Sunday, April 23

3 Cycles Done

Three cycles down and now I'm in the midst of where I feel the worst.  I had chemo Tuesday and Wednesday so I'm feeling the aftereffects of the bone pain and throat pain.  Last night was hard to sleep but another day closer to being done with the pain.  :)

On Thursday I had an MRI of my face and neck and we went back on Friday for the results.  I didn't look at the initial MRI back in February because I was too nervous when we first met with the oncologist, so I saw my February MRI and my new MRI for the first time on Friday.  The MRI taken in February was 2.5 weeks pre-treatment so it wasn't even at my "worst".  So I saw that MRI for the first time on Friday... the tumor was huge.  It was invading my whole cheek, nose, eye... my lymph nodes were completely swollen.  It wasn't a pretty sight.  But looking at my newest MRI- about two months later from the initial- everything around my nose, eyes, and lymph nodes is completely gone. I still have some residual tumor on the soft tissue of my sinus, but things are looking pretty good.  I still have 11 cycles and 30ish radiation treatments, but it's nice to see the progress in black and white.

I do tend to make myself nervous though... after the first cycle I had a lot of success, but by about the 3rd week I convinced myself that my eye was beginning to swell again.  In my second cycle I had more success, but I convinced myself that there was regrowth because I had some different numbness by my nose and lip.  And now in my third cycle I've convinced myself that I have a lot of regrowth right where it all started.  It sounds ridiculous because I just got the great MRI plus things react to the chemo in different ways, but I feel like there's a new lump again.  But I also know- just like the past two cycles- I'm probably being overly worrisome.

On another note... the baby is doing great.  Our scan last week showed a baby at about 1lb 12oz.  I was just under 25 weeks at that point.  The baby is a mover and a shaker.  :)  I took my glucose tolerance test too and bombed it.  That was on Tuesday last week and I haven't heard back from my doctor, so I'm wondering if they're letting it slide for a little out of pity?  Ha.  I was 40 points over the maximum, but I also take several doses of steroids during my Week 1 of every cycle which can impact the levels.

Either way, I have about 9 weeks until delivery day.  We have zero done for this baby.  As in I haven't taken a single belly picture, we haven't thought about names, the crib is in the attic, we have no car seat... we can't even fit 5 seats in the van until we by new boosters for the big kids.  It stinks to go through the pregnancy like this, but we're really in survival mode right now.

Tuesday, April 4

Let's Talk Baby

So the silver lining in life right now is that I'm pregnant.  (Winded, heartburned, back-aching blissfully pregnant)

This baby, like Hunter, was non-IVF and a happy surprise.  We wanted to be pregnant.  I never went on any birth control after H, but my expectations weren't exactly high.  I daydreamed about another miracle like H, but statistics weren't in my favor.  Blood work still showed it was unlikely, we tried for over 3 years, etc.  But then again, I'm learning that statistics aren't usually in my favor, so...

We talked on and off for those 3.5 years between H and the good news about IVF, but I was reluctant.  I wanted to do it, but I couldn't wrap my head around the logistics of the drive in the mornings for blood work and monitoring before school.  When we were trying for the boys and girls with IVF either we were kid-free or we had a nanny at the house bright and early so I could sneak out for my appointments and then run to work.  Timing would be trickier and I wasn't eager to enter the world of needles again.  Still, we talked about it and were planning on trying IVF again this spring hoping to be pregnant by the summer.

Trying, but not expecting, but hoping led to lots of single-line pregnancy test and silent disappointment.  It's hard to share your sadness of not being pregnant when you already had 4 healthy, happy, thriving kids.  So it was always on my radar, but not front-and-center.

In early December we had parent conferences so my kids all had a few half days of school, but I'd stay late for conferences.  My parents would take them those afternoons and I'd run to pick them up.  The last morning of conferences I couldn't get my favorite jeans to button correctly and the sweater looked atrocious.  I was feeling a little sick- non-specific tired-icky- so my mind drifted to the idea of being pregnant, but I figured the odds were slim.  But... I had to pick up the kids and there was a Target on the way, so I made a quick stop at Target and grabbed a 3-pack of tests before getting the gang and heading back home.

With all of the other kids Johnny has always known right away when I was pregnant.  With IVF he knew the test dates so I couldn't keep that a secret and with H he picked up the tests for me.  I had always planned on a big elaborate "share" for him if and when I ever got pregnant.  I hadn't figured out the "share" but I knew I wanted it to be big and surprising.

Fast forward to me taking the test in secret that night.  The second line came up fast and I was in shock and shaking so badly.  I don't think the lines fully finished setting before I called Johnny in and told him.  So much for the surprise!  After he confirmed the test one of his first questions was "What about the surprise?!"  Whoops.

