10 years a Momma

So I just turned 32 years old last week, although some of my peers might be freaking out as we are edging closer to the mid-30’s mark – I am good. Age has never been a scary thing for me. Of course, I am one to want to live forever lol. I want to see my kiddos with their kids and their grandkids. I want to grow super old with my husband. I want to see things – but from the comfort of my home, not much for traveling unless it’s to the beach lol. But I think my biggest and most important accomplishment has been my kiddos.

I haven’t always taken the easiest path in life. I have always wanted to do things my way or no way because I, of course, know the best way to handle things – or that’s at least what I told myself. Obviously, with that being said, I wasn’t the easiest kid to raise and my parents remind me of that every day. I wanted to go to college and get my teaching degree but also wanted to hang out with my friends and have a good time. I also wasn’t very good with the whole “work hard, play harder” situation. Either way, I’m glad we can laugh about it now but I was reeeeeeally good at the playing part.

Let’s fast forward to the time that I thought I was ready for a family. I don’t know about y’all, but this still makes me laugh. Who is ever truly ready for a baby? I mean, I was the furthest thing from being ready but even those that think they are, probably aren’t. I was a hot mess: 19 or 20 years old, dropped out of college to move back to Richmond, VA, jumped from job to job but really “peaked” as a manager at Food Lion haha. I was married to my first “love” but still living with my in-laws at the time. I thought I could rule the world – lol it’s a good thing I wasn’t full of myself. I mean, I know how it happens but still wasn’t fully prepared when I found out I was pregnant. I was still a baby myself but the thought of having my own baby was awesome. Unfortunately, I had 3 miscarriages the first 3 times I became pregnant. If that wasn’t reason enough to change what I was doing I don’t know what is. At that point I was devastated and wanted nothing more than I carry a baby in my belly and be a Mom.

At the age of 21, I was pregnant with my little Mileigh Ann. She became my whole stinkin’ world y’all! She came into the world just 11 days after my 22nd birthday. I might not have made the best decisions as we were growing up together but I knew she was meant to be my little Goober. Being that I only had one kiddo, she went everywhere with me. In hindsight, maybe places that she shouldn’t have been but I was her Momma and I wanted to show her to the world. Eventually I had her brother, Conor Mathew, 2 years later and things just got crazy from there. In the last 10 years, I have since been divorced and left from a not so great situation, ended up reconnecting with one of my best friends from high school and remarrying him years later. We made a life together. We both have great jobs, we have a beautiful house, and now have added to our family. We fought my cancer together. We handled more miscarriages together (have had a total of 6 now). We’ve been through a lot but I wouldn’t want to do life with anyone else. Needless to say, I am happy.

I am the proudest Momma to three happy, respectful, adorable kiddos. As I write this, my oldest will be turning 10 years old on Sunday and I struggling. She made me a Momma. She and I grew up together. She showed me what true love is. She pushed me to be the best person I could be, in ways that she will never understand. It’s amazing the impact one little girl can be on your life – especially when she’s only been around for 1/3 of it but it’s by far the best part!

So this is just a quick reminder to hug your babies tight. It feels like it was just yesterday that I was watching that sweet baby sleep in her crib. Now she gets on the bus without a hug or kiss. She wants to run the neighborhood with her friends. She is my social butterfly that doesn’t want to be held back, and in so many ways a spitting image of her Momma. I love you Mileigh Ann and thank you for being the start of my biggest trophy! I am grateful for each of my kiddos – Mileigh, Conor and Spence – and blessed I was picked to be their Momma! ❤️

Trust Your Gut

Oh it’s me again – I know, I know, something must have happened because she’s posting again lol. Although that might be true, I do intend to post more often. As we all know, the journey is never over, but the chapters change with each tide.

So I can honestly say that last year had been a good one. As you might remember I was given the “no evidence of disease” 2 years ago yesterday but we had to wait an additional 6 months to start trying for another baby. Then 6 month and 2 days later, our Baby Bear was finally more than a thought, if you know what I mean?!

