Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Pregnancy Trial from Brenna

I was 25 when my husband and I got pregnant with our first child. Several of my friends were pregnant too, and I was delighted that I would get to share this experience with them. I was so lucky at the beginning, because I didn't get sick at all. It was easy!

That was good because I was an incredibly busy kindergarten teacher and felt like I had something to prove since I was young. The first trimester passed with relatively few troubles. The only thing out of the ordinary was a small bump we had found near my collarbone. Probably lymph tissue, but no one seemed to concerned so I tried not to be. After 3 weeks on antibiotics, it was still there and starting to cause more worry. But I was busy, so it just got pushed to the back burner.

A few months later I was visiting a doctor for my eyes. His brother happened to be an ENT and when he saw my lump, he told me that I should go and get it checked out by a specialist, so I did. The specialist did a fine needle biopsy which had inconclusive results; we followed up with a full biopsy and the results were devastating. At 24 weeks along, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Cancer! I was too young for that!

Those first few weeks of diagnosis were incredibly difficult. Lots and lots of testing; some of it was quite painful. Each day we hoped for the best and we kept pushing through, but the fear consumed us in our quiet moments. No mother-to-be should ever have to wonder if she's going to be around to watch her baby grow up. As days passed we learned that the cancer had already advanced to "Stage 3." It was everywhere but my bone marrow. We had to make a choice. Start chemo right away or deliver early and start as soon as possible. We listened, we prayed, we cried some more. We decided that we would wait until I was 34 weeks to deliver and then start chemo.

The hardest part was watching all my friends — the same friends I had been delighted to share pregnancy with. It seemed things were perfect for them. I remember visiting my best friend the day she had her baby. I was so happy for her, but I was incredibly jealous of how easy things seemed. I cried myself to sleep that night, and I can still feel that hurt in my heart to this day.

But blessings came to me too, although I was still working through the trials. At 34 weeks I delivered a healthy baby boy, who we named Caleb Roy. In fact, though he was 6 weeks early he weighed 6 lbs at birth! He spent 2 weeks in the NICU, but came home as normal as can be. I started chemo the same week I had Caleb. Caleb was the most mellow, easy baby I could imagine. Though I was sick quite a bit, we managed.

Six months later I finished chemo with a perfectly clean bill of health. I've been cancer free over a year now and I am grateful for each moment I have with my husband and son. Life is a beautiful blessing.

From Brenna.


Note from Design Mom: for the duration of my pregnancy, I'll be posting stories about pregnancy, childbirth and growing a family on Wednesdays. You can find them all by clicking here.


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Blogger Janssen said...

Well, here I am, crying before bed. Not what I planned when I gave into a last quick browse through Google Reader.

I'm so happy things worked out for Brenna and her family. What a happy ending!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 10:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger michelledoodads said...

Brenna, thanks for sharing your story. I got choked up when I saw your picture, with a tear streaming down your face holding your little boy with a Nasal C-pap. Though I didn't have the trials you did with health and chemo, our son spent time in the NICU (with the c-pap and 20 other wires connected to him) and it took me back to being a new mom and praying so deeply for a little person I hardly knew but loved immensely. When I held him for the first time (two days after he was born) I was so overcome with joy and the blessings I felt - despite the trial. Thanks, again, for reminding me about special times. Best of luck to you and all that your life sends you!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 10:41:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Rachel Orme said...

This is an amazing story. It shows that we can always have hope to conquer even the most difficult trials. Thanks for sharing this.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 11:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger m e l said...

Wow. Thanks for the story - amazing!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 11:46:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Angie said...

wow. thanks

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 11:51:00 PM EDT  
Blogger happyfamily said...

Yes, that last picture tells the tale, doesn't it. Thanks for sharing your story with us- I know that God will continue to bless your beautiful family.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 12:20:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Amy said...

What a touching story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 12:59:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Beana @ Bean Circus said...

So inspirational. Thank you for sharing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 1:02:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Elise said...

Thank you for your inspiring experience. It brought back so many memories of my two little preemies and the trials some of us go through to have kids. I remember being envious of the "easy, worry-free" pregnancies. But I feel blessed to be able to have two healthy children that were also very easy babies.

I pray that you remain healthy. And thank you for reminding me of my experiences and the things we should all be truly grateful for.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 2:42:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Kari said...

Not much makes me cry, but you got me on this one. What strenght!

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 12:23:00 PM EDT  
Blogger LoGunns said...

Thanks for sharing this story and that picture. Incredible!

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 12:42:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Carrie Archer said...

Brenna, how beautiful are you and your baby? And what a lucky boy to have such a strong mama. You inspired me today. Thank you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 2:03:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Angela said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I too am a Hodgkins survivor. I got it at age 19, so didn't have to deal with it while pregnant. I am so glad to hear you and your baby are fine. I have been cancer free for over 10 years now and also have a healthy 2 year old. I hope that you will be continue to be healthy and have many more cuties to keep your little one company.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 4:48:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Janika said...

Wow. You are my hero! All the issues that come with a preemie, plus chemo on top of that. . . I love how you said that even though it was hard, you somehow made it through. It's truly amazing to see how we can make it through really, really hard things. Loved your post!

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 6:05:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Petit Elefant said...

Oh my heavens that was a lovely story.

I've had two terrible, horrible, rough day-to-day pregnancies, so this tugs on my heart strings.

Congratulations on both the baby and being cancer free!

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 8:24:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Kiera said...

Thank you for this. I'm grateful for stories like this.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 9:10:00 PM EDT  
Blogger michelle said...

I love the picture of you looking at your son. My daughter was in the nicu for 4 days after being born and I can share in a small way those feelings of joy and fear. I am so happy you have a clean bill of health and am grateful on how you remind us to appreciate life and not take things for granted. all the best to you and your family.

Friday, October 30, 2009 at 11:18:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jenks Family said...

I came here because my aunt Danika (she was 10 mo old when she became an aunt) posted that her story made your blog.
This story about Brenna is so touching. I think I know her. Maybe from BYU? I just can't put a finger on how I know her - my memory isn't what it used to be.
Thank you for sharing, Brenna! I'm glad everything worked out.

Friday, October 30, 2009 at 10:51:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Heather said...

Wow - what an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing it along with your very intimate photo. Unforgettable.

Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 12:51:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Beautiful story. Lovely photos. Wish for the very best for you. C

Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 8:50:00 PM EST  
Blogger brooke and tyler said...

you may not remember me brenna, but i lived at alta while you were there as well. what a wonderful ending to your story. i'm so happy you are cancer free and that you have a beautiful little boy now!

Monday, November 2, 2009 at 2:45:00 PM EST  
Anonymous The Dingbat (Adrienne) said...

Your story is truly touching, it made me bawl my eyes out! You are an amazing woman, what courage in such a trying time of your life. May you continue to touch your children's live as you have touched mine.

Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 12:51:00 AM EST  
Anonymous The Dingbat (Adrienne) said...

Your story is truly touching, it made me bawl my eyes out! You are an amazing woman, what courage in such a trying time of your life. May you continue to touch your children's live as you have touched mine.

Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 12:51:00 AM EST  
Blogger Dynamic Doula said...

What a touching story. I stumbled on your blog while researching something completely unrelated. Thanks so much for sharing your story, and the photograph with you and your gorgeous preemie.

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 1:30:00 AM EST  

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