Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Egg retrieval #2

We have been talking about doing another egg retrieval for years now. It is finally going to happen! It has been a really long process- which was complicated by the fact that I take tamoxifen. I didn't realize I would have to be off of it for so long before the retrieval. They suggested 1-2 months and it has been almost 2 months. We are doing this egg retrieval now so I can start another medication called lupron in the fall. I took lupron during chemo to try to suppress my ovaries. My oncologist wants me to take it now to put me into menopause. I will probably end up having a total hysterectomy in the future.

This whole egg retrieval/surrogacy process has felt like 1 step forward and 2 steps back. Everything is so complicated. I really wish we could just try to get pregnant and see what happens. Adding in another person not only makes everything more complicated but more expensive and more testing and blood work. And a lot more time.


Last week my medications arrived so now I really feel like its going to happen! I'm SO nervous but excited. This time we are going to make embryos and we are having them tested for genetic abnormalities so we have the best chance of having a baby. But with that comes the possibility that none of our eggs (if we get any) will be viable embryos. That is so scary. First we have to get good eggs (we have one frozen all ready), then they have to become embryos- well zygotes I guess, then they have to make it to 5 days, and then they have to all be genetically healthy. That is a lot of if's. I've seen women who get like 40 eggs, 20 are good, 10 make embryos and 1 is genetically viable. But I've seen the flip side of that too. We just have to hope that whatever they get is good quality. It is all out of our hands at this point. 

Hopefully starting next week I will start injections. I mean hopefully so we can get started- not because I love having my husband inject me with medication once or twice a day. And I'm nervous because Mackenzie isn't a baby anymore. Last time we did this she was 2 so she had NO clue what was going on. I'm worried that she will see the medicine or ask what it is for. I guess I should come up with something to tell her before it starts.

We are going to tell Mackenzie everything if we ever get a surrogate pregnant. And probably if we never do. I don't want her to be confused about why we still were talking about it if we knew it was never going to happen. This must be so confusing for her. I wish that I was busy yelling at my 7 year old and 4 year old to stop fighting all the time but instead of getting pregnant in 2012 I got cancer so here we are.

I will blog again when we find out the results of our embryos. But until then I wanted to point out that on the top right is my new Instagram account for this blog. I will be posting mostly breast cancer/surrogacy/egg retrieval stuff on there if you'd like to follow! 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Advocacy Day

Yesterday George and I went to Capitol Hill to participate in Resolve's Advocacy Day. I debated about attending for weeks- maybe months. But then the House of Representatives passed that awful healthcare bill and I decided that I would do anything I could to help. 

I felt a little weird about going. I still don't really consider myself infertile. I had cancer and I can no longer even try to get pregnant. But I probably am infertile from chemo. I just don't know for sure. But these issues are important for every woman. Every person in this country knows someone who is infertile. You might not know you know someone- but you definitely do. 1 in 8 couples is affected by infertility. Not just women- men too. And no one talks about it. Because we think we aren't supposed to. But it is SO helpful to so many couples if you share your story. It is the worst feeling to think that you are alone. 

We didn't really know what we were in for with Advocacy Day since it was our first time attending. When we got to the hotel for some training they had breakfast for us and we got started with all the information we needed to know. I knew a little bit- they have SO much information on their website including a training that they recorded that I watched earlier this week. 

We were there to talk about 3 main issues- IVF for Vets, Adoption Tax Credit Refundability and personhood bills. 

IVF for Vets was passed last year but only for 2 years. It expires in 2018. Active duty military have access to IVF through their healthcare which is great. But vets who are wounded causing problems with their reproductive systems (both men and women) did not have coverage. Can you imagine fighting for our country, getting wounded and then having no coverage when you wanted to start a family. The bill that is on the table in the House and Senate would make the IVF for Vets permanent. 

