The Gang's All Here!

The Gang's All Here!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hello From the Other Side!

Channeling my inner Adele here :). So, yeah, it's been awhile (a LONG while) since I've updated. Our life has been so busy and my uninterrupted computer time can best be described as laughable. But, the fantastic news is that I HAVE been busy, healthy and happy!

We had a busy fall packed with cheerleading for Stella, soccer for Simon and 500 ear infections for Emma. Poor kiddo has really had a battle with her ears, but we finally saw a pediatric ENT last week and she'll be going in for tubes on February 1. While I hate that she'll have to have surgery and anesthesia, I'm focusing on the fact that this should dramatically improve her quality of life. Because she's had 6 ear infections since September (ridiculous, right?!?!), Emma has significant hearing loss. The doctor is confident that most, if not all of her hearing will be restored after the surgery. Given that this is a critical development period for language and speech, the sooner she can have the surgery, the better. So, fingers crossed that the procedure will be a success!

Stella is loving kindergarten and we continue to be amazed at how much she is learning and growing. Turning 6 has encouraged Stella to keep reminding us that we know nothing and she knows "everything". Ahhh, 6 going on 16, how sweet. This fall she mastered riding her bike with out "stabilizers" (British speak for training wheels) and has been unstoppable ever since. STella enjoyed cheerleading, and will continue with it this spring. She's lost two teeth so far and very much enjoyed being a "princess of honor" in her Auntie B's wedding.

Simon literally never stops talking. For a kid who really didn't talk until two and half years old, he still seems to making up for lost time, god help us. At Simon's well check up, we discovered that he needed glasses. He has been a champ at wearing them, probably because he can actually see now. Talk about feeling like a mommy fail, that was a bad one. Simon aspires to be a garbage man or a post truck delivery guy. It changes by the hour, but no doubt the highlight of his day is when one or both of these guys arrive. Big dreamers right here in the Hinman house...Simon enjoyed playing soccer, but we really think golf is going to be his game. He still refers to himself as "Jordan Spieth" and plays golf every chance he gets. Steve took him to the FedEx Cup Championship and nearly blew Simon's mind. One of the pros there was quite impressed with his ability to hit the ball, so stay tuned, he could be our ticket to fame (Kidding! Mostly...).

I began playing tennis this fall and have absolutely fallen in love with the game. I play twice a week currently (yes, even when it's 28 degrees outside). In cancer news, I continue to feel great and remain cancer free, wahoo!! Had a PET scan in late December which was perfect minus some scar tissue that has started creeping up around my right implant. I met with my breast surgeon yesterday and we did an MRI and ultrasound to confirm that it is indeed scar tissue and nothing else, yay! My other big news is that I had my port removed in December. My oncologist wanted it out and I was happy to oblige. I am so happy to have that thing gone!

Steve has enjoyed working with the Georgia Tech MBA students this fall (and continues to) helping them with mock case interviews and general coaching. He seems to really be enjoying it! We have both committed to being more active this year. Steve played on a rec league soccer team this fall and loved it. His team starts back up again in February.

Steve and I continue to be grateful for all of your love and support. I promise to do a better job keeping the blog updated - life just gets so hectic sometime. We're looking forward to an amazing 2016 - happy new year everyone!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

(UN)Endless Summer

Hey there! It's been awhile (a long while, actually) but I promise ALL IS WELL! We had (note that I used the word HAD, because Stella started Kindergarten yesterday!!! GAH!) a fantastic summer and I'm truly sad to see it go. Not that you'd really know it, because it's still 4,000 degrees here every day. But yes, we really enjoyed this summer. We had lots of playdates at the pool which was nice for all of us. I somehow managed to keep all three kids alive during said pool playdates, so that's a serious accomplishment in my book. We enjoyed a fantastic week in Virginia visiting friends and family along with a very cool pirate pool. We also spent the 4th of July at the Hinman family compound in South Carolina which is always a blast.

