It Takes a Village

Having a newborn is tough. The sleepless nights. The endless hours of crying. The diapers that are always pooped in moments after a change. Constantly feeding. And somehow you forget. I’ve done this before. Twice. But I apparently had forgotten how hard this is. And on top of all of this, the hormones and emotions that just go haywire.

Over the past week and a half, I’ve had so many mom friends reach out to me to tell me their stories with Baby Blues, Postpartum Depression, and Postpartum Anxiety. Why do we not talk more about this, ladies!?

A few facts about postpartum mood disorders:

  • Postpartum mood disorders affect approximately 15% of new mothers (at least!). It is thought that this is a very low estimate due to the stigma of reporting symptoms.
  • Postpartum depression can show up anytime in the first year after giving birth. It’s not always immediate. Symptoms include: appetite and sleep problems, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, lack of interest or difficulty bonding with the baby, irritation or anger or rage, withdrawal from interacting with others, sadness and crying, the constant feeling of being overwhelmed, and/or possible thoughts of harming oneself or running away and escaping.
  • Postpartum mood disorders aren’t always depressive. They can also manifest as postpartum anxiety. Symptoms include: constant worries and fears, difficulty sleeping or eating, being worried all the time that something terrible is going to happen to you or someone you love, and sometimes physical symptoms like diarrhea, headaches or nausea.
  • There also exists postpartum OCD, panic disorder, PTSD, and psychosis.
  • Risk factors for development of postpartum mood disorders include: A history of depression or anxiety in you or your family members, A previous experience with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder like PPD, treatment for infertility, Childhood Trauma, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, Problems with your thyroid, Mothers of multiples, Teen moms, diabetes (type 1, 2 or gestational), History of physical or sexual abuse, Poverty/Low Income women, Military wives, A perfectionist personality, An unplanned pregnancy, Traumatic childbirth, A previous miscarriage, A fear of childbirth, A recent major stressor such as a house move, job loss, job change, etc.
  • There is no set timeframe for how long recovery takes and it’s very normal to have setbacks.
  • These are things that are out of your control. You did nothing to make these feelings happen.

I personally have experienced long episodes of crying, feeling overwhelmed and unable to make decisions (this is VERY unlike me!), feeling inadequate and like an inept mother, feelings of aggression toward myself and others, irritability and rage, withdrawing from interactions, intrusive/irrational anxious thoughts of bad things happening to the baby like her falling out of bouncy seats or suffocating. I’ve noticed that my threshold for managing stress is so low right now and my “bad” days are almost always triggered by days when the baby is fussier. These are not fun things to talk about. They’re embarrassing and scary and I worry what others will think and…. they’re not my fault. I started seeing a therapist to help me manage some of these thoughts/feelings. Let’s be honest- I probably should have started seeing someone months ago after my cancer diagnosis, but better late than never.

I’m taking things day by day. I am thankful that Eloise and I do have good days sprinkled in.But, it takes a village, y’all. Since I shared these difficulties, we have been so fortunate to have people reach out to help do laundry, to take the big kids places, to bring us meals, etc. I am leaning heavily on my village right now (again). If you are a new mom, please reach out. Just share how you’re feeling. I promise people want to help and it makes it so much more manageable.

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The Struggle is Real

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I can’t say that I spent a lot of time during my pregnancy thinking about what it would be like to have a newborn again. I spent a lot of time thinking about: how miserable I was to be pregnant, how my cancer and surgery might impact the baby, the actual birth process since it was my first natural birth. But actually caring for a baby? Nope. I guess I just kind of figured that I’ve done this before and everything would just fall into place. I knew I was going to be at risk for postpartum depression. With everything that happened during the pregnancy, I just kind of figured that all the hormones and sleepless nights would likely be a trigger. And I guess I knew that it was possible I would not have an “easy baby”. But 19 days in, and I am really struggling.

