30, Pregnant and Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Welcome to the Oesch Family Blog. This blog will allow you to follow along as our family grows, we tackle my breast cancer and live life to its fullest.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our Angels in the NICU

In preparation to bring Emma home from the NICU Rett and I wanted to write a letter to our family in the NICU to let them know how grateful we are to have them in our lives.

When I started this blog, it was therapeutic to me and helped me to get out my thoughts and feelings as well as share our progress and it continues to serve this purpose. But I have also learned throughout the past 5 months that I have been able to touch many lives, help some cope with their situations and build a great journal that one day we will share with Emma. Because of this I wanted to share the letter with all of you.

To Our Wonderful NICU Family,
We can't believe the day has come for us to take our precious Emma home! We are extremely grateful for the love and care you have shown her during her 2.5 weeks in the NICU (and to mom and dad too). We knew that due to my chemotherapy that she could have a possibility of arriving early and with low birth weight and for that I will always question why God provided us with this additional challenge. However he provided you as her angels when she arrived at 33 weeks. We hadn't truly prepared ourselves mentally or physically for what having a preemie would actually mean and we couldn't have asked for a better team of doctors and nurses to have by our sides. The tips we learned while here are invaluable and will be carried on at home. I still remember the night Jamie gave me her blanket to take home with me to sleep with so I could smell and "cuddle" with her. It is all those little things that will not be forgotten.

Thank you again for everything and we will make sure Emma knows about her angels too!

Love always,
Jenna, Rett and Emma

Monday, January 24, 2011

Emma's Second Week in the NICU

I sit here crying as I write this to you. I love you so much and you continue to amaze me with your go get em attitude and strength to conquer what is ahead of you. I had a difficult start to the week as Daddy went back to work so he can take more time when you come home. It was hard to be at the hospital during the day by myself but there isn't any other place I wanted to be. With so much time to think, I started to blame myself. I blamed myself for the fact that you were in the NICU because without my chemotherapy drugs you most likely would have made it closer to full term allowing you all the full advantages of development. You, at only 2 weeks old, have inspired me to keep my positive attitude and spirit and continue to fight for the both of us. I promise to always love, nurture, and take care of you.

You have been in the NICU now for 2 weeks and you have overcome some great obstacles. I have to keep reminding myself that you are only 35 weeks gestational age and you are doing things outside the womb that you shouldn't have to be doing yet.

You have been breathing on your own since you were born. Your lungs needed a bit of help with some steroids and a CPAP machine but you have been powering them alone this entire time. You have taught yourself how to suck from a bottle while swallowing and breathing and have gone from taking 3 cc's of formula to 60 cc's in 2 weeks (this is 2 oz). You have been able to gain some weight which in turn has allowed your body to grow, continue to develop and help regulate your own body temperature. You were born at 3 lbs 12 oz and now weigh 4 lbs 6 oz.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the week:
  1. You moved into a big girl crib because you were ready to regulate your own body temperature
  2. Continuing Kangaroo Care ("snuggle time" as I call it) while signing to you and you holding my finger
  3. Finalizing the finishing touches on your nursery with Daddy so it is ready for you when you come home
  4. Giving you your massages I learned from PT
  5. Bringing in your Preemie outfits to dress you in at the hospital
  6. Celebrating your 2 week old birthday
  7. Giving you your first bath
Here are some pictures:
Coming out of your isolette

Your big girl crib

Eskimo kisses from Daddy

Showing Mom and Dad how to swaddle you

Little piggies

Little fingers

2 weeks old today! (35 weeks gestational)

So alert right before your feedings

Using a big girl bottle

Mommy, Emma and Daddy- you are 15 days old

On Sunday night, you passed your car seat test and have crossed off another item on the checklist to get you ready to come home. In discussions with your neonatologist yesterday, she is hoping for a Wednesday Homecoming! Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you and can't wait to bring you home!

I love you, Emma!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Only 4 Chemo Treatments Left Before Surgery

We are about to hit another huge milestone in my cancer treatment. I only have 4 more chemo treatments before my surgery!!!

I gave birth to Emma on Saturday (the 8th) and was back in the cancer infusion center on Tuesday (the 11th) getting my regular Taxol treatment as well as adding Herceptin, a drug I couldn't have when I was carrying Emma. By being able to add this drug now for these last treatments I will be able to take off 6 weeks of chemo on the backend, post surgery. Therefore Dr. Lyss believes I will be done with my chemo treatments by Christmas 2011. It is the best Christmas present I could ever ask for.

We celebrated last week's treatment with "Give Cancer the Boot" theme:
Cowboy and Cowgirl

With Mom and Dad and the little boots for Emma!

