36 Weeks, Cholestasis & Induction

Yesterday I hit 36 weeks. Holy cow I feel so lucky to have made it this far.

While yesterday was a huge milestone, today is even bigger. It’s our last day hanging out with Nora before BBS arrives because…..I’m being induced tomorrow :0

A few weeks ago we scheduled my cerclage removal for tomorrow, Monday, the 19th. I’ll be 36 and 2 when the stitch comes out. But my doctors were torn on when I’d actually go into labor. My OB thought I’d go that day, while my MFM thought I’d go a few days later.

We don’t need to guess anymore because they decided as a team to induce me after the cerclage is removed (assuming I don’t go into labor only own). That’s nearly 14 weeks (3 1/2 months) of bed rest for BBS and I. Wow!

You might be wondering why they’d induce after I’ve come this far. Late last week it was confirmed that I developed cholestasis of pregnancy.  About 10 days ago my entire body started itching like crazy. At first it was mainly my hands and feet, but then it spread everywhere. 4 benadryls + an ambien couldn’t make me fall asleep through the itching. It was horrible. I called my OB’s night nurse and told her my symptoms. The next day my doctor sent me for lab work to test my liver function and bile acid. The results came in confirming the condition, UGH. Below is a quick overview of what Cholestasis is.

According to What to Expect:

Cholestasis is a liver disorder that most often occurs late in pregnancy, typically during the third trimester. While it  occurs in just one to two pregnancies in 1,000, it can cause complications in your newborn — which is why it’s important to recognize the symptoms and talk to your doctor if you think it might be affecting you. Fortunately, early diagnosis and active management by your doctor can help ensure you and your baby have a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.

A quick biology lesson: Bile, excreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, helps your body break down fats into fatty acids that your intestines can absorb. Cholestasis is a condition that slows down the normal flow of bile into the gallbladder, causing a buildup of bile acids in the liver — which in turn spills into the bloodstream, causing intense itching. Possible causes include:

Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy (especially in the third trimester): Extra estrogen can increase cholesterol levels in bile and decrease gallbladder contractions.

Gestational diabetes: This disease is often associated with a higher risk of cholestasis.

Genetic disposition: If an immediate family member has had cholestasis during pregnancy, be sure to tell your doctor.

Gallstones: A collection of small stone masses in the gallbladder caused by imbalances of bile (pregnant women are also more at risk of gallstones due to increased estrogen levels) can also be the cause.

With regular prenatal care and monitoring, your baby will likely not be affected during pregnancy and after delivery. Studies have found little increased risk to babies when their mothers have only mild cholestasis and low amounts of bile acids. However, in cases when maternal bile acids are higher, cholestasis can increase baby’s risk of a low birth weight, a slightly lower Apgar score, lung immaturity and preterm delivery — which is why early diagnosis and treatment are so important. In extremely rare cases, stillbirth is a risk, though it may be prevented if labor is induced before week 38.

I can’t believe I’ve managed to add more goddamn lemons to my pile. But there you have it. Because this condition can put BBS at risk, we’re opting to induce at 36 and 2. In a perfect world, we’d wait until 37, but BBS’s non stress tests have been a mixed bag. So we’re choosing to be safe than sorry.

So this is it my friends. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your love and support on this journey. Please send your continued good vibes my way – pray for an uncomplicated delivery and that BBS makes his debut healthy and happy.

I’ll post more once he’s born. But please be patient with me. Even though I’m being induced, he might not arrive until Tuesday. And even then, we’re going to want some family time to process this whole journey. If BBS goes to the NICU I expect that we’ll be quite busy with that – but I’ll do my best to post updates here for you all.

With all my love and thanks!

I heart how Maisey’s lurking in the corner of this pic. Haha

Kauai 2016

Summer has officially begun in the Sieminski household! Last month we were in Kauai with my cousins for 10 glorious days. While vacationing with a toddler is exhausting as hell, we still had a fantastic time 🙂

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1st Birthday Party

Dearest Nora,

You’ve brought me pure joy this year. You’re beautiful, smart, happy, curious, expressive and kind. You’re the most active kid I’ve ever met! I love that you keep me on my toes. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings for you. Below are pics and video from your birthday party. I love you so much my darling!

Photo credit goes to our amazing babysitter Ana (check out all of her work at www.anabrazaityte.com)

I’m 11 Months Old Today!

I can’t believe I’m 11 months old today! Mom tried to take my picture with the bear and age block on the rocking chair just as she’s done in past months, but I had other ideas. Check out the video below, haha!

I just spent a week on the east coast at my uncle Chuck’s house with all of my mom’s family for Thanksgiving. We had a blast. I got to hang out with all of my cousins and play the entire time! Mom posted a ton of pictures below for you to see.

I’m officially walking more than I crawl. My mom says I’m a force to be reckoned with. I have some serious ants in my pants and I love keeping her on her toes throughout the day. I’m super curious and adventurous — which means I’m often getting into things that mom says are “no-no’s”!

I babble and sing like it’s my job. I can say “dada”, “mama”, “mai-mai”, “E-I-E-I-O”, “Hi” and I can growl like a pirate “arrggh”.  I clap along to “If you’re happy and you know it” and I wave my arms like a crazy person for “Where is thumpkin?”

