Time to be us.

I have been jealous of everyone’s summer vacation social media posts.  While I have been enjoying seeing everyone’s pics, (and vicariously living through them) I have been a little envious that my only vacation has been to Boston. A private bed on the 10th floor at Dana Farber for 13 weeks and then a week straight at the Brigham both paid courtesy of Harvard Pilgrim. Man, I would LOVE to get away and spend some time as a family and forget about all this cancer/medical stuff. There was no time with all the MD appointments each week… chemo… being pregnant… now newborn…you all know. 

Miraculously, I don’t have any appointments or chemo or anything scheduled until the first week of Sept!!! Next week will be the first week (since last March) I won’t have any appointments! A whole week without seeing a doctor. That’s a great and very eerie feeling all at once. Ya know, we have put over 1,000 miles on Nate’s car since March driving to and from medical appointments alone! No joke- totally the truth. Now the car and my little body needs time to heal, rest and recover from the surgeries before we start things (treatments etc) up again. We have a much welcomed break. 

When I realized we would have some ‘time off’ I got thinking while I was up feeding Calvin in the middle of the night. I started looking for some last minute deals on VRBO, hoping I could score something decent to rent for a week. 4 Seasons quality and taste for the price of a motel 6 room. So I emailed a few people looking for availability. Long story short, I got to talking with this really lovely property owner. He is a Christian and said he was praying when my email rental request came in. We shared some information and I told him somewhat vaguely that I was in the middle of treatment for breast cancer and looking for a place to go and relax. A place to go to forget about it all.

I don’t know what he was praying about when I emailed, but … can you believe he offered us their place for an entire week (to unwind, to connect and enjoy each other as a family) at NO charge!?!?! FREE!!!! FOR A WEEK!!!! When can you get anything free, never mind a rental house, on the ocean, from a complete stranger for an entire week!?!?!? I was not expecting this! I was not expecting anything at all except possibly a last minute booking for maybe a small discounted rate that I knew we probably couldn’t afford anyways. I was on a wing and a prayer and got both.

Tears of joy have been streaming down my face since I found out. Thinking about how big this guy’s heart is, really floors me!  But good people DO still exist and I have been blessed by him. Flipping amazing…

I have and do really try to stay positive and keep my mental health in check through all of this. It’s easy to stay all ramped up and ready when your in the middle of the fight. But when the dusts settles a bit and there is a lull in treatment (like now) there is time to breathe. And when you stop to breathe, there is time to reflect. (Then the reality of what has happened starts to sink in a little… Woah!) I have started to realize the amount of energy and stamina that has been put into the last 6 months. Heck, the last 5 years!!! I realize I. AM.TIRED. This cancer poker face of mine has been going strong for 6 months straight. And damn, it’s hard to maintain that! My breath leaves me for a second when I think a little more about what has happened. I pause next and give a little head shake… shake off the trauma, the doubt. Shake off all the losses I have accrued, and put them neatly on a shelf in in my brain. It’s not time to deal with this yet. Not going there. I quickly pull it together. I got this, we got this. Forward thinking and ready to move forward. Back to Maine… Onto a quick little vacation and then the last legs of treatment. (Next blog will give those details)

Back to just thinking about a week away from it all in rural coastal Maine is going to be so prefect. Our little family of 4. It’s so easy to go down the cancer hole. Get wrapped up in all bullshit that goes along with it. And while yes, sometimes I feel like I am 1 second away from losing it completely or totally throwing it in and going off the reservation, I think about my family. I think about my faith and what God has brought me through. I think about the love I have experienced and the blessings. I think about our trip to Maine…

How we will have our morning coffee on the deck. We will have big comfy sweatshirts and warm slippers on till the chill of the night air leaves and the sun warms everything up. Sip after sip, the caffeine starts to work and our eyes open, we watch the fisherman in their boats leave the harbor to go collect the lobstah’s. A lovely start to the day. Later on when the sun is shining and it’s nice and warm out, Cora will be playing in the water, while daddy grills up something tasty for us. Calvin and I will be chillin- a bub for him and a glass of red wine for me from the expensive bottle Nate bought me for Christmas. I have been dying to indulge in and each sip will be a celebration of what we accomplished so far. At night, when the sun is gone and the stars are out, we will put the kids to bed. Kiss them on their heads, say prayers together and send them to dream land. (And now my favorite part of the trip) Nate and I will lay in the hammock, cuddled up in a big warm blanket looking at the unpolluted sky, probably lose track of time and savor staying up way too late, talking or just being silent in the comfort each others arms surrounded by the stars.