I cry. Like a lot. I sit and stare into space. I find myself raising my voice and asking the baby why she won’t sleep (which is absurd, I know she can’t answer. Babies can’t talk as Bentley and Knox remind me). Then I decide to go out and run 100 errands just so I don’t have to be at home with a screaming baby. And people think that I have it together because I’m not holed up in my house, but really it’s a coping mechanism and I’m not keeping it together nearly as well as they think. I say things like “Oh well… you know… when it’s your third baby, you don’t get to just stay home. Life keeps happening.” Which is true, but not nearly as nonchalant as I try to make it. I know people will say that it’s normal to have a messy house and stay in PJs until 1:00 (or all day) and not shower for days. People say, “Sleep when the baby sleeps”, “Babies don’t keep” (meaning just snuggle the baby and leave the mess). Don’t get me wrong, I love snuggling Eloise, but my house being a wreck and my other children getting no attention is really taking a toll on me. As I type this, there are groceries on the kitchen floor that haven’t been put away, laundry piled up on the couch, a load in the washer that needs to be switched over, dishes in the sink, clothes and toys everywhere, a to-do list a mile long that I can’t seem to touch. I can’t seem to keep myself fed or pull dinner out of the freezer to feed the rest of the family. And my anxiety is through the roof, although I can’t get to any of the things that might help the anxiety because the baby won’t stop crying. And then I feel guilty because I have been home all day and haven’t managed to get breakfast dishes put away and my husband comes home and has to do it after he’s been working all day and I know he must be as tired as I am and what do I even do all day!?

On thing I do is manage is to keep Eloise fed, at least for now. It seems everyone has been very interested in how nursing is going. I feel like a bit of a sideshow in that regard because everyone wants to know if I will succeed feeding a baby with only one boob.  *Stepping on a soapbox* Asking how nursing is going is a very loaded question (for all moms, not just those with one boob)- and I don’t know how I would respond if it were going very poorly because it’s so emotional and raw and not something I would really want to be discussing if we weren’t managing. As open as I am about everything, I would recommend not asking those kind of questions to a lady who has just had a baby, because you don’t know which direction it will go and you don’t want to be the a*hole that sends an emotionally unstable new mom off the deep end by asking a very emotionally loaded question. *Stepping off my soapbox*.

So far, we are managing, but it has been tough. She was tongue and lip tied. Since I only have one working breast, it never gets a break from alternating sides, so I have been in a lot of pain. My nipple is completely raw and my whole breast is sore to the point that I often end up in tears. I am pumping after every single feed to try to boost my supply so that my one breast will make enough milk to feed her, so feeding her takes up about an hour out of every 3. So, we are doing it, but it is intense and very effortful. We have seen a lactation consultant and had the procedure to revise her lip and tongue tie. Things are slowly getting better, but it’s exhausting and painful. This is another thing that I am doing my best to cherish, even through all the pain (like pregnancy in general), because I don’t know when I may have to make a decision to start treatment that will leave us unable to continue nursing.

I am barely hanging on. If it weren’t for the rare smile from Eloise or even more rare moments of the big kids playing well together, I’m pretty sure I’d have myself committed by now. I am trying to focus on the baby smells (not so much the spit up or poop, but the good ones) and the snuggles. I am trying to do what I can when she sleeps and stare at that sweet little face that changes day by day. But this is hard. And honestly at this point, I’m just hoping I can make it through each day with all my family alive and fed and that I don’t totally lose myself to PPD in the process. The struggle is so so real.

 

Eloise’s Birth Story: A Girl with Her Own Plan

10.12.17I’ve been mulling over this post for the past 6.5 days, because when I tell you what happened, I’m sure you’ll have a million questions. I would if I were on the listening end of this story. So I’m going to do my best to be thorough. And then you’ll probably still have questions- so ask away.

The Cliff Notes version of the story (because it’s a big, long story, albeit very entertaining!): Eloise was born at home, in the bathroom. And no. This was not on purpose.

