My Little Bs Have the Big C

A Breast Cancer Blog For Young Women


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No More Buns

photo credit: momvstheboys.com

photo credit: momvstheboys.com

Most people don’t know this but, Ken and I made the decision to have Oliver at a 24 hour laundromat.

When I was in my twenties, the only thing I could think about was having a baby. I wanted one desperately and couldn’t wait to meet the right guy, get married and start my family. I met the right guy when I was 24 and we got married when I was 30. Around the same time I had given up pursuing acting for good and returned to school to study Applied Theatre at CUNY and made a career shift to teaching artistry. My urges for a sweet cuddly baby suddenly switched to urges for jobs with aging populations, immigrants and young women, to name a few. I was focused more on my career than a growing family and was unsure of how a new person that I would have to grow in my body fit into the mix.

Then, as Ken and I were folding t-shirts, he said to me, “So, are we going to have a baby?” “I don’t know. What do you think?” He replied, “You know how I feel. I can go either way. But if we are going to do it, we need to do it now. We can’t wait much longer.” He was right. So that night, over a pile of unfolded clothes, Ken and I decided that we would “not, not try” for a baby and whatever happened, happened. What happened was, three months later, I was pregnant.

When most people who are trying or, “not, not trying” for a baby find out that they are with child, they scream, they jump for joy or cry. I, on the other hand, stopped breathing and nearly passed out. I was scared and in shock. To deal with the stress. I went to a kickboxing class. Why I thought this was a good idea, I’m not sure but it’s what I did. And this reaction scared me even more because, for someone who always wanted a baby, why was I feeling this way? Why was I suddenly having an, “Oh, shit!” moment?

This didn’t last, of course. All I had to do was hear the heartbeat and I was all in. Nine months couldn’t come fast enough. I couldn’t wait to meet my little guy and it turned out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me. He is the greatest thing I have ever done and continue to do.

It seems that lately, everyone is getting pregnant again. Mothers who were pregnant at the same time as me, people I knew from my past, old friends, acquaintances. I know this because of facebook. It seems every few days there’s a photo of a newly swollen belly, a small white figure floating in a sea of blackness, all head, skinny limbs, a toddler wearing a shirt that says, “big brother” or “big sister” and smiling at the camera, not sure why they are really smiling but, does that matter?

I am not feeling angry or bitter about this. I think that sometimes women with fertility issues (very understandably) can be very angry when other women get pregnant and are able to grow their family. It’s a hard pill to swallow. That is not the case here. I am so happy for everyone who is newly pregnant, about to give birth or already has. Excited for them, in fact!  At the same time, I am also sad for myself. I still don’t understand why this choice had to be taken away from me? From us?

Why is the discussion between me and Ken not, “should we try again?” Why is it, “should we take out a loan for surrogacy instead of saving for a home for the family we already have?” “Should I try to have a child naturally despite the fact that my eggs have most likely been murdered by chemotherapy?” “Should I not take the tamoxifen, that will prevent a new cancer from growing, just so I can try for another? Putting my existing family at risk?” Why are these the questions I have to ask? Why can’t I just do?

I am not the first nor will I be the last to ask these questions. But sometimes that doesn’t matter. Sometimes I get to be sad for myself.

I am sad.

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Motherhood Mondays: Dealing With Sadness

sadness_162

I am, by nature, a person of extremes.  When I’m happy, I’m really, really happy.  When I’m sad, I can really get down in the dumps and think the worst.  I don’t do anything half ass and I do emotions all the way.  But still, nothing has compared to the sadness and, dare I say it, depression I felt when I was first diagnosed.  It was so encompassing of my body, I was not sure I could care for Oliver.

Here is what I experienced as a result of being diagnosed with cancer.  These feelings and symptoms(?) lasted two weeks until I got a complete diagnosis.

  1. Constant crying (constant!!!)
  2. Shaking or trembling
  3. Loss of appetite
  4. Trouble sleeping (well, I could fall asleep but I’d wake up by 5:00 am)
  5. Dark, dark, dark thoughts
  6. Unable to get out of bed or off the floor
  7. Apathy
  8. Loss of focus

I have experienced some of these things as a result of sadness or fear before but never all at the same time and I found that particularly frightening.  I was most worried about Oliver seeing me like this so I went to see a therapist.  

I think talking to someone who was objective helped because I knew he had my best interest in mind but never sugar coated anything.  When I would tell friends or family my fears of dying or losing my breasts or chemotherapy, they would try to make me feel better.  Of course they did!  Why shouldn’t they?  That’s exactly what I would do for them.  But it wasn’t helping.  A therapist just listened and nodded and often repeated my fears back to me.  I felt acknowledged.  The fears did not go away but I felt heard.  

My depression did not end that day but I think it helped me to be a little less fearful and more present on each day, each moment and each piece of information I received about my sickness.  And when I became more equipped to handle these extreme emotions, I stopped crying in front of my son, began playing with him again and getting back into our routine.

I am far from expert in dealing with any kind of depression and would never, EVER give any advice, at least at this point.  I think it’s just important to acknowledge that this happened to me because it is likely that it will happen again sometime in this year of hell.  I think I’m going to be sad and scared a lot.  But I’m also still going to be a mom and I have to figure out how I can do both.