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

Trip Down Memory Lane

Update: We’re still chugging’ along (knock wood). My next ultrasound is on the 30th. Fingers crossed everything remains stable until then.

As BBS’s impending birth becomes more real to me, I can’t help but think back to when Nora was born. So much love. Love like I’ve never felt before.

I, like all second time parents to be, am worried I couldn’t possibly love another tiny human as much as I love Nora. But, after what BBS and I have been through, my love for him is already immense and it’ll just keep growing from here. I can’t wait to meet him (well, you know what I mean – I can’t wait for him to be done cooking and then meet him!).  I’ve been so heads down and focused on the immediate task at hand, that I lost sight of the joy in carrying and growing another human life. Don’t get me wrong though, I only allow myself to enjoy it in measured doses for fear of jinxing everything. Some of the fun things I’ve done recently are ordering decor for BBS’s nursery and personalized thank you cards for him. It’s been really nice to feel happy instead of scared and worried.

In the meantime, I never published Nora’s entire newborn photo shoot. There are lots of duds in there for sure – but I don’t even care anymore – I’m overwhelmed by love (and pregnancy hormones!) and want the world to see them all.  Hope you enjoy (esp the few that include Maisey — she’s such a character)…

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(Photo credit goes to Kim Lind Photography)

 

 

Day 24 – 25 Weeks 5 days

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to do a quick update for you. We were supposed to leave on our babymoon tomorrow – oh well – guess we’ll take a raincheck on that one!

I’m on Day 24 of my incarceration, errr, I mean, hospital bed rest stint. In all seriousness, I do, at times, feel like a prisoner, though its arguable that prisoners have more freedoms than I at the moment 🙂 But, when I start to feel that way, I just remind myself that this is all for my son. And, of course, he’s worth it.

Everything with my body, the cerclage and baby are holding stable. I do fetal monitoring and contraction monitoring 3 times a day. So far I’m not really having any contractions to speak of. The few I have are not painful, so are likely just Braxton Hicks – which are normal at this point in a pregnancy.  Baby boy is super active and recently moved from breech to head down (though he can easily move back to breech since it’s still really early). I get my amniotic fluid levels checked twice a week, and so far so good on that front. I get an ultrasound to check the cerclage every two weeks — my next one in July 13th.

My doctors are becoming cautiously optimistic.  While we still talk in terms of days, not weeks. They each (my OB and my high risk surgeon) have said they’re hopeful I get to 28 weeks and beyond.  My surgeon went so far as to say that he’ll be going on vacation in late August for 2 weeks and ‘I’m not to have the baby while he’s gone’. If I behave, he said he’d remove the cerclage on September 15th. That, ladies and gentleman, is TEN WEEKS from today. Holy goddamn hell. Thats a long way away. But my due date is October 15th, so to hold this guy in until September 15th would be awesome!

So that’s the update for you. Here are a few of my upcoming mini-milestones (in case you wondered about the inner workings of my brain):

  • Make it to my in-room massage on 7/7 (that’s today, yay, I made it!)
  • Make it to the RHONJ premiere on 7/10
  • Make it to the Flipping Out premiere on 7/13
  • Book another in-room massage for next week and make it to that
  • Make it until week 27 (7/16) when my OB gets back from vacation
  • Make it to my 41st birthday (7/17) b/c mama’s hoping for a damn good present this year 🙂

So those are the goals for the next little while — you can see I’m trying to keep it light and simple! Stay tuned for a post on tips n’ tricks to surviving a prolonged hospital stay. Figure I might as well pass along some things I’ve learned along the way…

xoxo

 

 

 

 

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………

 

 

 

Breast v. Bottle

Guys! I can’t physically breastfeed so PLEASE, for the love of all things sacred, stop asking me about it!

Ever since I found out I’m pregnant — I joined a new club — the “mom-to-be” club. I’ve waited years to gain entrée into this one and am elated to finally be here! As I suspected, people crawl out of the woodwork to offer support, guidance and helpful tips. It’s incredible!

Most notably, however, is the ease with which people talk at you about breastfeeding. The conversation always starts from the assumption that you’ll be breastfeeding.  For the oodles of women out there who choose not to breastfeed for their own personal reasons, this is a terribly invasive and rude conversation.

For me, it’s just a kick in the gut.

Obviously perfect strangers that I meet now have no idea I had cancer.  All they know is that I have weird, short hair (what can I say? I’m in that awkward grow out stage right now!)