The Adoption Tax Credit Refundability would change the current tax law so that even if you don't owe taxes you would still get the tax credit back. Right now you can get up to $13,000 back as a credit but only if you owe. This is especially unhelpful to most families who adopt as they are usually middle to low income households who might not owe taxes. There are 4,700 children in foster care in Virginia. It would save our state $67,000 to $127,000 for each child that is adopted out of the foster care system. Not only would this bill be helpful to families but it makes sense for states too. 

The last part was personhood bills. Currently there are a couple in the House and the Senate. We are opposed to personhood bills. Personhood bills give rights to basically a zygote. HR 586 seeks to define that "the life of each human being begins with fertilization" and a "one-celled embryo" is "a new unique human being"This would be detrimental to couples who have to use IVF to have a child. This bill would make a law that says a women has to have ALL embryos transferred to her- there's no freezing or discarding them. Some women have 10 or more embryos. How can this be safe for her or the embryos they say they are trying to protect? While I understand part of the intent of these laws are anti-abortion they are far from being pro-family. They are certainly not pro-life and they are not pro-woman. Similar bills that have passed at the state level were used to prosecute women for having abortions. These bills would guarantee that we would not be able to have any more biological children. That is not very "pro-life" or "pro-family" to me. 

We got our schedule for the day


We listened to many speakers including Barbara Collura- President/CEO of Resolve


And Representative Timothy Walz from MN


After we listened to speakers we met with our state delegations. Virginia has a very large group and met with each other and we talked about who was going to say what in each meeting. We got to see who would be coming to our Representative meetings from the larger groups. Then because we had a 10:30 meeting we left the training a little early to walk over to the Capitol. 

So I knew the Capitol was large but WOW! I forgot about all of the other buildings attached. Thank God for the underground tunnels as it was around 90 yesterday! 

First stop was the Russell Senate Office Building to see Tim Kaine. 


The Russell Building is GORGEOUS! Exactly what you think when you think of the Capitol. We had some time before our first meeting so we waited and took in the architecture. 


This is where the media films members of Congress for their shows. We saw a couple giving interviews- although I didn't know who they were. 


Still waiting! 


George and I in front of Tim Kaine's office. 



This is our whole Virginia delegation! So big that we barely fit into Tim Kaine's conference room. Unfortunately we did not get to meet with the Senator but we met with his staffer. She was so knowledgeable and listened to our message. 


Next up was Mark Warner. We used the underground tunnels to get to the Hart Senate Building. I just want to say that umm it was A LOT different that the Russell Building. It looked like an old hotel. It was so interesting to see how different those 2 buildings are! Fun fact- I actually have met Mark Warner before when I was in SGA for 1 year in college. We took a trip to Richmond and we all got to meet him and take pictures with him when he was Governor of Virginia.


There was so many of us we couldn't even fit in Mark Warner's office so we met in the hallway. We were told in our training that we might have to meet in the hallways with some Senators or Representatives and that we would probably only meet with their staff. Obviously the men and women in congress are very busy! But their staffers are each focused on different issues such as veterans affairs, taxes, etc so it was helpful to meet with them. 


After our meeting with Mark Warner's staff we went to lunch. We didn't all stick together, some left the Capitol building and some of us ate in the cafeteria. It was nice to get to sit down and get a break from all of the walking and to get to know some of the advocates from our state a little better.

After lunch we went to the House of Representatives. Before our 2:00 pm meeting with Don Beyer we passed out letters to other Representatives who didn't have constituents there on Advocacy Day. We stopped at 2 offices but neither had staff available to meet with us so we left our information and letters for them.

One thing I was really looking forward to was riding the tram! Because I thought it took you all the way to all of the buildings- I thought it would have different stops. It doesn't. But it was nice to cut out some of the walking and it was still fun to ride!




After we dropped off the constituents letters we went to Don Beyer's office who is our Representative in the House. I was excited because I heard that we were actually going to meet with him (and we did!). It was funny because there was just 4 of us there really early for our meeting so we waited in the hallway when we saw Don Beyer walking towards us. He said hello to us and we told him we would be in soon! 


