Since Jarrod and I aren’t really writing together for the time being, I decided to get my very own blog up and running. You can follow me and read updates from my point of view over at HippieMom. Seeya there!
2018 started uneventfully – peacefully. The weather was very cold, Jarrod and I were both working regular schedules, our kids were just finishing up their winter break from school, and life was finally settling into a comfortable routine for our family. We had no idea what the year would hold for us, but Jarrod and I knew one thing: we were extremely happy to be together.
When our first tax time as a couple came along, we had some minor disagreements on how our tax refund would be used. He had his ideas, and I had mine. And since we had different ideas, it opened up new discussions about what we could do that would make us both happy. Compromise. And since it had been something we had brought up a couple times already, including on our way back from getting married in Colorado, we re-opened the discussion on having a baby together. Jarrod suggested that if this is something we would continue coming back to, we should just do it already and not waste any more time, considering our ages. We gave it some more thought and plenty more discussion, and decided rather than fantasize about it and regret missing our chance in a few years, we would go for it!
In March we took a small family vacation with all 6 kids to Pzazz, which is a family resort here in Iowa. The website promised a swimming area, arcade, good food, a spacious room for us all, and lots of fun overall. When we got there it seemed pretty cool, but as we stayed longer we realized it was aimed more toward a younger crowd. The biggest thing the kids got joy from was the arcade, but it was ridiculously expensive. And our hotel room opened into a giant ball pit, and our room a/c didn’t work. It was hot, stuffy, and very claustrophobic in my opinion. We ended up leaving early. Jarrod and I told ourselves we would plan something better next time we were able to do a family vacation.
During about that same time, I did some research as to which surgeons were the best for our reversal surgeries, and where they were located. I got medical records faxed, forms filled out, flights and hotels booked, and surgeries scheduled. In April, we flew to North Carolina to get my tubal ligation reversal by Dr. Monteith at A Personal Choice. In May, we drove to Oklahoma to get Jarrod’s vasectomy reversal by Dr. Wilson at The Reversal Clinic. Both experiences went very well!
Then the kicker – on May 30th, after complaining to my surgeon for a couple of months (breast reduction and tummy tuck Sept 1 2017) that I had a lump and pain in my right breast, he finally was able to give me a diagnosis. Mycobacterium Fortuitum. It would require months of multiple heavy antibiotics and surgeries to my breast to clean out affected tissue and bacteria. I was told I was not to get pregnant or the baby could be severely damaged by the treatment. He gave me a prescription for 2 heavy antibiotics and told me to start them once I got a negative pregnancy test for the month.
My period was due June 3rd, and Jarrod and I both believed it was incredibly unlikely that I would be pregnant already, considering we weren’t even totally healed from our surgeries yet. I took a pregnancy test on that day, May 30th. It was negative. So I started the less dangerous of the 2 antibiotics and waited the few days for the other one. On the morning of June 3rd I woke up, felt a little off… my breasts were more sort that normal and I still wasn’t bleeding. I didn’t really think much of it but figured since I already had a pregnancy test on hand, I’d take it just to get the treatment going. It was POSITIVE! I couldn’t believe my eyes. And just as fast as the excitement came, so did the dread. What was going to happen with my infection vs. my pregnancy?
So far, these are all things I’ve blogged about in this blog. And if you look back, so you can see so many more details than just a recap version. Let’s just say it was a very rough time for us. Our emotions were high and stress levels were even higher. Check out the 2 posts in June 2018 titled “Not The Boobies” part 1 and 2. I was extremely scared throughout the entire treatment… scared of hurting the baby, and I also felt like the infection would never go away. The follow up to those posts is: I had many different kinds of pills, and was on IV antibiotics for several weeks as well. I had 2 debriding surgeries. Treatment was stopped on November 6th and it seems as though the infection is gone. However, I’m still not 100% certain the infection is gone all the way because of the different little aches and pains from my breasts changing due to pregnancy. But so far, there have been no new lumps, no unusual pains or blotches of redness, no fevers, and my doctors and I do not feel too concerned.
Through all of the treatment of antibiotics and surgeries, I was referred to a NeoNatologist to make sure baby was growing properly and staying healthy. I started seeing her at 16 weeks along, and have seen her every 4-6 weeks since. She has done many ultrasounds including an echocardiogram and growth scans on the baby. She has also done the panorama blood test to check for things such as Down’s Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. Every test and scan has come back perfect! I am currently 34 weeks along and this pregnancy has been as good as can possibly can be. No gestational diabetes, no crazy weight gain, no high blood pressure. Other than the more severe aches and pains that come with a “geriatric” pregnancy, baby and I couldn’t be better. Jarrod and I are VERY happy and excited for baby to come sometime in the next 6 weeks.
During the year we also celebrated everyone’s birthdays, we saw several concerts, went on plenty of movie and dinner date nights, and overall enjoyed our first full year of marriage. Our family found a groove all together and it feels quite natural nowadays.
