Over 35, Fighting Cancer, and Pregnant! (coming soon to the Oxygen Network)

So you may be thinking, how did this happen (if you’re not, let me remind you that we’re two full-time working parents on staggered work/home schedules with two kids, one of which is still an iffy sleeper). Well, it was St. Patrick’s Day and we invited a friend and her boys over…enjoyed some green mac-n-cheese and some ham…a couple beers…and somehow between being half-asleep and morning, a baby was in the works!

We decided to tell the kids right away, so they wouldn’t fear I was sick again from Cancer.  This led our four year old to ask at dinner one night, “Daddy, when did you mate with Mommy?”  [after chuckling at mating….] “St. Patrick’s Day”.  But then the next night the question was asked again by our five year old….”But when did Daddy give you his sperm?”   “St. Patrick’s Day”.  “But WHEN on St. Patrick’s Day?  Was it after we went to bed?”….yep that’s pretty much how it happens kids!

So as freaked-out as I was to learn that it only takes one time even if you’re not 16, this baby seemed to want to stay put.    Though not an ideal situation (having been “done” with kids, having given away all our maternity/infant things, having no spare rooms, a car with no room for another car seat….oh and having cancer and still being radioactive) so far things have looked pretty positive (aside from a few bumps…and I don’t just mean my impressive display of pregnancy acne).

With the goal of not freaking everyone else out, I’ll try to hit on the major issues.   First, I was advised to not get pregnant for at least one year from my radiation (Dec. 13, 2011).  This was for several reasons: (a) there’s still some residual radioactive iodine in my body for up to a year, (b) it takes time to regulate thyroid hormone levels and the more time you regulate the better able you know how your body responds to dose changes,  (c) you can complete a follow-up scan at 6 months and 1 year to see if the cancer cells have been killed or are remaining, and (d) pregnancy can stimulate cancer cells (all cells) to divide/multiply/grow.  Oopsy!  I got pregnant on or close to March 17, 2012…that would…carry the one…..minus 9 months…. OK only 3 months….even I can’t spin that math.

So here’s where I make you feel OK about the above paragraph.   Take the radiation (a).  I consulted with a physicist who advises the hospital nuclear medicine departments and he was able to calculate my effective radiation level for mid-April (got pregnant in mid-March, but close enough for…physics?).   My level mid-April was “less than 0.005 mCi”.  This is small – of course small for people around me, not as small for a developing person in close proximity 24/7.  But the small number of studies which have looked at women who conceived within 6 months of an RAI treatment dose showed no significant difference to average women in terms of problems related to pregnancy, labor, or the baby.   And frankly, there’s nothing I can do about it.   As we say in the environmental science world, we can only “mitigate for un-avoidable impacts”.   In this case the radiation exposure is unavoidable and I plan to mitigate it by *trying* to limit the number of ultra-sounds and having the baby’s thyroid function checked close to birth (could also request an ultra-sound of the baby’s thyroid if we suspect a concern).

Regarding (b), regulating thyroid hormone, this has been an issue, but I think we’re heading back on course.   A “thyroid-abled” woman automatically increases thyroid hormone production when pregnant to allow the baby to metabolize.  Since I totally freaked out and suspected I was pregnant about 8 hours after conception, I was able to notify my endocrinologist very early on and she increased my daily Synthroid dose.  Turns out she over-shot how much I needed and I became hyperthyroid (too much thyroid hormone and not enough pituitary hormone).   Being hyperthyroid was almost as much fun as being hypothryroid….almost.  I was basically crazy manic, couldn’t sleep soundly, couldn’t concentrate on anything, jittery, then anxious, angry, and finally it culminated with uncontrollable sobbing fests.  It was like I had eaten the fish for dinner (and if you don’t get that reference you must immediately add Airplane! to your Netflix queue).   So my endo prescribed me a lower Synthroid dose, but suspicious of her dosage decrease, I did a little novice pharmaceutical work and decided to combine my dosages (125mg 5 days/week and 137mg 2 days/week) and my latest lab work looked perfect (and I’ve finally stopped crying – though it did keep people out of my office for a few days).

And for (c), doing scans, and (d) stimulating cancer cells….we’re just going to ignore those (done!).   Since again, nothing can be done about it and delaying the scans doesn’t change the result (plus it definitely is worth it to go through labor pain med-free than to go through being hypothyroid again…uh-uh…nooooo wwwaaayyy….I will pull a Duggar if I have to… “time for my scan?  Wouldn’t you know it, pregnant again…yep this makes 19!”

So that takes care of that.  Otherwise, been feeling OK and baby is looking great (like a little big-headed Alien with really skinny limbs).   Around 10 weeks I had a placental tear that is still there and a bit larger (graduated from “tiny” to “moderate”).   This side-lined me from the gym for over 2 weeks, which basically had the same exact effect as if I had undergone surgery to implant size DD breast implants onto my hips.   I’ve honestly never in my life have had “love handles”  and I’m not really feeling the “love”.    BUT I was cleared by the periontologist today to resume “non-vigorous work-outs” ….and had I not spent 3+ hours of my work day driving to and waiting to see the doctor for 15 min, I would have enthusiastically headed for the gym.

I promise to keep you all posted now that I’m out of the pregnancy closet (whew, it was tight in there, especially with my handles and widening ass!).    And remember…it only takes ONE time……

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