This is our group for Don Beyer. Obviously geography helps for our group to be so big but I think its important for our Congressmen and women to see the people who are facing the issues they are representing us on. We all crowded into his office- his staff was so accommodating of us. He saw on his desk and listened to all of our issues. It was nice to talk to him personally. I wish I could have asked him more questions but we stuck to the issues! 


George and I with our Rep. Don Beyer. He is such a kind man. It was helpful to talk to 3 democrats about the issues we wanted to discuss because they all were very supportive. 


After our meetings there was a reception with some snacks and drinks. We filled out our form about the day and then I pretended like I was in a House of Representatives committee. I think I fit right in! 


We cut out of the reception a little early to make our way back to Arlington- but not before a selfie with the Capitol. 


Gorgeous inside and out!


I don't know how accurate this is because its from George's iPhone but I think it was pretty close. If you are going to a day at the Capitol be prepared for a lot of stairs and steps! 


One think we were totally unprepared for was the dogs we say in the House! We were walking down one hallway, I looked down an adjacent hall and saw a girl throwing a ball to her dog. Like the size of Bailey! And then after our Don Beyer meeting we saw a man walking down the hall with his black lab puppy. I took a picture of him but sadly he was too wiggly and it didn't come out. His owner said that if the Rep you work for allows it then its okay- usually during recesses. The staffers do a lot of hard work for most of the year so I think its so cool they get to bring their dogs in when they have a little break! 

Overall I think Advocacy Day was a huge success. I am really glad we went. I hate that it takes something personally affecting you or someone close to you before you really start paying attention but we are here now and ready to continue fighting for this. I think people either forget or don't know that infertility is a medically diagnosed disease. It makes no sense that most insurances do not cover it.

I want to end this by saying a HUGE thank you to my husband George. He didn't really know what he was signing up for (oops!) but I told him it was important to me, and us, and he took the day off and went with me. I've heard awful stories of husbands and wives who don't make it through cancer diagnosis or infertility. Not only has he always shown unwavering support of me and our family but he does it without complaint or asking "why me/us". He has been my rock, my cheerleader, my shoulder to cry on for the last 11 years. We never ever thought we would have to go anything like this, let alone so young and so early in our marriage but I think we have been even stronger together. There are times when I don't think I can go through this surrogacy stuff anymore but he continues to help me search for the light at the end of the tunnel. I could not have ever found a better partner for me through all of this or life in general. Again, thank you so much George- I love you forever and ever. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

No hair day

It's funny to look back on my cancer journey and see how some dates stick out more than others. 

This year I got really emotional on July 11th- the day the lump was found. More so than on July 23rd- diagnosis day. And even some years July 10th is the hardest day- the day before my physical when they found the lump. I remember sitting on the couch crying on July 11th this year, remembering what that day felt like 4 years before and looking at George and wondering aloud if these days would always be like this. If these dates would stop my in my tracks for the rest of my life. 

One date that caught me off guard this year was November 28. I remembered on the 27th that the 28th is when my hair really started falling out. I remember sobbing hysterically that morning four years ago. The chemo was working. And I was losing all of my hair. I remember in the next coming days how I would barely touch or brush my hair. Willing it to stay in. At least until December 1st when I would have it all shaved off. 

The thought of losing my hair was so emotional for me. I would tear up at just the thought of losing it. I think it was 2 things. I LOVE being a red head. It always made me feel special and different. It's how I identified myself. I was afraid that it would fall out and it would grow back a different color and I would lose my identity. Which obviously is ridiculous. I realized that after my breakdown on Novemeber 28th. The 2nd thing about losing my hair was that I would look sick. I'm not one to look for sympathy or someone who likes a lot of attention. What's more obvious than a 29 year old bald woman? Even though I was so open about having cancer I liked it when I looked well. If I looked well than people would think I was well and they wouldn't treat me different. 

