Awareness

I never thought I’d be advocating for “Awareness” for a disease. But here were are. It’s March. It’s colorectal cancer awareness month.

Kerry doesn’t fit the demographic for someone with colorectal cancer. We’ve been told more than once “You’re not the kind of guy we usually see coming in for treatment like this.” He has no family history of cancer…of any kind…at all. He doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, is relatively active and overall healthy. So what gives? Honestly, we don’t spend a lot of time wondering why . We know that all things work out according to God’s perfect will so we take this as an opportunity. One that isn’t granted to everyone and one we pray we are faithful in.

Kerry never would have been diagnosed had he ignored the vague GI symptoms. He would have never been diagnosed if I wasn’t the naggy nurse I am. He would have never been diagnosed if his physician hadn’t listened to him. Huge shout out to Dr. Holdeman here. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that his doc didn’t just pass it off as something else without fully investigating. More than 65% of the people diagnosed under the age of 50 have to see more than one doctor before they’re taken seriously and screened. He never would have been diagnosed if fear or embarrassment of bowel prep and having a colonoscopy would have kept him from being screened.

I’ve learned a lot over the last couple of months about colorectal cancer. It’s the third most diagnosed cancer in the US and the second most deadly cancer in men and women combined. Survival rates are good when caught and treated early. 10% of the new onset cases are going to be in patients under the age of 50. That’s about 9,500 people each year.

So here I am jumping on the awareness band wagon. Don’t be ignore your symptoms, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor and be screened. Don’t assume you’re too young. And if you’re part of the over 50 crowd where screening is recommended…please do it. I can promise the bowel prep is way easier than treatment.

Week 2

Kerry just finished week 2 of chemo and radiation. Overall, it was a good week. The chemo really seems to affect his appetite and taste of food. Our biggest battle this week was finding something that sounded good to eat and getting him to eat it before it started sounding not so good. It’s tough to fight off nausea and keep food in your stomach when you don’t really want to eat anything at all.

We did find a couple of winners in the food category. Pizza always seems to sound good. Banana peppers…we also learned our boys also enjoy these. We’ve gone through more than a couple jars this week already! I made a vegan cauliflower/broccoli soup this last week that he was able to eat for more than one meal.

When Kerry was initially diagnosed we went to a mostly plant based diet without processed carbs or sugars. With his lack of appetite, there have been some days he’s just eaten whatever he could tolerate…plant based or not.

Radiation has gone well. Fatigue has been the biggest side effect there. The radiation oncologist said week 3 tends to be the week that things catch up with you. So we’re going into next week with a little trepidation, but also with the prayer that Kerry will continue to be minimally effected by the treatment and that he will continue to be able to work.

So prayer requests for this week:

  • That Kerry’s appetite would return.
  • Rest when he needs it and the wisdom to know when it’s time to take a break. Sometimes he pushes himself and then just drops at the end of the day.
  • Minimal side effects as we go through week 3 radiation.
  • Strength and stamina for the weeks ahead.

A day in August

I’ve wanted to sit and write the story if Lily’s birth several times but I could never find the right words. It was such a sweet day. My labor and her birth were an answer to prayer. I’ve relished the details over and over. 6 months later, I’d better get it written or it won’t happen.

Leading up to my due date (August 4), I was increasingly anxious about the impending labor. I worried that it would be very long and drawn out because this pregnancy had been so very different from my others. There was also an underlying current of anxiety that I had trouble putting words.  I prayed often for her birth and for her safety.

Here are the notes I took from her birth:

Sunday morning. 0715. Woke up feeling not great. Just blah. Stupid irregular contractions. I’m feeling them more in my lower back. I’m starting to wonder if I might be pregnant forever or maybe this is labor. I’m not sure.

0744: Text to Brandi (my midwife). Good morning. I woke up in labor (I think). Contractions every 4 minutes lasting 50 seconds. Membranes intact, lots of low back pressure. Baby moving well.

My contractions all morning would get closer together and then space way out. I wasn’t sure this was really it. I was pretty comfortable and I had time to sleep in between. I told Kerry I wasn’t going to church another week without a baby in my arms. So we stayed home, he wasn’t one to argue.

1044: Text to Brandi. Starting to get a little more uncomfortable. Contractions every couple of minutes lasting 50-60 seconds. Baby moving well.

Brandi and Kathy (my other midwife and Brandi’s mother) had just finished church and were going to see a family member who had been ill. I was totally fine with them not coming yet because I still wasn’t sure this was it. At 1130 they texted to see how things were going. Actually…at that moment they weren’t. After my last message to them, my contractions almost completely stopped. So much so that I’d napped. I was so afraid I was going to call them way to early or very much too late and end up having this baby without them (we’ve been there and done that). So they were going to get lunch and then come check on me. That sounded like a great plan to me.