20140902-124635-45995478.jpg and I’m having a baby. Great! inevitably, the requisite baby small-talk commences: “OMG, congrats! Your bump is so cute! When are you due? Is it a boy or girl? How are you feeling?” Then comes the breastfeeding convo: “Are you going to breastfeed? It’s a total bitch – hands down, it’s the hardest thing about being a mom. Natural Resources, which is in your neighborhood, offers great classes on breastfeeding — they’re worth the money.”

Since they’re strangers, I politely explain to them that I can’t breastfeed because I had a bi-lateral mastectomy.  I give my 2 minute cancer bio and that usually quiets the conversation. Only the most special people like to return to the topic 5 minutes later. It’s usually in the form of “Well, since you’re not breastfeeding, your boobs are going to KILL after the milk comes in and you have to let them dry up.”  Ummmm, no they won’t. I’m not sure how many ways I can tell you this — but while my breasts are anatomically stunning (!) and easy on the eyes, they’re 100% silicone.

It’s shocking to me how many people who are fully aware that I had breast cancer and a bi-lateral mastectomy STILL mention nursing to me! OH EM GEE, for real? This includes family members and fellow BAYS (my breast cancer support group) friends.  As for my BAYS ladies, there are many paths to treatment for cancer. Some of my BAYS friends had lumpectomies, or single mastectomies and the possibility of breastfeeding still exists for them. Some breastfed their children before being diagnosed, so they don’t stop to think about having a baby post DX. But still, I expect more from this group of people.

Now that I’m showing, these conversations happen pretty frequently. I’ve heard a lot of silly things come out of people’s mouths. But this next one is by far my favorite: “There’s so much pressure to breastfeed, it’s like you’re a monster if you don’t want to do it — you’re so lucky, at least you don’t have to choose whether or not to do it — the decision’s been made for you — AND nobody can give you grief about it because you don’t have boobs” WTF? That one is up there with my favorite breast cancer insult “Well, at least you got the easy cancer.” Not comforting people, not comforting.

Here are my conclusions:

1. People are so damned excited about a brand new life entering the world, they get amnesia about any and all sickness you had in the past.  Essentially, babies are blinding! (This helps me explain away close friends and even family members who talk to me about breastfeeding.)

and

2. People don’t really understand what a bi-lateral mastectomy entails. Little refresher for you – all of your breast tissue is removed in surgery. You are left with skin, pectoral muscle, anatomically shaped implants and rib cage. In that order. I assure you, there’s no breast tissue. No milk ducts. Nope, no possibility of milk comin’ outta there.

In all, it just sort of sucks to be reminded so frequently that I had breast cancer because it makes me think about the limitations I’ll face after giving birth. It makes me sad that I don’t have a choice in whether or not I nurse our baby. I’m also really sad that my chest is still pretty numb, the skin on my chest is cool to the touch (silicone implants aren’t a great heat conductor) and my implants are pretty hard. I wish I could give our daughter a nice warm, squishy landing pad to snuggle up to (and that I’d be able to physically feel her laying on my chest). But I can’t, and that’s sad to me.

If there’s one lesson I want you to take away with you from this post, it’s this: the breast v bottle conversation is as taboo as asking someone who they’re going to vote for. It’s really not your business, so please don’t go there.

 

 

 

 

Curiosity Killed the Cat

2014 is shaping up to be a fine year — much better than craptastic 2013!

As you know, we’re finally pregnant (yay!). So many of you have reached out to offer your congratulations. I can tell that people are genuinely giddy with happiness over our baby girl.  A number of people sent me messages saying that they haven’t been this excited since they found out that they, themselves, were having a baby! It warms my heart to know that you all have been on this ride with me.  Through the bad, and now the good!

A number of people have asked me for details on the whole process. Rather than answer the same questions over and over, I’ll just list them all out for you. Here goes…..

1. Are you using a surrogate?
No, we did not have to go the surrogate route.  I had triple negative breast cancer, which means the cancer was not hormone driven. Which means I’m not on hormone blockers for 10 years post chemo. Which means I can safely carry a pregnancy. That was my belly bump in the last post 🙂

2. See, I told you you’d get pregnant when you least expected!
No, this was not a surprise pregnancy. This was a well thought out, and highly planned pregnancy. We used our frozen embryos and availed ourselves of the best medical science has to offer!

3. So IVF worked the first time you tried after cancer and chemo?
Sadly, no.  This was our third embryo transfer post chemo. We did a transfer last summer, another last fall, and then this last one — which worked — in April.