There wasn’t a whole lot this pregnancy that has gone according to plan… getting breast cancer and having a mastectomy wasn’t really part of the plan. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this baby wasn’t interested in following my birth plan for a peaceful, natural water birth in a birthing center. When people heard that I was planning a natural birth, the most common questions I got was “Did you do all natural with your other two?” And “Why would you do that?”. No, my first two were very traditional hospital births with epidurals. I joked that “Third babies just kind of fall out on their own, right? So why not?” Only it turns out I wasn’t really joking- she did just kind of fall out on her own. I wouldn’t have had time for an epidural even if I wanted one.

You all know that I am a miserable pregnant person. I had been doing ALL.THE.THINGS to naturally induce labor. If something has ever been associated with going into labor, I was doing it. Red raspberry leaf tea. Dates. Pineapple. Eggplant Parmesan. Spicy foods. Evening primrose oil. Clary Sage. Accupressure massage. Accupunture. Sex. Bouncing on an exercise ball. Curb walking. Standing in the light of a full moon and rubbing my belly clockwise (no, seriously, I did this). Bumpy car rides. Breast pumping. All the things, except castor oil.

So, on October 11th, the day before my due date, I decided to give the castor oil a try. I was DONE. I had become so uncomfortable that I was in tears throughout most nights. I wasn’t sleeping, at all. I was completely irrational and angry and a general hot mess. I spent a lot of time googling how to use castor oil with the fewest unpleasant side effects (diarrhea and vomiting). A lot of recipes call for drinking 2 oz of castor oil at a time. This will cause terrible stomach upset, but also hopefully start contractions. I wanted the contractions, but not so much the tummy troubles, so I settled on mixing smaller doses and doing a few of them instead of doing it all at once. I did my first dose around 12:45 pm and my second about an hour later.

Around 2:30, I started having some Braxton Hicks contractions. I went to the bathroom once, but it was very normal and not at all what I had expected if the castor oil was working. Around 3:30, I told Michael he might want to head home just in case something was actually happening. My friend, Melissa, came over to keep me company and helped me time some contractions. Around 4:15, Michael had made it home, and we all went on a walk around the block. I continued to have Braxton Hicks contractions every 3-5 minutes. As you may have guessed, these were actually real labor contractions, but I wasn’t convinced because they weren’t that strong and I was a little bit in denial.

My mom came over after work and had dinner with us. I ate 2 pieces of pizza and a salad around 6:30, but I still didn’t really feel like things were picking up at all as the contractions were still pretty mild and still around 3-5 minutes apart. After dinner I took a shower. Still no changes. So I decided to pump a little bit (VERY BAD CALL ON MY PART- I do not recommend this if you are actively in labor). Breast pumping can pick up a stalled labor, but if you are actually in labor (as I was, and just didn’t realize it), it makes your contractions really strong. I pumped for about 2-3 minutes, started having a strong contraction and so I stopped. I went into the bedroom to lie down with the kids and snuggle up to watch a movie and get some rest. My mom ran home to feed her dog and was coming right back.

Around 7:15 or so, the intensity of the contractions had escalated significantly, but they were only lasting about 35-45 seconds. In my labor class, they had told us to head in to the birth center at 6-1-1: contractions 6 minutes a part, lasting for about 1 minute each, for about an hour. At this point, my contractions were coming about 2-3 minutes apart and they were really intense, but they were still short, so I decided to continue laboring at home (also a bad idea- just go in if this is happening to you). I took a shower and went to lie back down, but lying in bed was pretty unbearable through the contractions. Plus, I was moaning/vocalizing through the contractions and my kids were annoyed that I was disrupting their movie. So, I got in the tub to see if I could relax enough to hit the one minute length mark. My mom got back to my house at this point. Michael was helping me time the contractions and based on looking at my contraction pattern over the past 30 minutes, at one point says to me, “Brace yourself, you have another contraction coming” and I snapped back at him “That’s not how this works! I’ll let you know when I have another…… oh here it is <moaning and rocking>”. I had been texting with my doula this whole time updating her on what was going on and discussing when it might be time to go.