Around 1: Text to Brandi: Not in the tub yet, but it sounds nice. Contractions are every 3-4 minutes and feel very intense. Baby is moving well.

My contractions had changed from being in my back to up front but they were still so irregular. The pool sounded really good, but I didn’t want to get in too early and stall my labor. In the meantime, the little guys went down for nap. My mom had brought lunch and was going to stay until baby was born. I thought we were going to be in for a long day.

Around 1:30 the midwives got here. I was so worried I’d called them too soon and they were going to tell me I was 3cm. The big boys helped carry in equipment and Kerry filled the pool.

Kathy checked me while Brandi started filing out paperwork and setting up. Kathy said the baby was in great position. Then she said the sweetest words I’ve ever heard “You’re a good 8-9cm”. I cried I was so happy. I was so certain this wasn’t the real thing. I may be the first labor patient to cry happy tears about being in labor.

I couldn’t wait to get in the pool and relax a little. It was wonderful! My contractions stayed irregular but were intense when I had them. In between, we talked and joked with our midwives. We had worship music playing and it was perfectly peaceful. Kerry always knows just what to say when I’m in labor. Usually it’s something to make me laugh.

About 2 I started to feel a little more uncomfortable and my contractions were much closer with no breaks. I remember telling Brandi I felt kind of pushy and she told me to go ahead. I felt very calm and collected. Sometimes I have been panicky at the end and I hate feeling so out of control. This time though…it was just serene and wonderful.

Kerry stepped out to let mom know the baby was close. She came down with my second push and I told Brandi “Here she comes” and she was born right after that at 2:18. It was so beautiful. No panic, no rush, just calm and peaceful and perfect. I was on my hands and knees so Brandi passed her up to me. The instant she came out of the water she started wailing. Louder than any of our other babies. She was making her presence known! She was so pink already!

I double (and triple) checked that she was indeed a girl. I was so overjoyed and thankful to have a healthy girl. I was grateful God granted me the privilege of her birth.  There had been so much anxiety that I hadn’t realized. I think deep down I was worried that she would die too. That maybe somehow I was unworthy of having a daughter. I surprised myself and was overcome by emotion. I burst into big ugly crying. I am not a crier by any stretch so it really caught me off guard. I just kissed her sweet head and thanked God for his provision and His blessing.

After that Kerry cut the cord and wrapped her up to show her to the boys while I got out of the pool and dried off. Shortly after that the little guys woke up and got to come meet her. The moment big brothers meet a new sibling is one of my favorite moments ever. It was so fun to see them watch Kathy like a hawk as she weighed and measured their baby sister. She weighed in at a BIG 9lbs 5oz! Biggest baby yet.

 

These first 6months have gone fast. I can’t believe how much joy she has brought to our family. Her brothers love her and they tell her how beautiful she is every single day. She has big brother Gabe wrapped around her finger and she saves some of her biggest smiles for him.

I thank God every day for the blessing of our children. Lily’s birth was such a sweet spot for me. I am grateful that God is His infinite wisdom granted us the privilege of having her in our family. We pray that she grows up to love and glorify Him.

Better than I deserve

“And when you ask me how I’m doing, I’m going to tell you that I’m better than I deserve. Because it’s true. I was a sinner destined for hell and God saw fit to save me. So anything and everything He gives me, including this, is already better than I deserve.”

Those were the words my husband used two weeks ago when he told our church family that he had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

The previous Thursday he’d had a colonoscopy because of some vague GI symptoms. We didn’t expect to find anything really, but rather checking off a box on the way to another diagnosis…but instead his doctor found a tumor. The biopsy showed the tumor was cancerous and that it hadn’t been completely removed.

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of appointments, body scans, more appointments and more scans. And lots and lots of prayer.

We meet with an oncologist this week to help determine next steps. The tumor location and growth pattern makes just removing part of his bowel a little tricky. Surgery is tentatively scheduled for Monday February 18 depending what the oncologist recommends. We are hoping that radiation or chemo won’t be necessary, but we are aware that’s a possibility.

While there has been a roller coaster of emotions, thoughts and “what if” scenarios. We rest in God’s sovereignty and that He knows the future and will see us through. There are times that we have been scared about what lies ahead and what a cancer diagnosis means for our family and life as we know it. However, we are at peace knowing that God, in His infinite wisdom has allowed our family to walk through this trial together. We trust that this is being used to refine us and shape us to be more Christlike.

We know that God is good regardless of the outcome and we have been given better than we deserve.

Rosfeld family update

Things have been quiet on the blogging front for the last few years. As I hope to ease back into posting regularly,  I thought you might like a little update about what’s been going on with our family.