In July, Evan, my 14 year old son, went to stay in a psychiatric home for a while to get help with some of his anger issues. He remains there, but visits home on weekends and holidays. It has not gotten any easier over the last 6 months to drop him off when he leaves from a visit. But it really is helping him, and I look forward to him coming home likely within the next couple of months. I’m glad I made the decision to do that for him and his future.
In September, Andy, my 16 year old son, had jaw surgery. It had been planned for about 3 years and it was finally time to get it done. The surgeon broke his bottom jaw on both sides and extended it out so it would be more even with his top jaw. I was there for him the whole time, staying with him in the hospital, pureeing his food for weeks at home, and making sure he had his medications and as much comfort as I could provide. It was officially fully healed mid-December. It was about a 3 month recovery. I was nervous about him getting hit in the face by the dog or something, but his recovery went very well, quite smoothly. And he’s all healed!
This year, both Thanksgiving and Christmas were hosted in our home. This ends up falling on us because we have the biggest house, and the most room for guests. For Thanksgiving, my mom came over and cooked for us all. And for Christmas, Jarrod’s mom and brother came over and cooked for us all. Both holidays went very well.
Our Christmas this year was a huge success. Jarrod and I made the accomplishment this year of purchasing all the gifts for our kids with absolutely no help from anyone at all. It may seem small to some, but it was huge for us! All the kids were pleased with what they got, and no one walked away disappointed. The gathering we had went so very well, too, with both Jarrod’s family and my family all under one roof and everyone got along so well. It filled our hearts with love and gratitude that we were able to have all we had this year.
And now we go into 2019 knowing that no matter what the obstacle or blessing, we are strong and have faith that we will come through it together even stronger.
So much has happened over the summer, mostly related to my health. I had posted a few things about it back in June. So I’ll briefly recap and then start where I left off with a fairly brief explanation of what happened and how I got to where I am today. Followed by a few bits and pieces from the rest of the family.
In September of 2017 I had a breast reduction and tummy tuck. I healed very well from it, recovered and returned to normal activity fairly quickly. In March of 2018 I noticed a couple small lumps in my right breast. I made an appointment with the surgeon who did the reduction, and he believed at that time it was just unsettled breast tissue from the reduction. A month later, I had an unrelated infection of my tonsil. It was treated with strong antibiotics and steroids and went away just fine. And so did the small lumps in my breast. I thought it was just a cool coincidence and went about my life. But when the antibiotics and steroids were all out of my system, the lumps in my breast came back with a vengeance, and I ended up making another appointment with my surgeon. He prescribed me a few different antibiotics to try over the course of a month. The lumps continued to grow. Then in May, he aspirated some fluid from the area of swelling. When he got the results back he had me come back in to explain it was a serious bacterial infection in the family of tuberculosis, but in the soft tissue of my breast. He said it would take months of heavy antibiotic treatment to cure it, and told Jarrod and I to stop trying to get pregnant immediately. This was on May 30th. On June 3rd we got our positive pregnancy test. I was referred to an infectious disease specialist.
So all together, my OBGYN, surgeon, and infectious disease specialist (and home care nurses) have been collaborating to make sure I’ve had the best care for both me and baby for the last few months. I’ve had two debridement surgeries, and I’ve been on several IV antibiotics, switching every time I develop a reaction or allergy. I had a PICC line for 6 weeks until I could no longer handle it physically – my body was pushing it out (which the nurse said she’d NEVER seen that happen before). Once I hit my 2nd trimester I was able to start taking stronger (more risky) antibiotics. But with that, came a referral to start seeing a perinatologist for the rest of my pregnancy to make sure baby handles it okay. So… so that makes 4 doctors on my team.
But it seems to all be coming to an end…. FINALLY! Just this week I was released from seeing the surgeon because I have healed so well since the 2nd surgery, and now that I’m on the proper antibiotics. I see the infectious disease specialist again in a couple weeks, but I expect he won’t want to see me too often, maybe even just a couple more times, because the surgical open wound will likely be closed by then and the infection truly seems to be extremely minimal if not just about entirely gone. And once I’m finally released from this illness, I can finally focus more on this joyous pregnancy!
Speaking of the pregnancy, everything has gone fantastic despite the infection and antibiotics. I got a Sneak Peek mail order blood test at 9-10 weeks and they gave us the result it will be a BOY! Then when we went to see the perinatologist at 16 weeks along and the ultrasound confirmed its a BOY!! I am currently almost 18 weeks along. Jarrod and I have a name chosen, but we aren’t telling anyone until he’s born. We have a detailed anatomy scan coming up around 21 weeks along. I’m trying to arrange a VBAC, but with the baby’s due date being in February, and my only doctor and delivery center would be 45 minutes away in good weather, I don’t know that it will be a possibility. But I’m still going to try.
