A long 9 Months//Caitlins Birth+Surgery Story
Okay guys - The girls of EEA have had a lot going on in our lives lately. I just had my 2nd kiddo & Tori is due in a couple of months and let me tell you - it has been quite the crazy year already. I am so blessed and thankful for everyone's support as we go through this season of our lives and though I have been enjoying taking a little sabbatical from all things business, I am so ready to kick things into high gear in a few more weeks. I wanted to take a second to fill you guys in on my pregnancy journey this time around - because let me tell you it was a whirlwind. So, if you are interested in knowing what I went through over the last 9+ months keep reading!
*Slight warning: I am posting pictures that some may see as "graphic" so if you don't handle medical stuff well, don't look at the pictures at the end of this.
I am generally a super healthy person. My first pregnancy was a breeze. I had my daughter 2 days after her due date in 2015 and pushed for only 10 minutes before that sweet princess entered the world. She changed our lives for the better. We absolutely love being parents and all of the adventures we get to take our crazy, loud, rambunctious toddler on, so when we found out about two years later that we may be expecting another little bundle of joy, we were thrilled. I took test after test for months because I had every pregnancy symptom in the book. I had only stopped breastfeeding our then 1 ½ year old a couple months prior so I still hadn’t had a regular cycle which meant that wasn’t something I could base it off of. Everything else however was there. Cramping, nausea, exhaustion - you name it, I had it, so when those first 3 pregnancy tests in May and June came back negative, we were stumped. Yet still, I decided to go on with life figuring my body was just being weird. Then about a month or two later - at the end of July I took one more test and this time it was positive. We called the doctors to set up an appointment, but ultra sound couldn’t get us in until the end of August so, I called my OB’s office and they set up an office visit.
My doctor did an ultrasound and after what seemed like hours of silence he explained to us that I had a mass on my ovary that would need to be removed at some point. “Cancer” was the first word that popped into my mind followed by the question “is there no baby?” He addressed the cancer concern with a standard doctor’s answer “We won’t know anything until we get it out, but for now we can’t really worry about it.” & then he showed us our little baby. Relief and fear flooded my mind. I’m pregnant but could have cancer... He called ultra sound immediately and got me in the next day and they confirmed it was a 15 cm cyst that had taken over my ovary. It’s a weird feeling knowing there is something inside your body that shouldn’t be there. A mass literally grew on its own and took over a functioning body part therefore forcing said body part to be removed. I didn't know what any of this meant so I listened to my doctors’ advice of - Wait and see.
Flash forward to my 20-week ultrasound - the cyst had grown from 15 to 17 cm – only a slight cause for concern as we were told. My doctor began talking about my options then. We couldn’t take it out right now – it was too large. A vaginal birth with a surgery to take it out later would increase the risk of it rupturing - but that was our plan, deliver the baby and wait 6 weeks to remove the tumor. It wasn’t however until an appointment I had with a different doctor that the option for a second opinion was brought up. I was sent to see specialists at Swedish medical center in Seattle and that’s where the solid plans came rolling in.
After various blood tests, ultrasounds and consults with multiple doctors, I was told I would have a c section and the earlier the better. The first thought of 36 weeks terrified me. They would have to pump steroids into the baby and I was not okay with that and I made it clear - so they pushed it to 37 weeks. After my visit with the oncologist they decided that they could push it to 38 weeks for the baby’s sake and that I just had to take it easy until then. Suddenly, I had a team of doctors, one for my baby and me one for the cyst & a whole bunch of other ones to help.