Steve bought a new keyboard for our computer and I'm struggling with it. First world problems, I know. I was just re-reading what I've typed and at least 50% of it is horribly misspelled. The keys are different, I'm sure it's not my brain... So, sorry if this reads like Stella typed it. Speaking of Stella, yesterday was her first day of Kindergarten! I cannot believe it's time for her to be old enough to do all of these "big kid" things. She's riding the bus (she loves the cheesewagon!) to and from school. I was slightly nervous (re: terrified) for this process, but her bus driver is a certified rock star. She laid down the law immediately, the K's have assigned seats in the front of the bus, and the whole safe rider program is just wonderful. Stella also made sure to go over all of the rules again with me last night to make sure I understood them. Stella has decided to retire from her soccer career (it really wasn't her jam) and has joined the school cheerleading team. Yes, you read that correctly. I swallowed my pride and will be embracing giant hair bows and short skirts on my daughter...

Simon starts preschool in two more weeks (a much more reasonable start, in my humble opinion). He'll be going three days a week, attending St. Catherine's again this year. We love it there and are looking forward to him having a great year! Simon continues to be OBSESSED with golf. He refers to himself as "Jordan Speith" and practices every chance he gets. He's renamed all of us with pro golfer names. For example: Steve is Rory McIlroy (but pronounced: Rony Macoroni because well, Simon is 3 I guess), I am Ricky Fowler (but pronounced: Rikky Fouled) and the list goes on. God help us if we don't address one another as such when golf is on TV or he is in "golf mode". The has a dynamite swing, so maybe we're onto something here?!?!

Emmaline continues to grow like a weed! At her 4 month check-up she was an entire 2 inches than Stella was at that age. She has chunked up quite nicely and is still a super happy baby. She thinks the sun rises and sets with her big brother and sister. They can make her smile and laugh like no one else. The doctor suggested we start her on solids before six months, given her size (she's 100% in height, 60% in weight, preemie my ass!), so she's loving most of her first foods. Rolling over is her favorite activity and it wouldn't surprise us if she's crawling before too much longer!

As for me, I had my three month check-up with the oncologist last week. All is well in that department, I am happy to report!! My blood work came back perfect, tumor markers are right where they should be.  I am feeling fantastic these days- a feeling that I now cherish.

That's just a quick summary of things in the Hinman House. I'm hoping to be able to update the blog more often now that Stella is in school and Simon is headed there shortly!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Yay Summer!

We have an official kindergartener in our house! Stella graduated from St. Catherine's Preschool on May 15. How is she old enough for kindergarten?!?! My parents came down to help us celebrate and we had a great time. In other news, somehow Emma is now three months old? It seems like time just keeps speeding up the more kids we have. She's full of smiles and baby chatter these days, which we are all loving. She's also sleeping between 10 and 12 hours at night which is glorious!

I haven't updated the blog much, but I think that's a good thing? I'm not in active treatment anymore and I'll have my three month checkup with my oncologist sometime the end of July or beginning of August. It's still a little hard to believe that I'm not in treatment or stressing about not being in treatment, but I'm making a concentrated effort on living my life. On MY terms. I haven't been able to do that for so long. Who knows what the future holds (for any of us, really) but I'm taking advantage of my good health and getting back to really living. For me, it's not all that glamorous, this "really living" idea. For example, I'm getting serious about getting in shape and eating better. And by eating better, I mean no more excuses, no more eating crap. Can't blame it on the baby anymore! So, stay tuned. I refuse to turn this into a weigh loss blog, but maybe by mentioning it on here I'll stay more accountable! Oh, and I'm also cutting back on the wine, which is slowly killing my soul. But, if cancer didn't kill me, I'm sure I can survive only drinking wine on the weekends. Maybe...

The kids have been out of school for nearly two weeks now and I'm alternating between enjoying having them with me and being ready to send them to a Swiss boarding school until they're 18. We'll see how it goes. They're heading to camp next week (just a fun week that the school does for the kids) and then we start into our vacation mode. I'm so excited to get home to Virginia! We also have a beach trip planned to South Carolina which be a blast. So, all that to say I'll be in touch, although maybe not as often as in the past. Three kids five and under doesn't lend to much computer time!

Monday, May 11, 2015

That Time I Had Cancer

I have exciting news from Cancerland! I am officially still cancer free!! Let's see, where to start...