Unfortunately, my health issues kept us from doing much of anything as a family this summer. Having a PICC line and an open surgical wound all summer kept me from doing anything involving water. And being pregnant kept me from going on amusement park rides. The antibiotics have made me feel very weak and nauseated. So pretty much anything that anyone wanted to do, I was not up for. Jarrod and I went ahead and let the kids who had the opportunity, go do things with their friends. And I insisted that he take his girls to the Iowa State Fair without me. All summer I felt like such a spoil-sport, a wet blanket, and nuisance and inconvenience. I must say it’s probly been my worst summer ever because of all the guilt I’ve had from keeping the family from having fun just from being sick. Of course it’s certainly not like I chose to be sick. I was very much looking forward to going to Adventureland, the Iowa State Fair, and other summer festivities. I very much hope next summer is much more fun for us all!
There are a few other things that happened this summer too…
– Autumn and Willow moved in with their mom in a town about 90 minutes away. But they still visit every other weekend.
– Evan went to a residential psychiatric facility to get treatment for his anger and impulse control issues at last! I’ve been trying to get him help for years, and I’m so very glad to report it’s helping so far!
– Andy is a few short days away from getting his jaw surgery to extend his lower jaw and improve his overbite.
– Jarrod has lost about 60-70 pounds in the last year and has been visiting the bariatric/surgical center that can do excess skin removal – his surgery is pending insurance approval.
And finally, I must say my husband is amazing. Through all of this illness, all of the bullshit, he has stood by me and supported me through it all. He’s been my rock, my best friend, my encouragement, my caretaker, and my reason to keep going on. Thank you so much for everything Jarrod. I couldn’t have made it without you. I love you more than you’ll ever know.
In my last blog, I wrote in some detail about our trip to Oklahoma and the vasectomy reversal surgery I had while there. In the opening stages of the surgery, Dr. Wilson looked at a fluid sample and informed me that my sperm had heads, but no tails. Not a huge deal; such things are to be expected 3 years after having had a vasectomy. After the surgery I could again start producing healthy, mobile sperm that were able to get where they needed to go, but it would take approximately 3 months for everything to be at full capacity. The chances of getting pregnant before then would be fairly slim…after all, without tails, the sperm can’t really go anywhere. Armed with this information, Shauna and I returned home and figured we’d be able to start actively trying to get pregnant around September or so.
That was on May 16th. Flash forward to June 3rd. I had gone to work that morning at 8 AM, and left Shauna in bed sleeping. On days such as this, I return home around 9:30 to pick Shauna up and we both go back to work to finish getting the store open. On this particular day I was going about my business at work when Shauna texted me and asked if I would have a few minutes to talk when I went to pick her up. I said I would, then went and finished whatever task I was working on and headed home. When I pulled up, Shauna was sitting outside on the steps waiting for me; my assumption was that she wanted to vent about one of the kids or something. She, in fact, did want to talk about one of the kids…the one that’s growing inside of her.
You see, she had taken a pregnancy test that morning and it was very, very clearly positive. I was not surprised at all that she was pregnant; I always assumed that, even with the decreased odds because of our surgeries, we’d have good luck. I was quite blown away, however, at how fast it happened. Conception occured 5 days after my surgery. It’s almost as if the universe took a good long look at me and said “you know, there just needs to more of THAT around, and I don’t think anyone should have to wait for it, either. I’m gonna give the people what they don’t even know they want, and I’m gonna give it to them now!” And with that, I was able to impregnate Shauna months before any medical common sense would have dictated that I’d be able to. She was pregnant a week and a half before I was even medically cleared to begin attempting intercourse, for crying out loud. The surreal, mind-exploding QUICKNESS of it all was pretty much the only thing I could think about, not only that day but for several days afterward. It honestly seemed a little too good (and fast) to be true, so we decided that we would wait to tell anyone until Shauna had an ultrasound confirming that it was a healthy, viable pregnancy. We sat on this bombshell for 2 weeks until finally, today, we went to Shauna’s ultrasound appointment and got the news we were waiting for: the baby is right where it needs to be and is right on target as far as growth. We were even able to see the heartbeat today.
With this confirmation, and with now having told the kids, we are now able to officially announce to the world that we are indeed pregnant. We’re both extremely excited, but it still seems strangely unreal. Shauna and I have both the spent the last several years thinking that our days of having babies were over, and even though we’ve went to considerable effort over the last several months to make this happen, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. Again, we knew we’d eventually be pregnant…but not after 5 days! I’m sure it’ll become more real as we go to more appointments, begin to acquire more baby stuff and get prepared for The Arrival. One thing is for sure: this baby is already as loved and wanted right now, today, as it will be on the day it is born. I’m beyond excited to be a dad to a baby again. I’m good at it.
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…
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.
Featured Image: © Erica Wexler http://surrealismartbyericawexler.bigcartel.com/
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!