Looking back, being bald wasn't terrible. I never want to be bald again but the experience wasn't so bad. Maybe I just feel that way because my straight, red hair grew back almost exactly the same as it was before. But it was also a comfort blanket. It showed me that chemo was working. But growing out your hair after being bald is a completely different story! 



December 1st


Sometimes when I think of these dates- cancerversaries as I like to call them- I think of myself as "her". Someone else this happened to. Sometimes I think- she was so brave to make that decision or fight through chemo or go and get radiation everyday. How hard it must have been for her to get up on July 24th and walk into work knowing everyone knew.

I miss her. I miss the July 10, 2012 Kyle. The one who doesn't know about expanders, TAC, ports and tons of lidocaine cream. When I think back to all those dates, I'm most sad mourning her. Who she thought she was and what she thought she'd become. 

I know she's still here. A better, braver, more confident Kyle. We beat this. And we are learning to be a survivor together. Slowly, year by year, each cancerversary takes up less and less of my day. I think an important part of any journey is remembering how far you've come. And my hair is just one representation of that. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Four

Yesterday marked 4 years since I was diagnosed with cancer. I say this a lot but it feels like yesterday and a million years ago at the same time. July is a hard month for me. I spend a lot of time reflecting back to that coresponding day in 2012 and remember what I was doing and what that felt like. Surprisingly July 10th is a really hard day for me. That's the day I wish I could go back to. The day before the lump. Before cancer ever entered my world.

I know now that I am a million times stronger than I ever thought I was on July 10, 2012. And I know a lot more about myself, life and friendship then I did that day too. And although sometimes I get upset when I think people have forgotten all I've gone through I know for sure that my family is loved and will be cared for. 

I had a physical Friday. I realized last week that maybe having a physical in the office where my cancer was found the day before my cancerversary wasn't such a great idea. Last time I had a physical 4 years ago I walked out of that office with tears in my eyes- terrified of what this lump might be and hoping that my worst fears weren't coming true. Friday I walked out of that office with tears in my eyes- this time of pure joy. I'm healthy. Besides needing a little vitamin D, I am healthy. 

When you go through the worst time in your life it is amazing how everyone comes together around you. People you barely know, people who are your best friends, your family. Friends made us dinners, friends watched our pets, friends took us to lunch to get a break and most importantly to me, friends helped us keep Mackenzie's life as normal as possible. We can never thank you all enough. 

I'm so glad I wrote down everything I went through because I often find myself thinking "my mastectomy wasn't that bad" or "chemo wasn't that bad" and I will go back and read about it and be surprised at how much I've forgotten. I'll also remember how bad radiation was- it was the worst! 

I feel a little guilty for not having my fundraiser this year. I just needed a mental break I think. Looking for a surrogate takes up a lot of space in my brain. In a way I can thank cancer for teaching me that sometimes there's too much on your plate and it's okay to leave something off. I really do enjoy my fundraiser though so I am hoping that I can bring it back next year! Although I, of course, wish I never had cancer, the pink sisters I've gained from my association with The III B's Foundation and Good Wishes Scarves have been amazing. 

George and I decided since we weren't doing the fundraiser this year maybe we should get away for the night. Unfortunately when your cancerversary is in the summer every place books up fast or is SUPER expensive! And as much as I love the beach, thinking about all the traffic took that quickly off the list. We are so grateful to the Gan family for letting us use their country getaway for the night. I love city life but sometimes it is nice to break away from that and sit outside in the country and look at all the stars in silence. 

We spent the day getting massages, eating and gambling- a few of my favorite things (we were so glad my BFFL Min could join us for some gambling and dinner!). A lot of times things like a health crisis can strain relationships but I feel all of this has brought George and I closer. It was so hard for him to watch me go through all of this but he never showed me- he never left my side. I'm so grateful for him. 

Thank you for following along the last 4 years and standing by us as we have navigated this new life. We are so lucky to have so many friends and family around us! 