Michael decides that the contractions are getting intense enough and close enough together that we need to head in to the birth center, even though they’re still not lasting for more than a minute. I briefly argue that they’re not lasting long enough and we still have time, but I let him call them to chat with the midwife. We plan to meet the midwife at the birth center in 20 minutes. I feel like I need to poop before we leave, so I get out of the tub. My mom says something about how I shouldn’t poop, because I guess she knows what’s coming. But… when you gotta go, you gotta go. And I had done castor oil earlier that day, still without GI distress. I just thought it was my time for the side effects. So I went to the bathroom (again, normal and not what I would have expected from the castor oil). At this point, I had some bloody show and texted my doula that it was go-time and got up to go get dressed so we could head out the door.

But… when I stood up, I started to have another contraction. This one was different as I couldn’t stop myself from baring down and I realized I was experiencing a fetal ejection response- my body was pushing the baby out without my consent. I yelled something about the baby coming right now. My mom yelled back “Don’t push” and I yelled “I’m not! But the baby is coming.”

Michael yells at my mom to call my doula. My mom is freaking out at this point and can’t figure out how to work an iPhone- I guess maybe she was a little stressed… Can’t imagine why. The baby’s head pops out at some point while my mom is on the phone with Joy (the doula), or maybe right before. Michael is holding her head and I yelled at him to stop whatever it was he was doing so that my body could just do what it needed to do. Knox walked around the corner and saw the baby’s head hanging out. His face showed a combination of fear and disgust and he yelled out a bit and ran back to my room to keep watching his movie. I yell after him something about everything being ok and I’m ok and safe and the baby’s on her way, but he’s gone.

The baby’s body comes out on the next contraction, and my water gushes out at the same time as her body. (The fact that it didn’t break before hand was another contributing factor to me being in denial that this was really happening.) Michael hands me the baby. I yell out that IT’S A GIRL! Michael yells out to call 911, which my mom does after she hangs up with Joy and the dispatcher stays on the phone with us until the paramedics arrive- about 5 minutes later. Joy rushes in before the paramedics do and helps spread out towels and helps me off the toilet and on to the floor so that the baby and I can be checked out. It was mass hysteria with a million people trying to crowd in to my tiny bathroom. The paramedics verify that our vitals are good and ask if we want to ride in the ambulance to the hospital. Since we are all healthy and doing well, I just wanted to rinse off and have a minute with the baby and to have everyone leave the baby and I alone for a minute, so we declined the ride to the hospital.

Someone (Michael or Joy) called the birth center to let them know that the baby was delivered at home. Unfortunately, since we were now classified as a home birth, we were no longer eligible to go to the birth center for postpartum care and we were directed to the hospital. After I rinsed off in the shower and had a chance to nurse the baby for a few minutes, we chose to head to St. Thomas instead of Vanderbilt since I had been followed by Maternal and Fetal Medicine at St. Thomas throughout my pregnancy. The thought was at least someone at the hospital would be familiar with me and all the medical stuff I have going on. Michael drove the baby and I to St. Thomas where we stayed until the next night for “monitoring”.

Like… who does that!? Who accidentally has a baby at home? In hindsight, there were lots of cues that I should have gone in to the birth center before I did, but I just really thought I had more time. From the time my contractions got intense to the time the baby was born was about 1-1.5 hours total, so it was just really really fast. I did not expect things to progress that quickly, by any means! I’m glad they did- I’m not sure how I would have handled a labor that was hours and hours long at that intensity, BUT I would definitely not recommend giving birth at home if that’s not your plan to begin with (if it is- power to you and I’m sure you will actually be prepared, unlike me!). We are so thankful that it was a textbook delivery without complications and that the baby and I are safe and healthy. Even if things did not go according to plan.