I had an appointment with my oncologist to check in and come up with a plan, post baby. I met with her on Monday, April 27th (which, ironically, turned into a marathon week of doctors appointments). I went to the appointment armed with Em's birth announcement as a sort of peace offering. I'm sure I mentioned at least once over the past 10 months that she wasn't overly thrilled with me being pregnant. She was thrilled that Emma arrived safely and loved the announcement. And, I'm still alive which I'm sure she appreciated ;). She decided that she wanted to run scans ASAP and decide where what direction we would go as far as treatments. She had her office assistant call the hospital while I was standing there and they were like, can you come in for scans on Friday, May 1? Holy cow, that was fast, but at that point, I was anxious to know what my body had been up to. My blood work was perfect, which eased my mind slightly.

That same week, we also had two dental appointments. I ended up having to drag all three kids with me which seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. Thankfully, the kids were great and the dental staff was extremely tolerant and friendly, so we escaped without causing any trouble or having to purchase any damaged medical equipment ;).

Em also had her two month checkup that week and she's doing fantastic! She measured 24.75 inches in height which is in the 95% percentile! This child is L-O-N-G!! The doctor thinks she is going to be tall. Thankfully she was switched to regular formula from the high octane stuff. My wallet is very appreciative of that!

That Friday I arrived at the hospital knowing that I was having two different scans done. My oncologist decided to scan my brain as well (go ahead, laugh, I did!) because I had been having some dizziness. The brain MRI was first, to be done with contrast. When an MRI is ordered with contrast, they need to put an IV in so that dye can be injected. Let me preface this by saying that I am normally a very easy stick when it comes to IV's. I can only use my left arm because I had lymph nodes removed from my right arm, thank you cancer... Seven (7) sticks later the staff finally found a vein they could use. I thought I was going to lose my mind. Needles don't bother me, but everyone has their limit. Please keep in mind that I was strapped to the MRI table with my head locked in position while all of this was going on. Two different techs tried to get the IV in before they had to call in an IV team (I had no idea such a group existed!). Apparently the IV team wasn't allowed to enter the MRI room, so I was wheeled (while still strapped down like patient ready to run, and trust me, the thought crossed my mind) into another room down the hall so they could find a vein. I think there at least 5 people working on me at that point. Thankfully once the stupid IV was in, the test went smoothly. I had my PET scan after that and they left the IV in, so that was one less stressor to contend with. However, my doctor did NOT tell me she had ordered a CT with contrast along with the PET scan (they are done by the same machine, at the same time) so I had to drink the nasty contrast (on an empty stomach, of the joy!). At this point in the day, I was so frazzled and over it I didn't even care about the stupid tests, I just wanted to go home. The scans finally ended, but it was Friday, so I wouldn't have my results until at least Monday. Talk about torture!

Thankfully, my doctor called me Monday evening to tell me that the scan results were in and they looked great!! I was genuinely surprised, given how much my body has been through in the past year. She decided that I don't need to be on active treatment right now and she will just monitor my bloodwork every three months. I am so excited to not have to do Herceptin anymore!! So yeah, remember that time I had cancer? This girl is cancer free and I hope to stay that way!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Scattered Thoughts

It's finally stopped raining here in Georgia! Eight straight days of rain is enough to make even the sanest person crazy. My house is breathing a sigh of relief today because the kids AND dogs can be outside. We had golf ball sized hail here yesterday - that was interesting. I was mouthing a semi-silent prayer that it wouldn't shatter our skylights. Damn it was loud!

I've had a lot of people ask me what's next (health-wise) now that Emma has arrived. The truth is: I honestly have no idea. I have an appointment with my oncologist next week at which point I'm assuming we'll come up with a plan. At the very least, I know I'll have blood work done and most likely scans (in the next few weeks). I haven't had any scans since December of 2013, so I'm more than a little anxious to see what my body's been up to. As far as whether or not Ill be going back on Herceptin, I just don't know. When I last saw my oncologist she said she was leaning towards NOT going back on it. The results of my scans will most likely drive any decisions made at this point.

How am I feeling? I feel fine, I think. I have no aches or pains to speak of really (other than being a climbing post for 3 kids). I had forgotten how much the stupid infant carrier car seat thing weighs - holy moly! I am not working with a full set of muscles in my back which up until this point hadn't really bothered me. But, now that I'm doing tons of lifting between lugging the infant seat around and carrying Emma in strange position because she NEVER HOLDS STILL. Lawd have mercy that child is on the go. Even in my belly she was in constant motion. Is it too early to be thinking scholarships for sports with that one?!?! Anyway, I'm feeling great, all things considered. Yes, my anxiety is definitely kicking up a notch, mostly because I have been living in this nice little bubble, free from cancerland and all things related. Now that Emma's here, it's back to my "real world". So, fingers crossed all continues to be well with me!