Only 5 more treatments left
This treatment had a different feeling to it because all I could focus on was getting done with my infusion and back upstairs to my little girl. I was so anxious to get through it so I could go back up and hold her and feed her.

This past Tuesday we kicked off the treatment with the theme "Cooking up a Cure":
Rett made us Chef hats!

Rett, me and Jan
Only 4 more treatments left!

I met with my surgeon, Dr. Yazdi,  yesterday and we are set for a lumpectomy and axillary lymph node dissection on March 8th. It will be about a 2 hour surgery and will require one night in the hospital. He believes my full recovery will take about 6 weeks however I will be out of commission for 2 weeks and not able to drive. As I near about 4 weeks post surgery I will begin physical therapy as well as radiation and the rest of my chemotherapy. It will be a long road ahead but I am looking forward to getting all of this done and putting the cancer chapter behind me so I can focus on my precious little Emma.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Emma's First Week in the NICU

Emma is a fighter! She has had a great first week in the NICU and continues to get stronger and stronger everyday,

I was discharged from the hospital on Monday night and it was the hardest thing to walk out of the hospital not carrying my baby with me. I didn't want to leave the hospital parking lot and driving away to where I couldn't see the building anymore was so painful. I don't understand why God continues to throw us curveballs however Rett and I have grown stronger individually and as a couple because of it- and I wouldn't trade that in for the world.

Emma is our perfect little angel and we can't wait until the three of us can hang out as a family at home, show her her room and hug and kiss on her all of the time.

In her week in the NICU she has been a champion for her doctors and nurses. One of the neonatalogists calls her "his little rockstar." And one of her nurses, Jamie, has put a sticker in her isolette that says "The Queen." That is for sure! She is in charge and already has us all wrapped around her little finger.

Here are some of our favorite moments from this week:
  1. We call her "our little monkey" as she found one of her tubes in her isolette and looked like she was hanging from it and doing pull ups
  2. Her first smile while Daddy was holding her
  3. Mommy giving kisses on her head and Emma giving kisses back to Mommy on her chest (she even gave me a little hickey)
  4. Graduating to the big girl side of the NICU
  5. Reaching her hand out to me when I say goodnight to her
  6. Sleeping with her blanket so I could smell her all night long
  7. Calling each night before we go to bed to check on her
  8. And my favorite...Kangaroo Treatment which is skin to skin time where we can cuddle for an hour
Today will be a hard day as Rett returns to work and I will be at the hospital by myself until he can join me for her early evening feeding. And Tuesdays continue to be chemo days however it is hard to focus on myself now as all I can think about it getting to Emma and helping her get stronger every day.

Here are some photos from the week.

we love snuggle time

mini me

monkeying around

Three generations and Double Pi Phi Legacy

big smiles

Our Family dressed in PINK

Emma's isolette with her name and photo of mommy and daddy

1 week old!

great feeding with Daddy!

Jenna and Rett

Sunday, January 16, 2011


The morning of January 8, 2011 would change our lives forever!

My mom, Taylor and Aubree arrived Friday night and we had finished dinner and were hanging out downstairs watching an old high school football game of Taylor's (best hands in the Midwest). I remember not being able to get comfortable on the couch and calling it a night to go to bed. About 5 AM I woke up and again couldn't get comfortable, enough to get up and move into the chair in our family room. This was the first time I had gotten out of bed throughout my entire pregnancy.

Of course at 5:00 AM on a Saturday morning there is nothing on television. I was able to settle in a bit and found myself dozing off due to pure boredom. At 6:00 AM I awoke to find that my water had broken...or had it? I had no idea what to expect. I called the doctor's exchange and Dr. Weinstein was on call and told me to head to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital at 6:50 AM. I was checked in and examined and sure enough my water had broken. I was told that I would not be leaving the hospital until I had a baby! I was not having contractions at this point and needed to be monitored closely to make sure Baby Emma had enough fluids. We got mom and baby all hooked up to the monitors and began amniotic infusions to force fluid pockets around Emma.

My mom and Aubree had come in for my shower with my girlfriends. But Emma had her own plan; she didn't want the party to happen without her anymore. She was ready to meet Mom and Dad! My brother believes that Emma knew that she was strong enough to finish her development outside of the womb and decided to come 7 weeks early so that Mom could take care of herself and finish out chemo treatments. I believe all things happen for a reason and she is a fighter like her mom! I called Natalie and Lindsey to let them know that plans were going to change and shower day was going to become birthday!

Emma has a knack for timing and she knew that my family was in town and could experience her arrival and my Dad was at his condo at the Lake and therefore had just a short drive into town. Rett's family all came to the hospital too. We are blessed to have so many people who love us and wanted to share this truly unbelievable experience with us.

