Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review of 2010- Part 2

The second part of 2010 was hard. I'll try not to post too much overwhelming stuff.

We spent the fourth of July on the Cape with Kevin's mom.  She spent the fireworks show hugging someone's baby and throwing us looks indicating that we should make her a grandmother already. Josh and Anna got engaged. My grandmother Daisy turned 80.  Kevin and I went to Michigan to visit Sarah and Donald and to see Kevin's old stomping grounds.

My dad turned 61 on Friday, July 16th.  The next Monday evening, my dad was diagnosed with a tumor in his brain. I was at the hospital the next day when the doctor told us it was kidney cancer in his brain, lungs, and his one kidney.

Dad 2010
My last photo with dad in July 2010

Kevin and I had been hoping to get pregnant, but when my dad got sick we figured it wasn't going to happen after all this month. The morning after I returned from the first hospital visit, I got so dizzy I almost passed out. I figured it was the stress of the event, but now I think it could have been an early pregnancy symptom. By end of the month, I knew I was pregnant with our baby whom we would name after my dad, James.

We planned a trip to visit my friends Allison and Dan a while before we knew about my dad's cancer, and my parents didn't want us visiting them every single weekend, nor had my dad's treatments started, so we decided to keep our date in Boston.

Visiting Allison and Dan 2010
Me and Allison in Boston Common 2010

After Boston, we swung by to visit our friends Casey and Victoria and their daughter Laurel in Marblehead. We just missed the arrival of their second baby Oliver. Rachel and Tim's second baby Eleanor was born almost immediately after.  While visiting Marblehead, I had started to suspect that something was amiss, and as I got more and more tired in the following week, I finally took an early test that confirmed I was pregnant.

Dad got brain radiosurgery, a noninvasive but traumatic outpatient procedure.  He was also put on medication to prevent post-op seizures.

As with the month before, my parents didn't want us around constantly so we attended the Jeff and Inga's Wedding in California as we had previously planned and even had the chance to travel around San Francisco and Sonoma while we were there.  The wedding was amazing. Between the time difference and being pregnant, I ended up exhausted and going to bed some nights at 7 p.m.  We had a series of bad flights and I ended up throwing up on the final leg back.

Michalowski Wedding 2010
Jeff and Inga's wedding 2010

Dad had a lot of leg pain, and it turned out that the hospital never scanned his arms or his legs and he had tumors in both. They offered him an embolization for the tumor in his legJaime came to visit and we went to the beach, but between my dad and the pregnancy I wasn't really in a beachy mood.

The end of August was truly awful. Chrissy's mom passed away from cancer. Due to my dad's brain radiosurgery he was on antiseizure medication, but the doctor made a mistake on his prescription and because of that he had a seizure, and he again lost his ability to speak or walk. The doctors advised us to up his antiseizure medication and wait for him to improve again. With my dad in this state, I went to Maureen's funeral that Friday. I had to leave after the funeral to help my dad who had not improved after his seizure yet. Strangely, I have a lot of memories from that day: two of which are being grateful that I could make my dad a sandwich at lunchtime, and that he handed me a pillow so that I would be comfortable. He didn't even know I was pregnant yet. Even in his pain and sadness, he was thinking about me.

That Saturday, Kevin and I went to Patrick and Aubree's wedding in Vermont, which was beautiful. Mom called during the end of the wedding reception and told me that dad was getting worse, so I encouraged her to call an ambulance to bring him to the hospital. Kevin and I had to leave the reception so we could get up early and go back to New Jersey.

The doctors said we couldn't wait any longer to see if the brain radiosurgery would work, so he'd have to get regular brain surgery.  The day of the surgery was one of the worst days in my life, and definitely the worst day of dad's life. We followed dad all the way to just outside the operating room, and when mom stepped out right before dad went in, I told dad I was pregnant. He couldn't speak, but reached out and kissed my hand and cried.  He was eager to talk about it when he regained his speech a month later.

