We took a trip to New Orleans and Gulf Shores over spring break back in March. Here are some of the photos. Gamma Kathy came with us and it was such a nice treat to have her there. Chris and I got to go out a couple of nights which was awesome and nostalgic.
A couple of new photos to counterbalance the downer post from yesterday. Iyla had a blast collecting easter eggs. They were totally empty and she didn’t miss a thing. We plan to build our Easter traditions each year and figured she wouldn’t miss the candy/change/folded up bills since she doesn’t know any better. We’ve been letting her chose her own clothes each morning, for the most part. She loves choosing shoes and will wear her yellow leg warmers everyday if she can. She particularly likes them with her blue sparkly pants.
Spring is here. We went to the Birmingham Botanical gardens today and snapped a few shots with the cherry blossoms in the background. I even found one of the last standing tulip magnolias.
Oh yeah, two other things Iyla is in love with right now: coloring and “gloss” (ie: burts bees chap stick). You can see her carrying it in almost every photo.
I am rarely in front of the camera, please pardon my need for a facial and a tan.
xoxo & enjoy.
First off, I’m sorry this post is so long. If you want to skip the details here’s the cliff notes: Some shit happened but we are fine now. If you like details, read on.
I have been on hiatus from the blog because I decided several weeks ago that I was going to do a serious post about what has been going on in my personal life recently and I’ve been putting it off. I have tried to be reflective on what it is about me, or the way I grew up, or society, that makes it so damn hard to get vulnerable and talk about things that hurt me, but I haven’t come up with any revelatory answers. I decided that regardless of reasons it might help me heal to put it all out there. I also know from experience that it helps to hear someone else’s story in case it might be relevant to you or someone you love. Here is the full story for those of you who don’t know or only know pieces… (warning: about to talk about personal womanly stuff, including bodily fluid – not for the faint of heart.)
Last September, when Iyla turned one, we got pregnant. It wasn’t “planned” but we were conscientiously open to the possibility. By mid-October we were indulging in baby naming, planning how to tell Iyla and feeling the abundant fear and joy of being parents to another sweet baby. At 9 weeks we had an ultrasound that showed a strong heartbeat and a little embryo. Two days before Thanksgiving I started noticing a small amount of blood when I went to the bathroom. I began to feel a deep sense that something was wrong by Thanksgiving day. I felt mild cramping and had more spotting – all things which can be explained away, however in retrospect, I know that I am more intuitively aware of my body than I had given myself credit for. During the drive home on Sunday night I was in full panic mode when we stopped at a gas station to go to the bathroom and I passed a blood clot. I immediately called the on call ob/gyn at UAB and was told not to worry, but that if in fact I was starting to miscarry there was nothing that could be done so I shouldn’t rush to the hospital. That night was the first of many subsequent difficult nights. In the morning Chris, Iyla and I visited the doctor. The nurse could not find a heartbeat with the doppler so we were sent to the ultrasound technician, who did an exam without a word except to tell us when we were done. During her exam, Chris and I saw the flat line where the heartbeat should be. She measured the fetus/embryo at 9.5 weeks. It should have been 12.5.
Even as I type now, presently feeling positive and healing, I am jarred by how the feeling of shock and disbelief can come back so vividly. The next two weeks were extremely emotionally difficult for Chris and me both, and also physically trying for me. I spoke to very few people about what what going on and how I felt. I must say though, my friends and family who did know, where amazing rocks of strength and I could not have gotten through it without them. It is amazing to have both spiritual,scientific, funny and serious friends who gave me lots of information, perspective and love when I needed it. The entire process took over weeks from the date of my first appointment.
We were told to give my body time to heal, at least a couple of months before we tried to get pregnant again. Once my body started healing, it was much easier for me to make some kind of peace with what had happened and look positively to the future again. In January I went back for my check up to make sure everything was healing well and my womb was in good shape. We wanted to try to get pregnant again.
At that visit, my doctor informed me that I had had an abnormal pap smear, the second one in fact, and I would have to undergo a colposcopy. A colposcopy is basically a cervical exam where the doctor uses a powerful microscope to look at your cervix for abnormalities, and in my case also takes biopsies of the inside and outside of the cervix and the inside of the uterus. The outcome of the colposcopy can be very good – ie, there is nothing wrong but maybe some inflammation that caused the abnormal pap. However, in my case a couple other risk factors indicated that the most positive outcome was likely that I had a low-grade lesion (pre-cancer) that may or may not need to be removed. The worst case scenario would be cancer. The actual results fell somewhere in between.
After the biopsy I had to wait three days for the lab results. I may have experienced the most acute anxiety I have ever felt in my life during this time. I vacillated between fact finding and emotional break-downs, which is probably normal when the potential of a life-threatening illness is staring you in the face. Shit really, really, really sucks. But if you are open to it, it also gives you insane perspective.
The call from the doctor Friday morning revealed that I had a high-grade lesion, which is the most developed form of “pre-cancer” before actual cancer. I could not continue trying to conceive until it was removed. She would remove it with a procedure called a cold-knife conization, which basically means that she would remove cone shaped a piece of my cervix with a knife. Afterwards, the tissue would be sent to a lab and I would await yet another pathology result, to tell whether she had removed all the abnormal cells. If she had, we would still have to wait three months for another pap-smear to return negative before we were given the all-systems-go for trying to conceive again. If not… more bad stuff. My mom flew in to town (with a broken arm, bless her heart) I had the procedure on February 12th. I was admitted to the hospital early in the morning and put under general sedation. I left the hospital around lunch time.
My sweet sweet doctor called me from her cell phone on the way home from work the following day to tell me the pathologist had returned the results and that my “margins were all clear,” meaning I didn’t have cancer and that she had removed all pre-cancerous cells. Chris literally jumped and screamed with joy.
After this good news, so many conflicting emotions developed. One the one hand, I was am so relieved that I’m not in a worse-off place. I don’t have cancer, and the prognosis is good and not life-threatening by any means. But still, I have been having trouble wrapping my brain and my heart around all that was left to consider. I will need to be monitored closely to make sure there isn’t a recurrence, we have a limited time to procreate before a doctor will most likely order a hysterectomy, and the worst thing for me – we have to wait several more months and another pap test before we will be given the doctor’s blessing to try to conceive again. I am thankful I haven’t gotten caught up in the rhetorical “why me?” In fact, I have been comforted by the scientific explanation, which has been my fast friend. For example, we know that the cervical lesion did not cause the miscarriage. A miscarriage is your body’s way of preventing a potentially harmful pregnancy and there was most likely a chromosomal mutation that was not “life-compatible.” So, was it a lame coincidence that they both happened within couple months of one another? Or, was it a blessing that I didn’t carry the pregnancy to term, because if I had the lesion would have had more time to grow, my pap would have been later and the pathology results could have been much more serious. I thank the science of my body and the hard work and research of others for the ability to catch these things early. If no other lesson be gleaned from this verbose and poorly crafted story, let it be this: LADIES GET YOUR PAP SMEARS!!!!
Right now we are super-duper positive. Our difficult past months have also been studded with sparkling gems. We are looking at the bright side of a half full glass of a delicious, um….. let’s say manhattan up. I cannot be sad for too long. This little angel is never far away and she likes to bring me flowers.
I can’t believe how much she has changed since the 12 month photo. We missed month 5′s photo because we were in San Diego for Chuck Holt’s birth. We are so glad we stayed and it was worth the missed photo.
Double click on the first image to enter the gallery.