Don’t “Pink” for Me

We are a little over a week into “Pinktober”. This year, the month has more meaning than ever before, but I have been dreading this month. The pink ribbon has come to be a world wide symbol of breast cancer. And, this month out of the year in particular, it is everywhere. Everywhere I look, I am reminded how my life is forever changed. About how nothing is “normal”. Of my mortality. I am reminded of the struggles, tears, and meltdowns of the past 4 months and the long, long road ahead.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful that people and organizations are raising awareness and money for a terrible disease that effects so many, but the more I am learning, the more concerned I am. These campaigns generally focus on early detection and treatment. Not prevention. Not on cleaning up health and beauty products to eliminate endocrine disrupters and carcinogens. Not on researching the impact of diet and exercise or why some people get cancer and others don’t or why some cancers metastasize and others don’t. And despite our increased detection, the mortality rates from breast cancer aren’t really declining. And a surprisingly small amount of money raised from these campaigns actually goes toward breast cancer research anyway.

Here is a link to some really great questions to ask yourself before you donate or buy products that are intended to support breast cancer. If you are considering any type of financial contribution, please Think Before You Pink. As a person who lives with the consequences of cancer, I personally would much rather see money spent on education about the impacts of what we eat, the products we put on our skins, and other environmental concerns than to see a bunch of pink ribbons everywhere.

What I Will Not Miss About Being Pregnant

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:Actual photo of me taken just yesterday

We had trouble getting pregnant this go-round and with this officially being our last pregnancy, I’ve spent a significant amount of time trying to be grateful for the experience of being pregnant again. I really cherished those initial flutters and kicks. I don’t mind people touching my belly or commenting on how big I am.

But let me tell you, I am just not a graceful, glowing pregnant lady. So, let me present you with a list of things that I will absolutely NOT miss in never getting pregnant again, in no particular order.

Morning sickness. I hear that people exist that do not experience morning sickness. I do not know who these people are. With all 3 of my pregnancies, I have been sick until 15-16 weeks. Dry heaving, unable to eat, nauseous ALL DAY kind of morning sickness. I know many women have it much worse off than I did, but “bye felicia” to all of that.

Hemorrhoids. For those of you lucky enough to not know exactly what these are, imagine that part of your anus decides to pop out of place like a balloon. I did not have hemorrhoids with my first two pregnancies. Maybe it was being younger. Maybe I was just lucky. No such luck this time. This is a real thing that happens to pregnant people. And it really sucks.

Lightning Crotch. Yep, basically just what it sounds like. Lightning striking you right in the vagina. This is especially fun when you are around a lot of people and get to try to play off the sudden gasp/yelp caused by lightning striking your vagina. Because “Lightning Crotch” is not a socially acceptable way to discuss your vagina to strangers (as if there were a socially acceptable way to talk about your vagina with strangers…).

Sciatic Nerve Pain. This is pain that shoots from about your hip down your legs and makes it really difficult to walk or move. When I pregnant with Knox (#2), I ended up receiving chiropractic treatment twice a week because this pain was so intense. It’s been better this pregnancy than when I was pregnant with Knox, but it still is no fun to have this pain shooting down my leg every time I stand up.

Insomnia. Everyone (who has never had a baby), tells you to “rest” before baby gets here. Which is a really cruel thing to say to a hugely pregnant person who is desperately trying to get some rest. But it is impossible because suddenly pregnancy insomnia kicks in. Your brain wakes up in the middle of the night thinking “I-need-to-wash-baby-clothes-Did-I-remember-to-turn-off-the-stove?-What-if-my-baby-doesn’t-love-me?-I-need-to-do-XYZ-for-work-before-I-go-out-on-maternity-leave-Remember-that-girl-who-was-mean-in-sixth-grade-I-wonder-if-she’s-still-a-B?” etc. Also you are huge. And very uncomfortable. And there is a tiny person having hiccups INSIDE OF YOU. And you have to pee approximately 578 times in the middle of the night. AT least when the baby gets here, you EXPECT not to be sleeping. And you have a sweet baby face to stare at.