Take me there now! I’m so happy. This is just what we need right now. A little wind down before we wind back up. Time to forget it all and enjoy. Time to be us.

We are home!

And we are officially home- all of us!!! We actually were allowed to take Calvin home Friday!!! He surpassed all expectations and the doctors were impressed with how quick he made a turn around. We enjoyed getting settled over the weekend together as a new family of four. Cora loves her baby brother and is such a great big sister. She is my little helper and full of hugs and kisses for Calvin.

C-ya CPAP!

No more CPAP for Calvin! He is breathing all on his own now. Praise God! Prayers next that he will have good eating skills and able to gain weight. Boys tend to be lazy… drink a little and fall asleep. He has lost some weight since birth, which is totally normal. But it’s time now his growth curve starts to trend up. So he needs to gain some weight and eat solely from a bottle before he can come home.

I would write more but I don’t have the energy. And, it’s too upsetting to talk about while I am home now and Calvin is still in the hospital away from his mother and family.

Baby Calvin…

Calvin is doing much better today… he has been extubated and only requires CPAP to help him breathe. He is much more awake now. His beautiful little eyes were open, staring at us this AM. Don’t ever underestimate the power of prayer. This little guy has turned the corner and is on his way to heading home with us before we know it!

For me, I am still here in the hospital too. With out getting into a whole bunch of woman stuff, I will say this; it’s a good thing that I am having my babies in this century with great medical care. Otherwise, I would have been one those poor women that died during child birth. I guess my body was just not made or prepared to deliver babies. Even in a well controlled, state of the art, top medical facility in the USA, there were complications with Cora and Calvin that label me with 2 “traumatic births”.

Honestly, it’s all behind me and have 2 wonderful children now, to pour my heart and soul into. I’m feeling stronger everyday. I know the last 3 weeks were insane with an abrupt stop to chemo, scheduled surgery, an unexpected delivery with more surgery and a new NICU baby…however we have accomplished quite a bit which means the end to this is even closer than before. That’s a blessing I will take.

Lastly, I just want to say how thankful, grateful and truly humbled Nathan and myself feel. EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE has rallied behind us and supported us in ways we never expected; from the nurses, doctors, friends, family, neighbors, or complete strangers… With good there is evil and with light there is darkness… yes, we are in the middle of some pretty serious stuff right now, but that too comes with an opposite… an unimaginable experience of love and caring that can only be experienced in this kind of tragic setting. In other words the dark times are being alleviated by the incredible generosity and compassion that we are feeling from others; you have brought hope and light to our experience.

Meet Calvin Jacob Killeffer

Our little guy Calvin had to be intubated and is now on a ventilator to help him breathe. He still has to learn how to do this on his own. A bit of a step back but he isn’t working so hard to breathe and appears more comfortable. It’s so hard to see him this way. We aren’t even on the same floor. 😪. It doesn’t look like he will come home with us this weekend or anytime soon after.

Look at Nate’s hand … it’s bigger than his head! He may be tiny but definitely the perfect Walorz/Killeffer combination- he is a strong 💪🏻 little, tough guy.

Arrival.

Well yesterday at 8am, my water decided to give way. Not sure why… maybe from surgery last week or maybe from the chemo, maybe it was just crappy luck Who knows… We were both equally very surprised this this was happening and it was happening fast. We had many talks prior about the famous birthing plan but none of them included this scenario.

So we went into Boston to the Brigham and Woman’s hospital and had a baby. He was born last night at 9:22pm, 5 lbs 14oz, 19 inches long. Baby K needs little help breathing on his own so he is hooked to c-pap machine and he has to stay in the NICU. I haven’t been able to hold him yet. Hopefully today or tomorrow. He is sooo cute and adorable. We absolutely love him and know he made our family complete.

Please welcome Calvin Jacob Killeffer. Better pics to follow…

Change in plans…

Things in life don’t always go as planned. Things in my life never go as planned. I’ve come to expect it and deal with it well. Lol- well maybe not so well right now…

I had an ultrasound of my lymph nodes earlier this week to check the progress we were making with chemo, and to help set a surgical date for AFTER Baby K’s arrival. I met with my surgical oncologist after my test and the news was not really what I was expecting. Insert something funny here … I’m not feeling too funny right now so you will have to come up with your own humor.

While my tumors haven’t grown, they haven’t shrunk either. They are the same size as they were 13 weeks ago- not good. They also found another tumor that was “probably” there before but no one is really sure or at least hasn’t said one way or another to me.

The chemo isn’t working…. what’s next? Well, if I wasn’t pregnant they would switch me to another chemo… however, there are no more chemo options available to me that have been proven safe during pregnancy. So the good news is…. I am done with chemo for now. Yeah :/ (said in an extremely sarcastic, monotone, unexcited voice).