I didn't know the dating so I did blood work and then for early ultrasounds.  Since we didn't know the exact age, my doctor didn't know exactly when to schedule me for the ultrasound.  We went for our first one and the sac was empty.  It could be too early or it could be a blighted ovum.  It was a long week to wait.  I had convinced myself that I wasn't pregnant anymore and that we'd go back the following week for another empty sac, but on the second ultrasound we had a healthy beating heart and I was given a due date of August 3rd.  Talk about relief!

Saturday, April 1

I'm Back

I don't really know where to start.  It's been almost four years since I was on here.   I had another blog as well that I started, but I don't know the password.  I just need to chronicle the here and now because it's so crazy right now.

To backtrack, we moved two summers ago and bought a new house in the town I now teach. I get to bring all of the kiddos to school with me which is great.  Colby is in second grade and rocking it. The girls are in kindergarten.  Sydney continues to be my social butterfly and Zoe is my sensitive little soccer player.   They're so different in personality and it's so fun to watch.  Hunter is four already and in preschool. He loves it- although he'll tell you he hates nap time. He's our comedian.  He likes to be in to be in control of me in every way possible.

They're exhausting but perfect.  Were so busy with sports and scouts and everything else going on.

And we have a new baby due in August although he or she will make their debut in June.  We're thrilled and overwhelmed.   The pregnancy has gone pretty well so far. I'm 22 weeks and the baby is a mover and a shaker.  The kids are thrilled and can't wait to meet the new member of our family.

But things are complicated, which brings me to why I'm back.

So now to add to everything else, I have cancer.  In February I was diagnosed with a really rare, aggressive sarcoma.  I was 17 weeks pregnant when I got the news.  Suddenly the knowns of our life became so unknown- and it remains that way.

In late January I thought I had developed a sinus infection in my right maxillary sinus.  I went to the doctor and was given antibiotics and told to wait.  Over the next few weeks the swelling got worse, the pain increased, my lymphnodes got huge... I was a mess.  I was in constant pain and I was taking so much tylenol just to function.  My girls knew not to hug me too hard on my right side because I as in pain.  While all this was going on I was told by several doctors that it was just a sinus infection.

Finally, at about three and a half weeks, I went back to the doctors and they finally sent me to the ER to have a scan done.  I thought I was going to be admitted for huge doses of antibiotics.  There wasn't really a question in my mind-- I thought I just had an awful, impacted infection.  Little did I know the CT Scan in the ER would reveal a mass in my sinus, invading the one, pushing on my eye... it was bad.  It was way past the ER doctor's shift, but he stayed late that night so he could explain to me that they really didn't know, but it was likely a tumor.  I was then admitted for the night so I could have another scan done and we could figure out what to do from there.

The MRI confirmed what we already knew-- I had a mass, but the scan doesn't tell you what it is.  It could be benign, it could be cancerous, it could still be a bad infection.  A biopsy was performed and then we just had to wait.  So after 2 days I went home from the hospital just to wait.  The swelling increased, I started to get awful pain in my face and eye that was severe enough to keep me awake at night.  I thought I was losing my eye sight.  It was scary for sure.

Finally a week later I got the call from the not-so-great Eye, Nose, and Throat doctor who casually on the phone told me "So, yeah, it's looking like a malignancy.  We're going to refer you to another department..."   I knew it was coming, but he was so nonchalant about it.  I'm so glad I'm not dealing with him.  The next day the Oncologist called me and gave me the official title of the cancer.  It's long and it's scary and honestly I haven't even looked it up yet because I don't want to see what the internet says about my odds and such.

The end of February we were referred to Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston and I met the start of my team.  At this point I was about 18 weeks pregnant and I thought for sure that my consults would end with the need to terminate the pregnancy.  We met with my Sarcoma doctor who explained everything in technical jargon and left me feeling very frazzled.  He's great, but there was just SO much information coming at us.  But that is where I learned that chemo can be "safe" while pregnant. I had no idea.  We then met with an MFM who specializes in chemo and pregnancy and she gave us the "okay" to continue.

Now I know I may be taking risks but continuing the pregnancy while doing chemo but the thought of terminating was so heartbreaking.  I couldn't lose my health and my baby in one fell swoop.  We are "switching" one chemotherapy agent (I get 5 total) for another one due to the pregnancy, so that could hurt my odds.  We're also delaying radiation by a few weeks which could hurt my odds.  And I'm on a pediatric course because there isn't an adult course for the cancer I have, which could hurt my odds.  What it comes down to is that we just don't know.

But here I am at just over 22 weeks pregnant.  I have completed two courses of chemo- 3 weeks apart.  I go on Monday and Tuesday for a four hour infusion each day.  I get a cocktail of 3 different drugs right now-- we'll add the next two in the coming rounds.  On Wednesday I get an injection to boost my white blood cell count.  So far I'm feeling pretty good.