During my pregnancy, my thyroid medication had to be changed a total of 6 times so I was on a constant roller coaster (more than just the change in pregnancy hormones – add in the fluctuation of thyroid hormones too)!!! I was grateful for both my doctors to be in constant communication and having monthly blood work checks to make sure I was where I needed to be. After Spence came into the world last July, I was actually quite surprised by how quickly I fell back to my “normal”. I felt great and started to lose the pregnancy weight very quickly – thanks to breastfeeding the first couple months. Unfortunately, after several attempts and trying what felt like everything, I was unable to continue to produce enough breast milk for Spence. I was thankful for my Endo to confirm that many of us without Thyroids are unable to produce the required amount – made me feel better knowing it wasn’t just “me”. I thought I would take it better with baby #3 but #momguilt always sinks in. Even if I knew that as long as he was fed, that’s all that mattered.

Fast forward to this past December, Spence was just 5 months old and I noticed I was still not feeling my best. Part of it was the stress of the holidays, I’m sure, but I knew it was more. I sent my Endocrinologist an email asking about my numbers. He assured me that they were fine and that I needed to give my hormones more time before we try to change anything. I was definitely frustrated by his response and should have insisted on blood work but the anxiety kicked in telling me I was overreacting. January came and I had my annual whole body scans – thankfully everything came back where they should and I could go back to my normal and focus on my always busy family life.

Within a month, I started feeling as though something still wasn’t right. My anxiety and depression was at an all time high again. I was tired All. The. Time! Yes I know I have a busy home with three kiddos but it was more. I brought this up to my Primary doctor and again, it was brushed off. After MONTHS of feeling sluggish, continuing to gain weight, I was tired all the time, I started having anxiety attacks again, having hot flashes several times a night, couldn’t get warm during the day, having my own emotional melt downs multiple times a week, having a period for weeks and weeks at a time, then skin rashes breaking out all over my body – including my head which resulted in scabs on 75% of my scalp, debilitating headaches, muscle cramps and joint pain – I had ENOUGH. I made the first available appointment with a new primary doctor within the same practice. Within 3 days and several attempts to get the information for the doctors office, I was told that my TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) was at a 14.67. This is absurd! My numbers should be at ONE or less is ok too! And it was 14 times higher than it should have been. This is not a small increase – I felt like I was dying but because of my anxiety, I kept it inside until I had more than I could handle.

Trust me, I am the first one to admit that we must be our own advocate – I should have know this from the years and years that I went undiagnosed while the cancer spread to my lymph nodes and both of my lungs. But sometimes we forget and trust that others have the best of intentions. But goodness gracious, no matter your situation or medical conditions, please trust your gut. For the 3rd time I am looking for new doctors. It is their job to help me. If they can’t, you move on to someone else because if not, you can go through several months of not being your best self. I have lost it on my family and missed out on things with family and friends because of it. I can’t get these months back but I can take charge of taking care of myself again. Never give up and always reach out to others for help.

For those that have Thyroid Cancer or other related Thyroid issues, I think we can all understand that our fight it never over. No matter how many people or doctors or professionals tell us that it’s the “easy” cancer. Know that you are NOT alone.

Always,

Kat

Relay for Life Team: All Night for the Fight

Ok yall, it’s time for Relay for Life!!! I couldn’t be more thrilled to have our own team this year and it’s going to be AWESOME!

An introduction to Relay for Life:

I’m going to be completely honest, prior to being diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer, I had remembered hearing about it Relay for Life but had never participated in one. I was asked by my dear friend and neighbor last year to join her team, not truly understanding what it was all about. I can tell you, this experience was life changing. To see so many people coming together to help bring awareness, raise money, and support each other was just an incredible thing – and of course, it was FUN! Please, please, please come and hang out with us! 🙂

What is Relay for Life:

  • It’s an organized, overnight community fundraising walk for ALL cancers
  • Teams of people camp out around a track
  • Members of each team take turns walking around the track
  • Food, games, and activities provide entertainment and build camaraderie
  • Family-friendly environment for the entire community

What makes Relay for Life more awesome?

