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.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Today is Your Due Date

Dear Emma-
Today is February 26, 2011. It is amazing to think that you are 7 weeks old on your due date. Mommy had a gut feeling all along that you were going to come before your due date but never imagined almost 2 months early. You are my miracle angel baby.

The last couple of weeks have been so much fun! We met your cousins at the park and went on a walk and watched Cora play on the swing and jungle gym. Your Aunt Aubree and Uncle Taylor came to visit. And you continue to grow and reach new milestones. You are now in NB diapers and growing more and more into your NB clothes. You are eating 80 ml of formula in the day and 90 ml at nighttime feedings.

Mommy loves everything about you but here are some favorites from the last couple of weeks:
  • The sounds you make while you eat, dream and play
  • How you grow and change everyday
  • How you kick your feet and swing your arms during the day (we aren't swaddling you during the day so you can explore with your hands)
  • The way you work so hard to get your hands out of your swaddle. Last night you had gotten both arms out and pushed the blanket down to your waistline. You had your arms flailing all around!
  • Watching you sleep so peacefully
  • Reaching for my fingers while you are eating
  • Cuddling on my chest
  • Cooing when you are listing to your Disney music
  • Watching you love and cuddle your baby doll
  • Intensely reviewing all details of the animals in your favorite book
  • Watching you develop all different kind of facial expressions (my favorite is when you put your lips in a "o" shape and your eyes get really big)
  • Sticking your tongue out- it is so pointy
  • Squeezing on your cheeks

As of Friday the 18th you weighed 6 lbs 12 oz...this is a full 3 lbs bigger than when you were born. I would guess that you weigh around 7 lbs 4 oz today but we will officially know next Friday at your 2 month check-up.

Mommy and Daddy took a big step this past week too and left you with Grandma Charlene so we could meet some friends out a your Daddy's syndicate bowling event. I only stayed for about an hour and a half as I wanted to be back in time for your 9:00 feeding. When I got back home we Skyped with Mumsy, and Dee Dee and Papa. This is the first time Dee Dee and Papa had seen you live. They can't wait to meet you. I hope to get to KC as soon as we can after I recover from my surgery.

You had a fussy night on Thursday and we were up a few more times that regular checking on you, putting your pacifier in, and re-swaddling. Daddy had an important meeting with a client on Friday and during the night he said to me as he was getting up to check on you, "She hasn't been fussy any night until the night before a big meeting." Mommy was so out of it that my response was, "Well, did you tell her?"

We are so proud of the growth you have made in the past 7 weeks! Here's to a lifetime of accomplishments!

We love you,
Mommy and Daddy

Continued Support

A great family friend, Amy, added my name to the Honor Wall at Olathe South High School's PINK night.

Thank you, Amy for the continued thoughts and prayers. It is nice to see the title "Survivor!"

Again, I had great support from family and friends at what I thought was to be my last chemo before surgery. We celebrated with a Valentine's Day theme to show our love and support for eachother and for the nurses that have taken such great care for me and Emma.

I can't believe we didn't take any photos that day...I think I was thrown off that day when I learned I would have one more session before the big day. Anyways, thank you to Charlene, Laura, and Natalie for making it another special day.

Emma and I made Valentine's Day cookies for the Cancer Center nurses and the NICU nurses to show our appreciation for their love and care. Here is a photo of Emma in her Valentine's Day outfit.

Happy Valentine's Day


Thursday, February 24, 2011

While The Baby Sleeps

Check out this blog out of Helsinki, Finland. A mom there creates these amazing scenes all while her baby is sleeping.

For copyright issues: These photos belong to (c)Adele Enersen (she deserves all the credit) and i saw them published on Buzz Feed below but I wanted to entice you to visit her site with a sneak peek. So creative!


Here is her blog:

Kelly- any inspiration for Emma's 3 month photos?

Life Lessons

Over the course of the last 6-8 months I have learned some very valuable life lessons.

When I found out I was pregnant in June I was shocked at how quickly my priorities shifted. It was like a switch went off immediately that taught me to not sweat the small stuff and focus on those things that are most important- like friends and family. My priorities became more balanced. My current employer always talks about and places a lot of value of work-life balance but before this summer I will admit that my scale definitely tipped more towards the work side of things. Don't get me wrong, I still have a huge passion for the work I do but I understand now the importance of calling it a day in order to get home to family and friends and enjoy my "off" time.

Then in August when I was diagnosed with breast cancer I learned that it was ok to put myself first sometimes. I can remember as far back to my high school days this has been a hard thing for me to do. I would always place my homework on hold in order to finalize details for a group project or Student Council event. Then in college, history repeated itself. I have always been drawn to extra curricular activities and if that meant sacrificing my sleep or things I wanted to do for myself I did. Now enter into my professional life. As I entered into the advertising agency world, the patterns I created in life continued to be reinforced by my daily activities. My clients came first. They paid the bills and I was there to provide the most excellent service I could on behalf of my agency. Plus, the work was energizing and exciting. Who wouldn't want to manage projects, pieces of global business, and cross-promotions for such Fortune 100 companies like Intel, Microsoft, Best Buy and Coca-Cola or run first of its kind promotions to deliver $10,000 cash with your pizza right to you door for Domino's Pizza? Or how about building a clothing line from the gound up or building a master brand for Monsanto?

