Hello! I am Shauna, very happily married to my soulmate, Jarrod. Proud mom to 3 boys, and proud step mom to 3 girls, and a much bigger family beyond just that... as well as furry and feathery family members. By trade, I am currently a pizza delivery driver, and I also currently bathe dogs for a groomer... and considering starting a grooming career.
I am a big believer in free self-expression. I am heavily tattooed, and I enjoy being able to wear some of my favorite images on my skin to see every day. I have always been an artistic, hippie soul. I take lots of photos, draw, sculpt, and whatever else I can get my hands on.
I am a peace-lover. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good debate, and learning about other points of view. But when it is all said and done, I don’t hold grudges or resentments. I am good at letting go the things that upset or anger me. But I always learn from those lessons. I believe war and any type of discrimination is ridiculous, and as cliche as it may sound, I wish we could all just get along.
Anyway, to find out more about me, our family, and our life, read the blog my husband and I have created! Follow it if you like what you read, and feel free to share it with your friends. Thanks for reading!
Over the last many years I’ve personally participated in social media, for the vast majority of my experiences, I have been a pretty public person. I enjoyed the attention, and even strived for more followers/friends/connections. However, nowadays, it seems the more public I am with my life, whether it be good or bad experiences I’m sharing, I get negative feedback. Mostly from strangers. Sure, I get good feedback too, mostly from long-time friends… and I truly appreciate it. But the bad feedback I get hurts. And honestly, I have enough going on in my life that I don’t feel I have room for the any of the negativity.
There are extended family members and exes of both of ours that have nothing but negative to say about our life together, and us as individuals. I know a couple that follow us just to badmouth us. And ya know, people are all entitled to their opinions. But when they feel the need to share those opinions, or intentionally start rumors about us that are so obviously not true, just to hurt us in one way or another… well it’s incredibly unnecessary. If those people are so miserable in their own lives, I don’t see how it’s going to make them feel better to try to bring us down.
My point here is, I’m done playing the game. I’m done publicly fueling the fire. From now on, my posts will be private – shared only with those I know, and who I know care about us for more than their bitter amusement. I am choosing to surround myself with a positive circle of people, and no one else. Jarrod and I are pretty happy in our little family bubble, and anyone allowed into that at this point should consider themselves fortunate. My personal Facebook and Instagram will be private from now on, and my personal blog is being closed. Anything I post HERE from now on will be password protected, and the passwords will be given to those I choose.
Even to me this seems like a pretty drastic step to take, but I’ve been simmering in it for a while, trying to decide which path to take. And I think closing out the negativity, and the public, is the best way to go.
I truly don’t think people understand or trust in the commitment Jarrod and I share. Perhaps from an outsider’s point of view it could seem pretty early in our relationship to really know how permanent we will be. The kids all seem to think we will split, and almost expect it from what I’ve observed. Our other family members and friends (on both sides) seem to be waiting to have to pick up the pieces of another failed attempt at a relationship. Jarrod and I have both dated quite a bit in our pasts, with bad results, so in our loved ones’ eyes maybe they don’t trust our permanence together.
Speaking from my own personal experiences, I have been in a few long-term, crappy relationships that were very unstable and obviously ended. Ended badly, even. Rumors, destruction, hurt feelings… all the bad things that result from a breakup or divorce. However, I went on, believing I’d one day have to either stay alone or settle, not believing I’d find “the one” that clicked with me so very well.
As cliche as it may sound, I found my soulmate in Jarrod. As everyone knows, we met at work, we talked quite a lot during our shifts together, and became friends. I was in an abusive relationship, so it didn’t go any further until I ended that abusive relationship. And again, yes, we moved VERY quickly. Putting the impression out there to people that we were being foolish and rash, that our passion would fizzle out. But what no one knows is what went on (and continues to go on) behind closed doors. What no one knows is the deep, cosmic, almost unbelievable connection Jarrod and I share on every level of our existence.
You see, Jarrod and I have spent countless hours talking. We have talked about the connection we share, which neither of us believed was even something that could exist. We have talked about our pasts. We have talked about our experiences with family, friends, work, and EVERYTHING in between. We have talked about just about every topic there is to talk about, no matter how bad or embarrassing. We have spent nearly 24 hours together every day for the entire last 10 months, and we never shut up when we’re together. If we run into something we don’t agree on, we may take a few hours to collect our thoughts, but then we talk that out too. And the passion…. well it has not only stuck around, but it has gotten stronger. He and I both feel like we found the other half of ourselves, and as co-dependent as it may be, neither of us can imagine what life would be like without the other. We are each other’s best friend. We are a true match for one another. And personally, I cannot imagine being even a fraction as happy with anyone else by my side.