  • In more than 5,200 communities and 20 countries, Relay for Life events comprise the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, raising more than $400 million dollars.
  • Survivors Lap: All cancer survivors at the event take the first lap around the track, celebrating their victory over cancer while cheered on by other participants who line the track.
  • Luminaria Ceremony: Takes place after dark, so we can remember people we have lost to cancer, honor people who have fought cancer in the past, and support those whose fight continues. Candles are lit inside of personalized bags and are placed around the Relay track as glowing tributes to those who’ve been affected by cancer.
  • Fight Back Ceremony: This emotionally powerful ceremony inspires Relay participants to take action. The Fight Back Ceremony symbolizes the emotional commitment each of us can make in the fight against cancer. The action taken represents what we are willing to do for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for our community to fight cancer year-round and to commit to saving lives.

What to expect at a Relay Event?

  1. Relayers are welcomed in the Opening Ceremony.
  2. Relay starts with the Survivor Lap, when survivors walk to celebrate their victory over cancer.
  3. The Caregiver Lap recognizes those who have given care to cancer patients.
  4. All of the Relay teams are invited to walk together during the Opening Lap.
  5. Luminaria bags and candles are lit during the Luminaria Ceremony to honor loved ones who have passed or are fighting the disease.
  6. Individual Walking is observed throughout the night with Family Games, Activities, and Entertainment.
  7. The Fight Back Ceremony helps close the event. Relayers take a final lap and pledge to take action and spread awareness of cancer research, treatments, and prevention.

How can YOU help?

  • Join our team!! Seriously, it’s going to be a BLAST! Whether you can come for an hour or all night – come hang out, walk a couple laps with us and celebrate those that are fighting and honor those that we have lost.
  • Help raise money – share our team link (see below) to your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media. It doesn’t matter if you can give back $5 or raise $50, anything helps!!
  • Donate a Luminaria Bag/Torch – You can choose to decorate a bag (see me for details) or you can purchase online and the event will have a bag for you lining the track, including “In Honor Of”, “In Memory Of”, or “In Support Of”.
    • White Luminaria Bag – $10 (or 3 for $25)
    • Blue Luminaria Bag – 3 for $25
    • Tiki Torch of Hope – $30 (or $35 includes a keepsake)
  • Come support us!! Even if you aren’t interested in walking with our team, just come be apart of this fantatic opportunity – come watch the opening ceremony, have a few laughs, etc. Just come, but I’m going to warn you, the energy is contagious and you might not want to leave! 🙂

Event Day Logistics

  • When: Saturday, June 11, 2016 from 6pm to 7am
  • Where: Fauquier High School (702 Waterloo Road, Warrenton, VA)
  • What should I pack? folding chair, a change of clothes, a blanket/pillow, warm clothes (in case it gets chilly), bug spray, and snacks.
  • Where to meet? we have a tent set up – you just have to look for our sign with team name: All Night for the Fight!
  • Are you a Survivor? Make sure you sign up online as one so you can receive the t-shirt. And please come early to receive your complimentary food in the Survivor tent.
  • Food/Drinks? Yes there will be vendors/other teams selling food/drinks and of course, there will be water provided for participants.
  • Bathrooms? There are bathrooms on site – duh! 😉
  • Kids? Of course! You are never too young to Relay! Just make sure you bring all the necessities! And if your child under 18 years of and will be walking, be sure to bring your signed Youth Participant Agreement to the Registration table.
  • Do I have to walk the whole time?? NO! In order to represent the fact that “Cancer never sleeps”, we ask that each team has a representative walking the track at all times. This should not be just one person – team members can take shifts!
  • Want to sleep? You are more than welcome to take a nap in the tent, OR go home, take a name and come back! Participants are not required to stay up all night.

