September 28, 2012

Our BABY Story

"It's hard to wait around for something you know might never happen, but it's even harder to give up when you know it's everything you want." -Author Unknown

Our story is a long one...this is the short version.

We were married in November of 2004 and were babies ourselves!  We always said we'd wait 3 to 4 years to "start a family".  Well, 3 to 4 years came and went and we were really enjoying marriage and nothing seemed to be missing.  Our friends started having babies but the timing still didn't feel quite right.  Pressure was being put on us but we didn't feel it...we were very happily childless.  

In addition to our extremely fertile friends, we had a handful of friends that didn't have it so easy.  I had never really thought about infertility...but watching my friends battle this giant really struck a chord.  For some reason, I felt like it might be hard for us too.  I felt like that's why these people were in our prepare us for what was to come.  Scott and I even supported friends at an adoption event and the entire time, felt like we were there for a bigger reason.  Looking back, God was preparing our hearts long before our own personal struggle with infertility.

As 2009 came to an end, we decided that we might be ready.  In the beginning, negative tests weren't all that shocking or upsetting.  After all, there's so much that has to go right.  Though as time went on, we began to get discouraged.  Our world was rocked to it's core when we couldn't get pregnant.  All our lives, if we wanted something badly enough, we could work hard to achieve it.  Not so with infertility.

There's a lot of disappointment and heartache {and at times, anger} that comes with each failed cycle.  For us, it was 30 failed cycles.  Each month, we mourned the loss of what might have been and went through the grief process over and over again.  In the meantime, many friends were on their second {and some third} child while we remained a family of 2.  We began to consider the fact that we may not be able to have kids.  We lightly tossed the idea of adoption around but truly longed for a biological child.  Why would God put such a strong desire in our hearts and not fulfill it?

Infertility is a quiet struggle for was for us.  It's so personal and misunderstood.  Unfortunately, it's hard to understand unless you've experienced it first-hand.  It's a daily burden that doesn't go away and is constantly on your mind.  Anxiety, guilt and jealousy can be all-consuming and {over time} cause you to withdraw from friendships and more significantly, a marriage.

Scott and I were no exception.  Did infertility put a strain on our marriage?  You betcha it did.  We struggled and fought over dumb, insignificant issues regularly when deep down, we knew the root cause of our bickering.  Thankfully, our strong foundation held us together and we learned how to encourage each other through the extreme lows we were up against.  We began to genuinely trust in God's plan and timing for our lives.  We believed that we would become parents...we just didn't know when or how.  Our dwindling hope was renewed and we had a new found sense of peace.  Perhaps we'd always be Uncle Scott and Aunt Caroline and never Daddy or Mommy.  Regardless, with or without babies, we were in this {together} for the long-haul.

To our surprise, on May 2nd {2.5 years after we knew we wanted little versions of ourselves} we learned that we were finally pregnant for the first time!!  Several weeks later, we prayed and prayed for one strong heartbeat and were elated {and shocked} to find two...a DOUBLE blessing.  A two-for-one!
If there's one thing these babies will always know, it's how much they are loved and how much they were wanted.  We've prayed for these precious miracles for years and are floored that we get the opportunity to be their parents.  We ask that you join us in covering our little ones in prayer.
Though our journey to parenthood didn't quite go as planned, we know that when we hold our sweet babies in our arms for the first time, it won't matter how long we waited.  God's timing is perfect...and for that, we're grateful.

Thank you for reading!
Scott and Caroline

Our infertility story is just one of many and may seem insignificant to some.  We have dear friends that waited 5, 7, even 10+ years for their miracle baby {or babies}.  To those still waiting and those quietly struggling: we understand and hurt with you.  Cling to Jesus and to each other and have hope!  We pray that your time is coming soon and that find peace in God's timing.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

"But now, Lord, what do I look for?  My hope is in you." Psalm 39:7

September 9, 2012

AFTER the Radiation

I'd like to start off by saying THANK YOU.  We've been loved on so much throughout this entire process and couldn't be more grateful for all of the kind, encouraging words, love and prayers.  We feel beyond blessed to have such a fabulous support system throughout this journey.  So again, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

If you read the last post, you know that Scott had radiation nearly 3 weeks ago.  Please forgive my tardiness in updating the blog.  For those of you that don't know, you can follow @scottyb_updates for the latest.  No news is typically good news and means that nothing has really changed.

