Why I'm up AGAIN at 6 am. Nightmares. I am dancing, and I even went out salsa dancing on Tuesday night - it helps. Trouble is I'm getting really physically exhausted.
I'm going through something really emotionally hard at the moment, and it's giving me bad dreams. Wertperch and I have never told anyone else much about this, but back in 2005 when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I was pregnant; probably conceived when I was in England. When I was diagnosed, the doc said there was no way I could postpone chemo for 7 months, and also no way a fetus would survive the chemotherapy. Probable miscarriage, undoubtedy birth defects, yucky stuff. Adriamycin, in particular, is a class C teratogen. In other words, it can cause severe birth defects. In addition, the pregnancy hormones at the time were causing the cancer to progress faster. I had an estrogen positive cancer, meaning estrogen made the cancer grow more quickly. I also had the most aggressive cancer cells , by staging. Very mutated cells, growing very fast. "We're going to take a big bat, and we are going to hit you as hard as we can." My doctor said it was pretty much a choice - if I wanted to hang on to the baby, the cancer would probably kill me first. Kevin and I talked about it, and he said I want you more than I want that baby, and Tessie and I need you more. It was a pretty black and white decision at the time.
So I had an abortion. A D&C, about six weeks into the chemotherapy. It was actually about a week after wertperch and I got married, in May of 2005. My doctor kindly postponed it a week, so I wasn't in physical discomfort during the wedding. (Keeping in mind that I was flooded with chemotherapy drugs at the time.)
Well, yesterday the imp saw me crying, talking to a friend in ballet class, and she asked me why - so I told her. And she is furious with me - for not telling her, for not having the baby, for not getting her opinion at the time, for potentially having the baby and dying and leaving her. I realize this makes no logical sense, but it's also a huge loss for her. She wants a baby brother or sister more than anything else in the world. Remember, she was 6 at the time. What is the right time to tell her? There isn't. There never was, and there isn't. And it's bringing up this incredible amount of sadness and loss for all of us, on top of everything else. Kevin and I wanted that baby so badly, I haven't the words to express it.
The part they forgot to tell me was that chemotherapy destroys both ovaries and eggs. If I had known ahead of time, I potentially could at least have harvested some eggs, in the hopes of carrying a pregnancy later. The chemotherapy made me perimenopausal, so now there's no chance of getting pregnant - and the odds of having bad birth defects if I did are really high. I think the doctors didn't offer it because since my cancer was estrogen positive (then) pregnancy hormones would be bad, no matter when. Now that the cancer has mutated, it's no longer an issue, but it's pretty moot at this point - I'm 45, the ovaries are toast, the eggs, well, what was the old ad? This is your brain on drugs? These are your eggs on chemo? Chemo kills fast dividing cells, and it doesn't differentiate between those we want, and those we don't want.
Needless to say, I had a rough night. Bad dreams, where I was at an adoption agency that more or less resembled the DMV, and they pretty much just said, your paperwork is not in order, so you can't have that baby. Sorry. They took a picture of my license plate, and the tags were expired. And they would not tell me what paperwork was missing - I "was just supposed to know that". Sorry. Then they'd send me to another line, where every clerk looked like Roz from Monsters, Inc. complete with the downturned reptile mouth, and they all went on coffee break when I got to the front of the line. I know this is because I've been spending literally hours on the phone with bad receptionists at doctor's offices and banks, but it was the DMV crossed with a Clockwork Orange. You know the drill.
Kevin and I didn't talk about it at all until at least a year later - we were so overwhelmed with all the other emotional repercussions, I think we just set it aside, and left it for later. I finally told a close friend who was struggling with infertility about a year or so ago. Secondary infertility is different from primary infertility, but it's still real, and it was still a loss. Of a very, very wanted baby.
So I'm sad this morning. Weepy. Maybe making a quilt might help. I could make a little baby doll quilt. I think I need to grieve, and acknowledge the loss somehow. Her name would have been Caroline Grace, Or Helen Grace, if a girl. Wertperch and I never decided on a boy's name.
I don't, these days, have a lot of fear of death. I'm physically so strong, that any chemical, any radiation, any star wars technology they throw at me, I seem to just sort of bulldoze my way through. I don't suffer a lot from the emotional baggage during treatment, I seem to save that up for when I'm between bouts of chemo. I'm treating cancer like a chronic disease with sort of nasty treatments, but overall, I respond pretty well, and I'm no reading about people who live with metastatic breast cancer for 20 years or more.
But oh, I wanted that baby.
That baby is the biggest thing I gave up because of breast cancer. Losing a breast was a piece of cake in comparison. Breasts are mostly decorative, and the fake ones nowadays are pretty good. I can even adjust the size, depending on whether I'm doing yoga, or going out salsa dancing, and looking a little more bimbo.
Reconstruction is just not really an option. MORE surgery? Elective surgery? That puts me back in the hospital for a week? Not on your bippy, baby. I'm more likely to visit Machu Pichu. I'm much more likely to get a tattoo of a tough old wisteria over the scar than let them cut me up even more. But I don't know what tattoo to put over the other scar, the invisible one.
Baby, we miss you. I'm sorry.
For wertperch, the imp, Christina, and for Sarah, for the olive branch and momfu. Also Tracy and Trina.
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