By mid-afternoon I was in labor. I was not trying to be a hero and took the epidural however it only took on the left side of my body. I endured true labor for about 1.5 hours and then we decided to redo the epidural. I must give props to the women whom do natural birth- you are more woman than I am!

Rett and I visited with our family and then decided to take a nap around 9:30 PM. My nurse came into examine me at 10:10 and I was fully dilated and it was time to have our baby girl! After 3 contractions and 6 pushes, our precious Emma Rose was here! Daddy got to cut the umbilical cord and stay with her as she was transferred to the NICU.

I needed to recover from delivery and let the epidural ware off before I could visit the NICU, but at about 3 AM I got to hold my miracle baby!

Preparing for Emma Rose!

Proud mommy and daddy!
Emma Rose born 3 lb 12 oz, 17 in long at 10:32 PM

Our Family

Already a fighter!

Our bond is stronger than ever! Here's to a healthy and happy 2011!
I can't even describe the emotional roller coaster of the day- happiness to meet her, scared for her health and the journey ahead, curious and anxious, sad and angry that my health could have caused her premature birth, and filled with joy and love! Her birth was one of the best times in my life and a journey that Rett and I will never forget!

We love you, Emma!
Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

CAUTION- Roadblocking Cancer Ahead!

Today was my 10th chemo treatment. We had a construction theme (hard hats and vests are abundant with three engineers and a paving & concrete business owner in the family)!

As I get closer and closer to the mid-point in my treatment, I am so proud of how "hard at work" Rett and I, my doctors, nurses, family, and friends have been to fight and roadblock the breast cancer! It has been quite a journey since August 24th and we have made fabulous progress on the tumor as well as creating and giving a healthy life to our precious child.

So today we celebrated that!

Angela, Matt, Jenna, Dad, Rett and Rett on duty to roadblock cancer

Foreman Jenna directing the countdown- only 6 more left!
We had a great tour of the Labor & Delivery floor at Missouri Baptist. I have a much better idea of where to go when it is showtime. We will have a LDR room (Labor, Delivery, Recovery room) and then be transferred into a patient room. Rett found the nourishment centers (free drinks and snacks) so he was able to check that off his list! Now I just need to pre-register...I can't believe I haven't done that yet! :)

Next up - yes, it was a long day, was our 32 week ultrasound and check-up with Dr. Smith. Emma is weighing in a 4 pounds 1 oz and is back up into the 50th percentile! Her growth is right on track and her heart rate is a beautiful 133 bpm.

Emma has hair! It will definitely be a race between mom and daughter to see who can grow the full head of hair first! The fuzzy looking lines that the arrows are pointing to is her hair.

She is waving hi!

Such a lady with her ankles crossed...look at that tiny little foot!
We will continue with every 2 weeks appointments and then switch to weeklies around week 36!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ready for Baby!

I go back to work tomorrow after a wonderful 2 week holiday vacation. These two weeks have been wonderful as I have been able to spend time with family and friends, continue to receive treatments and work towards getting healthy, ring in the new year with Rett and get the house further prepared for bringing Emma home from the hospital.

I have really begun to nest. I have cleaned out the refrigerator, the kitchen cabinets, the pantry, hung items on the wall in Emma's room, begun laundry of some of her outfits, blankets, towels, socks, etc. I even have myself and Emma packed for the hospital!

Rett and I made another trip to Babies R Us this weekend to finalize the necessities for the nursery- we now have the changing table set up, the bottles washed and in the cabinets and have our first jug of formula purchased!

I am getting more and more emotional and excited as each day comes and goes. In less than 60 days (55 days to be exact) our family will grow to three! I can't wait to hold our precious baby in my arms and know that she was able to tackle these past 5 months of treatment while in my tummy like a champ. I worry everyday about how the chemo and my added stress will effect her. But when I feel her moving around, kicking and punching and then see her beautiful face in the ultrasounds I am reminded how she is already a strong little one.

Tuesday is another big day for us. We have chemo in the morning, then we tour the Labor and Delivery floor (ironically the only one that I have not been exposed to at MoBap hospital), and then we have our 32 week appointment and ultrasound with Dr. Smith.

Rett and I thought it would be fun to look back at some of our baby photos so we could compare our photos to Emma's 3D ultrasound pics. You will really be able to pick up on my chubby cheeks and pointy chin and Rett's big eyes and sweet little lips.

My first and ONLY mug shot

Rett all dressed up with nowhere to go

We hope that all of you have a healthy and prosperous new year!
We love you!