In a nutshell, life is busy. Life with 7 boys is busy. Life homeschooling 7 boys, raising goats and chickens, and working full time is busy. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our boys are 15, 13, 9,7,4 (almost 5), 3, and 16 months. There is always something going on here! I recently had the opportunity for all of them to visit Grandma’s house for a day while I worked. It was harder than I expected to concentrate without the normal background noise I’m used to.

This last week we had our 20 week sonogram for baby #8. The boys were excited to find out the gender of this little one. A couple of the boys have been wishing for a sister and a couple of them were really hoping for another boy.

They wanted to do egg roulette as a gender reveal. If you’re not familiar with the concept, we boiled 17 eggs and left 1 raw. We dyed half the eggs blue and half pink. The color of the raw egg represented the gender of the baby. Then each boy took a turn smashing the egg on his head to see who got the ‘lucky’ egg.

Here’s the video we shot of the gender reveal…this is truly what’s it is like to live at our house. 🙂 Enjoy!

 

No excuses

As a mom with a larger than normal family, we are used to having friends with fewer children than we have. We don’t mind and usually they don’t either (unless they have to feed us all and then sometimes I sense a slight bit of panic about all these boys to feed).
I’ve noticed a curious thing lately though. I’ve had several conversations with  friends who have less than my 6 children and I’ve heard excuses. Excuses about why they don’t have more children. It usually goes something like this…
“Well, we’d like to have more children but it just isn’t physically possible”
or  “We always wanted a big family, but due to circumstances we only have 2”.
You don’t have to make excuses. And honestly, I’m just really thankful you’re not telling me that my 6 is more than I can handle or “don’t you know what causes that?” I’m thankful you’re excited when we tell you that we are expecting again.
Sure, we have a larger than normal family and we welcome babies as they come into our family, but we also know that the more children we have has no bearing on our holiness or our standing before the Lord. We know that trusting God for family size means trusting God for both large and small families. We also know that trusting God for family size, includes using wisdom and discernment when it comes to health and childbearing.
The point about trusting God for babies, isn’t about having as many babies as possible to show we’re “super duper” favored. It’s not a contest. The point is to view children as the gift and blessing they are…whether you have none, one or 15.
We are delighted to be surrounded by people who rejoice with the announcement of a new life. We believe children are a blessing, regardless of how many are in your quiver. Seeing parents raising children to love and serve God, embracing the task of parenting and celebrating life…no excuses.

Two Years ago

Two years ago,  yesterday actually, our daughter Lily was born. I didn’t forget about her yesterday, I remembered her birth, but I didn’t write about it. I didn’t write about it because I couldn’t put it all in to words. How much she meant means to us, how much it still hurts sometimes to think of her death. I spent this weekend writing an article (out in December) about the hope I have in relation to the birth of a baby. It was a tough article to write. So I was spent.
It’s been interesting for me working again in L&D. My perspective has changed from when I was here before. I still enjoy it, but I’m even more in awe of the miracle birth is than I was years ago. The lives of Knox and Lily have made me so very thankful for every birth that happens. I was in a room last week and it was all I could do to keep from grinning like a big dumb idiot because I was just so happy for the parents that they were getting to welcome their baby. I mean seriously happy, elated, for two strangers that they were completely in love with their new little one. It’s caught me off guard.
I found myself working yesterday on her birthday. I thought about her a lot and what we were doing two years ago, waiting for her to be born. And when I came home, I snuggled my baby Zeb. As I breathed deep on the top of his head I thanked God for his safe birth just over a year ago. I thanked God for the perspective and the growth, as difficult and painful as it was, that He’s given me because of Lily’s birth. I’m thankful for the opportunity it’s given me to care for others.
Two years ago, we said hello and goodbye on the same day. We held her for the first time and the last time. We didn’t forget, we won’t ever forget. But we are thankful for her and the way she touched our lives and taught us much about the treasure of life.

Disappointed

I was so close to a dream this week I could taste it. I’m a dreamer by nature so it’s not hard for me to get caught up in the planning and visioning of what could be if only…
I’m usually pretty guarded though. I’ve learned that dreamers sometimes get disappointed (okay a lot of times). I’ve learned to temper my dreaming. Keep it far off in the distance and not let it run too wild.
But this one…this one was so close. I imagined what if, I imagined our family there…growing up…growing old. It took off before I could reign it in. And I let it. I let it carry me over the possibilities.
And I crashed today. Hard.
It’s been tough for me to not throw a temper tantrum, and honestly I have. I’ve been near in tears numerous times. I’ve struggled against spewing dreadful things at my family so instead I’ve been quiet and sullen. Short with my words for fear anger and disappointment would spill over or worse yet…I’d end up in a puddle if years like a two year old.
Sometimes dreams are fun, sometimes they happen, and sometimes they don’t happen. For me, today it’s a bitter pill to swallow. And I am disappointed.
 

