Our Fertility Journey: We’re Pregnant After Cancer!

So if you haven’t heard by now, There is a little Baby Kozy growing in my belly! The news was the absolute BEST we could have ever imagined for! A true miracle! But I am getting absolutely flooded with questions, so… like I do with everything in my life, I am ready to share!

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Recap of our fertility journey

October 12, 2015- I was diagnosed with Er/Pr+ HER2- breast cancer at 26 years young

October 2015– went through IVF for egg retrieval and egg/ embryo freezing due to the need for aggressive chemo. My fertility specialist did not take every egg she saw, she had a very specific qualification based on the size after fertility treatments and harvested a grand total of 14 eggs. From there, we made the decision to split them half and half pending my genetic testing results (which I did later find out I carry the PALB2 gene). 7 eggs were immediately frozen. The other 7 met Johns sperm and we attempted fertilization of embryos under a microscope of course (gosh no privacy I tell ya!) Once again, another long and stressful process… but out of our 7 embryos, 3 made it to day 3 and we’re deemed “viable” for freezing.

(Circa 2015- The beginning of my cancer journey all started with FERTILITY!)

November 2015– right before starting chemotherapy, I was placed on a Lupron injection every 3 months to temporarily shut down my ovaries (putting me in metabolic menopause) in hopes that it would preserve their function following an aggressive chemo regimen). I also made the decision with my oncologist to utilize Arimadex (vs Tamoxifen) which is a hormonal inhibitor for 5-10 years due to my hormone sensitivity of my cancer— basically it blocks my body from making estrogen and progesterone which is what my cancer type thrives and spreads on. I was recommended by my oncologist to have a copper IUD placed as well through the course of active treatment to prevent any oopsy babies being that chemo could have potentially harmful effects on a fetus.

November 2015-February 2016– underwent 4 rounds of Adriamycin and 8 rounds of Taxol (plan was 16 rounds total however had to stop due to anaphylactic reactions)- did not have a complete response to chemotherapy

April 2016-double mastectomy with lymph node resection and immediate expanded placement- clear margins!

May- July 2016-30 rounds radiation

December 2016- first Breast Reconstruction, attempted oral chemo Xeloda however due to severe symptoms, quit after 3rd doseage.

June 2017- finally feeling a bit more like myself, I made the decision with my husband, oncologist, and fertility specialist after reviewing much research to pause the use of all hormone blockers (lupron and arimadex) and sort of place my body into a cleanse period. This is extremely risky considering my cancer could potentially return with if there is one micro-cancer cell present anywhere in my body, especially because it had already spread to my lymph nodes when I was diagnosed.  The research that my oncologist presented to us DID NOT show an increase in cancer recurrence with a pause in hormone therapy for fertility.  Of course, there is always a risk… but thats life— there is always risks!  If someone doesn’t take risks, they would never move forward!

The way I see it and the question that i’ve been getting asked the most is “how could you risk your cancer coming back?”  My response: well, first off… its my life!  I absolutely REFUSE to let cancer stop me from living.  I refuse for cancer to cause me anymore FEAR than it already had!  I REFUSE to live in fear, and second guess how I want to live life just because i’m afraid my cancer may or may not come back.  The way I see it, everything that is meant to happen will happen.  If my cancer is meant to come back, it will o matter if I get pregnant or not! And what will I do— I will FIGHT, just like I did before!  BUT that will absolutely NOT stop me from my greatest dream of starting a family and having this baby!  Basically CANCER CAN FUCK OFF:)

Back to the story here— We were recommended to make a time line (we chose 6 months) and if my ovaries didn’t show signs of activation then we would start looking into our other options of fertility—- we began researching costs of adoption, surrogacy, and IVF and began to get extremely overwhelmed!

(Yes my daily pill and tri-monthly BUTT shot!)

June 27, 2017- Happy birthday to me, out comes your IUD!!!! And goshhhh did that flipping hurt! It felt like I just lost a small piece of myself! Literally, legit felt like my uterus was ripped from my vag. Oddly enough. A few days of spotting then I was back to normal! Phewf, the things we do ladies, the things we do!