So when people are lingering, watching, waiting for the other shoe to drop, I have one of two attitudes at any given moment. Either I think its ironic and funny, and I know we will prove everyone wrong one day by staying together until we are old and feeble… and die. Or I get annoyed and almost hurt that people don’t understand the commitment we share. I don’t know how I could expect anyone to see it I suppose, after all, nearly no one really takes marriage or monogamy seriously anymore. But hear me and really believe me when I say: there is no way on this earth or any other that anything will tear apart what Jarrod and I have together. We are in this together forever. Divorce isn’t an option for either of us. Being with anyone else physically or emotionally isn’t an option for either of us. And even though neither of us are religious people, there is some deeper, spiritual reason for us to be together. We both felt it the moment of our first hug. We sort of melted into each other, and that feeling has only gotten more intense over time. Our “potential mate” radars have been shut off, because they are no longer needed. We found each other after what seems like an overly-extended waiting period, and we are making up for lost time. Our quickness to be together, to get married, to have babies together… it all comes from the fact that we believe we were meant to be together all along, and we just missed it somewhere along the way before last year. And now that we found each other at long last, it all fits together. He is my everything.
The point is, there is no need to wait and see anymore. There is no need to expect the worst. There is no worry of rocky roads ahead or divorce. Sure, we will disagree on things from time to time. But we are close enough, love and respect each other enough to know to just give each other time, and we always work through it. We are each other’s top priority. That will never change. Never. So rest easy dear loved ones, just as we do, that this is a permanent commitment. Our hearts and lives are so filled with love, we could not imagine or desire for anything different.
I may have tested negative on Wednesday, May 30th when I needed to start those heavy meds for my infection….. but on Sunday, June 3rd, when my period was due, I tested positive! WE’RE PREGNANT!!
The morning that I tested, I didn’t really have any reason to do so. I just woke up, thought it was weird that my boobs were more sore than normal, noticed I wasn’t bleeding yet, and figured why not, since we had purchased a 3-pack of tests. So I went into the bathroom and tested. The positive line came up as quickly as the test line and immediately I was a little freaked out. Not because I was pregnant – that was EXCITING!!! But because I had started those antibiotics that I was not supposed to take during pregnancy. Jarrod had already gone to work that morning, so I texted him and told him to come to get me a little early so we could chat first. He showed up about half an hour later (but it seemed like I waited for HOURS). I told him some other random stuff that had been going on around the house, and then handed him the pregnancy test from my pocket. He was so happy, but also a little hesitant to be happy because of my infection issues and medications. He couldn’t stop looking at the test in awe as we continued to discuss everything on our minds.
It was entirely unexpected, unpredicted, and highly unlikely to happen so soon. I mean really, I ovulated only FIVE days after Jarrod’s vasectomy reversal. And to quote Jarrod, “The recommended healing time before attempting “relations” was two weeks, and I don’t mind telling you that we have stuck unyieldingly to that medical advice, being the responsible adults that we are and whatnot.” So I don’t know how that could have possibly happened. Hahaha!
Like the doctor said, those sperm must’ve been waiting at the gates like racehorses, just waiting for the reversal to be done. And BAM, pregnant! But we’ve waited to tell anyone because first of all, the test was positive on the actual day of my period being due. Which would have made me only 1 day short of being 4 weeks along. That is very early to know for certain there will be a future for this tiny life. Also, with my tubal reversal, there is a higher chance of ectopic pregnancy, and we wanted to wait until we had all our early testing and viability ultrasound done before we even told our kids and the rest of our family, let alone going public with it all.
Well, today I am officially 6 weeks along, and we got our ultrasound to make sure baby is where he/she is supposed to be, and all is well! And with that information we were able to tell the kids and other family members…. and now share it with the world! We are so excited that this happened, especially so quickly! Baby is due February 11, 2019. There will be plenty of updates along the way! So stay tuned…
I went to the Infectious Disease specialist, Dr. Kumar, and he noticed right away how knowledgeable I was, and how much research I had done on my own. In a way, I think that helped him communicate with me. He was showing me scholarly articles that I had already read on my own to better explain my situation. Jarrod and I both agreed it would have been a bit more encouraging if he had just been able to tell us the information rather than site articles, though.