Walking like a penguin. The pressure of a bowling ball being placed neatly against your pelvic floor kind of makes you waddle. Penguins are adorable. No one is debating that. But when a grown woman’s walk begins to genuinely resemble the locomotion of this artic bird… Not. Cute.

Being kicked in the ribs/lungs/kidney/etc. Similar to lightning crotch, I will not miss having a person inside of me kicking my internal organs. Oh sure, it’s cute and magical at first when the baby is nice and tiny. But by the third trimester, I am consistently shocked at the strength they can muster when aiming right at your spleen. Like… are they doing leg presses in there? A little karate chop with my ribs being the board they are trying to break? Good thing babies are cute when they come out and make you forget all about the abuse.

Baby brain. What were we just talking about? No, really. Because I can not remember anything. Baby brain is SO real!

Mood Swings. Y’all. My poor husband and children. The tears. The yelling. The tears. Did I mention I burst into tears a lot?

While knowing this is the last pregnancy is bittersweet, I am pretty excited for these things to be done. I am counting the days to meeting our sweetest new addition (hopefully not too mnay more days…. I’m OVER this!).

 

Good News, Bad News

We made it through another week.

On Monday, I had my final visit with Maternal and Fetal Medicine (the high risk baby doctor). We did one final ultrasound to check on baby’s growth and everything continues to look good… or so they tell me. I couldn’t see a thing on this ultrasound because everything was so squished! The doctor came in and gave me final clearance to attempt an out-of-hospital birth at the birthing center. Delivering at the birth center has been the plan since I became pregnant, but there were several points that this was called into question in light of the cancer diagnosis as the birth center only serves low-risk pregnancies. But, baby has been growing well despite everything and the pregnancy itself has been very healthy and low-risk, so we were given the green light. This is the good news.

On Wednesday, I met with an oncologist to discuss further treatment options. I wasn’t really super mentally prepared for this appointment. In my mind, I had kind of blocked this discussion out as I have been so focused on preparing for baby. I really did not want to have this appointment. I just want to be able to spend these next couple weeks being excited and preparing my house and family for our newest family member. Call it denial if you want- that’s probably the best word for it. But I just don’t have the energy to devote to making a decision like this right now, so it’s been easier to just move on.

The doctor confirmed that I’m in a state of NED (No evidence of disease)… as in… I do not actively have cancer. But the thing no one tells you about cancer, is that you are never rid of it. No matter what, for the rest of my life, any time something aches or I have a weird feeling or I get a bad cough, I (and all my doctors) will immediately wonder if it’s due to a recurrence of my cancer. Because being declared “cancer free” just means we can’t find it right now. And so, back to the debate about further treatment…. Which might be treating teeny tiny stray cancer cells, or it might just be poisoning my otherwise cancer free body. We just don’t know. Essentially the oncologist and I spent about an hour and a half rehashing this blog post, and I got no new information that isn’t outlined in that post. They recommended that I start the hormone blocking treatment (Tamoxifen) within 4-6 weeks after delivery. I knew this would be the recommendation. On one hand, I’m pretty proud of how thorough and accurate my research was. On the other hand, I was very disappointed that there isn’t more information available to help make a more individualized decision.