Two days later, I met with Dr. Raymond my oncologist. It was official! I did not receive my lupron dose and I was officially “temporarily” going off my Arimadex (hormone inhibitor)! I had my fingers and toes crossed that my ovaries would turn back on! The worst part was all we could do is wait:( And the best part, John and I chose to keep it our little secret—away from our family in hopes have having a grand surprise one day!

July 2017- One month had gone by and I must say, it was soooo nice to not worry about taking any medication! I felt like the old me again, well with short hair though. Still no sign of a period, but I was still so hopeful.

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August 2017- They said wait about a month so and a month has come and gone. We are going on a cruise and we hoped this would be the perfect getaway to try! We were in New Orleans and because We haven’t been protected for sex I figured I thought I’d might as well take a test and see because my plan was going to include lots of drinking on the cruise. I woke up early one morning and went to CVS and bought a 3 pack of pregnancy tests. There’s something about holding that box in your hand. It’s like the biggest secret in the world! I couldn’t wait to get back and pee on that little stick… one line, darn—- oh well, Ill take another daiquiri!

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When we got home No period and another negative test… oh boo.

September 2017- Back to school and still no period:(

October 2017– Fall is in full swing and even though I still haven’t gotten a period, I’m starting to wonder if maybe it won’t come back at all. Thinking about that heartbreak literally kills me inside. Our 2 year anniversary came and went. And yes of course we’re having sex and hoping something magical will just happen, I just don’t know anymore…

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November 2017- Still no period… but I did go to Disney for thanksgiving that was super cool! It would have been so fun to be able to announce to our families that we were pregnant for Christmas. I pray everyday that something good will happen for us. It’s weird but I still truly don’t feel like I’m gonna have a hard time getting pregnant! Which is so weird because I’m yet to get a period… either way, we’re giving it one more month then looking into our options with IVF.

December 2017- I started to get cramps, and my Lower back was killing me. Could it be! Then dec 10, I woke up to pee, wiped and WABAM—— holy shit I got my period! I legit wanted to cry! I pulled out my box of tampons—- and it came back like riding a bike how to use one of those things! Later thy day, I could hardly contain myself when I told John. And yes, he cried!!!!

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Omg my ovaries could be working!!!! We could make a baby this year! I immediately downloaded an app and began looking into my ovulation dates. Looks like it’s right around my surgery date. Which was a real bummer because we wouldn’t even be able to actually tryyyy. I’ve made it a promise to myself though that I’m not going to become a psycho about having sex. If it happens, it happens—- however I will check the probability everyday for fun:)

A week after having my first period after stopping hormone therapy 6 months prior, I underwent my 2nd breast reconstruction. **I tested negative with the pre-op urine pregnancy screen and a part of me was so heart broken even though I was super excited for new boobs! My husband and I were aware that my ovulation window would be directly out of surgery and into recovery with drains and would not be the most sexy form to be wam bam thank you mamming to make a baby. We decided to defer our chances to the following month after I have new boobies and the energy to undergo a pregnancy.

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January 2018- the universe had other plans for us because the date came and went and I didn’t get another period. I was heart broken, because immediately I thought it was all a false alarm and my ovaries tricked me into a false hope.

Jan 13-today I finally made the call, with my period being over a week late as per my tracking app, its time to call. Despite 3 negative pregnancy tests… I’m soooo hopeful!

I called my fertility specialist requesting blood work to check my ovary function and hormone levels to see if I were in fact out of metabolic menopause.

Jan 15- sitting here in the waiting room at the fertility specialists office amongst a half dozen other hopeful women. Though we don’t know each other at all, and we are all living different lives… we surprisingly have one thing in common. Our urge and craving, almost addiction to having a baby, one day.Please please please some how some way make that blood test say positive!