Thursday, June 9, 2016

Dear Mackenzie

7 years ago on June 18th I took a pregnancy test and waited for 2 eternity filled minutes for the results. We wanted you so bad. When I finally flipped the test over it said PREGNANT and I cried tears of joy! I didn't tell your dad right away because it was the Thursday before Father's Day and I wanted to get him something Father's Day related to surprise him. He was so surprised when I told him later that night and we were so happy!

You were such a dream while I was pregnant. You just rolled around in there and usually slept while I slept. I was never sick. It was the most magical time of my life. Your dad only got to feel you kicking once. You were born 7 weeks early so we got to spend an extra 7 weeks getting to know you on the outside.

You are the same dream child that you were when I was pregnant with you. You sleep SOOOO WELL! I loved being on maternity leave with you because you were so easy. I love every second of the 4 months I was off (except when you were at the hospital!).

When I think of the fact that I will never get to be pregnant again it makes me so sad because from the second I saw the words pregnant I loved you so much. I'm afraid we, as a family of 3, won't ever get to experience that. When your dad and I were talking about having another child, I couldn't wait to share those moments of me being pregnant with you.

What hurts the most is that I don't want to disappoint you. When you're a mom you feel like you have to constantly try to make everyone happy. There are so many different opinions and advice that you have to muddle through. But the only thing I care about is you.

YOU ARE EVERYTHING. 

You are empathetic.
You are kind.
You are smart.
You are brave. 
You are the most beautiful girl in the world. 
You love children and are so good with them.
You love to tell us you love us and you give us lots of hugs and kisses

You are everything.

I don't think I would have made it through all of this if it wasn't for you. You have silently given me the strength to continue my fight. You didn't even know something was wrong. Well we didn't tell you anything about cancer 4 years ago. I know you knew. We told you I had to take special medicine. But you give me the powers I need to keep fighting. 

Next week is your last week of kindergarten. I cannot believe you are all ready old enough to be a first grader. This year has been amazing for so many reasons. But mainly it was incredible to watch you go from a little girl to a person. You can read, add, subtract, you know science and history. It has been awesome to watch. It's also been great because we had a lot of time to kill after school before bedtime and I truly enjoyed those extra couple of hours with you. I think this year we have grown a lot closer.

You have made all my dreams come true just because you are here. You have taught me so much about myself, the world and what living life really is all about. I love who you have made me and I cannot wait to see what this world brings you!

I love you all the way to the Milky Way and back. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Denied

We have been talking with a potential surrogate for the last 3 weeks or so. I found her on one of my Facebook match board we had both recently joined. She was a great match for us and I have talked to her almost everyday since we "met". It's been cautiously exciting. We have only told 2 people about her- my mom and my sister-in-law Claire because I thought maybe this time if I didn't tell anyone it would work out.

We went through the beginning chats about our beliefs and I sent her my blog and we agreed to everything. It was all very easy. At first I was a little nervous because everything with the scammer that tried to match with us a couple of months ago was easy too- well more like she was just 100% agreeable but after talking with this potential surrogate everyday I realized shes just a really nice person. We finally decided that it was time to see if she would be cleared by my doctor and move along. 

She lives in a different state which I was concerned about at first but it is within driving distance (8 hours) so I felt better about that. Plus my doctors office said she would only have to come up here twice which I felt a lot better about because that saves a lot of money!

Yesterday she had a phone appointment with my fertility doctors office and that seemed to go well. They said they had to review the paperwork and they would get back to us. But they also scheduled her a phone appointment with my doctor so we were both excited about that.

I do have to say that although we try really hard not to be, its hard for George and I to not get excited. To think about when the transfer would be and then what the due date would be, when we would be able to tell Mackenzie, and all of the stuff that goes along with a pregnancy. It has been fun imagining all the scenarios and thinking of fun things like a transfer present and birth present for our potential surrogate.

Tonight my doctor called personally to tell me that he was medically denying her. It's not because of anything she did- in fact it was very much out of her control but she was denied nonetheless.

