Where do babies come from? Don’t worry, I am absolutely not going to give you the “birds and the bees” conversation! But, being a mom has always been a dream of mine! For many of you that know me, you would probably say that I love kids! I have always pictured myself marrying my prince charming, having babies and living happily ever after. I was on the right path, I found my prince charming; we had a wedding date… then that word. As soon as you hear the word “Cancer”… all your dreams sort of come to a halt, or do they…
Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer only a couple weeks ago now, I sort of feel like my life has been on over drive! From appointment after appointment, test after test, and planning a wedding in two weeks, needless to say I am physically and emotionally exhausted! In a weeks time I now have an oncologist, surgical oncologist, geneticist, overly supportive nursing staff, and fertility specialists whom are all working toward making me better!
So, why did I say we were going to talk about babies? Before I was told that I had cancer, it never even crossed my mind that I would ever have to look into other options aside from waiting till the time was right, bam chica wah wah and like magic there’s a baby! Ok, I do know it can be a little more complicated than all of that… but, I never had a reason to think that I would have any difficulties! Only a couple of weeks ago, my biggest concern was making sure I took my birth control pill every night!
When the doctor told me I would have to be going through Chemotherapy one of the very first things they brought up was my referral to a Fertility Clinic. I was told that when I am going through chemo, I will have to take a shot in my stomach that sort of “shuts down” my ovaries and there is a high chance that after treatment my ovaries may not work. It was heart breaking to hear this. I am 26 years old, planning a wedding, I’ve found the love of my life, and now I may not be able to even try to start a family the traditional way…
My sisters and I plugged the address into the GPS, we traveled across Pittsburgh and through the tunnel, then drove up to a rather fancy looking building. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to walk into. The fertility clinic has such a calming feeling about it. Whether it be just the warm earthy colors of the décor, random pictures of gorgeous little babies and adorable children names on the walls, or the reassurance of the staff that everything will indeed be okay, I could tell that this was a special place. As my sisters and I sat awaiting my name to be called, I couldn’t help but think how in a blink of an eye, this could be the only way I have children of my own.
After multiple vials of blood were taken, basic vitals, and medical history, I was escorted to a room with a table in the middle, 4 chairs, and the most comforting sage green walls. There was a shelf with medical statues, multiple pamphlets, and magazines spread throughout the room. My sisters were by my side so I knew everything would be alright… but the fear of the unknown throughout this entire journey continues to be a little overwhelming.
John had to go to work because the prior day he took off of work to come to my tests with me, so Sam and Jill were my co-pilots. As the doctor finally arrived and began to go over the process, benefits, and risks… my head began to spin. The doctor stated “there is a risk that the medication you have to be on is going to increase your estrogen and could spread your cancer”. My heart instantly crumbled into a million pieces. “That’s it” I thought to myself. Do I risk my health and life just to have children of my own? My sister’s face said it all, this is not even an option. I instantly texted John to explain the risks of this whole crazy process to which his response was “You are the most important thing in my life, I want you to be safe. We can always adopt when we are ready”. The physician stepped out and let me have time to discuss things with my sisters as she went to call my oncologist to discuss the risks. I instantly broke into tears.
My sisters are younger than me, 24 and 22 years old (yes we are all two years apart). It was hard to discuss these things with them when from their point of view I don’t need kids… I’m too young… I’m already dealing with so much. For me, this is my future. Right now at the age of 26 and after finding out I have breast cancer only 2 weeks ago, I have to decide what steps to take in order to make sure I at least have a chance to have my own children… talk about stress! Truth is, John and I have talked about having kids on numerous occasions. Despite what he may say in public, one of John’s greatest dreams is to coach his kids in sports, he will be an absolutely amazing father. I stepped out of the room to call John, and it was as if all my worries instantly went away. He just has that was of calming me down.
I went back to the room and the physician returned. “Good news” she explained. “I just talked to your oncologist and they got the results of your PET scan, the cancer is isolated in the tumor and 1 lymph node it is safe to proceed”. My sisters and I instantly (again) burst into tears. I’m not sure the physician was exactly supposed to tell me that those results were back, but that was the best news I’ve heard in days! The heaviest weight was finally lifted! (The above picture is our celebration meal Dunkin Donuts DUH!) With those few words, I was ready to start the process of freezing my eggs.
I was walked down to another room for an ultrasound of my ovaries. The room was dark, the technician was young and there was a changing room on the opposite side of the bed with stirrups. I was instructed to take everything off from waist down, and I could keep my dress on, walk out with one of the paper sheets for my lap and sit on the table with my legs in the stirrups. PARENTAL ADVISORY for the rest of this post…
The technician described the test because I had never had an ultrasound of my ovaries before. I was instructed that the wand would only enter about an inch into me (about as far as a tampon). The technician explained that it would be more comfortable if I inserted it myself then she would perform the test. With my legs bent up in the stirrups, sheet across my lap, I reached for the wand, inserted it and the technician began manipulating it while watching the computer screen to see where she was going. She turned the wand side by side looking at both of my ovaries… it didn’t hurt but it was a little bit uncomfortable. Truthfully it felt like time had stopped because it was taking so long, then she said “okay your all done!”.
I returned to the closet, cleaned up a bit and went to the little room where my sisters were waiting for me. The physician returned to tell me I have 11 eggs visible in one ovary and 9 in the other, so with all the fertility medication, and perfect timing all should go well. Another nurse entered the room with a huge bag of medications. She taught me how to inject myself into the stomach and instructed me on the very specific times each medication had to be administered.
I have decided to freeze both eggs (provided by me) and embryos (provided by me and John, our little petri dish babies! And yes… if one is a girl it’s name will be Elsa Koziel, get it, she is frozen 🙂 ) — I’ve thought about this a little too much! If my genetic testing comes back that I have a gene for breast cancer, they can test individual eggs however embryos have a better chance of maturing so why not do both!
With God’s good graces all will turn out exactly what is planned for me… now I’m off to shoot myself in the stomach, wish me luck!