Conceiving a child with a Pituitary Brain Tumor

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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

 

 

 

National Infertility Week Sucks

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Photo Source

I don’t care how informative this week is suppose to be, it is a week that sucks.  Like big time.  It is painful.  It is dark.  It is sad.

I know.  I know.  You look at my full brood of children and have no sympathy for me.  Unless feeling sorry for the 2 hours of sleep I got last night because Max woke up screaming and running (or trying to) into my room saying, “MONSTER!  MONSTER!”  And I found him in his room pulling the play kitchen apart as he was trying to run out the door.

THANKFULLY he did not wake Josephine—she just so happens to sleep right next to the play kitchen (they share a room).

But, you see…I did not have a full brood for a long time.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Infertility is defined in the following way, “If getting pregnant has been a challenge for you and your partner, you’re not alone. Ten to 15 percent of couples in the United States are infertile. Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant despite having frequent, unprotected sex for at least a year for most people and six months in certain circumstances…”

Unprotected and frequent sex for at least a year.

A YEAR!

Do you know how that makes a person who has been trying for 1 year, 2 years, 3, years, and 4 years feel????

Bad.  Very, very bad.

Six months to a year????

That seems like baby spit to me.

My husband and I tried the above definition for many years.  Many years.

Yes, I already had a struggle going into it with a pituitary tumor.  But that does not make it suck any less, knowing that what may be true, infertility, is true.

And then I was no longer infertile.  I had a baby in our 5th year of marriage after 5 years of having unprotected sex.  After 5 years of never preventing a baby.  After years of being considered infertile.

While the joy of knowing that I was pregnant with our daughter was both frightening and exhilarating, I will never ever forget those dark days of complete sadness each time I started my cycle.  Or each time the pregnancy test came back negative.

Never.

Infertility is something that you live through.  Some of us come out on the other side victorious with our own biological children. Others of us come out victorious as parents of children from our heart.  And some of us come out of it victorious in living a full life without children biological or adopted but full of our own victories through work or service.

And some of us continue to suffer in it…

In the lonesome, dark, desire of wanting.

Wanting that child so badly.

Can I be honest…when I was wanting a baby so badly, I despised women.  I despised women with children.

I despised pregnant women.

I despised a woman’s ability to get pregnant.

I harbored a lot of bitterness towards the world’s cycle of life.

Friends.  This is not a pretty place to be.  But you need to understand that it is a place where many women are.  If you are that woman, hear me.  You are not alone.

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But even knowing that you are not alone does not stop the sadness or the bitterness.

And it doesn’t make you a bad person.

Perhaps you know this woman.  The woman struggling through these emotions.

Friends, Infertility makes all of us very real.

Real women suffering a loss.

The loss of the children that we want so badly.

The Bible speaks clearly of women that suffer through infertility.  And it allows you to see the pain in the hearts and the darkness they feel.  You read their tears.

That is because that is infertility.

Pain.  Darkness.  Tears.

I listen to a podcast #MomStrugglingWell .  Recently one of the speakers (I can’t recall which one) spoke on how “You, Ladies, can do hard things!”

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Photo source

Doing infertility is hard!

Before I end, I want to share that many people ask me to speak to other women that have pituitary tumors or are suffering through wanting a child and not getting pregnant.

They come to me hopeful that my story will somehow lift their friends’ or family members’ spirits.

That my story will change their current sadness.

But I honestly tell them two things.

One, I will gladly share with your friend or family member.

BUT only on the condition of Two.

And Two is this:  Infertility sucks.  It is hard.  It is dark.  It is sad.

And just because I have babies does not mean that is going to be outcome for your friend or family member.

Also, they may not want to talk with me.  Because I HAVE babies.  I did not want to talk to those women (the ones with children) when I was suffering through my infertility.

Lastly, I tell them, RESPECT your family or friends’ need for tears, sadness, and suffering.

Because infertility is dark.

I think sometimes my response to their question surprises the people asking.

I think because of my natural cheery disposition of smiles and humor, it surprises them that I don’t come throwing rainbows at them.

That I don’t jump on my unicorn, and then speed away saying, “Don’t worry—I’ll give them in the infertility pep talk and we’ll all have an assembly after with cheerleaders and the spirit squad to give us the grand finale G-O! rally.”

It, especially, surprises them that I don’t immediately say, “ABSOLUTELY!  AFTER ALL—WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!  I GOT PREGNANT AND SO CAN YOU!”

Friends…The world does not work like that.  God does not work like that.  Life does not work like that.

