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The Final Countdown

So can you believe it? We are only on Wednesday! It hasn’t even been a full week since my OBGYN told me I had cancer.

My world had been completely turned upside down in seconds.

But this is the lot that I was given, and with the optimistic news from the Community Breast Center, I felt like I had hope again.

Of course, there were still critical pieces of our mystery missing: the small matter of ALL the testing that could not be completed until I had delivered Robbyn.

We needed a clip put in the mass because much to our surprise, the doctors said the tumor would shrink very rapidly once chemo was started and the surgeon will need to know the original site was when she operates this fall. We also needed a breast MRI to see if the cancer was only in the left breast and exactly how dense the mass was. And last, but certainly not least, we needed a PET scan to see if there was cancer in anywhere else in my body.

To make matters a little more complicated, we wouldn’t know if it was going to be chemo first or baby first until after we met with the OBGYN and the Maternal-Fetal medicine doc the next day.

So, my mom and I took this appointment-free Wednesday as an opportunity to prepare for whatever the rest of the week was going to throw at us. We did so by going to the most magical place on earth, (no sarcasm here) one of my most favorite places, WALMART. I had things I hadn’t bought yet for my upcoming hospital stay because I thought I still had roughly 7 more weeks before Robbyn arrived, and now I had a new list of supplies to pick up as well.

Supplies for something I never thought I would be preparing for: Chemotherapy.

I was too scared to google side effects from the chemo I would soon be receiving, so I did what any 28-year-old mom in 2018 would do…I pinterested chemo care packages for ideas.

We had things for baby: premie diapers, pacifiers, a few preemie outfits, and other unmentionables for the havoc wrecked that accompanies delivering a baby.

We had things for chemo: multiple gallon size buckets of hand sanitizers, Lysol wipes, soft toothbrushes, dry mouth spray, sunscreen, chapstick, and an eyebrow kit.

And one item that I have been told by both cancer survivors and mothers alike that is 100% necessary: Stool softeners.

The poor cashier must have really wondered what was going on in my life with this vast array of items piled high in my cart.

In preparation for the next morning, I spent that night praying that God would keep aligning circumstances for us so we could kick start our plan. I knew I would feel better once we were physically doing something about our situation because at this point in the game we were still planning and information gathering.

I started a journal a few days prior to keep track of all the information we were being given, since everything was happening so fast. Not to mention, I was not at my mental or emotional peak being 33 weeks pregnant and told I have cancer. I also tend to be a worrier, and when I physically write out my fears and concerns, I have an easier time of letting them go instead of playing them over and over in my head.

After my recording of daily events, I write down my thanks, confessions of sin, prayer requests, rants to God, etc.

Even not very far out from my diagnosis, it is incredible to see all of the prayers and concerns that God has already answered or addressed. It is really humbling to go back and look at how worried I was over concerns that God was already handling on my behalf.

One of my goals for this season of my life is to go from a worrier to a prayer warrior.

If a prayer journal is something you haven’t tried, I highly recommend it. I’m scatterbrained, and my thoughts get derailed pretty quickly if I’m not organizing them on paper. It’s not something you have to spend all day doing either. I keep my small journal in my purse, and I jot things down during the day that I am concerned about and try my best to hand them over to God. Later, I spend more time in the evening writing out a full prayer. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Mine is a $5 black journal from Walmart but looking back to see how God is working in my life is priceless.

Here is an excerpt from my prayer journal that night,

”LORD, I need to trust your timing and your plan. You have been so good to us so far setting the right people in our path. I want to fight for my babies, and my sweet husband and I want to start now! Please help me to be patient. Please give me peace.”

I prayed I wouldn’t have to have a sparring match with the maternal-fetal medicine doctor to make my case for not wanting Robbyn to have a chemo bath in utero. As I said, I have made it only of my goals in life to fly under the radar but my mama bear instincts we’re now in overdrive. I could not be held responsible for what I said to the doctor the next day.

Well, after spending the whole night worrying about how the next day would play out, the next day turned out to be an absolute breeze. We met with the OBGYN first. We had little bit of a wait because he fit me in on a non-office day between two surgeries he had to perform in another building. (God definitely provided!)

He said as long as the maternal-fetal medicine doc agreed, we would be able to deliver as early as Sunday! And as fate (or as I believe God’s providence) would have it, he was already on call Sunday and would be there for my delivery.

One baby doctor down, one to go! Next was the Maternal-Fetal Medicine doctor. A title that I didn’t even know existed until this week. He is a high-risk pregnancy doctor, and he would be in charge of monitoring Robbyn should I have to receive chemo first, if she wasn’t developed enough to deliver. He was also the one to determine if she was developed enough to safely deliver. I had to have a very detailed ultrasound first to see how developed her organs were at 33.5 weeks, especially her heart and lungs.

The ultrasound technician was very thorough and explained every picture she was taking. She showed us how Robbyn was actually practicing her breathing and estimated her weight at over 5 lbs. (Another HUGE answered prayer)

She tried to get a picture of Robbyn’s face, but I think this little girl was upset that I’d had three breast ultrasounds that week already and she hadn’t been the star of those shows. Now that we wanted to see her sweet face rather than my left breast, she WAS NOT going to show it to us. The tech pushed and poked on my belly trying to get her to move her hand out of the way, but Robbyn was stubborn and could not be swayed. A trait I am 100% sure she received from her father.

The technician left the jelly and a towel on my stomach just in case the doctor wanted to take more pictures. He walked in very confidently, shook my hand and pulled the towel off my belly.

I introduced Jordan as my husband. He then asked, “And are you are the one who impregnated her?” Jordan almost fell out of his chair but I could spot a fellow sarcastic kindred spirit a mile away! After our other introductions, he cut to the chase and said

“I think we can deliver this baby now. Although I have a feeling this train was rolling whether I thought so or not.”

He shared my concerns about starting chemo before delivering her. He also made a point we hadn’t yet considered. The chemo would attack my immune system as well as hers, and we would have to monitor her blood count and mine before we could deliver. This is one of the many reasons why he is the doctor and not me.

So all I had to do now was receive a steroid injection immediately, and another one in 24 hours to dry up Robbyn’s lungs. Finally,we would come back to the hospital Saturday night for an induction!

God had provided again! This cancer appeared when Robbyn was developed enough to be delivered safely. I cannot imagine being given this diagnosis when I was only 15 or even 25 weeks pregnant.

Her lungs were in great shape, her weight looked fantastic, and both doctors were on board with our plan A.

The best part of the day was when the maternal-fetal medicine doctor asked to pray with us before he left the room. He obviously had a strong prayer life based on the ease and passion that he prayed with.

He prayed for Robbyn’s health and safety, prayed for my upcoming treatment, and prayed for strength for my entire support system. The act of him praying with us was just another confirmation from God that he was directing our path and we were right where he wanted us to be.

I had prayed to God, and he gave me more than I had expected. I have a tendency to underestimate Him, and he was showing me just how wrong I can be.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Jesus Christ, throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3: 20-21

2 thoughts on “The Final Countdown”

  1. Eph 3:20-21 is the verse we have been praying over our family for almost a year now. God doesn’t do anything half way 💗 We love you guys!

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  2. Kari, I’m sure you don’t remember us, as we left Mt. Pisgah and Shelbyville to move back to Alabama in 1996. We’ve kept up with you and are praying for all of you. We have our Sunday School Class praying as well. So, know that you are also covered with prayers from many you don’t know including ones from The First Baptist Church of Trussville, Alabama.

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