Conceiving a child with a Pituitary Brain Tumor

brain tumor

I have shared my story many times—but the part I have not often shared is that 1 year and 3 months after our miscarriage, approaching 36 and in our 11th year of marriage, Richard and I decided it was time to perhaps seek a professional that can tell us what else may be wrong with me (I knew one thing—I have a tumor on the base of my brain///on my pituitary) or him/Richard (we didn’t know—maybe he also had a reason why we had trouble conceiving).  And so we researched and finally sought the help of a professional fertility specialist in Poznan, Poland.

I should also note—At this time, we have a daughter in kindergarten, we are living in Poland (and we are from the United States), and we live in a village of a little under 400 people.

We had a man from Germany, one of only two (at that time) qualified to do/give/approve Home Studies for Americans living in Europe.  He was to come to our home on November 19th of 2011.  We were going to fly him in, pay for his food and lodging, and pay him for our home study.  And, if we were approved, then we could finally begin the process of actual adoption—which we had already been to the US Embassy and spoken with individuals there about where to proceed within Poland.

So we were moving forward in the child department—BUT—there comes an age in every woman’s life where you understand that if you REALLY REALLY REALLY are going to consider having a baby out of your belly, after 35 is probably the time to really get going.  Strong.

You should also understand that for our 11 years of marriage, we had never prevented a pregnancy.  We already knew conceiving would be difficult because of my tumor.  The medicine, Bromocriptine, which if you ever watched House, you will know is one of the medicines used with Parkinson’s patients, was much too hard on my system.  There was one time where I took it at 9pm the night before, with food, as it suggested, and while Richard was gone the next morning, after 7am, I, alone in a foreign country and a 2-year-old Adelyne with me, had to call my husband and tell him to get home immediately because I wasn’t sure how much longer I would be conscious.

In the past, no matter how small the dose, I had passed out from the drug.

But it was that moment in time—when my husband was about an hour away, and I was alone in my flat with my two-year-old that I thought—is this the best for my family????

The medicine, of course, was not my only option, of course.  There was always surgery.  At the base of my brain.  You go through the nasal cavity.

There is targeted radiation.

We researched both.  We looked into Italy for the targeted radiation and Israel.  As those were the two closest to us that seemed to be really well qualified for messing around on, you know, the base of my brain.

We thought about surgery—which we would have done in the States.

When you are in the position that I am in—in a foreign country and thinking about someone at the base of your brain, you really REALLY really consider what you are doing.

And so we spoke with an OBGYN/Endocrinologist in the States (don’t worry—I have a neurologist as well).  We told him our situation and our options.  These are the words he shared with us (IF you are in a medical position similar to ours, PLEASE consult your own doctors for what is best for you.  This is our story only. Each lives her own story),

“You could go to any neurosurgeon in the world, and they will gladly share with you how you can remove your tumor.  But the thing is, if you remove a millimeter too much, you will still remain on medicine for the rest of your life to compensate for what was taken.

A very small chance—but always a chance, as well, that you will have brain fluid leakage.  Which then will also have to be controlled.  

Radiation…Yes, it’s concentrated.  But if it kills even a millimeter of what it shouldn’t===because your pituitary is central to your entire endocrine system, you, again, will have to compensate for what it was that was killed.  For the rest of your life.”  

Man!  Your brain is a REALLY big deal, right, people???  Even those pesky pituitaries at the base of it.

Then, he gave us a third option:

At the current risk of my tumor becoming cancerous (very small), the current size, and the fact that we actually one time had gotten pregnant (after 5 years), we could continue with:

No medicine.  No treatment.  Probably, most likely, no child in our future.

*This, of course, came with warning signs:  The location of my tumor is near my optical part of my brain—so, if I begin to lose peripheral vision, I will need to reevaluate my situation because that means the tumor is growing and putting pressure on that part of my brain.  

All options just sounded swell:  operating, radiation, medicine, no medicine.  All.

I am being facetious, of course.  None of them sounded swell.  So we went with the one that I liked the best.

No treatments.  No medicine.  A wish and a prayer!

And we said thank you and paid the man all of the gold and silver we had because specialists in the States cost you either a new car or your first child (smile and wink) … and we went on our way.

All the way to that fertility specialist in Poland I was talking about at the beginning of the blog.

We were ready to see what he had to say about my ovaries and eggs and all the ins and outs of maybe how he can help us get pregnant with a pituitary tumor.

So I hopped up onto his hopeful chair—as I am sure that I am not the first woman in the world to hop onto a fertility specialist chair with this guarded hope in our chest…

And I laid back and looked at that ultrasound machine—where I knew I wouldn’t see a beating heart—but what would I see????

And that’s when he showed it to me, husband in room.

He said, “You see that there?”

I said “Yes.”

I was lying.  I can’t make any sense out of those machines.

And he said “That is your right ovary.  You will ovulate in 3 days.  I should not see you again!”

And he had me hop off of that chair and leave with my husband.

He was right.  He did not see us again.

8 months later (because I had a preemie), we had Max.

11 months after Max, we found out we were pregnant with Josephine.

Jaw.Dropping.

Our story is not without struggle—even though after 36 they seemed to pop right out of me.  But the hard truth is this:

Our babies came to us in our 5th, 10th (miscarriage), 12th, and 14th years of marriage.  We got to keep 3 here on earth.

And I know my body played a big part into the difficulty of having them.  Therefore, I say to you women out there—feel and understand and know your body.

If you struggle, try and discover why.  Know your options.

Most importantly, remember that you are not alone.  It may feel like it.  But you are not.  And, so, connect with a group that is struggling similarly to you.  Be a support for one another.

A pituitary tumor is so small and yet influences so greatly.  A small tumor or tumors create havoc on your lives and heart, therefore, never feel as if what you are living through or feeling is not substantial.

Is mine cancerous?

No.

Is it still life-altering?

Yes.

#braintumorawareness #may #grayinmay

 

 

 

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