Infertility is real.  And sometimes we live a life of suffering and sadness.  And that is real.  And sometimes we NEVER EVER get what we want the most.  And that is real.

I will never tell a woman suffering through infertility that “She can do it, too!”

But—let me tell you what I do tell her.

I tell her that I suffered great sadness.  I suffered the loss of Desire.  Month in and month out of years.  I suffered bitterness.  And tears…

Until I realized that maybe, just maybe, I would not be granted children through my own biology. My husband and I came to a point where we decided that surrender was our only option.

It does not mean we lost.  It does not mean we were defeated.  It means that we realized that our lives are not guaranteed pep rallies with cheerleaders.

So we gave our tears of infertility to God.

And we released the balloon.

We watched it soar into the sky.

And I cried the entire time I did so.

Because I felt the loss.

And then I felt the calm.

The calm that only God can bring.

Ladies suffering through infertility, you can do hard things.

But you don’t have to do them alone.

Rest in the arms of Jesus.  Allow him to wipe away your tears.  And let him be your shelter.

You may never have a baby that grows inside of your belly.

So…

So what are you going to do?

Perhaps you are going to look into bringing a child into your home?  A child that comes from the womb of another but will capture your whole heart.

Perhaps you will live your life as a woman  whose baby becomes your work and actions.  And that will capture your whole heart.

Perhaps you will always have that longing and desire for what was never granted you…but you show the rest of us How That Is Done.

You know—surviving…succeeding…living through adversity!

And, if you just need to speak to someone and share your loss, you be the woman that is NOT ashamed to call a counselor or therapist and say, “I need help.  Please hear me.”

Because help is not ever anything to be ashamed of.  It takes a strong woman to admit that she needs help.  She needs someone to talk to.  She needs to be heard.  That her suffering is real.

But, no matter what, surrender.

Not to loss — but to Jesus.

Because he will be the calm to your storm.

And that is how you will be able to #dohardthings.

 

 

This is Real…

Real life in photos:

Real kids paint naked  Real dads makes baseball cupcakesReal moms get down and dirty Real miracles turn 10    Real streets get lamps   No matter where you are or what you’re doing, I pray you’ll keep it real!

XO b

Mom Struggling Well

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I was in a made-for-my city-tv movie when I was in high school.

It’s true.

I had to dress the same (or similar) each day—and run down hallways pretending to be afraid of something and scream at nothing when opening a door.

It was really weird for me because I didn’t understand how television or movies are made.

And I probably did a horrible job.  But it was with a couple friends from high school and was made for our personal city’s television channel.

I actually never watched it—because there was no way I was going to watch myself running down an empty hall screaming in fear at basically nothing.

I am sure, if anything, it was good practice for my friends making the film—and great entertainment of horrible acting by anyone that actually spent time watching it on actual television.  Haha!

Since, I have been on the radio.

On one program (KFLR) where we had the opportunity to talk about building the New Life Center, I was asked the question, “What will your role be at the New Life Center once it is opened?”

What’s the New Life Center?  It’s a transitional center my husband and I opened to help men out of homelessness.

Okay—so let’s get back to my answer, “Uh…I guess I’ll pick up a shovel and shovel…dirt.”

Yes, I did.  I did say that, “…shovel…dirt.”

Goes to show how suave I am at anything in the communication world.

A time before that I was actually taking a Communications class at university (Arizona State University, Baby!) when my professor approached me after what I thought was an amazing speech.

Guess what she asked, “Brooke, do you mind if I use you as an example for the class tomorrow?”

Golly Gee!  Of course!  So, I totally agreed—just completely flattered at the request—thinking my speech was just complete ROCKSTAR!

When the next day in class, it happened.

What?

“Class—Brooke gave her speech yesterday, and I would like to point out 5 things that you should NEVER do when giving a speech…”

Where she proceeded to point out a million and one flaws (felt like a million more than 5, at least) in my speech giving and how they don’t have to make the same mistakes that I did.

So flattered to be used as a bad example 😉

Good thing I am made of apparently EXTREMELY thick skin.

Believe me, these are just a few stories.  I shan’t repeat more.

Anyhow…

All of these stories are brought up to basically share with you the fact that I had the immense honor of being interviewed for one of my favorite podcasts Mom Struggling Well.

And here is the interview.  I hope, if you can get past the initial awkward recording of my computer loud voice, that as you listen it will encourage you—-as it charges into many subjects that are close to my heart and soul and I found myself laughing and crying through it—even though it was me (oddly enough).