4. What changed? Why did it work?
I have no earthly idea to be perfectly honest.  I will tell you this though — after the first two transfers failed, we ditched our original IVF doctor and moved over to Dr. Mitch Rosen at UCSF. Dr. Rosen has gotten all of my girlfriends pregnant — the man is truly a genius. As much as I hate to admit this next one, I think the 6-week cleanse also helped. My body was fairly clean and in good shape at the time of the third transfer.

5. Are you having twins? So many IVF pregnancies are multiples.
We did transfer two embryos, but I am carrying a singleton pregnancy.

6. Are you having a girl or boy?
Girl!

7. When are you due?
January 3, 2015

8. Do you have a name picked out?
We have it narrowed down to two names, but that’s as far as we’ve gotten.

9. What are the two names?
Nice try! We’re keeping that secret 🙂

10. How are you feeling?
Knock wood, I’m feeling great. I’m 18.5 weeks along and, much to Paul’s chagrin, am fully embracing nesting! We’ve already started converting our guest room into the nursery.

11. Are you working?
Not in the traditional sense. At the moment,  I’m simply enjoying this whole experience. I’d say I worked pretty darn hard to get to this point, so I’m cherishing every moment of pregnancy. Come January, I’ll be a full time mommy to our daughter. I hear it’s extremely tiring, yet rewarding work. I cannot wait for my new job!

 

Oh Baby!

20140714-175109-64269744.jpg

Well, after a long 4.5 year fertility battle, with a bout of cancer thrown in for giggles, I’m so thrilled to let you all know that I’M PREGNANT!

Baby girl Sieminski is expected to arrive on January 3, 2015!

As a long time infertile, I wasn’t sure this day would ever come. I have to pinch myself every day to be sure I’m not dreaming. Paul and I are beyond happy and excited. We feel like the “pause” button on our lives has finally been un-clicked.  We’re no longer in a giant holding pattern! Woo hoo!

In other news, Maisey is quite excited about this latest development (she just has a funny way of showing it!):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random Thoughts

My last post on whether I think IVF caused my breast cancer garnered some responses that perhaps the cancer is what caused my infertility issues. I’d be lying if I told you that thought hadn’t crossed my mind once or twice — but here’s why we are still going with a donor egg:

Our 1st IVF only yielded 4 embryos.  We transferred 2 in fresh and got a big fat negative pregnancy (BFN).  We froze the other two embies and later transferred both in a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) round. That resulted in a chemical pregnancy (the one where I was pregnant for about a day then my body got rid of it because the embryo would not have gone on to be a healthy pregnancy for whatever reason).

Our 2nd IVF only yielded 4 embryos.  We transferred all in fresh and got a BFN.

Our 3rd IVF only yielded 2 embryos.  We transferred all in fresh and got a BFN.

Our 4th IVF only yielded ONE embryo. We had to freeze it right off the bat because my hormones were too wacky to do a fresh transfer.  We put our last biological totsicle on ice until my hormones settled and then we did the FET.  As you know, it was a BFN. (it’s like the record is on repeat, huh?)

When you get breast cancer, many patients do IVF prior to chemo because chemo destroys all of your fastest growing cells, of which your follicles and eggs are some of them.  We didn’t bother with this given our history. My last IVF only got us ONE damn egg. What’s the point in spending more money trying to eek out one more shitty egg before I nuke my body?

So post chemo — could I potentially get my miracle baby from an egg of my own? Assuming that chemo doesn’t irreparably destroy the few eggs I have? Yes, sure, anything is possible. But I prefer to be a pragmatist.  I’ve been diagnosed with Diminished Ovarian Reserve and Poor Egg Quality. My IVF history is proof of the diagnosis! We’ve gotten a second opinion from UCSF (we actually tried to do an IVF round with them, but I failed to stimulate well, so they converted me to an IUI instead). We also got a third opinion from Dr. Schoolcraft (Giuliana Rancic’s doctor) at CCRM (Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine) — and he is supposed to be the top in the country at this stuff.  Everyone agrees with my diagnosis and all of the doctors suggest that we move to donor eggs.

Not that I am trying to justify what we are doing — I just wanted to give you all the full picture. An IVF stimulation in somebody my age, should produce way more eggs than we were getting. You’d expect to see at least 10 or so is my best guess. So our best rounds at 4, were really low in comparison. Then the fact that none of them took, indicates that the embryos were all of poor quality (ie. wouldn’t have gone on to be a healthy baby) so my body did it’s job and rejected them.

In other news, my medical oncologist, Dr. Smith said my hair would all fall out on the 14th day after my first infusion.  Well, today is the 13th day post infusion, and I have no signs of losing my hair. Maybe I’ll get lucky and it won’t fall out? Wishful thinking from a self-proclaimed pragmatist?