After my diagnosis I realized the work will always be there and my health wouldn't necessarily. I needed to put my doctor's appointments and treatments first in order to get healthy for Emma, Rett and my family and friends. And it has paid off so far. As I prep myself for my day of surgery and recovery, I will again need to remind myself that is is ok to focus on me in order to recover quickly so I can get back to living my full life with my new family.

Take time out today to spend with your families and don't forget a little "me" time too!


A Husband's Perspective: Volume 3

Well let's just say that a lot has changed since my last post. It definitely was a shock on the morning of January 8th when Jenna came into our room and said "I think my water broke". One thing that I have gone through which both my mom and Jenna's dad had told us was it is amazing how fast you fall in love with your children the first time that you see them. When you first meet someone you start dating, get to know each other, and then eventually those feelings develop. The first time I held Emma I was in love. Obviously if you have been following the blog the first 2 1/2 weeks that Emma was here were very hard. It was very draining on both Jenna and I to have to make the trek to the hospital everyday, as if we weren't spending enough time there already. It was great though the day that she got to come home. It really makes you feel like you are a family at that point when Jenna, Emma, and I get to spend time together. As most parents go through, I was very nervous at first. Nervous that I wasn't doing things right, wasn't soothing her the way that she needs to be soothed, and not feeding her correctly. Somehow though you just figure it out. No one who is a first time parent knows exactly what to do with a newborn but you figure it out.

As a dad there are a lot of emotions you go through. You want to be there to help take care of her but at the same time you know that you need to work to provide for your wife and child, so that takes you away from them. Being a dad is very rewarding. I typically do her 9:15 pm feeding and her 5:00 am feeding. The 9:15 pm one is definitely my favorite because I get her ready for bed and get to watch her fall asleep. I wish I had someone to rock me to sleep like that every night. Emma truly has been a blessing to both Jenna and I.

Onto another topic, Jenna's health. The news that we have been getting from the doctors has been tremendous. Jenna's early post about high fives really made me laugh. Each time the doctor would walk out of the room after giving us good news Jenna and I would give each other a high five when no one is around but we were always afraid that he might hear us out in the hall. I don't like to get over confident or look too far ahead but for some reason it just seems like things are working out. The power of prayer definitely has been working. It still is a long road ahead. Jenna has surgery on March 8th but the diagnosis for that has improved with the MRI showing that the tumor is all but gone and that they only need to remove 6-10 lymphnodes instead of the originally diagnosed 10-20. The fewer lymphnodes that they remove the quicker her recovery will be.

Some of you may know but I wear a pink wristband on my right wrist. It has the breast cancer ribbon on it and says "Breast Cancer Awareness." I wear it to remind me of what Jenna is going through. To be honest, I really don't like wearing it. At night it rolls up on my arm, pulls the hair out, and is just all around annoying. Plus, who wants to be reminded constantly of what your wife is going through. I told Jenna that when this is all over I want her to cut it off. It will be a celebration of her being done with this bump in the road but also a sign to me that it is time to move on.

All you have to do is read the blog over the last couple of months to know what kind of woman I am married to. It has been really cool watching her now change into a loving and caring mother. I can't wait to spend the next years of our lives watching our daughter grow up together. I love you, Jenna.

I always end my posts throwing out big thank yous to all of you. Thank you for the prayers, cards, meals, phone calls, visits, gifts for Emma, etc. I will say it again that I hope one day Jenna and I can give back some of the gifts that you have given to us.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chemo Free Tuesday

Today was the first Tuesday since November 23rd that I woke up and didn't have to go to the hospital for chemotherapy!

It was so nice to sleep in a bit longer and stay at home with Emma all day long. Between feedings, Emma and I snuggled, cleaned the house, put away laundry, checked email, swung in our swing, played on our mat, did tummy time and got a quick workout in.

Next Tuesday is my last chemotherapy before surgery. It feels like Groundhog's Day as I thought I had already had my last one. However since I was able to start the Herceptin once Emma was born, Dr. Lyss wanted to squeeze one more in because this drug is safe to give one week before surgery. I was bummed I didn't get my full "chemo vacation" but one more now means one less later.

I don't know my full post-surgery schedule yet as most is determined at my follow-up with my surgeon. At that point, we will determine upcoming physical therapy, radiation and remaining chemotherapy.

I do know that I will begin my hormone therapy (via a daily pill) beginning one week post surgery. I will keep you posted on how that goes...a medicated menopausal state for a 30 year-old could bring interesting tales.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Emma's 1 Month Old Photos

We had so much fun styling Emma for her 1 Month Old Photos. Thank you Kelly Ferguson Photography for making the vision a reality. They are beautiful!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Great Week With the Doctors

We had a great week with all the doctors.