Relay for LIfe

Thank yall for taking the time to read this. I just wanted to answer any questions that you might have about this amazing event and hope to see YOU there! 🙂

Our Team Link: 

http://main.acsevents.org/goto/FauquierAllNightfortheFight 

Depression during RAI

Needed to take a quick detour from my Part 1/Part 2 blog to fill you in on a matter that I feel is something that is important and is something that just about anyone might go through in these circumstances.

Depression. The word seems so silly when we are only talking about 7 days worth of isolation. I know I’ve said before that many people have mentioned before that I should look at this as a mini vacation from any responsibilities or kid duties. But to me, and I don’t want to speak to everyone, but I feel like as a Mom – this is way harder than the recovery for my surgery because I could hug my babies and spend time with my family.

The first day home in isolation wasn’t so bad because I saw everyone briefly, hear stories from my kiddos, and I slept horribly in the hospital so I came home and caught up on my sleep. The second day was a little harder because the kiddos had another snow day and they were all wound up downstairs playing with my Hubby, my Mom, and my brother. By the 3rd day, I started to try to straighten my room up and took two showers, even took a bubble bath – tried to listen to my book on tape that I’ve been dying to listen to that I’m never able to because the kids are so loud in the van. But I was so distracted…thinking that my Mom is finally in town and I can’t sit downstairs with her and my kiddos keep popping their head in the room just to say “I love you!” when all I want to do is pull them in the bed and snuggle with them. I want nothing more than to have my Hubby sleep in the same bed again and give me a hug and kiss and say everything is going to be ok. And even though I find it quite amusing when my little brother jumps away from me, screaming “RADIATION!!” every time I come downstairs to fill up my water bottle, I would love to sit down with the adults once the kids are asleep and actually watch a movie.

I know this all seems pretty petty but the last few days seem to drag on forever when you are trapped in a room with nothing to do but watch TV or movies when you constantly fall asleep. Or attempt to read a book when you can’t seem to concentrate. And then we get to the diet – I can FINALLY eat normal food again. I’m not sure if my stomach is still upset from the RAI or if its from trying to eat normal food 2 days in a row but ever since I haven’t been able to eat. So throw in an upset stomach in the mix and all you want to do is sleep. I think I slept a total of 18 hours yesterday. I know my body is actually drained for all the work it’s trying to do – I mean, come on…it is trying to kill cancer. That is pretty hardcore stuff! But I wanted to do nothing but sleep or cry or stare out the window. I know all of which are signs of depression. And I wanted to do nothing about it. My phone went off a few times when I was sleeping and I didn’t pick up the phone to call any of those people back. This makes me even more sad because I am not this person.

I heard my kiddos climbing in bed at night but they decided to come be silly and show off outside my door to make Mommy smile first. Then they heard Daddy yell up the stairs “Y’all better be in bed by the time I get upstairs!!!” Haha I’ve never seen them run so fast to bed as they both yelled “I love you” and blew kisses to me. After about 10 minutes I was upset with my Hubby because I wanted nothing more than to go in and tuck them in myself. On any normal night this would not have upset me like this but I went downstairs and asked why it was taking him so long to tuck them in. He looked at me shocked as I had tears running down my face. I went back up and got in my bed so after he said goodnight to the kids he knew how upset I was and came to talk to me. I cried myself to sleep. I knew there was nothing he did wrong – it was all a part of the process.

I wanted to write this post because I wanted people who are going through RAI to know that it’s ok to feel this way and that it will get better. I slept horribly last night but I decided I wasn’t going to spend the entire day in the bed. I got up and took a shower and wrote this post. I’m going to attempt to eat breakfast then I’m going to see if someone will take the kiddos to the playground down the street so I can get outside and watch them have fun. (Before anyone freaks out – I will make sure to keep my distance from anyone to ensure I will not expose anyone). I might still feel bad this afternoon when I have to come back to my “dungeon” but that’s ok. I only have a couple more days of this before I can *fingers cross* have all this behind me.

No Baby For Me….

I have to say this might be a difficult post for me for many reasons but I know it’s on the mind of any people in the same situation….

