Friday, April 25, 2014

The Rest of the Story: GTD

We don't get cell phone service at the cabin.  So last Friday when we drove into Tahoe and my phone chimed with a voice mail, I naturally listened to the message.  It was my surgeon and she wanted to talk about the pathology results from my surgery.

Ugh.  That couldn't be good, right? But maybe it was routine, just a courtesy call.

I dialed the number and spoke with a nurse first.  It didn't reassure me much when she said, "Oh, there's a note here that I'm supposed to page Dr. Korinke when you call.  Hold please."


When she finally got on the phone Dr. Korinke did indeed have some surprising news.  The tissue removed showed a partial hydatidiform mole, commonly called a partial molar pregnancy.

A molar pregnancy is where the embryo either develops incompletely, or doesn’t develop at all. Instead, a cluster of grape-like cysts grows in the uterus.  In my case, part of that embryo had developed a bit, because the ultrasound showed a heartbeat at eight weeks.

The whole thing is a bit of a genetic accident that occurs at fertilization and is very rare.

I wish that was the end of the story.

For now, I have a condition called gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD).  Molar tissue can be quite stubborn and want to stick around for a while.  The hope is that when I had surgery all of that annoying tissue was removed.  If not, there are significant, but rare, risks to my health.  I'm not going to dwell on that part, but it's something to be taken very seriously.

The immediate future involves regular blood tests to make sure my hCG (pregnancy level) is dropping.  Once the level is in a normal range, it needs to be consistent and stay that way.  Continued blood tests after that time will ensure that any 'hidden' tissue doesn't become active again. Hopefully in the next six to twelve months we'll get the 'all clear' that GTD is in the past.
Another key component to having a successful outcome is not getting pregnant. The miscarriage alone altered our plans, but this diagnosis sure changed things.  Talk about a major shift in thinking.  We spent the last few months talking about getting pregnant and having a baby.  Now my medical issue requires being focused on making sure that we don't.

In a way it's kind of nice to not have to make any decisions about if and when to have another baby.  We've got LOTS of time to figure that out.

And there are definitely some positives: It's awesome to be feeling better again.  I love being able to give my best to my awesome, sweet boys and amazing husband. That first trimester is the worst.  I've experienced the first trimester five times, and we are definitely not friends.

I believed the doctors when they said the miscarriage wasn't my fault, but you always wonder.  Turns out this REALLY wasn't my fault.  I wasn't even pregnant with a baby (which sounds terribly weird).  There is nothing I could have done to prevent this.

I am positive, optimistic, and so blessed to have access to good medical care.  This is just my hard thing right now.  Thanks to prayer and perspective it doesn't even feel that hard.  It's simply a direction our family is going that was unexpected. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

An Unexpected 'Third'

(First a note: My primary motivation for writing a blog has changed over the years.  Originally, it was to share with others what was going on with our family.  Now, however, it is much more of a family journal; something to be preserved and written for us that happens also to be public and available to anyone who is interested.  With that in mind, I share the following, which is probably far more private than I've been before.)

The reality and weight of the situation didn't really sink in until the chief resident asked, "What number pregnancy is this for you?"

And when I answered, "Five," it hit me like a semi-truck.

I have been pregnant five times and only have two kids?

How is that even possible?

I've experienced the process of loss and grieving more than I've been able to hold my own sweet newborn?

But here I was, about two weeks ago, on the labor and delivery floor of the hospital finding out I had experienced another miscarriage.

I was familiar with my options: wait, take medication that's 80% effective, or surgery.  I knew from the past that, for me, surgery and just having it over and done with was what I needed to do.  It was scheduled for Monday morning.  I would only have a day of waiting.  Thank goodness.

It was late and we didn't want to needlessly worry our families if this was all a false alarm, so I had driven the twenty or so miles to the hospital on my own.  Along with reassuring me that this was in no way my fault, every sweet doctor and nurse wanted to know if I was o.k. to drive home.  Why not, I figured.  I got myself there with a mountain of stress, I could certainly get home with immense grief.

After arriving home I immediately went to Luke's room.  I just needed to hold my baby, even though he's hardly that anymore.  He didn't mind the rocking or tears falling from my face to his.  He slept sweetly through the whole thing. Without even knowing it, that sweet boy reminded me that life is so good, so sweet and so blessed. I would be o.k.

Nate was incredible.  He's had some practice at this whole consoling/grief/miscarriage situation.  He knew what I needed to hear. 

When I was pregnant with Noah we almost refused to get excited, not knowing if disappointment and another heart ache was right around the corner.  Looking back, I think that might be at least one reason we hardly discussed naming him and didn't talk about it seriously until after he was born.

With Luke, it felt like things could definitely go one way or the other.  A successful pregnancy was in our past, but so were two failures.  We were cautious, but excitement kept creeping in, and after about 16 weeks, we decided to just be over the moon about another baby.

When a test in early March read 'pregnant,' I was so, so happy and grateful.  The timing was exactly what we had wanted.  Everything about it just felt right.  After two successful pregnancies, I figured the tragedies of miscarriage must be behind us.  What a relief.

I did what I had never allowed myself to do much, especially this early in a pregnancy: I thought ahead and began to plan.  I couldn't help it.  I started thinking about the boys' birthdays and Thanksgiving and Christmas with a new baby.  Trying to manage joy school for Noah and a new baby was stressing me out, but I knew it would be fine.  I kept looking at Luke and thinking that this is the stage our new baby would be at in two years.

I was definitely preoccupied with the thoughts of a new baby, and I was loving it.  Without even realizing, I guess I had carved out a nice little tentative future for our soon to be family of 5.

I knew immediately our family's future was going to be far different than the one I pictured as the doctor and I looked at the ultrasound screen.  Just four days earlier at my regular appointment I had seen the flicker of a heartbeat, but this time there was nothing.