While I’ve made a lot of progress on the moving and communication fronts, I still have NO teeth! lol And I’m still a picky eater who wants everything pureed to a pulp. What can I say, I like what I like!

I met Santa Claus at the mall and helped mom and dad put up our Christmas Tree. It’s been an action-packed month! I wonder what excitement my 11th month will hold………

 

 

 

Living in the Shadow of Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Last weekend was my 3-year cancerversary. With each year that passes, my cancer experience moves a little bit further away from me, yet at the same time, it cozies up to me even more.

As time goes on, you’d think I’d feel further removed from it, but I don’t. That’s the cruel thing about cancer, it’s the gift that keeps giving. I live in what feels like a constant fear of recurrence. Some days and weeks are better than others. But some stretches are really bad. Like a python winding its way around my body, tightening it’s grip on me, slowly squeezing the life out of me. To understand what I mean, let me explain a bit about my subtype of cancer.

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a subtype of breast cancer that lacks three important hormone receptors that are used as targets for cancer treatment. These receptors are important because they reveal where the cancer is most vulnerable and help determine how to best treat it. Since triple-negative breast cancers lack the presence of all three of these receptors, this subtype of breast cancer is more difficult to treat and more likely to recur. Triple-negative breast cancers have a relapse pattern that is very different from hormone-positive breast cancers: the risk of relapse is much higher for the first 3–5 years but drops sharply and substantially below that of hormone-positive breast cancers after that.

Doctors and researchers have yet to figure out what causes TNBC. So survivors like me undergo major surgeries and intense chemotherapy protocols in the hopes of killing the cancer and keeping it at bay forever.  Unfortunately, because our cancer is not hormone positive, we don’t get the mental safety net that is 5 to 10 years of hormone blockers. We don’t get to take a pill that we know is preventing our bodies from producing the hormone that causes our cancer.

PS – I know that taking tamoxifen (or something like it) is no walk in the park. I realize I sound a bit like a brat since I don’t have to deal with 10 years of hot flashes, mood swings, libido drain, inability to carry a pregnancy and a whole host of other crap. But please understand that having no ability to do anything to ensure my cancer doesn’t come back is a total mind fuck. All we’re told is that our survival rate will increase dramatically if we can make it to the 5-year mark.

I’ve no choice but to set my 5-year timer. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. Ugh.

In the months leading up to my cancerversary this year, I wasn’t feeling right. I was having a lot of trouble with my lungs, and a lot of swelling and pain around my ribs, implants and armpits. I put myself back into physical therapy to try and kick start my sluggish lymphatic system. But, the issues persisted. My lungs and my bones ached. And not in a “you have a new baby, all moms are exhausted” kind if way. No, no, they ached in a scary cancer kind of way.

I was winded, exhausted and becoming increasingly terrified I was having a recurrence or worse, mets. When I looked at my daughter, my brain wouldn’t allow me to see her grown up. It was protecting me from the possibility that I might not be here to see her fully grown up. The feelings were becoming crippling. I couldn’t fully enjoy caring for my daughter. I had to do something. Set my mind at ease once and for all.

So I got a PET scan 5 days before my cancerversary. I told very few people I was having the scan done because I was really scared the results wouldn’t be good.  I just had a premonition that my good fortune was running out. You see, I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a perfect, beautiful, healthy 9-month old daughter, who was born after cancer. I was blessed enough to be able to carry her to term and birth her into this world. It was the most incredible thing that’s ever happened to me. My life is back on track, right? I’m a new mom, with a new lease on life, right? Cancer is behind me, right? I survived this, right?

But why do I feel such dread and doom hanging over me?

This is what it’s like to live in the shadow of triple negative breast cancer. As I wait to make it to my arbitrary finish line where I might be able to breathe a bit easier, I wrestle with some serious PTSD.

Thankfully, the results of my scan came back clean. I’m still dancing with NED (No Evidence of Disease). Yay!

I feel like I’ve bought myself a few months without as much worry bubbling directly under the surface of my everyday life. Now, when I workout, I happily push my lungs to the point of burning because I know there are no tumors in them. When my joints and bones ache the next day, I don’t sweat it, because I know I don’t have bone mets.

Only 725 more days to go….. Wish me luck.

I’m Nine Months Old Today!

Can you believe I’m 9 months old? Time flies! I’m speed crawling and pulling myself up on everything. I love hanging with my dog Maisey, she’s my best friend. I started a music with friends class and I LOVE it. Mommy got my ears pierced for me, I think I look adorable. Sadly, I still don’t have any teeth – so purees continue to be my jam. I’m starting to branch out a bit and expand my palate. I love spinach and potatoes AND lentils with rice (pureed, of course). I experiment with cantaloupe, strawberries, cucumbers, hummus, avocado and watermelon — but I don’t always like the feel of bits of food on my tongue.  It gives me the shivers!

I’m 8 Months Old Today (+ outtakes)

Now that I’m 8 months old, I can crawl like a champ. I’ve even started pulling myself up on things.

I still don’t have any teeth, so purees are my jam. I hate anything that isn’t pureed – it’s driving my mom nuts!

So far in my life, I’ve done a lot of travelling, I’ve been on 10 flights! My mom will do a post recapping all of our adventures soon. Until then, enjoy the slideshow of outtakes below.
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