I was only 36 years old when I was diagnosed with stage-2 breast cancer. I was not married and had never had any children. My amazing boyfriend, was that, just my boyfriend. By the time I was diagnosed, we had been together for almost 2.5 years. We were serious and had discussed getting married, but with him being so much younger (think cougar ha! ) than me and now I have cancer – well, that kind of changes things. What guy wants to hang around while his much older ol’ lady goes through cancer. With the possibility of losing her hair and who knows maybe grow a wart or something. There were just so many things going through his head and mine.
This was stressful, though, because I knew I had always wanted children, actually only one child. I never had an inkling for more, just wanted it to be the three of us. Anyway, I knew I wanted children but when I proposed the idea to my boyfriend about possibly saving his sperm, he got scared. I totally get it! Would if we did break up? And things did not work out afterwards and we have these sperm and eggs together? Would if – would if – would if!!
To save eggs, not to save eggs
I had about two weeks from when I went to my fertility doctor to when I was going to start chemotherapy. All this went on in two weeks – my boyfriend and I figuring out what to do and how to go about doing all this AND still try to be in a relationship. STRESS was the word of the day!! I was told there may be a chance that the process of retrieving my eggs would not work or have complications. What do I do? I want children, I want to be with my boyfriend, well, I wanted this to not be an issue.
So, I prayed. I prayed that whatever was in my plan that that is how it was just going to have to be. Put everything into Gods hands. Let it be. No eggs were saved before chemo. No eggs were retrieved before chemo. I went into chemo praying God will help me have a child one day.
Boyfriend to Husband
Fast forward to two years post cancer, wait, it was actually a year and a half. I finished chemo right at the end of September 2012 and my chemo oncologist told me that I should wait two years post chemo to try to get pregnant. On January 4, 2014 (like what I did there – we got married 1.4.14 🙂 ha!), I married my boyfriend! Yes, that boyfriend that had been with me through my initial diagnosis and chemo and life and the ups and the downs!! Oh and he also was the boyfriend that was with me when I was originally diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. So, to say this guy is a keeper is an understatement.
We got married (in Maui – will totally write about that one later – here I actually have pictures 🙂 ). When we got back my husband mentioned us trying to get pregnant. The reason for me, us, to push trying to get pregnant sooner than the allowed two years was, again, I am much older than my husband. He is actually 10.5 years younger than me and with my history, he was worried it may take us a long time to get pregnant. Again, I get it! And, by now I was 38 so I was pushing close to 40 and being at that age trying to get pregnant brings its own risks, not including having cancer.
When I went to my fertility doctor, he ordered a bunch of tests to see where we stand. He found out I have a blood clot disorder, which totally makes sense, since I developed a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) in my left calf during chemo. I have heard this is common with chemo, a fun little side effect, but now I have the potential for getting them again and again, oh and again.
A side note, I work for the hospital that treated me for my cancer. There were many familiar faces and I met some incredible new faces to help me along my journey. There was a fertility nurse that was just absolutely amazing. She went above and beyond to take care of me and that made all the difference in the world to go through this process. My husband got tested and, of course, he was clean as a whistle! I had no egg life, I think it was around .003% of life in one egg. Literally one egg.
The nurse that was so amazing, helped me get through all of the pills and shots I had to take. I was warned that I am a higher risk for a miscarriage, for nothing to work and, honestly, I was told to begin looking at donor eggs. Pretty much I was given an incredibly grim picture. After the drugs and pills, we did get some stimulation from two other eggs but literally I was trying to start a family with 3 weak, poor, sad eggs. HEY, I will take it – better than nothing right now and I did not even think I would ever get that lucky!!
The process begins
We were put on a schedule for when we could have sex, which, I know most women are when they want to get pregnant. But, we had to do this around shots and pills, oh and I was taking blood thinners and was back on my colitis medicine; so we really had to stick to a strict schedule. We were so strict, my best friend came to visit and I literally had to have her watch a movie so my husband and I could do the deed because we had only so much time and she just happened to visit on a scheduled day of baby making.
Well, let me tell you! With all of the junk I put in my system and all of the craziness those hormones did to me and me being a new wife, still working and just all of the changes WE GOT PREGNANT!!! The first round of fertility medicine worked!! We literally were about to start on round two when I got the news, well, I got the stick and saw some pink lines and then got the official from the doctor. YOU ARE PREGNANT!!!
My sweet baby implanted extremely close to my fallopian tube. It was close to being an ectopic pregnancy but was not in the actual tube just right outside of the tube. A very dangerous and scary place to be. My doctor said “…one of you may die, either the baby or you…this is that serious Mandy…” So, I prayed! My husband prayed. WE all prayed! I was not allowed to work out, run, or anything strenuous due to causing any harm to the baby.
I had to go each week to get ultrasounds and guess what? Each week, little man moved and he moved and he moved. Now my doctor was telling me “…Mandy, you are the reason science doesn’t work…” Your baby never should have moved but he did. It was a God thing. We were meant to have this baby. So, we had this baby!
The pregnancy itself sucked. I was sick the entire time. I mean projectile throw-up down the hallway of our house. Any place, any time I could I was throwing up. The entire 9 months. I was throwing up in the delivery room. Just craziness!
The funny – I say funny now but then I was a raging lunatic. Up until my pregnancy I was a vegetarian. I was one for 16 years up until my pregnancy. I did do occasional seafood but no meat ever. (Oh, I was having a boy – I prayed about that too! God knew not to give me a girl. This world does not need another one like me – TAKE MY WORD PEOPLE !! We can all take a sigh of relief on this one!! Trust me!) Back to meat – so little man only wanted meat!!! I ate more meat while I was pregnant than I did my entire life! Can’t make this up – I would leave work to eat meat!! Ha – ugh crazy!
I am what some may say is a “sailor!” I tend to use colorful adjectives when I talk. And I talk a lot! People were literally saying they could not wait to hear what all comes out of my mouth when I deliver. Some wanted to be flies on the wall!!!
Ha – well I did NOT use one word!! Actually, I barely spoke. Jaws was on TV and we watched that two times through – my labor was 4 hours and I just watched and pushed, watched and pushed, watched and pushed. My husband helped me and held my legs and assisted with the delivery and he still talks about that today how incredibly beautiful and scary and crazy it is to watch a baby come out. Blessed beyond words that he was able to experience that.
On April 10, 2015 Aleksandr Karaganov was born at 1:12 am at 8.1 lbs 21 inches.
This was the best Mother’s Day gift I could and will ever receive!!
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