Between Dr. Kumar, Dr. Coster, and another doctor, we worked up a plan to get rid of the infection the safest, hopefully fastest way. But it won’t be pretty: After showing improvement with the 2 antibiotics, it was decided to bring it down to one for safety, removing the Cipro. I continue to see gradual improvement with just the one, and it has been a week since it was changed. Next Thursday (a week from today), Dr. Coster will surgically open and debride the infection, removing all fluids and infected tissue, and then leaving the wound open to heal from the inside out. This is to eliminate the environment where the bacteria are thriving, and make the single antibiotic as effective as possible. (Don’t worry, I won’t post photos.) Once the open wound has healed entirely, and the infection is 100% healed as well, Dr. Coster will then surgically remove the scar tissue and make my breast cosmetically correct again.
My estimated treatment will be approximately 6 months long. I’m hoping though, with the slight improvement I’ve already gotten, that I won’t have to be on meds that long. I hope it heals faster than that.
Another piece of this puzzle won’t be figured out for a few weeks yet either. We know I have the rare atypical mycobacteria infection, but we don’t know which strain or which medication it is most sensitive to. Those tests take about 6 weeks to get results back. Once those results are back, perhaps I can be on the one antibiotic that will knock this out the fastest… still hoping for a quicker recovery.
But I know these things take time. I’m trying to keep myself out of the intensive research and anxiety, keep my eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel and the wonderful man supporting me, and remember this too shall pass. I have a great team I’m working with, and this will get better.
As most everyone knows by now, I had a breast reduction on September 1, 2017. It was a pretty drastic reduction, but was deemed medically necessary because of the pain it was causing my back, shoulders, neck, skin, etc. I was excited to get it done! The surgeon, Dr. Coster, assured me he wouldn’t go too small, since I felt it was a part of my identity. However, immediately after the surgery I was extremely unhappy with the results. The pain from having large breasts was gone right away, but I felt he went WAY too small. He again assured me that with healing, they would settle and be exactly what I wanted. I had no choice but to take his word for it. As the settling of my breast tissue progressed, it felt lumpy and bumpy and sometimes painful. But overall, it wasn’t a terrible process. I must say though, still not too thrilled with how small he went, I would have been happy with about another cup size larger. But there’s really nothing to be done about that now but accept it and move on.
Fast forward to 6 months later, in March of this year. There was a painful lump about maybe the size of a large marble that was not going away in the top part of my right breast. I made an appointment and talked to Dr. Coster about it, and he told me it was still settling breast tissue, and not to worry too much about it. But it didn’t go away. And it continued to be painful.
In April I had an unrelated illness, a tonsil infection, for which I was given 3 weeks of antibiotics and steroids for the inflammation. To my surprise, the lump in my breast went away as the tonsil infection went away. I really didn’t think much of it until the steroids and antibiotics were done. About a week later, the lump in my breast came back. I made an appointment, and in the 4-5 days it took until that appointment date, the lump quadrupled in size and became much more painful.
Still, when I saw the Dr. Coster toward the beginning of May, he told me it was just settling breast tissue, and I explained what happened with the course of treatment I had for my tonsil and stressed the pain and concern I had. So he gave me some stronger antibiotics. They did no good, so after a week I was prescribed the same antibiotics I had been on for my tonsil. So another week later, the antibiotics had not worked, and he did an ultrasound. He found a pocket of fluid, and aspirated some of it with a needle (NO fun at all, I say!!). He sent me home with more of the same antibiotic and low-dose steroids. It started to do a little better with the steroids, but as the dose decreased, the swelling increased again. No relief.
1 day before my next appointment I got a call from the nurse saying the fluid they aspirated had been sent to the lab and cultured. The nurse said the result was a super-rare bacteria in the same family as Tuberculosis. She said to keep my appointment and the surgeon would explain in more detail and discuss treatments during that appointment. So yeah, if you know me, you know I want as much information as possible for whatever new thing happens to me or a loved one, medically. Science and medicine fascinate me. So I scoured the internet for information about TB-type infections of adipose tissue (fat tissue). I found a large number of options of what the infection could be, looked up case studies, and went to bed that night knowing this would be a very long process.
The next day at my appointment, Dr. Coster told me this was a non-tuberculosis atypical mycobacterial infection. That is basically a long way of saying this is a very, very stubborn and medicine-resistant infection that will take anywhere from 3 to 12 months or more to heal with the proper antibiotics and the potential for surgery to remove infected tissue. Seems it has a slightly rising occurrence in post-surgical patients, but usually with breast augmentation rather than reduction. No known cause other than just environmental exposure. He had only ever seen one other case in his entire career, and he’s a pretty experienced surgeon. He also said NO PREGNANCIES because nothing about the treatment is pregnancy-safe. He gave me two antibiotics which have some pretty severe possible side effects – Ciprofloxacin and Clarithromycin, and this note.