We break my treatment into 3 weeks: Week 1 is chemo week and I feel the most nauseous, tired, and get severe bone pain due to the white blood cell booster.  That's where I am right now and I don't get out of bed or off the couch from Thursday - Sunday or so. Week 2 is my quarantine week where my white blood cells are at zero and I have to avoid sickness at all costs.   I feel good, but I can't do much.  Week 3 is my bounce back week.  My cells are finally up high enough that I can get out of the house a little bit and feel like a fully functioning mother.

So there's still so much more, but right now I'm reacting to the treatments.  I feel so much better.  My pain is gone and the swelling is gone and I feel optimistic.  At no point did I ever think I wouldn't beat this.  I don't have a choice.  I have my four kiddos (soon to be 5!) who need me there for them.

Right now I'm off of work for a year as I tackle this.  If all goes exactly to plan, I should be done with chemo, radiation, and surgery come January.  We're expecting setbacks and hospitalizations, but I'm hoping we can get through like rockstars.

Thursday, June 13

So I've got a new blog in the works.  It's basically the same as on here, but in a new location.  I'm not keeping it private in the "you need a password/permission" sense,  but I am keeping the address private unless people want it.  Basically, I feel like everything on here has become much more accessible than I had originally planned back when I started.  If you google my kiddos, you find this blog and several people over time have done that.  For the most part I don't mind, but it makes things a little awkward when people say "Oh, I read your blog..." and I find myself wondering how they found it and knowing that they now know more about our history than I might have planned.  (Emily, I don't mean you :)

And there's the fact that it's just easier to start over than to go back and edit everything.  :)

So, I know I'll lose people in the process (sadly) but if you want to keep on reading my (almost nonexistent) posts (4 kids under 4 is BUSY) send me an email (

Saturday, June 8


  • Does anyone who reads this use Gerber Good Start formula?  I have over $20 of coupons that I can't get rid of and I hate to throw them away.  Or how about Similac?  $20 for that too!
  • Hunter turned 3 months this week.  He's so big already-- at least compared to where his siblings were.  At his two month check up he was about 11lbs.  At their 2 year check up the girls were 22lbs.  I'm sure Hunter is closer to 13lbs by now.  He's actually in 3-6 month clothing.  Colby was in (and even started) 3-6 month clothing long after he was 6 months.  I know, I know, I should stop comparing, but it's so different.
  • I'd love to be able to write WE SOLD THE HOUSE.  But I can't.  *sigh* Another open house tomorrow, though with the torrential rain we're getting I'm doubting there will be many visits.
  • My brother-in-law is visiting from Missouri.  He's in the Air Force and currently stationed in Missouri.  He just finished a domestic-deployment (I didn't know they even did those) in Delaware and last year he was deployed to Afghanistan.  It's nice to have him visiting-- he's one of a handful of Johnny's family who like us.  (Another story for another day)
  • I'm in the process of trying to donate some of my 1,000+ ounces of frozen milk.  I had so much that we couldn't put a single thing more in the deep freezer (which was only frozen milk) so I shipped about 1/2 to my parents deep freezer and ours is already filling up again.  It's a tough call because I know I'll need some when I go back to work, but I'll also still be pumping and nursing then, so who knows how much I'll need?  But at the same time it will be nice to help some of those itty-bitty preemies out there.
  • Parents of twins out there-- have you ever had a problem (like a serious problem) with your twins hurting each other?  Our girls are so rough with one another and I don't know where it comes from.  Zoe currently has a cluster of cuts on her arm and another on her chest from Syd scratching her.  (I've since cut nails)  They're always hitting each other over the head with something, pushing, biting, pulling hair (!!!).  I'm hoping it's just a really long phase, but I so hoped to see the two of them so best-friendy for life.  
  • We're 100% cloth diapering here and I love it!  So far they work so well.  When the girls were itty bitty I was doing 2x the laundry for twins because they would literally explode out of their diapers every single day.  It was ridiculous.  I would usually acquire 4 day time outfits and 4 pjs in one day.  So far with H Man?  The BumGenius diapers have had zero leaks or explosions or anything.  The gDiapers aren't as good-- I had them from the girls and never really liked them at all and they're so ridiculously expensive.  For H I have 6 BumGeinus All in Ones (Freetime I think?) and 7 3.0s (pocket diapers).  Then I have the 6 gDiapers and 1 random Grovia I had bought a long time ago, so 20 diapers in all.  With 6 of us now I'm already washing SO much laundry that really the load of diapers every day or two doesn't seem like much extra at all.  Though, when we move I'll probably miss having all of those perfect diaper boxes to pack in..
  • As far as WHY I'm using cloth diapers?  I wish I could say that it's all about the environment and protecting the Earth and all the good stuff to go green.  But, really the cuteness factor was #1 to start with.  (Ridiculous, I know, I know...)  And part of it was to prove that I could.  I know, stupid stupid too.  But I kind of like a challenge all the time and this is my "challenge" right now.  (I know, I'm crazy.)  But seriously, I wish I had used them with Colby.  I couldn't do the pre-folds with the snappis thing because I like "easy" (yes, I know I just said I like a challenge.  A little bit of a challenge I guess) and I don't think I would want to deal with that.  I guess I like that they're regular diapers, but "cute".  Geeze, I'm pathetic...
Relaxing in his swim shirt and his orange diaper.   :)
Seriously, I have a problem...