Find the Joy — Week 1

So about a week ago I shared my goal for this year. In 2014 I want to Find the Joy.
I have prayed each morning for God to help me Find the Joy in each day. And I’ve had a week…with some great days and some not so great days. It’s been a tough week.
It started with me getting sick. I mean sick….with influenza. Fever, cough, achy feeling yucky. And of course it was right after my dearest husband had to go back to work after break. So last Thursday I drug myself out of bed…barely and tried to make some semblance of the day. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, backed over and then hit again. As I’m laying in the recliner with half an eye on the baby and the big boys watching TV (I totally admit to TV time when mom is sick)…I remember my goal…Find the Joy. Seriously? What joy is there in being sick? In feeling so exhausted and rotten that you’re not sure how you’re going to make it? This was going to be way harder than I thought.
But then lunch happened.
We’d joined my brother’s family for supper the night before and my sister in law sent home leftovers! They might have been hotdogs and brats, but they were easy to heat up…throw a piece of fruit and some carrots and we’ve got a meal with minimal effort. That was my joy. Easy lunch…blessed by leftovers. For me that day, it was something simple, something I would have overlooked before. My joy for day 1 was hotdogs.
Friday brought a broken fever and a bit more energy (which means I totally over did it that morning). Thankfully my in-laws were willing to pick up the big boys and watch them in the afternoon for me so I could get some rest. And my afternoon was filled with things like this…

And so it goes. I’ve been purposefully finding my joy each day. Little things and big things (like having a warm home on very very cold nights).

And then my morning started this morning at 5am…with my son next to my bed…”Mommy, I don’t feel good” New sheets, a drink and emergency barf bowl just in case, along with a 3 year old brother who woke up in the process and said sickie 5 year old all cuddled in bed together. As I snuggled with them…exhausted before the day even started…I sighed heavy…Find the Joy.

And I did. Fitful sleep for another hour or so. While he dozed on the other side of the bed his hand reached….searched under the blankets for mine. I lay there with his palm resting in mine and I found Joy knowing mine was the hand he was looking for. Even in his early morning fever stupor he searched me out. And I thanked God for the blessings cuddled around me and sleeping in the next room. The blessing of children and family.

And I rested.

2 years

This week marks 2 years ago that our lives, mine especially, was shaken to the core. Two years ago today our son Knox was born at 16 weeks.
The days leading up to his birth have replayed in my mind. On the first we’d had our sonogram after not being able to find heart tones for a couple of days. I can still picture the black hole in his chest, where his heart was no longer beating. My heart still sinks when I close my eyes. On the second we met with an OB doctor I’d never met and scheduled the induction. It was God’s providence that we made that relationship with him. I’m so thankful for his care. Because little did we know that 6 months later we’d be in his office again staring at a lifeless body in my womb and scheduling yet another induction for our daughter Lily.
And then today.
I remember walking in to the hospital the day’s events. I remember how scared I was, how sad. His birth, so thankful to be able to hold him and admire God’s handiwork. Thankful for nurses who made footprints, took pictures and prayed with me. Sobbing when they took him away. I remember the OR, fighting anesthesia with fear…waking and asking before my eyes were open if I was still whole, if they’d saved my uterus. And the next day being so weak, having my first allergic reaction ever (super scary for me) and then watching as someone else’s blood made it’s way through the IV tubing into my own arm. And leaving. Pale, weak and exhausted. Hollow and leaving a piece of me behind.
As I mourned I wrote. I wrote this series as I grieved his loss. Writing was often the only time I didn’t feel completely numb. It was my therapy.
Two years has passed since. The pain is less, but it’s still there. I still wonder how different our lives would be if he’d survived. I still wonder why he died. But through his life and his death I have learned much. God taught me a lot about trust, control, grief and caring for others. I gained a new perspective as a patient and hurting mother. I learned a lot about wrestling with God…and I did wrestle, I shook my fist, I cried out and I surrendered.
It’s been two years. His footprints still hang on our wall. A heart in our family tree to mark his presence in our family. And brothers who still talk about him…and a brother who bears his name (Zebediah Knox). A brother who will learn about the one who came before, the one he will meet in Heaven.
God is faithful. He is good even when we’re grieving the loss of a child…even when it doesn’t feel like He is good. I am thankful for the joy that He has shown me on the other side of this loss. I am thankful. Losing Knox allowed me to be teachable, mold-able…God used that experience to shape me more to the image of Christ.
So today, I remember the birth of my son whom I will meet for the first time with his sister and two other siblings in Heaven. What a glorious day that will be! Today our family remembers our Knox and we are thankful.