This was on Wednesday, May 30th. Jarrod and I had been actively trying to get pregnant, so there was a very small chance that I could have conceived during the 2 weeks since his vasectomy reversal. I took an early-detection pregnancy test that day, being only a couple days from my expected period, and it was very clearly and plainly negative. So I started taking both medications immediately.
As of today, 6 days later, there has been no improvement. The lump is a little bigger, and now takes up about 1/3 of my entire breast. It is painful, and I can no longer go without wearing a bra to bed, which is miserable for me. My skin is discolored where the lump is, and without the medical knowledge of this possibility, I am concerned this infection will come through the skin.
I have an appointment with a specialist at the Center for Infectious Disease tomorrow (Wednesday), and hopefully he will have answers as to what medications will certainly work. Hopefully the lab culture results have come back to show what medications this bacteria is sensitive to, and we can hit it hard and kill it! At this point I am open to anything, even surgical, to get this gone as fast as possible. Neither Jarrod nor I want to wait an entire year or longer to get pregnant, considering our ages and the financial and emotional investments we’ve made in our reversal surgeries. But I know being healthy first should be my first priority. I just want this bacteria out of my body!!! It’s not welcome here, dammit!
It is also very important to mention here that Jarrod has been amazing through this all. In our 9 months together, he has been there for me through my tummy tuck and breast reduction, a couple nasty tonsil infections, of course my tubal reversal surgery, and now this. Seems I just can’t stay healthy these days. But he is absolutely amazing, supportive, helpful, and always listens to my rants and anxieties, and puts up with my ridiculous amount of intensive research that is admittedly entirely excessive. He’s the absolute best husband and best friend, and I don’t know what I would do without him by my side.
To be continued in “Part 2” once I have some more answers, and perhaps some progress in the right direction…..
Earlier this week I had my tubal reversal follow-up appointment with the doctor I chose to be my OBGYN here in our hometown, Dr. Johnson. He’s new to the clinic, and has quite a lot of experience in his field.
To back up a little bit, I did have a consultation with him before my tubal reversal. I wanted to get a check up with a doctor and discuss my overall health and age in regards to going through another pregnancy or more. He informed me at that time that a tubal reversal is not a simple surgery that I will have an easy time finding a doctor for (he didn’t know I was looking into Dr. Monteith yet), and that it wasn’t cheap. He recommended I look into in vitro instead. He also said that natural fertility decreases after age 35, and even more after 40… And that there is a risk with pregnancy after c-section (which I’ve had 2), no matter how long it had been. That the scar tissue can cause a problem with placenta attachment, and even embryo attachment. He wasn’t necessarily discouraging me from being pregnant, but he was laying out all the risks for me, which is exactly what I wanted. No nonsense. I told him I was already looking into a specialist to reverse my tubal, and he wished me good luck.
To Jarrod and I went to North Carolina, as I’ve already written about. We had a fantastic experience with Dr. Monteith at A Personal Choice, and he sent my surgical records and after-care instructions to Dr. Johnson.
Then, as I was saying, I had my follow-up with Dr. Johnson this week. He took all of Dr. Monteith’s instructions very seriously, which I’m very pleased with. Said everything was very thorough, and read to me exactly what I am to do when I get a positive pregnancy test. Which is: get in to see him as soon as possible, start getting regular blood draws to check my hormone levels, and when they are high enough have an ultrasound to check for proper implantation of the embryo. From then on, take care of myself and prepare for a baby!
Jarrod’s vasectomy reversal is scheduled for May 16th, so it won’t be long at all now! He will post about his experience when it’s all said and done. We’ve heard different things about how it will go afterwards. Some people say it could take months for his sperm count to climb up to impregnation levels. Some people say he has the chance at getting me pregnant right away. But Jarrod and I both agree – it will happen when it happens. We aren’t concerning ourselves with following a calendar or stressing out over any of it. We both believe we will conceive soon enough. If, after a year or so, nothing has happened yet, we will talk to the doctor about testing. At this point, I think we would deny any fertility treatments if it came to that. But that’s so far into the future right now… we figure we will cross that bridge if and when we come to it.
Jarrod and I got married very quickly. Within 10 days of making our relationship official, we had run off and eloped without telling many people until it was already done. In the days leading up to our marriage, the entire trip there and back, and the months since then, we have discussed the possibility a few times of having more children. The first couple times it came up, we knew we wanted to have a baby together, but we also knew our relationship was very new, and we needed to have some experiences and life together before we made any more life-changing, permanent decisions. Not to mention our 6 kids needed to live together and get to know each other as well. Lots of changes occurred all at once, and we all needed time to adjust to that new life as a family.
