A DIAGNOSIS AFTER TWO DECADES

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I have Hashimoto’s disease.

At age 13, I went in for a routine physical. The doctor noticed a large bump in my throat. He said it was cancer. (I think he was a med student). For many months, I saw an endocrinologist. I eventually learned I had a problem with my thyroid and have been on medication ever since. I never really knew how important it was, so I was not always great about taking it. When I didn’t take it, I noticed I’d get extremely fatigued, so that’s when I’d remember to take it.

But I was never diagnosed with the cause of my thyroid dysfunction. Your thyroid doesn’t just stop working for no reason. Especially at 13.

Today, I got the results back from a blood panel that confirms I have Hashimoto’s. (That’s right, I was never officially diagnosed until today. And that is probably because it may not matter why you have hypothyroidism, the treatment would be the same). Except, if you have ever experienced infertility, then knowing you have Hashimoto’s means a lot.

In a nutshell, Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder that leads to hypothyroidism. An autoimmune disease occurs when your own immune system attacks your organs, cells, tissues, or glands. In Hashimoto’s, it targets and destroys the functioning of the thyroid gland.

Why is this particularly important to me? Well, although my thyroid has been “controlled” for a long time with medication, for many years it was not controlled or not well controlled. It has very likely led to an effect on my egg quality, and hence, our inability to conceive or maintain a pregnancy. Especially because it was diagnosed (and who knows for how long had been previously untreated) right at the time I started menstruating as a pre-teen.

Another interesting insight about Hashimoto’s? It also explains my sensitivity to gluten. I did go gluten-free for 4 months before we got pregnant, and until the second trimester.

To not be doom and gloom, many, many people with Hashimoto’s successfully conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. But, it is at least helpful and interesting to know that it is probably the biggest reason why we have had so much difficulty.

AND? God is SOOOOOOO much bigger than this. This diagnosis today was not at all a surprise to Him. He’s known it all along. And, He got us pregnant.

Whenever I start to think about how big my problems are, I just remember how BIG my God is!!!!!! There is nothing He cannot overcome.

“Who is like you among the gods, O Lord, glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders? — Exodus 15:11

THE EXTENDED FAMILY

PhotobucketLast weekend, we had our third visit with Brae’s birth father’s side of the family. We met at a local amusement park that Brae hadn’t yet been to. It was nice to see them all show up to see Brae. All except for one. Unfortunately, Brae’s birth father didn’t make it. Apparently there were some internal family dynamics that caused him to decide not to come. But he did give Brae a birthday gift (a huge stuffed teddy bear that says “I love you”), and he wrote him a card.

By far the biggest hit was the Ford F-150 truck they brought for him. Although Brae was a little hesitant at first, he quickly caught on and was zooming all around the parking lot. He’s definitely the envy of the neighborhood (adults included).

Here’s a video of him riding it for the first time:

At the end of the visit, Brae’s biological great grandmother asked if we could do this again next year. I said, “Of course. We’ve always said that we will continue these visits so long as it is in Brae’s best interest. Right now, because he doesn’t know what is going on, these visits are mostly to create memories, take pictures, and for you. But we feel it’s important that Brae knows his roots and have a connection to his biological family. But, if he ever decides he doesn’t want to come to a visit, we won’t come.”

They appeared to understand. I have a feeling the presents will only get more extravagant as the years go on. What kid doesn’t want to go somewhere and get presents? ; )

In all sincerity, these visits are important to us, for Brae. We have a semi-open adoption and although we have no piece of paper that says we have to do these visits, we love our son tremendously, and don’t ever want him to feel that he was abandoned. He was not. He has a biological family (on both sides) that love him SO much and are grateful for the adoption decision that was made. And if these visits help him see that love, then they are important to us. We don’t expect everyone to understand this (especially if you have not adopted), but as Brae’s parents, we believe strongly we know what is best for him, and for now, these visits are good for him.