Wednesday, May 29


Life is still so busy... time is rare.

  • We're still in the process of keeping the house "show-ready".  I am so over it.  I will never move again after this time.
  • I've been applying to new jobs "down South" (Southeastern MA).  Deadlines aren't for awhile so I won't know anything for awhile, but I just want to have a job already so we can have some direction in our lives.
  • The girls turned 2 on Saturday!  They're so big I can't stand it.  They had a blast opening gifts.
  • Colby, Syd, and Zoe got sick starting Saturday night.  Slight fevers always keep us on edge with Colby's history of febrile seizures and the {slightly} elevated tendency for siblings.  Luckily, we were seizure free and they're all fine now.
  • Now I can't even figure out why we're so busy when I have nothing of substance to update on.

Saturday, May 11


  • The Boston MoD walk was today.  We've decided to pretend that 2013 didn't happen.  We'll do better next year.  :)  In the past 3 years (2010-2012) we raised almost $30,000 as a team- so about $10,000 a year.  This year?  $2,000.  We've had a lot on our plates... new baby and house stuff.  So we dropped the ball, big time.  Every year we make shirts-- not so much this year.  We usually do a "big" event.  Not this year.  This year the only people at the Boston walk with us were my family.  At the Lowell walk it was my family + one of our friends + two of Johnny's cousins + one college friend.  Not our 40+ turn out of years past.  Again, we'll get better.  Oh, and we didn't even really walk today because of parking drama + hungry kids + rain.  Next year will be different.

  • But I should mention, we may have only raised $2,000 but we are SO grateful for that money.  And we KNOW that it will go to a good place to give babies a healthy start.  $2,000 is better than nothing.

  • SYDNEY.  I know I've mentioned it before, but that girl is TROUBLE.  She can be so sweet but she can be mean too.  And I mean mean because she knows what she's doing.  I can ask her "Is it nice to bite?"  and she'll answer no.  And then I can ask her about pinching and hitting and scratching and so on.  I can also throw in "Is it nice to hug?" and she'll answer yes.  So I know she gets it, but then a minute later the teeth or the nails come out.  Colby has a huge bruise on his back and Zoe has a few on her body.  

  • I am burnt out.  Between everything {life} I'm just tired.  Hunter sleeps well from about 10-1 or 2, but then he's up pretty much every hour ish, which I can handle because he's easy, but add in everything else of life (you know, dishes and laundry and cleaning up and putting kids to bed and baths and on and on) and it just never ends.  I don't expect anything to change here, but just saying.

  • But the girls are finally off the bottle.  They have been for almost a month.  For a month or so my routine was "put the girls to bed, come down, feed Hunter, get him settled, then wash a sink of bottles, do laundry, etc." and it got to the point one night I looked at the sink of bottles and I was just done.  So I washed them, packed away the drying rack and all the bottles and just called it quits.  The next day the bottles were "broken" and we had a rough day but it was over before I knew it.  And they're fine... though it does make me a little sad sometimes because Zoe loved her bottle so much and now she's so big.

  • The day after the bottles broke Zoe decided to break free of her crib for good.  She's been climbing out for awhile, but she was just done.  I put her in, she was out.  End of story, so she spent a day on a mattress on the floor and after a particularly rough night with her on the floor but then jumping in Syd's crib we got 2 toddler beds (amazingly cheaper than buying the conversion rails).  We had an awful couple of naps and nights, but now they are amazing.  It takes a little to get them down for bed, but once they're out, they're OUT.  No more waking up crying and all that crazy jazz we had.  Naps are a snap too.  So my girls are officially BIG.  And two in two weeks.

  • Hunter is growing like a week and on all the WHO charts for growth.  It's amazing.  He's officially 1/2 Syd's size and just under 1/2 Zoe's size (they're about a pound apart).   He's just chunky and chubby in all the right baby places.  It's just so odd when I compare him to the other kiddos.  Colby was 9lbs at 3.5 months after TONS of extra calories to plump him up.  (Though a 2lb 3oz vs 4lb 14oz birthweight makes the comparison pretty unfair)  The girls are just slow to gain weight even though they eat like horses.  It's so odd to have a baby that fits into the clothing that matches his age.  We just bought him 3-6 month clothes for the summer and his 0-3 are right on target for him right now.  What did I buy the girls?  12-18 month clothing and even that is loose!