Earlier this year, the topic came up again, and Jarrod and I really got into the details of it all. We talked about how having a baby of our own would affect our relationship, our kids, our careers, and all other aspects of our lives. We discussed how we both yearned to have a baby together, in a stable and healthy relationship where we would share parenting responsibilities 50/50. We know we are a great team in the other aspects of our life together, and we decided we would be amazing parents together to a new baby. Not to mention the great help we would have from the six older siblings!
The problem with this plan: I got a tubal ligation when I had my youngest son Cory back in 2005 (a decision I regretted immediately). And Jarrod had a vasectomy a few years ago when he and his ex wife divorced. So, I started doing research to get those surgeries reversed. Within a few days of starting the research, I had applied at 3 tubal reversal clinics with my surgical report and medical history. I was denied by one place because of previous c-sections and scar tissue. I never heard back from one. And the place that accepted me was the one I wanted to go to anyway – lucky me!! For Jarrod’s reversal, there really was no acceptance process since vasectomies are typically all done about the same. We just chose a reputable place closer to us at an affordable price.
And that, my friends, is why we went to North Carolina this week! I think everyone was just under the impression we went on a small vacation. But really, it was for my tubal ligation reversal surgery. The rest of this post will be about the story of our trip, so read on to know how it all went!
Jarrod and I flew out to Raleigh, North Carolina to go to A Personal Choice‘s surgeon Dr. Charles Monteith. When we arrived in Raleigh, we checked into our studio suite at Hyatt House, which we got for a very reasonable discounted rate through A Personal Choice. The room was absolutely amazing. The bathroom had a very large walk-in shower, it had a very comfy king sized bed, and there was a living room area with a couch and TV, and a full kitchen complete with stove, microwave, fridge with freezer and dishwasher! The neighborhood was urban, but new and clean. There was plenty to do right within walking distance. Movies, restaurants, entertainment, and even a pharmacy for my post-op pain meds. To get to my appointments, there was a driving service set up through the clinic. I was able to get rides back and forth to my pre-op consultation on Tuesday, my actual surgical procedure on Wednesday, and my post-op check up on Thursday through their service. They were prompt and courteous, and made Jarrod and I both feel important.
On Tuesday, my pre-op consultation was pretty simple. I got all checked in with my ID and a few remaining papers to sign, as most of the paperwork had already been done from home with their guidance. Jarrod and I met with a couple nurses and Dr. Monteith himself, and we had the procedure explained to us. Then we went back to the hotel and found a few things to do to keep busy. We went out for supper, and went to a movie, and enjoyed the much warmer weather.
On Wednesday morning I checked in at 8:45 am for outpatient surgery, and was released around 12:30 pm. It was a very quick, easy process. All of the nurses, anesthesiologist, and doctor were very knowledgeable and proficient in the process. It was like clockwork. As I was being prepped for the operating room, I was given a pin to put in the patient map. Jarrod was given detailed instructions on how to take care of me postoperatively, and was even tested on it when I was in recovery. As I was getting dressed and preparing to be released, they let us see the clamps that had been on my Fallopian Tubes, but they wouldn’t let us keep them.
Once back to the hotel room, Jarrod and I ordered lunch through GrubHub and just layed in bed and watched TV most of the day. At on point we went and sat on the patio outside because I didn’t want to miss the delightful weather. At supper time we ordered in Italian food and Jarrod ran to the pharmacy and rented a couple of Redbox movies to keep us entertained. Unfortunately I couldn’t sleep that night more than just a few minutes here and there, though the pain really wasn’t too bad at all. It just felt like bad menstrual cramping.
On Thursday morning we got up, got our stuff all packed up and ready to go home, and took advantage of the Hyatt House’s complimentary hot breakfast buffet, which was delicious! Then we went to my post-op appointment where they changed my bandage and made sure I was set to travel back home. I was okay until we spent several hours in airports and airplanes… by the time we got home I was in a great deal of pain. I went to bed very early and slept over 10 hours. Jarrod woke me up a couple times overnight for pain meds. He really has been absolutely priceless. The best caretaker I could ever ask for!
Anyway, so we kept the whole process hush-hush because we didn’t tell the kids about it until today. Now all the kiddos know, with mixed reactions. So we decided to release a blog post about it for all our family, friends and followers. Jarrod will write a post about his reversal experience when his happens in May, so stay tuned for that.
We’re super excited that we’ve been able to start on this process, and are looking forward to what our future holds. Thanks for reading along!
It also needs mentioning here that flying out to Raleigh and back was my very first time ever in an airplane! I had never before experienced flying and I must say, I really enjoyed it!