Emma has her two month check-up next week as well. WHAT?!?! How is she two months old already? Time is just flying. It seems to move faster and faster with each kid too. Stella is officially registered for kindergarten (again, how is that possible?!) and her preschool graduation is less than a month away. Simon knows the alphabet by site and some site words. Sorry kid, I had NO IDEA he knew so much! He's always loved reading books with us, I guess I just never really thought to ask if he knew the letters?!?! Mommy fail...

So, lots going on at Casa de Hinman these days. I have to run as all three children are now screaming and we've escalated to Code Red status. That means mommy needs her medicine: Wine Time!!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Closing the Circle

My free time (LOL - free time, what's free time?!?! that's hilarious...) is severely limited these days. This is the first time I've touched our computer since the last time I updated the blog. A little part of me is dying (maybe has already died, IDK), but Stella and Simon are no longer napping. Stella is really too old for naps these days but I was REALLY hoping Simon wouldn't drop his nap yet. No such luck. So, that hour or two I used to have to myself in the afternoons to eat lunch, watch a show or update the blog is now gone. Sad face :(

Emma had her one month (what? already?!?!) checkup last week. She's growing like a weed! She gained almost two pounds and grew an inch and a half! The doctor thinks she's going to be tall and keep her blue eyes - fingers crossed!!

I mentioned in my last post that the medical staff working with me during Emma's birth was incredible. It's hard to express how important that was too me. Stella's birth experience was great, Simon's - not so much. Unfortunately, I remember more details from Simon's birth (probably because it was 100 times longer than Stella's. Anyway, after having had cancer and a gazillion surgeries, you can imagine it takes me quite a bit more time to get through my medical history with the staff. I have to give my first nurse credit, because she didn't bat an eye and rolled with everything I said. She was professional, but also caring and wanted to know how I was doing, etc. I will say that I was made to feel somewhat like a VIP given my frequent flyer status at my hospital. Hearing that Emma is/ was sort of a real life miracle from literally almost every person I encountered in the hospital was such an uplifting, "go team Hinman" rally cry. Any doubts I had about getting through the birth (given how I was feeling physically at that point) were put at ease. Of course, you all know that my OB is simply an amazing person and she was beyond excited to deliver Emma! It was the closing of a circle for both my OB and me. We started this crazy journey together when I was first diagnosed (99% of the credit goes to her), she got me through an incredibly high risk pregnancy and we reached the finish line having learned much more than either of us expected. So much of me being pregnant was an unknown in the medical field, thankfully this had a happy outcome!

In my mind, the most memorable and meaningful part of this story was my nurse that I had the morning and for the birth of Emma. I do have a powerful belief in that things DO happen for a reason. My nurse's mom had breast cancer, specifically: inflammatory breast cancer.  Y'all - this is so incredibly major because I have yet to meet ANYONE that's had IBC in person. I've been on this road for 3+ years and not once met anyone that's experienced IBC, either themselves or a caregiver. My nurse was so excited for me and to hear that we were delivering a healthy baby! Her mom is a 13 year survivor of IBC!!! How amazingly awesome is that? What are the chances of me meeting someone like her on the day I'm giving birth to my miracle baby? If that's not a sign of hope and fate working their magic, I don't what is. Hence, you have part of the reason for Emmaline's middle name. Of course, we also chose the middle name Hope for as a symbol for everything we've been through to get to this point. The journey has been long and not without fear and uncertainty, but here we are today, standing in the sunlight, enjoying this amazing life we've created.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but in this case, I can still look back with no regrets. Everything about this pregnancy felt as though it was meant to be. I've just accepted the fact that sometimes the universe has other plans, despite our best efforts to control life. I've come full circle and I feel blessed beyond measure to have this sweet baby girl to remind me that while I can't predict the future, I sure can enjoy the hell out of the present!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hope Arrives

I can't believe Miss Emmaline is already three weeks old! Time sure does fly, faster and faster with each child. In case you were curious, we are pronouncing her name Emma-LEEN but it can also be pronounced Emma-LINE (which I like as well, but prefer the LEEN). I promised you her birth story and here it is...