I was sitting on the basement stairs while I talked to my doctor and Mackenzie was watching tv in the living room. I was totally calm while talking to my doctor and actually really, really appreciated that he called personally to explain everything to me. When I got off the phone I just sat silently on the steps and cried, being very careful not to be heard. I couldn't imagine what I could have told Mackenzie in that moment.

I'm at a point now of anger and disappointment that I'm not sure how to get out of. Part of me just wants to give up. Actually most of me wants to give up- we have no more options and I'm tired of this roller coaster. I really wish we knew someone who lived near us who was willing to be our surrogate but after a year of asking it is becoming clear that we will have to use a stranger. And then go through all of this again- hope they aren't a crazy person just in it for money, hope they don't want a ton of money, hope they have insurance that covers their surrogate pregnancy, hope that my doctor clears them, hope we all get psychologically cleared, hope that we agree to a contract, hope that the transfer takes and then hope a healthy baby is born.

I'm ready to take a break I think. Although I hate to say that because I feel like it means we aren't going to keep looking. I just can't keep actively looking all the time. It is stressful to watch for how many likes, views or shares my surrogacy posts get. I think about the quote below often and I keep putting our need for a surrogate out into the universe and talk about it with people even though it might make us both uncomfortable but if I don't tell everyone about it how can we expect to find a surrogate?


I've said this before but it bears repeating- this is the worst thing we have ever been through. And I'm not trying to be dramatic about it. It is 100% worse then going through cancer treatments. At least then I had an end in sight. This is going on forever. In about 3 weeks it will be an entire year of looking for a surrogate and I just never imagined we wouldn't have a baby on the way by now. I wish we were stressing about finding space for baby things and paying for daycare but we aren't. I would love to be sleep deprived, listening to arguing children and changing diapers but we aren't.

Please continue to keep us in your thoughts as we struggle through this incredibly difficult time in our lives. The ironic part of it all is that George and I feel like we are actually better than ever in our relationship because of all of this which is great. I can't imagine going through all of this with anyone else by my side.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Still

I debated even writing a blog because nothing's new. My incision is still open, we still don't have a surrogate. Everything is still.

Honestly we are very discouraged. We were spoiled by getting 2 volunteers back to back. And now it's been 6 months since a serious candidate has come along. We have debated recently about giving ourselves a deadline to end our search and just move on. It is emotionally all consuming 24/7. We had someone for example from my online surrogacy group message me (that's exciting) but they've given birth 5 times (that's disappointing) and it never seems to stop. Last month was probably the hardest month so far for me personally and I'm just not sure how much more I can take. 

Ultimately I'm not sure if we could come up with a deadline. I'm afraid to give up and I'm afraid sometimes to keep going. I'm afraid to stop talking about it and begging for help. I used to fall asleep every night thinking about this baby- what month he or she would be born, would we find out their sex, what would Mackenzies reaction be, ect. And now I don't. Sometimes I read a name we picked out and it stops me for a second and then I move on. It makes me sad but I know it's my brain protecting my heart. 



We talked about adoption again but I just don't think it's for us. And it probably sounds weird that we would choose at this point to not have a child rather then give a child a home but that's our choice and we don't have to rationalize it to anyone. 



Tomorrow marks 6 years since our 5 week old 5 pound baby has surgery for pyloric stenosis. I remember at the time being relieved when she went back for surgery because I knew it was going to finally make her better. And at the time I thought how hard that situation was on us- our preemie who shouldn't have even been born yet having surgery so little. Never in a million years could I imagine that just 2.5 short years later we would be going through something so much more dire. It's amazing how that experience with Mackenzie is the reason my cancer was found. If she was born on time I probably wouldn't have gone for th physical that led to finding the lump (read more of Mackenzies birth story here http://thelumpchronicles.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-picture-that-saved-my-life.html). And because my cancer was found we are now in this situation. 

So again requirements for our surrogate are: 
should be under 43
BMI under 35
no more than 2 c-sections
no more than 4 births. 

If you are someone or know someone who might want to be a surrogate send me a message.