Final thoughts — I realized I’ve never posted any pictures of our dog, Lucy to my blog. So here are a few. There are a few of her wearing a fleece red jacket. It’s been really cold here in SF lately and she’s been laying in front of the heat vents in our house — so I figured it was time to trot out the little red riding hood. Paul absolutely hates it when I put clothes on the dog — but she looks so damn cute and she seemed cold. Truth be told, she only wore it for about an hour before Paul took it off of her and personally snuggled her to keep her warm! Did I mention how much he hates when I put clothes on the dog? Also, did I mention how obsessed we are with Lucy?! She is our little dog baby!

Well, we are off to Sunday brunch with a friend. One of our favorite things to do is to reminisce about the past — so I’m sure there will be a lot of 2012 recapping at brunch as well as some potential resolution making going on!

Did IVF cause my Breast Cancer?

Many of you have asked me whether I think all the infertility treatments I underwent over the past three years contributed to my getting breast cancer.  My short answer is, no. My long explanation follows:

For those of you just tuning in, Paul and I (well, really ME — not so much Paul — physically (but he was on the emotional roller coaster with me every step of the way!)) did 10 IUI’s, 4 fresh IVF retrievals and 2 frozen embryo transfers.  None of which resulted in a baby.  It was an emotional three years filled with tears, anxiety, desperation, angst, fights followed by hugs, high’s & low’s, pins & needles and — as you might imagine — TONS of hormone injections to my stomach and ass!

A typical IVF round costs a ton of money (and isn’t covered at all by our insurance) and is a pretty lengthy process.  First you go on birth control pills for about a month, then you layer in twice daily Lupron shots to your stomach for about 2 weeks. This part is so that the doctor can control your cycle and ensure that you aren’t ovulating (in short, Lupron suppresses ovulation). Eventually you will get what seems like your period, but it’s really just break through bleeding (I think this is accurate, I’m a bit rusty on the technicalities of IVF now that I’ve had to become a cancer expert). On the second day of your fake period, you go in for your baseline ultrasound and blood work. The doctor will check to see if there appear to be follicles, confirm there are no cysts and checks your blood hormone levels to ensure that if you are given stimulation drugs, the round will likely be fruitful. If and when you pass this stage (I’ve been stopped at this stage two or three times and it’s devastating because you feel like you are losing precious time and you just get really mad at your body for failing you), you then layer in the follicle stimulation drugs.  Depending on what your protocol you are on (we tried them ALL) you may have to give yourself up to 8 shots daily for 10-12 days.  Sounds fun, huh?

The doctor closely monitors your blood work and performs ultrasounds throughout stimulation to ensure all is well — that meant lots of early morning road trips down to Mountain View for Paul and I. Eventually the day comes when you get to “trigger”.  Exactly 36 hours before your retrieval is to take place, you give yourself an HCG shot to the belly. The HCG shot tells your brain to tell your ovaries it’s time to ovulate.  They time it so that on retrieval day, your body releases the follicles and eggs.  At NOVA they put me under twilight anesthesia — which meant I was awake for the procedure but feeling no pain! — and they aspirated out any and all eggs from my stimulated follicles. Sexy, right?

After that, they put sperm and egg together and hopefully you get an embryo. After that, they let the embryo(s) grow in the lab for a few days. My doctor liked to get them back inside me as quickly as possible. He is of the mindset that the body is a better environment for them than the lab. But they do watch them initially to “grade” the quality of the embryo.  grading helps the doctor determine which embies to transfer (which are good versus which are so-so).  Then you have a certain number of embryos put back inside of you and you go through the dreaded 2-week wait — wondering if they took. Wondering if it worked. Wondering if you should have taken time off work and laid flat on your back the first few days. Wondering if that glass of wine you just had killed your chances of success.  Wondering if that sushi you just ate killed your chances of success.  Wondering if that ab workout at the gym caused them to fall out. etc

You are supposed to wait the full 2 weeks and then go to the doctor for a blood test to confirm if it worked or not. But you know me, I was peeing on home pregnancy test sticks daily. I single-handidly kept Walgreens in business by buying a zillion home pregnancy tests.   So, it goes without saying, that I always knew our IVF’s  were unsuccessful.  We did this “fresh” retrieval process FOUR times.