Emma had her one month check-up and passed all her milestones. She is looking at faces, tracking with her eyes, focusing on objects about a foot from her face, displaying the startle and grasp reflex and is cooing, grunting and making all types of noises. She can even move her head from side to side when laying on her tummy. Last week she had really discovered her hands, and now she has further discovered her fingers (they end up in her mouth mainly, sometimes the full fist) and reached for her feet the other night when we were changing her diaper. She is even learning to hold in her binky with her hand!

Hand in our mouth
I can't believe she turned one month old. We had Kelly back out to take her professional one month photos and we can't wait to share them with you in about a week's time. But here are some pics I took (definitely not professional).

1 month old

My cheeks get fuller every day.

Happy girl!
She is 18 inches long and weighed in at 6 lbs 2 oz.

I had a busy week last week with my second to last chemotherapy session and a MRI.

UNO! One more left!
I was much more nervous about the MRI than I thought I would be. Because I couldn't have a MRI while pregnant this was my first one and a lot of things began to race through my mind: what if it spread? where could it have spread to? what if the lump is bigger than they could feel during the exams? what about the lymphnodes? was the chemo successful? what is the path ahead of me?

There was a lot of quiet alone time during the 30 minutes of the MRI test that I was able to think through the above questions and reflect back on the last 5.5 months. I am confident that I chose the right doctors and the right course of action for me and I had to rely on higher powers to take this one into his hands.

It was an agonizing 48 hours but when I got the call from the doctor's office it was great news! My medical oncologist and my surgeon both reviewed the MRI together and called to tell me...the chemotherapy was a complete success and they can't see any remains of the lump. What a relief! This further validates that the choice to have the lumpectomy vs mastectomy was the right choice. My surgeon, Dr. Yazdi, will go in to remove the dead cancerous cells and remove a clean margin of healthy cells that once surrounded the lump. The MRI also showed less inflamed lymphnodes than originally thought meaning we will only have to remove 6-10 vs the original plan of 10-20! Thirdly, the MRI showed no sign of the cancer spreading elsewhere in my left breast nor to my right breast!

Tomorrow, I celebrate the completion of my chemotherapy (before surgery). After 5.5 months and 16 chemotherapy treatments my body is ready for a three week vacation! No chemo and no doctor's appointments. I am ready to have a break from the side effects and the weekly grind of a 3 hour chemo session. The side effects have begun to add up and were getting quite annoying. My bloody noses persist, my face is broken out like a 13 year old's and my legs and feet have a tingling sensation like diabetics get neuropathy. We will celebrate with a Valentine's theme and say thank you to the nurses that have cared for me during my chemotherapy. And we plan to take a trip to the NICU to drop off some sugar cookies too!

Here are some other photos from the week:
Grandpa Jones came to visit

Our new favorite pink hat

Our first walk outside...although there is snow on the ground it was in the 60s

Daddy pushing Emma on our walk

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!

We hope you all had a great week as well!
Jenna, Rett and Emma

Monday, February 7, 2011

Such a Big Girl!

I can't believe that Emma will be one month old tomorrow. Time really does fly!

On Friday, our at home nurse came by to check on Emma and she weighed in at 5 lbs 9 oz (this is 2 lbs and 1 oz more than her lowest in the hospital)! She continues to grow and develop right on track.

She is tracking with her eyes more and more everyday. She will stare directly into your eyes when you look at her. She loves looking at the artwork we have around the house, especially the poster I have framed from Memphis in May from my college days.
Emma gazes at the artwork for minutes upon minutes.

Here is the colorful artwork she likes the most.

She has discovered her hands and is starting to understand that they are attached to her body and that she controls them. She will help me hold her bottle, hold her burp cloth, soothe herself by placing her hands near her mouth and she is beginning to reach out to toys during her playmat time. She even plays with her ears like her Uncle Taylor. We call her "Houdini" as no matter how tight she is swaddled she will work to get her hands free, even if it means getting her arm out of her sleeve of her outfit!
First discovering her hands.

Feeling around with her hands.

Beginning to grasp and play with her toys.

I have started introducing different textures to Emma so she can feel them on her fingers and her cheeks. She loves the soft and silky ones the best- but who wouldn't!? After a couple of weeks of being home, I have begun to learn all of her sounds. Emma will groan when she is eating and wants more, she will sigh out of contentness, she will "laugh" when she is happy and playing and she will only give out one little yelp when she is hungry or needs a change. We have been blessed with a very happy baby; she is sleeping from 8:30 PM to 8:30 AM and wakes only for feedings.
Snuggling with a soft pink blanket.

Happy girl after her bottle.

Emma is really developing the muscles in her neck and has begun to prop her head on her hands and strike a pose.

Daddy and Emma cuddling after a feeding.

On Sunday, Emma was cheering on the Steelers for a Super Bowl win. Although they didn't win, Emma had fun watching the game with Daddy.
We have a football fan! As you can tell, she is half undressed due to the fact that we had to dash in to see the play!

Here are some other pictures from the week.
Emma and Grandpa Oesch

Emma and Grandma Charlene

Bath time!