I needed a couple of days to just be sad...and disappointed...and any number of other negative emotions, I guess.  But after those days passed and the surgery was over, I was just done being sad.  I'm a firm believer that happiness is a choice and that we can be grateful in our circumstances no matter how dark or hard those circumstances are.  And, my goodness, I have so much to be grateful for.  So, I moved on and left that awful grief in the past.

Of course, if I could change this outcome I certainly would.  But, past experience has taught me that even with severe bumps in the road, the plan that my Heavenly Father has laid out is far better and more beautiful than what I could create on my own.

I choose to trust Him in every way.   

And I have great confidence that through the power of the Atonement 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,' including getting through a third miscarriage.  Prayer has definitely played a powerful role in my happiness and moving forward.  I am so grateful that other people include me in their own personal prayers.  It has, without a doubt, made all the difference.  I am blessed beyond measure.

This is just a bump in the road when it comes to eternity.  All is well and life is oh, so good.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Cuteness

These little boys sure looked cute on Easter. 

Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
Nana picked out the perfect outfits for them.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
Nate commented that they looked like Easter eggs, which I think was the perfect compliment for the day.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
Easter was the perfect day for feeling an extra measure of gratitude for this amazing family of ours and for the daily gift of the Atonement in my life.Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;

Easter Egg Hunt

We were so excited to hunt for eggs with loads of other cute kids at the Ruggles' home on Saturday.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
Luke got the hang of it quickly with Nana's help.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
He loved picking up an egg, giving it a shake and opening it right away.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
Noah knew exactly what to do.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
He didn't care about getting the most eggs.  Just getting a few was good enough, as long as he had some candy to snack on.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
But with a little motivation, he ended up scoring a pretty big candy stash.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;

After the egg hunt, Nana invited us over to dye Easter eggs.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
Noah made some good ones.  And Luke stayed away, which was exactly what I wanted.  :-)
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;

Saturday, April 19, 2014


I let the iPhone do the picture taking in Tahoe this week.  Oh, how we needed to get away for a few days! This week had a rough start, and we needed some family time in a big way.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
(Noah's first try at picture taking.  Not bad!)

We love relaxing at the cabin.  Luke, however, approached life at the cabin as his new territory for exploring, opening and closing and pulling out everything possible within reach.  So, while our family time was awesome this certainly was not a relaxing trip.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
Noah loved riding his bike and going in the backyard to throw pine cones in the river.  We ventured over to Taylor Creek where the water was much higher than last September.  The boys loved heading down to the beach and just exploring everywhere.  
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
We found snow on Echo Summit.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
Every time Luke put some in his mouth he'd say, "Yum!"
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
I blame some last minute packing and scattered thinking on forgetting to pack Noah any extra pants or shorts.  He didn't mind wearing the same ones every day (clean, of course), even in the snow.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
It was a short trip, but sorely needed.  And the fun just kept coming with Easter weekend!
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Whole Lot of Croup

When my big boy started coughing yesterday afternoon I thought, "Here we go again."  He had croup for the four hundredth time about a month ago, so I was pretty annoyed that it seemed that we were heading down that path again so soon.  At about 9:30, when he was sound asleep, the coughs started coming.  It was only a matter of minutes before they were coming on top of each other.  That wicked croup cough reached a whole new level of horrible that we hadn't experienced before.  It was terribly scary for Noah and incredibly frustrating for Nate and me.  Nothing we tried helped.  We worked with it for almost two hours, and our efforts only resulted in a few minutes of relief here or there.

So, at about 11:30 p.m. Noah and I headed off to the ER.  Why can't croup get bad at lunchtime instead?  It's pretty great walking into the emergency room with difficulty breathing, because you get put to the front of the line.  There was almost no waiting for us. 

But while we did wait, Noah wanted to take pictures. :-)
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
 Still smiling despite all the misery at midnight. I love this kid.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
From the moment he was seen by the triage nurse, Noah was a champ.  He was polite, cooperative, obedient, and even tried to be happy while the constant coughing continued.  The nurse said, "We don't see kids like you, especially at this time of night."  When the nurse was just making conversation with him and asked him about his brother's name he didn't skip a beat and said, "My 'bruder's' name is Lukiepottomus."  I clarified that one.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
After a short wait we got some cough medicine, ibuprofen, a steroid and a breathing treatment on board.  Things improved after that.

I think Noah was most excited about the apple juice another nurse brought him.  He kept saying, "Give me some more apple cider please mom."  And he made sure anyone who walked into the room knew he has been to an apple orchard.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
Today things were better, except for the exhaustion part -- for both of us.  Hopefully that nasty croup will give us a break so everyone can sleep better tonight.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Potty Training - Check!

I could have written this post two days after we started potty training.  Noah has got this down.  Oh, the magic of McQueen stickers and a chart.  By the second day he was earning stickers for coming to the potty still dry.  He was so super excited to show me that he was dry before going potty. And, he's still incredibly proud of himself that he's doing all of this big boy potty stuff so well.  I am too.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
The little boy who not long ago declared he was never doing big stinkies on the potty is actually quite cooperative now, although he usually asks if he can go play in his room instead of telling me he has to go.  I just follow up with the right question and he says, "Oh, yeah, mom.  I need to go."  I can't help but laugh that every time after he's all situated he says in a grown up voice, "Give me some privacy please Mom."  So, he gets his private time and takes care of business.  AND, this little boy stays dry at night, EVERY night.  Hallelujah. 

Me? I'm loving having only one kid in diapers.  I can't believe how our diapers are NOT disappearing now.  I dreaded it, but potty training was NOT hard.  It was inconvenient, but definitely not hard.   I waited a little longer than some, but it paid off with the whole process being fun for the little one and not so hard on me.