In the weeks to come I was so scared and overwhelmed. I finally wrapped my head around everything and was doing my best to stay calm and relaxed through it all. & I did well up until about 2 weeks before the surgery. I feel like anything and everything that could have gone wrong the day, the night, the week before my surgery did. I was honestly a giant mess the day of my surgery, but I kept a positive face. I was basically going to find out after this what my life was going to be like for the rest of it. My baby would be here, and I would have a beautiful daughter, an amazing supportive husband, but how much longer would I get to enjoy it? Would it come back as cancer? Would my uterus have to be removed at 24 sealing the deal that I was done having children? How would my husband and kids deal with all of this? Guys I balled. On the ferry over to Seattle I cried. Then there was the fact that we have never been away from our sweet girl for more than 24 hours and we were looking a minimum 3 days without her. So I cried some more. Then to top it off my ear started BLEEDING the morning of my surgery and it hurt like hell. (my poor husband handled me so well). I don’t know if Satan was trying to break me (Okay he was) but I was damn close. So, I prayed. I needed to feel something positive because if I had one more thing added to the chaos I wasn’t sure I would be able to deal.
That morning, we woke up at 4am – not to imply that I slept at all, but honestly the rest of the morning was a bit of a whirl wind. It all started with us being told my husband couldn’t be in the room when we had previously been reassured multiple times that he could be. They took me through all the pre-op wiping me down getting me settled and taking my vitals. Then we waited and slowly one by one doctors started introducing themselves assuring us what ‘good hands’ we were in. The anesthesiologist came and told us I would be able to be on a spinal for the c section and that as long I was awake my husband could remain in the room but once they got to the cyst they would more than likely have to put me out and Kevin and the baby would have to leave the room and wait to see me until I was out of recovery. Luckily, they NEVER had to put me under. I had a phenomenal team of doctors who kept us in the loop as they worked and joked with us and kept us so calm the whole time. The c section, surgery and closing all took about an hour and a half on a spinal anesthetic, the cyst was removed without any extra blood loss & I never had to go to recovery they just sent us straight upstairs to our own private recovery room.
At 8:27 am I had a beautiful baby boy who weighed 6lb 11 oz and was 19 inches long. The cyst was out of my body and off to pathology and now all we had the option of doing was waiting to hear the results from the biopsy – which would take up to 2 weeks. Let me tell you though - it doesn’t matter how many friend’s, doctors or professionals tell you” it’s probably nothing” or “it can’t be cancer you’re too young.” You don’t realize it - but you do not breath again until you hear the words “your scans came back; the tumor is benign”.
But it happened – I found out a week and a half later that I wasn’t going to need more surgeries, I would have the option of more kids if I wanted & I would get to hold my babies and husband knowing everything was okay.
So where do I go from here? I live my life and love my family and friends more than I can even fathom. I thank God for every single day that I am here on this earth with my loved ones. & I do the best I can to help those who aren’t as fortunate to hear the word “Benign”.
Honestly though, I can’t stress how important it is to LISTEN to your BODY! If you feel like something is off – go to the doctor. Get it checked out. I had NO idea this could happen. That I could develop an 18 cm tumor on my ovary. A mass that was literally the same size as my newborn. (Side note- we called him my sons evil twin & his name was Babu) People are constantly asking me - "Didn't you have symptoms?" or "How did you not know?" Well honestly, I was lucky. My doctors all told me I should be in pain I should be having problems breathing, walking moving etc. I didn't though - I just had pregnancy symptoms up until the end of my pregnancy. Then things got painful and uncomfortable but other than that I wouldn't have known. Now I have one less ovary & only a 15% reduced chance of having kids again - I am healthy. If I had listened to my body 10 months earlier, I could have avoided all of this. Who knows I could have caught this before it got as large as it did, but I didn’t. Look at this cyst though (in photos). It’s what they call a dermoid cyst or ovarian teratoma. They can range in size from a centimeter up to 45 cm which can cause twisting, rupturing etc. Mine formed cyst on top of cyst multiple times – reaching about 18cm - I’m lucky. Mine didn’t rupture, it didn’t twist my ovary, I made it out fine. I look at my baby boy and honestly think he saved me from that. As my uterus grew it held that sucker into place keeping it from doing any more damage than it did. I believe that God gave me this kid as not only a blessing but as a sign to go get this checked out. The amazing team of doctors that performed my c section knew what they were doing and the oncologist that removed my ovary and cyst did too. My incisions will heal, and I will have a scar down my stomach, but it will be a reminder of what my body endured, what it went through for the last 9 months & it will be a testament for just how strong I truly am.