore.

Daphne and me today at my nephews birthday party.  See the hair?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cancer Run

Last night John and I were talking about my situation and he said, "I don't think you have cancer."  I said, "I agree.  I'm choosing to believe that it was all cut out during the surgery.  I think I don't actually have cancer at all anymore."  I was thinking about this statement and wondering if I should put it on my blog because I still get the "what ifs".  What if I'm wrong and after the baby is born the scans show that there is more cancer?  What if...?  Well...if I'm wrong then I'm wrong...but I believe I'm right.

Today was so wonderful.  We went to Montecito to watch my friends do the 5k/10k run in my honor.  As I stood there watching them cross the finish line, I couldn't help but have tears in my eyes.  It was such an awesome experience!  I felt so blessed and inspired by all these ladies.  I wonder if they know how they have impacted me with the gift they gave me today.  I'm telling's impossible to feel down when surrounded by people constantly going out of their way to lift you up.

Below is a picture of me and my two friends, Heidi and Erika.  I met them my freshman year in high school...almost 20 years ago.  They both have been such a blessing to me.  Right before I lost my hair, they went hat shopping for me and today they blessed me again.  I lost touch with them for several years but they have come back into my life with gusto!  I am so appreciative of them.

My kids and my nephew ran the 1 mile.  I was so proud of them.  My 5 year old little girl ran the entire mile with my sister Cyndi by her side. She stopped twice for a quick drink of water but other than that she didn't walk any of it. Both Ephraim and Tobias went back and forth passing each other with the traditional competitive spirit our family can't seem to contain.  Ephraim finish first and when Tobias finished and received his medal, he asked if it was okay to keep running more laps around the track.  He ended up running a full two miles.  He finished just before his name was called in the drawing for tickets to the L.A. zoo.  Tobias was excited when I told him that next year we could run the 5k together.  Caleb, my nephew, walked most of the mile with a painful knee and finished his last lap running.  I was so proud of him for finishing even though he was the last one to finish.  It was a great day!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Breech Baby

This morning I went in for my weekly OB check up.  37 weeks... officially considered full term!    First came the non-stress test.  Little boy was very cooperative today.  He was actually too mellow for Dr. Ramos' taste.  She had me drink some cold water to get him going.  Once the cold water was consumed, he passed the test with flying colors...even though my bladder was a little stressed. After the non-stress test, I went in to the exam room where my uterus was measured and then she pulled out the ultrasound machine.  So, I thought I'd had my last ultrasound but I was wrong.  Dr. Ramos did a quick scan of my stomach and then moved up to just under my right ribs and she said, "Oh honey!  He's turned the wrong way.  His head is all the way up here and his bottom is down by your left hip!"  She looked so concerned but all I could do was laugh!  She looked very stressed out and I felt like I was consoling her when I said, "Well, you just have to turn him then, right?"  So she did.  It was not an enjoyable experience having her pushing around on my stomach.  I've been feeling nauseous ever since.  I never thought he would have changed his position this late in the pregnancy.  He was head down at my appointment last week.  He was head down when I left her office.  I'm pretty sure he's moved and has his head up by my ribs again.  The little monkey!  Dr. Ramos says I have to go to the hospital at the first signs of labor so if he needs to be rotated again that she can do it while it's still early enough.  She also said that if my water breaks that I need to get there immediately because the umbilical chord could fall out.  My response to that was, "Can't you just push it back in?"  Sometimes ignorance is so wonderful!

On Tuesday, my mom's friend Pam came over to take some maternity pictures of me.  She's wonderful!  We spent so much time talking.  Pam is a cancer survivor and we are so similar in our views on life and cancer.  It was so nice to spend the afternoon with someone who understands me.  She e-mailed us a copy of the first photo she took of Daphne with my belly.  When I showed the picture to Daphne, she said, "I like that picture because it's my style with my mad face."  I can't wait to see the rest of them!

Monday, October 8, 2012


I've always been a strong believer in community.  Maybe it comes from being raised in a big family and then it was reinforced when I worked for a non-profit that had a huge community building outreach.  I am completely overwhelmed by the love and support of my community... my family, my friends, my church, my children's teachers and classmates, my children's sports teams, and the whole Ventura community.