Episode 10:  Mom Struggling Well

I hope that you will have a chance to listen—and that in some small way you, too, can be encouraged throughout.

xoxo b

 

One Year…Really?

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Well, it’s been quite the ride. I’m a year into blogging, which probably means that I’m not new at it anymore.

I still feel a bit new at it. On a windy road.  Not really going any one direction.

But I’m trying.

Sometimes they’re pretty decent.

Sometimes they’re pretty boring.

Sometimes I think that I shouldn’t have written them at all.

Haha!

Oh well.

All I have actually enjoyed writing, and I hope that you have enjoyed reading.

This past year has been a really rocky and great one all wrapped into one.  Richard and I have watched our family go from 4 to 5.  And we’ve changed our mailing address back to Poland.

We had the immense privilege of living in the United States amongst our family for the past year.  And now we have the immense privilege of living, once again, in Poland.  Amongst our “other” family.

There are so many emotions that came with moving back to Poland.   We left Poland after our son was stable enough to travel, at 6 months old.  I felt as if I couldn’t get out of the country fast enough.  It was such a heart-wrenching time in our lives, watching our second child struggle to live.  And yet it was one of the richest times in our lives.

How can watching your child struggle to live be rich?

The only way I can answer that is by saying watching our son nearly die brought us to our knees.  We re-evaluated our entire lives and realized that no matter the outcome in Maxwell’s life, we chose to honor and love God.

Now he is a little over 2 years old, and we are back in Poland.

It’s great to be back, but we do miss our beautiful families in America so much.

And my daughter does greatly miss American schools.  As she told a teacher that asked the other day, “In America, she gets to explore and discover!”  She loves her school here and friends, but it is a lot of sit at your desk and do workbooks.

Thankfully, however, she’s a child with an ever curious mind.  So we do a lot of explore and discover at home.

And she has additional classes at home, as well.

Did you know that she only goes to school 4 hours a day?  On Mondays-Wednesdays, her classes begin at 11:30 and end at 3:50.  On Thursdays and Fridays start at 8:00 and go until 12:15.

Teachers in Poland are paid by the hours that they teach.  We live in a village and the teacher’s at the school are paid for 45 minute sessions.  So after every 45 minutes, there is a 5-minute break.  There is no recess.

It’s a very different life.

But we’ve adjusted.  And outside of school she takes one additional hour of Polish, one hour of French and will begin one hour of music lessons.  Now I am looking for her an “active” activity to also do outside of school.

Oh, yeah.  Of course she is keeping up GRANDLY with her English.  I am actually quite proud of her.  She is a hard-working little gal.

And my other two.  Oh my other two, little Maxwell and Josephine.  They are soooo lovely.  Just plain lovely.

Maxwell is all two.  Blond.  Blue eyes.  Gorgeous and sweet (well, of course depending on his mood.  After all, he is two ;)).

And Josephine.  She just turned 8 months a day ago and is crawling like a professional, standing like a conductor, and trying to walk on furniture like a little daredevil.  Our newest little chub-a-love still retains the red tint to her hair, and I will be sad the day the red turns blond, like I see creeping below at the roots.

I love being a mom, and I soak up every moment throughout the day that I merely get to interact them.  Every moment is as if I have discovered a hidden treasure so valuable that it is inconceivable.  And, to me, being a mom is that inconceivable hidden treasure.

For every woman out there struggling with infertility, I feel your heart and your pain.  I feel your longing and your tears.  And I will simply say this—I pray that God will give you the very desires of your heart.  If they are not from your own womb, I pray for the children God delivers into your hands that come from your heart.  Oh how I pray for you!

And now, my dear And 2 Makes Crazy friends, I shall wrap up my rambling blog and say…Thanks for joining the And 2 Makes Crazy Ride.

Tomorrow I will post the top 10 blog postings from the last year, and other fun stuff.

I hope that you come back to check them out.

Much love from here to there.  Wherever you may be.

May God be your stalwart in your times of trouble.  If you are suffering, may he be your constant.  If you are in limbo, may he be your leveler.

And may He always bring you peace.  Peace and Joy.

Joy that surpasses all understanding.

All the time, God is good.

And I hope that you are well yourself.

xoxo b

 

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss: Month of October.

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We have a baby in heaven…And that is how life sometimes goes.  But let me tell you that no matter how many babies seem to be popping out of my uterus at this stage of my life, there is not a single day that goes by where Rich, Adelyne, and I don’t mention our baby…Our Baby Sam.