On Tuesday, August 21st, Scott and I walked through the doors of the Nuclear Medicine area at UT Southwestern.  After waiting a bit, he was escorted to the back, at which point I had to leave.  Leaving him was very difficult...thinking of what he was about to go through--especially since it would be at least a week before I could see him.  You see, since I'm pregnant, and Scott was about to be radioactive, I had to keep my distance to keep the babies safe.  I'm still keeping my distance, if you can believe that.  It's rough but we're hanging in there. 

I walked out of the hospital in the rain and went out to my car to regroup, pray and yes, cry a bit before driving home.  Within 20 minutes, there was a knock on the front of my was Scott, standing outside my car in the pouring rain, smiling and waving.  What the heck?  I was beyond relieved to see him in such a happy, positive state.  I rolled down the window and shouted, "You're done?  Already?"  He nodded and I followed him in my car to the front of the hospital where he wouldn't be standing in the rain any longer.  We chatted for a few minutes about 30 feet away from each other. 

Apparently, after being escorted back, Scott went into a room where they brought in a futuristic, lead lined capsule and was given explicit instructions about taking the pill inside.  He was given the maximum dose of radioactive iodine (160 mCi, to be exact) since his cancer had already spread outside the thyroid into most of the lymph nodes in the neck and upper chest.  The hope is that this strong dose will do the trick in efforts to avoid further treatment.  Moments later, he could leave and let the radioactive iodine take its course.

Scott's dad met us at the hospital to take him home to begin his isolation.  Not to our home, but to Scott's parents' home.  They graciously took him in for the first 48 hours (when he happened to be the most radioactive).  After the worst of it, Scott headed back to our home in McKinney, where he was "quarantined" in the guest room and guest bathroom downstairs.  He had all of the necessities at his fingertips including clothes, sheets and other items that could be disposed of after use. 

I went to my parents' home, where I stayed for the next 9 days.  My mom and I worked on a ton of baby stuff in attempt to keep me nice and distracted.  It worked during the daytime, but at night...I'd get super sad.  Scott and I talked on the phone at least 3 times a day and while that helped, it was still hard to be away, knowing I couldn't take care of him.  

Scott was so severely hypothyroid leading up to radiation that he didn't notice the effects of radiation too quickly.  After a day or two, he was dealing with nausea and intense pain in his salivary glands and sinus cavity (the radiation has a tendency to pool in those areas).  His fatigue only intensified and though exhausted, he struggled to sleep.  Days later, Scott noticed that there wasn't much left of his taste buds--at all (a common side effect that should be temporary...fingers crossed).  8 days after radiation, he returned to work.  Though struggling physically, he was excited about getting back to some sense of normalcy.  

One week after radiation, Scott went in for his first full body scan.  Up until this point, we only had information on the chest up.  The results showed no sign of distant metastasis (which means that the cancer is contained in the areas we already knew about, nothing in the lungs or other organs).  Praise God!

Scott's now taking Synthroid (thyroid hormone replacement medication) that should build up in his system over the next several months and make a big difference in the overall way he feels.  His activity level is improving and though he requires more breaks and rest time, he's happy to be getting projects done around the house--especially with the little ones on the way.   

What's next?  In October, Scott will be evaluated on how well Synthroid is doing it's job.  Apparently, finding the right replacement meds and proper dosage is a lifelong roller coaster for thyroid cancer patients.  He will also have another full body scan that will let us know how much (if any) cancer is left in the body. At that point, his medical team will decide if another round of radiation therapy is needed.

We ask that you join us in praying that the cancer is gone...all of it...for good.  Science might argue that the likelihood of this is low (this cancer has a tendency to return at some point...chances are about 50/50) but that doesn't change our prayers.  Thank you.