Collectively, we have experienced multiple MRIs (with and without dye), X-rays, Endoscopies, and Bone Scans. Now, we get to add ultrasounds to the list and boy, are we enjoying them!
We’ve been off the grid (blog) for quite a while, sorry for that, but life has been busy and how grateful we are for it!
We moved up north from Rhode Island to VT. I landed an incredible job at a world-class farmstead cheese producer and aging facility, Cellars at Jasper Hill. I am their onsite microbiologist with a state of the art lab at my disposal. I spend my days collecting samples of microbes (mold, bacteria and yeast) from our cheese, our aging vaults, our cows and our raw milk. I culture, identify and propagate all the while enjoying the views of the rolling green mountains from the picture window.
Chris has been working in charming Stowe as a bartender for a very old hotel/restaurant. He gets to interact with the locals, the tourists and the weekend Bostonites. I interact with ~40 Ayrshires (cows).
We have hiked a lot up here. There are so many great peaks and trails, definitely something we were missing in Rhode Island (the highest peak ~ 800ft!). We spent some time kayaking the lake we live on, as well as snowshoeing it this winter. On full days off, we’ve gone skiing a handful of times at Smuggler’s Notch- yes, you read that right- Chris has been downhill skiing on his 2 new hips and man, does he shred!
Overall, Vt has been very welcoming. A much needed retreat from the crazy few years we had previously. We are even strongly considering calling it ours permanently.
We were a bit hesitant about a change in oncologists, but have decided that we can’t worry about what may or may not happen in the future or what did happen in the past, we need to live here and now. So, Chris parted with Dr. Xavier in 2012. A very very sad day for us. Not only did we feel most comfortable and taken care of with her, but we also liked the excuse of having to go to San Diego every 6 months🙂
While in Rhode Island, Chris became a patient of an oncologist at Dana Farber- a very reputable, knowledgeable and experienced facility and staff- however, very very expensive in comparison.
Most recently, Chris has become a patient of a Hem/Onc at University of Vermont (formerly Fletcher Allen). The transitions have been fairly smooth, mostly because of his great health.
After feeling pretty settled up here, we decided that we would start seeing a fertility specialist again. We waited the 6 months after Chris’s last chemo for all that crud to get out of his system before we started “trying” for a family, however 3 years later, with a diagnosis of PCOS and ovulation occurring sporadically and sometimes 90 days apart- we sought out help. We tried all of the meds out there hoping they would get us pregnant and there were so many days when the meds made me feel like I was pregnant, however that was never the case. In VT, fertility treatments aren’t covered under insurance so any of the more invasive treatments like IVF were very far out of our budget (IVF alone is ~12,000).
In October, we entered a video contest with SHER institute- the winning family to receive a free IVF cycle. (Link to video: http://youtu.be/XBWLKyVYcFs) The first round was based off votes. Much to our surprise we were selected as finalists! How grateful we felt to have such a wonderful support system of family, friends, friends of friends and complete strangers vote for us! With a list of 50 narrowed to 10 and not feeling completely confident in a win, we made the decision to go ahead with a IUI treatment our specialist suggested. At $1000 and no surgery involved, we headed off to the Doctor’s Office. One week later, we received word we were one of the 3! couples chosen for the cycles! Holy cow! Overcome with emotion and appreciation.
Christmas rolled around and I felt “normal”. So we celebrated the fact that we were both HEALTHY, HAPPY, with family and able to attempt a pregnancy with the IVF cycle at some point in the near future.
The day after Christmas, I got the phone call. Blood work came back, I was pregnant! A few weeks already! I put down the beer, my last one for a long while, and ran out to get a confirmation blood test. I also picked up an OTC at home pregnancy test. Chris wasn’t able to get to my parents in CT until the day after Christmas and he didn’t know yet. So while he was driving down from VT, I was neatly wrapping the pregnancy test and placing it with his pile of presents under the tree…
And here we are, 14 weeks pregnant, loving every minute of this pregnancy, even the FEW (only) times I dealt with some sickness. I especially enjoy the ultrasounds! This imaging so new to me, where instead of seeing a tumor, or a bad femoral head (hip), I get to see my baby dancing around in my belly. And this Baby has some serious moves! Baby Smyczek is set to make it’s debut August 26
We are so very happy, we are over the moon with joy- off floating in space. Looking so forward to our new adventure. We can’t wait to climb mountains with this sweet child. And of course we are overcome with appreciation, gratitude and the feeling of moving forward. I’ve stopped referring to events as “starting fresh” because it was our past that has shaped where we are now. And now, we are feeling joyous!
Much love, Sayer (Chris and Baby Smyczek)