We also did TWO FET’s or Frozen Embryo Transfers.  Some of my retrievals yielded more embryos than we wanted to transfer (not lookin’ to be octomom over here!).  So we put a few on ice.  The prep on your body for a FET involves lots of hormones. It is less rigorous than a fresh stimulation, but you do have to pump yourself up with lots of estrogen to get your uterine lining thick and ready to receive the embryo. You also have to take a handful of progesterone shots to the rear with a long-ass (no pun intended) needle. This one Paul had to do for me — he would’ve made a good doctor!  Even after you prep your body, there is no guarantee that your embryos will survive the thaw process.  It’s a very stressful time. Thankfully, all of our embryos thawed like GD champs (must’ve been the Buffalo in us both!). Once you get your thaw report, you set your transfer date and then you go through the dreaded 2-week wait AGAIN.  We had one FET round result in a positive pregnancy test, but my body quickly determined that the embryo was not “right” so that positive, turned to a negative within a day. It was so sad I can’t even describe to you in words.  Quite honestly, ALL of it was sad. To turn up empty after each round was terrible. Indescribable and horrible.  This sort of thing can make or break a marriage. Thankfully, it brought Paul and I closer and anchored us together — but we had our fair share of human moments and shouting matches. Especially me, since I was hopped up on lots of hormones 😉

Finally, we gave up on my eggs, and moved on to a donor.  It was while I was prepping my body for my last FET with our one remaining biological embryo — and then again when I was prepping to receive the donor embryo (which would have been her egg and Paul’s sperm) that I noticed the persistent lump in my breast.  The prep for a donor round is the same as the prep for a FET. Lots of estrogen to get your lining ready.  So, at this point, we are talking about 3 years straight of countless hormones being pumped into my body.  Did the thought cross my mind that those hormones may have caused my body to go berserk and start creating abnormal cells that then went on to give me breast cancer? Of course. After I really thought it through, do I still think that? No. And here’s why.

When they bioposed my tumor I still had 4 estrogen patches stuck to my belly feeding me hormones in anticipation of the donor transfer.  The receptor results from that biopsy indicated that the cancer was Her2/Neu negative, progesterone negative and only weakly positive for estrogen.  On the day of my surgery, which was approximately 4 weeks after diagnosis (read: four weeks after I removed the estrogen patches and discontinued them altogether), they removed my tumor.  We later had an Oncotype test performed on the tumor tissue from surgery day, and my estrogen receptor was a strong negative. Which means my cancer is NOT fed by estrogen, or any hormones, for that matter.  That means it came back only weakly positive for estrogen at a time when I was hopped up on a ton of estrogen for the donor round.  I almost feel like an am an example that proves IVF doesn’t cause breast cancer*. If anything, I believe that all those hormones helped me catch the tumor. I believe that they some how accelerated their growth, and without the drugs, I might not have been able to catch it at Stage 1.  I mean, think about it. I had a mammogram 11 months before I found this cancer — and that mammogram came back clean.

Additionally, I read somewhere that a tumor 1.5cm in size (which mine was) would’ve been present in the body for 8-10 years. Which means, when I had that mammo 11 months ago, I had cancer, in fact, I’ve had cancer for a very long time — I had it before I started infertility treatments — it was just hiding out in my body — I just didn’t know it.  Yet, after all these drugs, I was able to feel it when I gave myself a self exam. Go figure…

Look, I also hate to say the cliched “everything happens for a reason” line. But I think it’s applicable here. I wasn’t really jazzed about moving to a donor round. Who wants to give up on having their own biological child? It took me a good 6 months to move forward with our initial donor round.  Then I was diagnosed the week our donor started her follicle stimulating hormones. I was sad to have to postpone the whole thing  on my end because we’d already been through so damn much in three years. THEN when the donor F’ing failed to produce any viable eggs, I thought I’d totally lose my shit.  But, hindsight is a beautiful thing. I am now WAY more comfortable using a donor.  It’s become patently clear to me that I just don’t have good genes to pass along. And now that I’ve gotten breast cancer at such a young age, I am happy to avail myself of a young woman who is willing to help out an infertile couple.  So, that’s how I’m looking at all of this.

So, we are dealing with my cancer one day at a time. Trudging through chemo and all of it’s lovely side effects. But the bright side is (drum roll please) we are moving forward with another (proven) donor! I have a great feeling about this one. I honestly believe we will finally get our miracle baby! YAY for donor eggs!

* For those of you who are truly interested, I believe that there is one study out there — out of Australia — that examines IVF and BC relatedness.  I didn’t bother to read more than the summary of the article — but I think it said there is a very weak correlation in young women (read: 20 year olds) who undergo IVF who then go on to get BC.

PS – this is all just my opinion and how I am choosing to view my situation. I’m not a doctor nor a scientist. So take this post as you will 🙂