In other news…

— This story cracks me up every time I tell it. I picked Brae up from school the other day and we passed by the “time-out” chair, a little chair in the corner of the room all by itself. As Brae and I walked out, Brae points to the chair and yells, “Look, Mommy! That’s Brae’s chair!”

— Sienna started ‘school’ too. She’s at the same Spanish immersion school Brae is at. It’s taking some time for her to adjust. But, on the bright side, I’ve found an alternative to Babywise’s method of getting your child to sleep through the night — take her to a new school where she stays awake all day.

A YEAR AGO TODAY, AND THE TOP TEN THINGS I’LL MISS THE MOST ABOUT MATERNITY LEAVE

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A year ago today, baby Sienna was transferred in my womb. She was five days gestation. She was also transferred with her other sibling, who was released straight into Jesus’s arms.

A year ago today, I saw a picture of Sienna as an embryo. (She’s a lot cuter now).

A year ago today, I saw life on a photograph, and life was growing inside of me.

A year ago today, my dreams of experiencing pregnancy were fulfilled. The words God spoke to me a year prior were being completed. He had given me a “promise of God;” He had given me my Sienna.

Thank you, Lord, for doing a great work in me. I’m so very blessed and thankful.

….

What I will miss most about maternity leave (a Top Ten list):

#10: Not showering for two, three (okay, maybe four) days in a row

#9: Wearing the same clothes for a week

#8: Going to the grocery store on Mondays and hanging out with all the old people

#7: Dr. Phil

#6: The morning and afternoon stroller walks taking Brae to school … ten miles each way, up hills both ways, with holes in my shoes, in ten feet of snow … oh, wait

#5: Cleaning house, wiping Sienna’s mouth, doing laundry, wiping Sienna’s mouth, making dinner, wiping Sienna’s mouth …

#4: Mid-morning naps, afternoon naps, late afternoon naps … (Sienna’s, unfortunately, not mine)

#3: Organizing the pantry… alphabetically

#2: Finding random people on facebook, stalking their lives, but never befriending them

…. and the #1 thing I will miss most about maternity leave…

#1: Being able to pick up my daughter, hold her, hug her, and kiss her whenever I wanted to.

I’ll miss you so much, baby girl. Work is a necessary evil.

UDDERS, BREAST PUMPS, AND CAN I GET AN AMEN?

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Britney update:

I go back to work on Monday. I think I’m feeling okay about that. It’s been a good, long maternity leave and I feel ready to turn the next page and see what’s in store. It will be hard, and I’m sure I’ll be calling the school every day for the first week to see how she’s doing. Sigh.
Sienna update:

We’ve had two chiro visits and another PT visit this afternoon. I think I see improvement, but I’m not sure how much is attributed to all the work we’ve been doing vs. her just getting bigger/stronger.

Brae stories:

— Brae and I were reading a book the other night when we came across a picture of a cow. He pointed at it and said, “Uh-oh, Mommy!” “What?” I asked. “The cow is pooping,” he said. “What? No, it’s not. Why do you think it’s pooping?” I inquired. “Look, Mommy, it’s pooping,” he said again, this time pointing at the cow’s udders.

— Three days ago, Tygh walked in to the living room to find Brae crouched in a corner, his back turned. Tygh heard a strange “woosh-woosh” sound coming from where Brae was. “Brae? What are you doing?” Tygh asked. Brae turned his head to face his dad and had a smile on his face. Tygh got closer to see what Brae was doing. …. He was using my breast pump (and correctly, I might add).

–Tygh’s grandmother died a few weeks ago. Her memorial service was this last weekend. Brae attended the service, sitting on Tygh’s lap. There were probably a hundred people in the auditorium. And each time someone finished speaking, the room would be quiet. Still. Solemn. Silent prayers being offered by all in attendance. And then, without fail, piercing the silence, you’d hear a little voice shout, “AMEN!” That would be Brae.

— The memorial service was held at church. Yes, Brae knows that Jesus and God are at church. But he also knows that there is basketball at church. After the service, when everyone was milling around, Brae wanted to play basketball. And he wanted someone to play with. So, he went up to an unassuming soul, his uncle’s father (great uncle), looked up at him and asked, “Will you play basketball with me?” What is so cute about this? … His great uncle is blind.