The not so good news… Next line of defense is surgery. AND… I am already booked for July 10!!! Just 12 short, wonderful days from now. I hope you’re sensing my sarcastic tone here.  I wish I was more enthusiastic about this but I am not! Having surgery while pregnant brings on a whole new set of anxieties. It is totally safe for the baby (at least that’s what they tell me, but I’m tired of them telling me stuff). However my small mind just can’t comprehend it and I just plain-old don’t like it. It seems so risky. I had surgery with Cora and yes, she is more than fine… but I was terrified the entire time going through that. I hate even thinking back about it now. My plan this time around was to have surgery after, AFTER, the baby was born. Not before and certainly not 12 days from now. I’m not happy! I do not like this change in plans. Wooosah…. I’m rubbing my earlobes trying to calm down. Not really,  but your getting it right???

Being comfortable after surgery is also a concern… little oxycodone for momma and Baby K for pain management… Oh yeah,  no problem! Ugh! Although again all of the doctors assure me it’s completely safe (there they go telling me stuff again… tired of hearing this). What mother feels comfortable taking narcotics when pregnant? It goes against everything I know and feel to be right. So, I will chose to suffer in pain and tough it out with Tylenol. Flipping great!

Again, I now have 12 days to completely get my motherly nesting act together… after surgery I can’t do squat for 4 weeks. And right after the 4 weeks is up, it’s baby go-time. After surgery my right arm will be totally out of commission. How the heck am I going to get a nursery together, all the baby laundry done, folded and put away, sterilize all the bottles and everything else I have to deep clean and do to get ready for a baby??? AAAAAHHHH!! I know people will help- but I’m sorry you guys, that’s MY JOB! I am the mom, I want to do it. I want to do it all!!! It’s all part of it, it’s all part of the big baby picture, it’s my job. I want to gawk over the little outfits and imagine how cute he is going to look in them as I fold and put them away. I want to imagine me holding him with a bottle, smelling and kissing his little head while I make room in the cabinets for the new bottles I just got. I want to clear a space next to me in our bedroom where he will sleep safely next to me. This is MY passage to motherhood… MINE! I should have 9 more weeks to get this done. Cancer brought that down to 5 more weeks for an early delivery, and now with this new change in plans I am down to 12 flipping days! FU cancer! I am screaming it as loud and clear as I possibly can right now…. F U cancer… F-off!!!!!!!

Ok, Im going to reel it back in here….

As soon as my 4 week restrictions are removed it’s baby go-time! It will be time for a special early delivery and we can meet our little man. The big prize in all of this. The climax to this story. When we all smile and nothing else matters except the sweet little boy that has joined us. Lets bask in this moment 🙂

And now…  back on the crazy train…

Then who knows what the heck will happen after the baby. More chemo? More surgery? Radiation??! I don’t know!!! Cue the cancer shit flinging monkey…

I’m doing my best to stay positive here. It’s discouraging to have come this far and not made much ground. Especially when dealing with cancer. I feel like I am a ticking time bomb and we are racing against the clock trying to beat it before it goes off and spreads in my body. That this is some game of chance and we roll the dice and see what we get. Cancer is just like this… a game of chance. I can do everything right and still lose to cancer just as much as if I do everything wrong and never have cancer ever again. It really doesn’t matter.

What does matter is I could drive myself crazy and drown or I could rely on my hope and float. I can get lost on the what-if’s or I can find my source of certainty. This is no easy feat right now… a part of me feels like I am slowly dying, I’m losing this battle right now. But the other part of me feels strong as hell and this is just another blip in the road only to make us stronger. Everything will be fine…. I am pregnant, hormonal and overreacting.

There was a sermon in church I heard a few years ago… the pastor was talking about how life is like a football game and how we are all players in the game, on the field. We can only see the game from a on-field perspective and can only see each play as it’s carried out. We can only see the players and challenges as they exist immediately surrounding us. However, God doesn’t see it that way from above. He is looking down and is able to see the entire game from His seat; in the offensive/defensive coordinator box so-to-speak. Start to finish, He knows all the plays and what’s going to happen in the entire game. He is holding the play book and has a plan for every situation. At this point, today, I just have to trust God that He is looking down on my game and He knows every play, every move and every decision made and believe that the game plays out exactly as He intends it to. That my game is up to God and not up to chance; that He is in control.

In the meantime, I will be a pregnant lunatic on one hell of a cleaning and nesting binge for the next 12 days. I know it will be ok, I really do. I am sure I will be back to my happy self tomorrow, but for now these changes in plans really suck.