To start off: I am so very, very grateful for the two beautiful kiddos that I have – Mileigh Ann and Conor! They made me a Mommy and that’s all I could ask for, for a long time. At this point in time I’ve had 6 miscarriages…yes, six. Most of them may have been early, the pregnancies may not have been at the right times BUT it’s never, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER easy.

I first got pregnant at the early age of 19 but boy was I excited because I just recently got engaged to my “first boyfriend/love.” After 14 very long weeks pregnant, I miscarried and needed a D&C. I was devastated and it didn’t take long for me to get pregnant again (4 months to be exact) and miscarried at 8 weeks pregnant. I had another one (about 6 months later) at 6 weeks pregnant. Full disclosure: I finally got married to my then husband – we both were very immature and didn’t take care of ourselves. We both drank heavily (when I wasn’t pregnant) but he was always drinking and doing drunks – obviously with the miscarriages I became stressed and none of this helped with the pregnancies.

I had Mileigh Ann (she is now 6 1/2) and finally made me grow up. I had another miscarriage about a year later (I was 11 weeks pregnant). Then about a year later I had my baby boy Conor (he is now 4 1/2). I decided it was finally time to end things with my (now ex) husband. He was both verbally and physically abusive and I didn’t want my babies growing up in that – even though he never hurt them, it was always directed towards me and I didn’t want that to escalate.

I always kept in touch with one of my best friends, Spencer, from high school, but made sure to reach out that much more when he started going through his divorce. We both started to lean on each other through that time and ended up sparking an interest in each other. Next thing I know, I moved to NOVA (Northern Virginia) to make a better life for me and my kids and to see what was next for Spencer and me. I ended up having a miscarriage about a year into our relationship – but I was on the Mirena (a type of birth control) and somehow got pregnant and miscarried all within 4-5 weeks. Obviously it made us both very sad but we were not trying nor were we ready to start a new life.

Finally after 3 1/2 years of dating we got married, with more than enough family and friends present. We decided very early on that we wanted to get pregnant fairly quickly so the kids were somewhat close in age and so we weren’t 60 years old with middle schoolers lol. It was exactly 6 months after we said our “I do’s” that we started trying to conceive. Haha it didn’t take long, as we were pregnant within the same month that I had the Mirena removed. We obviously wanted to wait to announce but with early complications and a close family, we told all family that we saw on a regular basis. In the matter of a few more days, I miscarried at 7 weeks – having my 6th miscarriage.

Now with the whole Cancer thing – I was told I needed surgery and Radioactive Iodine Therapy, which will all set me back a few years. Depends on the day and who you ask, but my Endo said anywhere from 2-4 years break from conceiving. I know to most people that doesn’t sound like a big deal – especially when you are thinking of surgeries and treatments that need to be done for cancer, but it’s a big deal to me and my husband and our family. For the first time in our lives, we were ready to expand. We were taking that leap. And it’s not fair. Yes I know I should be, and I WANT to be, healthy for our family, both current and future. But that’s no one else’s business…I know that we still have a great chance of getting pregnant again (even after RAI) but it doesn’t make it any easier now. The doctors don’t realize that when they talk to you.

My Endo tried to compare her “being a doctor and unable to take extended time away from work to me having to wait 3-4 years to try again – PLUS I have two kids already?!?!” Are you kidding me???? Once again, none of your business that they came from a previous marriage and we aren’t done at 2.

I just wish doctors had to be directly impacted before they are able to specialize in one thing in particular – or maybe they have been but don’t necessarily sympathize. This isn’t mine or my husband’s fault. There are days that I feel at fault because he has waited so long for this day to happen but then I do understand that there is nothing I can do to change this. Just when I think I’ve “mourned” the loss of an opportunity to have another baby at the moment, I have another moment. Another baby shower comes up. My period shows it’s self again. Or just a rough day – it happens. And it’s ok to have these days – as long as we get back up the next day and push for another healthy day – another day closer to having that opportunity.

To all of you going through the same thing, I truly sympathize. I understand. And I pray that it happens when you are ready – sooner, rather than later!