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POISON CONTROL, PHYSICAL THERAPY, PLAYMATES

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Britney Update:

— I got my first postpartum period. It was a little surprising because I am still nursing (albeit not exclusively). What was perhaps more surprising were those same old familiar “infertility” feelings that also came along. Once you’ve experienced infertility, it never leaves you.

Brae Update:

— We had to call Poison Control on my son. Over vacation, Brae decided to get into his grandpa’s thyroid medication. We found an empty bottle. When we asked him where they went, he said he put them “down a hole.” He then took our hands and led us to a small hole in the windowsill. We were able to recover a few of them, but weren’t convinced he didn’t take any. So, after calling our pediatrician, I made my first call to Poison Control. “Not toxic,” they said. “But, watch him over the next few days. He may be hyperactive and sweaty.” (Is that any different than normal? I thought). Sure enough, about two days later, Brae was waking up in the middle of the night in sweats. He wouldn’t settle down. He definitely, somehow, ingested some of that medication. Thankfully, he’s better now.

— Also on vacation, Brae broke out in a rash from head to toe. Brae was not sleeping at night (see bullet above), so my lovely sis-in-law and ma-in-law took Brae to the pool one afternoon so I could try to sleep. As any good caretaker would, they put some sunscreen on him. However, Brae has EXTREMELY sensitive skin, and I’ve only found one sunscreen that he doesn’t react to. Sure enough, Brae reacted to this new sunscreen by breaking out in a head-to-toe rash. His little cheeks swelled up and it looked like he had two bright red apples on each cheek. Again, thankfully, he’s better now.

— I took Brae to the park the other day. It was very hot, and he was the only kid on the playground. He played for about 15 minutes before two older boys (around age 10) arrived. The boys by-passed Brae to play on “older kid” equipment. No eye contact from either Brae or the boys. Not a word spoken amongst them. For another 10 minutes, Brae played on the opposite end of the playground, by himself, and the older boys played on the other end, near the park exit, by themselves. About 5 minutes later, Brae and I decided it was too hot and it was time to go home. Brae strolled up to his bike (with training wheels), hopped on, and started riding toward the park exit. The older boys were still playing by themselves, completely oblivious to Brae. Right before Brae turned the corner to leave the park on his bike, he looked up at the boys, smiled and yelled, “Bye, friends!”, and pedaled away.

Sienna Update:

— Sienna loves her big brother. She smiles whenever she sees him coming. And then she braces for impact.

— We’ve gone to two physical therapy appointments, and I’ve cried at each one. It’s so hard to see her wince and cry during the sessions. That said, I believe there has been improvement. She’s lifting her head up and turning it when she’s on her tummy, and her range of motion has increased. But she’s still got a ways to go. The PT recommended trying the Bumbo to help increase her neck muscles. However, she advised against EVER using the exersaucer, jumparoo, or walker with Sienna because it could delay physical development (sucks because I have 3 brand new ones). Instead, if we need a “babysitter” (her word), we should use a high chair, blanket on the floor, or playpen.

…. I’ve been feeling lately that my daughter is misunderstood. Yes, the first 6-8 weeks were hard. She was definitely fussy (PT thinks it was reflux, but no meds will be prescribed because she “obviously” does not have a weight problem — (was that a jab at me?)). But things have gotten better. She’s on a schedule that works for her, and as long as we stick to it, she’s a very happy, pleasant child. No, she doesn’t have the same sunny, happy-with-whatever personality that Brae has, but she’s her own person.

But I feel that people think she’s just this cranky baby. Case in point, at the PT session today, they handed me the following literature to take home: “Your hyper-sensitive baby and her developing sensory system.” The PT gave this to me as I was crying and she rubbed my back, telling me it’s been a hard road from infertility to a “cranky” baby. This was also handed to me after a veiled lecture about how I’m not breastfeeding often enough.

Feeling a little defeated at the moment. And cranky.

I love my baby girl.