We had our first doctor's appointment for the baby and the doctor did a sonogram! Dad moved to rehab after the brain surgery, and started speaking again little by little. Things were extremely tough though. Ash and Janice visited that weekend to try to cheer me up, and I really wanted to tell them I was pregnant, but Kevin and I had agreed to tell our moms first and we couldn't yet.

Baby Clou at 8 Weeks 2010
James's 8-week sonogram

I attended Rachel's 30th surprise birthday party, and I got to finally meet Eleanor.  Becky and Brandon had baby Connor 14 weeks early.

Rachel's 30th Birthday 2010
Rachel, me, Christina, and Janice at Rachel's 30th birthday

My dad was in aggressive rehab when his leg pain increased. The doctors decided to perform a second leg embolization because the leg tumor had grown again. The first embolization was done with wires and this second one was done with alcohol and a dye that possibly encouraged my dad's kidney to fail. There was reason to worry, so I took some time off work and joined my parents at the hospital every day. Kevin and I had been waiting to tell our mothers that we were pregnant, but the circumstances were scary enough that I thought it would be best to tell my mother on Monday night so that she could enjoy the news with dad. Dad started his dialysis on Monday, and it was a nightmare because he had a rare allergic reaction to the dialysis chemical. Afterwards, he started feeling a little better than he had during the weekend, and mom was in okay spirits. So I told my mother right then. She started crying and hugging Kevin until I insisted on my turn for a hug. Dad pretended to be surprised, but I busted him. His kidney started working again on its own by the end of the week. Dad went back to rehab. Soon thereafter we got a second sonogram of James.

Baby Clou at 11 Weeks 2010
11-week sonogram of James

Kevin and I attended the Cory and Robin's wedding and Kevin even gave a speech.  Dad was in rehab and fighting cancer when he got an infection. After a few days at the hospital they were trying to release him, but my mom and I argued that he was not better and it turned out his had a blockage in his kidney.  So then he had a kidney-bladder stint surgery.  While this was going on, Kevin's mom visited, and now that I was 3 months along, we told her I was pregnant.  She was super happy.  We also showed all our parents a videotaped sonogram of the baby. I had to work that weekend, both at the hospital and at the office.

0054_robin & cory wedding-177
Cory and Robin's Wedding 2010

Now that I was in my second trimester, we started telling friends little by little.  We celebrated Wednesday's 30th birthday with her and Clark. We flew to the Sarah and Donald's Wedding in Alabama. We even went to the US Space & Rocket museum and bought a t-shirt for the baby. When we got back, we publicly announced I was pregnant in the blog post, Things My Wife Complains About: #15 Pregnancy. Kevin's cousin Jen and her boyfriend Damian got engaged.

Burke Wedding 2010
Sarah and Donald's Wedding 2010

Dad came home from rehab and we had dinner together in Ramsey.  He couldn't really enjoy his meal, but it was our last dinner all together at home.

I was 4 Months pregnant, I felt the baby move, and I had a sonogram where the doctor couldn't see much, but guessed the baby was a boy.  My dad continued to think I was going to have a girl, maybe because he was used to an all-girl world with me and my mom.

Dad got leg radiation.  It didn't work  and after the radiation, we found out that he didn't have much time left because his calcium was increasing and his tumors were growing larger. I was lost in a mix of denial and grief and wasn't able to say goodbye the way I would have wanted to. Dad passed away on the morning of November 21.

We spent Thanksgiving with my mom sitting on her bed. Kevin's grandparents were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary so we went to see them the following day. While all of this was happening I was going through weeks 17-19 of pregnancy.

At 20 weeks, we went to the sonogram that told us the baby's gender. My mom came with us, and she cried when the doctor said it was a boy. She already knew that we planned on naming the baby after my dad if the baby was a boy.

We tried our best to get through the rest of the year. I was 5 Months pregnant, at the half-way point. I documented being 21 weeks22 weeks23 weeks during Christmas, and 24 weeks pregnant. I sent a quick Christmas E-card. Kevin and I did a staycation-babymoon, and he wrote about it in Things My Wife Complains About: #17 Spending an Entire Day in the City Doing Everything She Wants to Do.

Clou Christmas E-card 2010 
Our Christmas E-Card 2010

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