“Meghan” the nurse opens the door and looks in my direction. I stand up and walk across the waiting room half embarrassed and the other half anxious for what’s in store. The nurse walked me back to the blood draw room where I took a seat in the chair. 2 vials later, she handed me a slip and said follow the signs to the check out. Wait wait wait?! The first thought to cross my mind was I really just drove all this way for only blood work? I checked out, and home I went. Hmn.. now how long until I get the results?

I got home and took the pups out just in time for This Is Us and some puppy cuddles. I’ve been noticing myself following into a deep afternoon nap, normally after PT probably because I’m tired and not used to working out., right? As I dosed off I was awoken just in time to pick John up from work. I looked at my phone and saw a missed call! Dr. Kubik’s Office! They left a voicemail asking me to call back because me results were in and I had to schedule more blood work on Monday! OMG!

I quickly logged on to my patient portal and my heart was nearly beating out of my chest. I click on labs and HCg and Progesteone were in. 37.4hcg—- well what does that mean?! Okay google help me out! Progesterone 24— ummmm—— no ranges listed for normal or anything?! As I’m frantically googling because he’s the ultimate doctor these days anyway… I see a positive blood test is greater than 24 hcg—-oh my Gosh could I really be pregnant?

I immediately called my fertility office back and the voice on the other end of the line reported “Well, we don’t exactly know how to say this… but you didn’t get a period because you are potentially pregnant!” WHAT!!!! My inner “want to be mommy so bad” was screaming yes yes yes! However the educated cancer survivor part of me was screaming FUCK!  This is risky– will my cancer come back too?!

They couldn’t clearly identify a pregnancy off of my first HCG blood work test because there was potential of a “chemical pregnancy”. I waited 2 days and had the blood work repeated. Again, I went home awaiting a call and boom! The phone rang, “your labs indicate a pregnancy! We will set you up for an ultrasound of Monday to clarify that it is viable!” What! I was in complete shock! I couldn’t wait to surprise John with the news!  Even though at this point, there could see potentially be the chance of it not implanting correctly, or a high risk of miscarriage, it was still SUPER EXCITING to dream!

John wasn’t completely in the dark with this whole thing. He new about the initial blood work and how they said I may have been pregnant… however, he did not know once it was a near definite (the 2nd time for blood work).   I decided to come up with something super special for him, because out of my whole cancer journey… he was often times left in the dust, and nothing truly magical ever happened for him!

It killed me to keep the news a secret all day but I knew he would so love the magic of a surprise. I didn’t text him all day and when I picked him up from work, he asked about the results and I said the office hadn’t gotten back to me yet…

I knew I had to do something over the top but absolutely adorable at the same time! I didn’t want it to be corny… butt the same time I TOTALLY DID!  I even went out to buy a pregnancy test (even after getting a positive blood test) just to make it part of the grand reveal! (I know so corny, but I NEEDED the traditional pose with the pee stick type deal 😉

*Surprising JOHN with the BEST NEWS EVER!

January 22, 2018-First ultrasound: today is the day that we get to see if there really is a little something growing inside my belly! Although I want to be positive and believe that everything will be just fine… deep down I’m terrified! I’m just waiting for them to take a peek and be nothing there. I feel like all our medical news for the past couple of years have just been BAD! So I’m really not getting my hopes up.

Cancer takes a lot away from someone when it strikes in your 20s. It is prime time for engagements, marriage, showers, and babies! We had a magical wedding but really did miss out on all the pre- wedding prep excitement of planning our wedding in 2 weeks time. John and I really wanted to make this chapter in our lives so special for our friends and family! Now, it was our turn to surprise them with one of the most incredible surprises of their life!

We had to keep our magical news a secret for almost 4 weeks because we wanted to make it special for both his parents and mine. It worked out perfectly that I would be walking at NYFW for the AnaOno/ Cancerland show and both our parents would be there! It was the absolute perfect time to share the surprise. Now don’t think we were really able to keep it a complete secret that whole time! I swear that was the absolute worst because we would still see our parents and have this amazing thing we wanted to tell and celebrate, however… we couldn’t ruin the surprise! My sister and Johns brother however did get to share in our excitement!