My parents came down the week of February 18th to help us out with the kids and to be here in case my doctor decided to go ahead and induce me. That Friday I felt somewhat foolish having "rung the alarm bell" maybe too early. I was feeling pretty good and was able to run some errands, which I hadn't really felt up to the past few weeks. However, my spurt of energy was short lived and by Saturday my headache had returned along with the nausea and just general malaise. We went to dinner that evening and by the time we left, I literally thought my head was either going to explode or roll off of my neck. I took some Percocet that night with the hopes that it would help, along with an early bedtime. I should also mention that my OB had made me swear up and down to call her if I started not feeling well. As most of you know (and if you've spent any amount of time reading this silly blog), I HATE to cause a fuss, especially if it seems like it should be no big deal. My OB had told me that she was the one on call that weekend and to not hesitate to call...

Sunday morning I woke up feeling the same, which was SO frustrating. Honestly, my patience at this point was waning, mostly because I really hated feeling like half of a person. We decided to go to breakfast and I went because I needed to eat and I wanted to get out of the house. After breakfast, I decided that I HAD to lay back down and that it was going to be a long day. At that point, I was on the verge of calling my doctor to see if there was anything else I could take to kick the stupid headache. Steve came up to check on me and made the decision for me - I was calling the doctor. So, since it was Sunday, I had to use the answering service and wait for the doctor to call me back. I figured it would be awhile, so I settled in to try and sleep for a bit. My doctor called me back in less than a minute!! She said she'd been worried about me, knew that if I had called things were taking a turn for the worse, and wanted to go ahead and deliver. Another birth plan out the window!! Although, I felt so terrible at that point, I just wanted whatever was going to help me feel better. I grabbed a quick shower, threw a few last minute things in my bag and off we went to meet our baby!

Once at the hospital, I was admitted quickly and an assessment was done to see whether I needed to be induced immediately or wait until the morning. Bloodwork was done (I was surprised I had much blood left to give considering how much they'd taken from me). We had absolutely amazing care from the staff - so wonderful, in fact, I'll save that for it's own post - totally worth it! Anyway, my head was hurting so bad I couldn't fill out the paperwork, so Steve ended up writing for me while I narrated. By the way, once you've had cancer + complicated pregnancies + plus surgeries, filling out paperwork is a LENGTHY process...

My doctor came in to check on me shortly after that and thanked me for calling her - she was relieved that I was in the hospital and under her watch :). We went over the birth plan - it was decided that we would induce in the morning. She encouraged me to take the morphine she had prescribed as we just couldn't seem to manage the pain with the headache. So, with her encouragement and reassurance, I said YES! to the drugs. The morphine was a lovely shot in the ass, but oh my lord, SOOOOO worth it. It also had my old pal Phenergan in it, so within five minutes, I felt like a new person. One of my best friends was visiting at the time and both she and Steve remarked at how quickly my personality changed, back to my delightful, cheerful self (LOL! kidding, my normal, sarcastic highly entertaining pregnant self is more like it). Anyway, it was such an incredible relief to have the pain under control.

As for the induction, it was the easiest of the three! Everything went mostly according to plan. The Pitocin was started at 6am and my OB broke my water around 9:30. My nurses were monitoring me VERY closely and were insistent that I not be in any pain (fine by me!). I was ready for the epidural by 11am and things progressed very quickly after that. In fact, Emma arrived so quickly (one push and out she came!) that the staff wasn't ready and had to be paged! It was amazingly quick, NOTHING like Simon's birth which was an exercise in frustration and pain. Steve had said he wanted to announce whether it was a boy or a girl at the birth, but it happened so fast he didn't have a chance to see! So, the nurse ended up spilling the beans, which was funny.

Emmaline Hope was 7lbs, 8oz and 20 inches long. She was also 5 weeks early, so she would have been HUGE had she gone full term. She is absolutely the sweetest, cuddliest and most wonderful addition to our family. It's funny how we didn't realize our family wasn't complete until she arrived. I feel like we have been given the most precious gift and such a challenging few years. Emmaline is the true embodiment of what HOPE represents for our family. I'm so excited to share her with all of you!!