Today I have felt an increase in energy.  I feel loved and most of all, I feel peace.  This can be such a lonely experience but when surrounded by a community that supports and encourages me, it's impossible to feel anything other than gratitude.  I feel overwhelmed with gratitude.

I was told shortly after I was diagnosed that there are three essential things that would help me survive cancer.  Those three things are faith, family, and attitude.  Fortunately, I have been blessed with strong faith.  I trust the Lord with my life...period.  I believe I will be healed.  I am blessed with a supportive and loving family.  My attitude is something I've struggled with all my life.  I've been known to have an Eeyore personality... you know.... poor me.  Fortunately about two years ago, I learned a huge life lesson.  My perspective determines my path.  I can choose to dwell on one negative or I can choose to be grateful for the multitude of positives.

I like being overwhelmed.  I am so overwhelmed with positives in my life that there isn't any room to dwell on the negative.  There isn't any room to feel sorry for myself while I am feeling so much appreciation for all the support I've received.  Thank you... to all of you!

My friend Heidi, is running a 10K this weekend for the 20th Annual Walk/Run for the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara.  Her team's name is the Becky Dahls.  She is doing this event in my honor.  (Yes another blessing)  This event will fund research at the location I am being treated.  My three kids and my nephew Caleb will be running the kid's mile.  The event takes place on Sunday.  Heidi's goal is to raise $1,000.  So far her team has raised $855.  If you have a desire to contribute to cancer research, here is an awesome opportunity!

Donate here:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Article


Here is the link to the newspaper article from the Ventura County Star.

It was pretty strange to read about myself in this morning's paper.  Both the article and the video online made me get all choked up.  My friend Rhiannon wrote the article and she is amazing.  She suffers from fibromyalgia, a daily and life long battle.  She is a real warrior and here she is writing a story on me... really?  I think we need a month to promote awareness for a lot of other diseases too.

My boys both want to take the newspaper to school for show and tell.  This is what I love.  My children are learning to not be not be embarrassed by the fact that we are going through something that makes us different.  I hope this is a lesson that sticks with them for life.  It's okay to have a bald mom who all your friends stare at.

Ephraim's soccer team wore pink sweat bands around their shin guards at his soccer game yesterday in my honor.  It was so cute.  The coach said it was the boys idea.  After the game they presented me with beautiful pink roses and told me that they had dedicated that game to me... even though they lost.  I'm good with a loss on the game they dedicated to me.  It seems more fitting.  Life doesn't always turn out how we expect it to but we need to do the best we can with what we have... win or lose.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Final Ultrasound

We are fearfully and wonderfully made... and my soul knows it well.  I had my final ultrasound with the perinatologist yesterday and guess what?  I am bald but the little boy growing inside of me has hair!  My heart is delighted by this!  Today I am 36 weeks pregnant and the ultrasound estimates baby boy's weight to be 7 lbs 4 oz.  The perinatologist recommended that I be induced at 38 weeks.  I told him I don't see a medical need to be thanks!  The ultrasound was amazing!  We could see him practice breathing... watching his little chest rise and fall.  This little boy is so strong willed already.  He faced my back during the entire ultrasound so the tech couldn't get a look at his face and he refused to move with any poking or prodding done to my stomach.  Today I went to my OB for my routine check up and she tried to do a non stress test (monitoring his heart rate for 20 minutes).  Well, they couldn't find his heart rate at all for the first 20 minutes because he would roll away, kick, punch, and who knows what else he was doing.  I was laughing at my strong willed little guy making that nurse work so hard to find a heart rate.  They ended up finding it and I had to move it as he moved for about five minutes until they finally gave up.

I am still officially on modified bed rest because I'm only a week and a half out from my last chemo treatment, but I got the okay to start being more active after this weekend.  I'm really looking forward to getting out for some light exercise.  I'll have to limit it to walking... at a really slow pace because my muscles have atrophied so much from all of my inactivity.  

I'm out of brain power for tonight.  Pregnancy brain and chemo brain combined have left me.....