A whole lot of emotions have been stirred up since this appointment. I am mostly just sad. And frustrated. I am so frustrated that I am being treated with “one size fits all” approach. But that’s because there really isn’t any other research available right for the doctors to recommend anything different. However, it’s just not fair that while I’m in a state of NED, I’m being offered the same treatment options as someone with a large, active tumor. I am so sad at what the proposed treatment means for me. It means no possibility of more children (not that we were considering that, but still!). It means no breastfeeding. It means that right after giving birth (and being at risk for postpartum depression) I would be placed on a medication for which the most common side effects are mood swings and depression…. That sounds like a ton of fun, no? I am terrified of what will happen to my sanity. I’m not strong enough to overcome all that…. being robbed of being able to feed my child, postpartum hormone mood swings, medication hormone mood swings, possible menopause symptoms while I have a freaking newborn… all for a possibility that may or may not happen no matter what I do. It’s just too much right now. And I will break. I am breaking. Because there’s no right answer here. That’s the bad news.

So instead, I’m choosing to bury my head in the sand for a little while longer. I just need to take this time to focus on this baby. I just hope he/she comes soon!

Two Docs Down and Five Weeks to Go

Things are finally starting to wind down as far as doctors’ appointments go. Since the surgery, I have had multiple appointments each week between the 4 doctors offices that are following me. This upcoming week marks my first week without a doctor’s appointment and I wasn’t sure this week would ever come!! I am very, very excited to get to have a “normal” week.

A couple weeks ago, I had my last follow up visit with my surgical oncologist (for the next 3 months) (the visit that spurned all the discussion about recurrence risk and further treatment). I will meet with the surgeon every 3 months for about 3 years, every 6 months for 2 years after that, and then annually for pretty much the rest of my life. These appointments will be for clinical checks and to follow any possible recurrence. BUT, I am free for the next couple months. Doc #1 down.

This past Friday, I had my final fill up on my tissue expander. This was my fourth fill and I have now reached a size that more or less matches my natural breast. In a bra, I feel like you pretty much can’t tell the difference… strangers probably wouldn’t notice anything. However, the tissue expander is very different from a natural breast and from a permanent implant. The tissue expander is firm. Rock hard actually. It feels like a softball to touch and is heavy like boulders. I can’t get comfortable sleeping because sleeping on the affected side crushes it and hurts, but to sleep on the other side means gravity pulls at it and hurts. Being on my back or stomach are out of the question since I’m too pregnant for that. It’s uncomfortable to say the least and I pretty much hate this tissue expander. It just doesn’t feel right or normal at all. It doesn’t move or squish like a normal boob does, so nothing fits right. Finding a bra has been a big challenge, and I’m still not happy with what I have. Paired with the lack of sensation, everything is just weird. I am unable to feel touch, but I can feel deep pressure and I can feel pain.

While the first two expansions didn’t hurt much, the last two were very uncomfortable. I experienced a lot of pain and soreness (still experiencing actually since the fill was just about 36 hours ago). The pain radiates through my scar on my breast, my armpit, and through my upper back. Hopefully this will settle in the next couple days. I am thankful to have some semblance of symmetry back, but I am definitely over the physical discomfort (since now I am hugely uncomfortable pregnant). While my breasts are now technically basically the same size, they look very very different outside of bras/clothing. At some point in the future, I will have another surgery to replace this terrible tissue expander with a permanent implant and to lift my natural breast to try to make them match again. For most people, this procedure happens relatively soon, but I need to preserve my natural breast so that I can breastfeed, so this will take place about 3-6 months after I’m done nursing, whenever that may be. Which is kind of unfortunate financially because if I had it done this year, it would be covered in full by my insurance since we have met our out of pocket maximum for this year. This means when I complete the procedure sometime in the future, it will be “covered” by my insurance, but it will be subject to me having to pay my (high) deductible/out of pocket max. But in the meantime, I’m done with the plastic surgeon. Doc #2 down.

I have one more week of crazy appointments in which I will see Maternal and Fetal Medicine, have an initial consult with the oncologist, and see my midwife all in the same week- but after that week, I should be down to just midwife visits until baby gets here (I think). Just 5 weeks (or less!!! Hopefully less!) to go until we get to meet Baby Karb.

Thank you to everyone who has been supporting us through this journey. We couldn’t do this without you and we can’t wait for you all to meet our newest addition!