February 10th, almost a whole month after getting the best news of our entire lives, we could finally tell our parents that they were about to be promoted to grand parents!!! With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it was a perfect surprise to give them the news as part of their Valentines Day gifts! I found adorable gift boxes and inside attached a cute roses are red poem. Deep in the box laid the first ultrasound photo and some silver, pink, and red Hershey kisses!

On the count of 3, they were to open the gifts together and we all instantly thrilled!! Below is a video of our grand reveal!

Monday February 12th at 2:00pm, we drove all the way home from my dads house in Bethlehem following a jam packed weekend of New York travels and fashion week excitement to another ultrasound appointment to see our babies heartbeat! Not only did I throw up all the way home (being in the car and the motion of driving literally give me instant nausea and often leads to vomiting), but… I was sooooo nervous that after telling our parents and getting them soooo excited, nothing would show up on the ultrasound.

We sat in the waiting room until they called me back. Just like before, they took my vitals and we waited for the ultrasound tech. I was called back, instructed to take off my bottoms and walked out wrapped in a paper sheet. Being that I am only 7weeks and a few days pregnant, I would be getting a transvaginal ultrasound to check the babies size, placement, and see if we could see a heart beating in there!

The wand went in, and the picture popped up on the screen. There is most definitely a baby in there, and it’s definitely bigger than a few weeks ago! All I could think about was, thank goodness, we are really having a baby!  After the tech taking the measurements she needed and a few pics, she said “are you ready to see the heart beat”! Below is a video of some baby magic!

That appointment made it real for me! I can finally relax and calm down… there is really a baby growing inside of me! It’s our baby, a natural baby, our miracle baby!

Today, I am 8 1/2 weeks pregnant and still having nausea but less vomiting than last week! I have put together the past couple weeks in symptoms, but other than that… I am just resting, and letting Little Baby Kozy grow!

** I really want to share our fertility journey because it is truly a miracle. Having a baby in any aspect after cancer or life in general is true magic! But, when it happens in any way.. it is a gift from above! I want the young 20 something’s reading this who lock themselves in their rooms crying that you may never get the chance to be a mom know that miracles do happen! I AM PROOF! There are sooooo many ways to make motherhood possible, whether it happens naturally, through IVF, adoption, foster care, or HECK adopting a kazillion dogs or cats (legit I was on that path and it was wonderful I might add)—- there is always a chance for you to be a mom! Never ever give up, fertility happens on its own. Do not stress, do not become obsessive… and just let life happen! Everything will happen how it’s supposed to, we just have to give life TIME*

**This is a song that I found when I went to Guyana for the first time in college, its words are sooooo relevant to my overall life and I hope you find meaning of it as well<3  Life is beautiful, that is why I LOVE MY LIFE!

My Symptom Tracker

Week 5-6 Symptoms

  • -temporal headaches
  • -emotional/ crying- literally out of nowhere, John legit thought I was losing my mind
  • -bloated
  • -craving snacks- but not my usual ice cream and chocolate— like weird snacks like buffalo chicken pretzels!
  • -thirsty beyond belief- I was literally drinking bottle after bottle of water
  • -cramps
  • -left lower abdomen pain
  • -midday naps- NECCESSARY!

Week 7

  • -severe nausea
  • -near daily vommiting
  • -exhaustion (daily naps needed)
  • -craving salty/ tangy/ spicy tastes—- pickles and hot sauce are my bff!
  • -heightened sex drive- thank you hormones (I guess after 2 years of not having any, my body is like THANK YOU JESUS, we have a sex drive again!
  • -lost 1-2 lbs but doctor says that normal at this stage of the game
  • -Crazy Dreams- about baby and NOT about the baby
  • -Nose of a blood hound! Legit I can sniff out the slightest scents, its legit like a super power! You can’t get anything by this sniffer!

Photos by the lovely @_daniellepearce

XOXO Meg

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