To be truthful, the very day that I was in labor with Maxwell, and Rich and I actually had the delivery room to ourselves, we each took a moment and cried.

Not because we weren’t thankful for Maxwell—our precious boy fighter that was about to enter our world.  But because it is the day when we allowed ourselves, after the last year, to feel the unspeakable pain of our loss…Of our loss of Sam.

You see, they would be a year and a half apart.  And as much as we wanted Maxwell, we wanted Sam.

And there was that moment for both of us in the labor and delivery room that we sat crying.  Together.  In pain.  Even though great joy was around the corner.

Resurfacing were all of the questions:  could we have done something differently?  What if we had been in the States?  What if Rich hadn’t traveled to America?  What if we hadn’t lived in the that horrible house with the rusty pipes and moldy walls?  What if I had remained still-er and moved less?  What if…what if…what if…

You, at this moment, are probably ready to engulf us in your arms and say, “Oh children…This was just God’s timing.”

But I would like to stop you and say…”Please don’t.”

Anyone that has ever lost a pregnancy or a baby does not need you to tell them about God’s timing.  Maybe we will come to those conclusions on our own.

All we ever need is a hug and a “I’m sorry.”

For you see…the minute that test turns doubly pink, your heart expands and your lives change.  And ready or not—life will never be the same.

And that even means IF the baby doesn’t make it.

Your heart has already changed.  Your very existence too.  So even if the baby does not make it does not mean that your life will ever…ever…ever…go back to the way that it was.  And that is just the way that life works.

For the longest time after we lost our baby I kept a journal.  Everyone heals differently, and I like to write.  No, I don’t normally journal.  But this was not a journal for me.  This was a journal for my baby.  I would start with, “Today was your actual ‘birth’ day.  Your sister got all dressed up and wanted to make cupcakes to celebrate you today.  And so we all got gussied up, made cupcakes, sang happy birthday to you and read a book about babies.  You are not here, and yet you are always near…”

Each entry was raw.  And each filled with a memory or a lesson that we had learned from our loss.  And many were filled with scriptures that were carrying our souls.

And time.

And not being silent about one of the most silent subjects in the world.

Loss.

Today I think about all of these babies popping out of me.  And I stand in utter, humble awe.  I know to be able to get pregnant and keep the baby is a gift.

And my gifts have all come wrapped and delivered differently—but none of them will ever out value the other.  Even if I don’t have the privilege of raising all of them here on earth.

October.  It’s a month of golden sunshine and crimson leaves.  It signifies the changing of the seasons.  And it’s beautiful.  Just like the memory of my baby.

***

Related Article:  http://assemblethemins.blogspot.com/2012/10/it-was-necessary.html

Bottom 5…We’ll give them a shout out today!

So, I gotta admit.  Usually when I mention the J or the G words (Jesus or God), I lose a few followers.  Yep.  It’s true.  A few less people follow me on And 2 Makes Crazy.  So I was expecting that, for sure, with Porn on Sunday.

But I read once that if people don’t stop following you every now and then you are doing something wrong…I am not sure if that theory is true, but I’ll stick with it.

Anyhow, you, my dear And 2 Makes Crazy audience, pleasantly surprised me.  Not only did Porn on Sunday have the second most hits these past 7 days, not a single one of you stopped following my blog.   Whoa.  Pat yourself on the back for being able to be a part of a blog that sometimes you may agree with—and sometimes you may not.  I am proud of and for you!

Anyhow, moving on…Today I am going to give a shout out to my least-read blog postings.

Why?  You may ask.  Especially if they are the LEAST read.

Well, to be fair…Sometimes the “last” get overlooked.   And it’s nice, sometimes, to be remembered—even super true in the human world.  Plus…even though they are some of the least read, they are still some of my favorites (#s 5, 4, 3, and 1—but #2 holds its own, too).

So, if you have not had a chance to read my least-read blogs since I’ve started this journey, take a few moments today to go back in history.

Here they are…from the 5th least read to the 1st least read.  Hope you enjoy!

xo  brooke

(The better half of 2 making crazy, right?  Right?!  Okay…I know I’m fooling myself.)

5.   My husband had a comb over.  Yep.  And I almost didn’t date him:  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-w

4.  My Angel in the Dirt:  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-sU

3.  Planting the Stinky:  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-oZ

2.  Infertility made me hug a goat…in Norway:  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-Y

1.  And my husband made me cry:  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-j

(Actually…number 1 is the entire reason I started the blog in the first place—that particular story.  Then it made me laugh to see how crazy we have actually had it over the last 13 years together)