Monday, March 29, 2010

Part V - The Happy Part

I just blurted it out when he opened the front door for me, our baby dangling off his arm.

"I have cervical cancer but I'm going to be okay."

Then we laid down on the living room floor in front of the big sunny picture window with our baby and made him giggle. And I explained the details of my diagnosis while we tickled his widdle chubby belly.

This was hard, we decided, but not disastrous. It was a bump. An entirely surmountable bump. Together - we would surmount this bump. And it wouldn't change much. We wouldn't let it.

We made a plan to try for number three after I returned to work in about a year or so. It meant spacing our kids more closely together than we would otherwise but it would be okay. In the meantime we'd research the snotcrap out of our options. We'd see some other doctors for a second and a third opinion and we'd make sure that my gyn wasn't some sort of hysterectomy-happy Victorian-style mad doctor who spent his evenings creeping through foggy cobblestone alleys with a scalpel glinting beneath his overcoat.

We'd deal with this privately. There was nobody, really, we needed to even tell at this point.

When our little daughter woke up from her afternoon nap she came and joined us on the floor. We made a pile. A happy pile.

It's pretty normal -- clich├ęd, really -- for something like a medical scare to bring your life into sharper focus. You look out over that terrible precipice and think about all you have to lose. And you're reminded of what's really important. And you feel such intense gratitude that you don't have to let go of those things.

Since baby number 2 had come along I'd been running three times a week. I was, actually, in the best shape ever. Every week and month since his birth I felt stronger and faster. I didn't have to let this whole thing become my identity. I wasn't cervical cancer. I had cervical cancer. Past tense. That damn virus had been in me for who knows how long and my fantastic body had kept it from harming my reproductive life. Yay, body!

I felt so fit. And so loved. And so lucky.

So when my libido came knocking on the door I was all like, "Hello, Stranger! You must be here for my New Lease on Life!"

Now. The trouble with Lactational Amenorreah as a method of birth control is that it basically only works if you don't really want to have sex. If you're totally run-down and exhausted by small children who are constantly at ya but every now and again you give it the old college try basically because you feel sorry for your husband since he's starting to get a wan look and has begun to give himself prison tats, you probably won't get pregnant. If, however, you are overwhelmed by lust and can't get enough of it and suddenly your three-year old is allowed to watch as much TV as she wants whenever the baby naps, it's because you are ovulating. And you will so get pregnant.

It's like my ovaries heard the doctor.

It's like that little bell they ring before the bobsleds are supposed to rip down the ice chute went off and they were all, "AGH! ACK! Shoot one down the pipes, girls! Go Team Canada!"

And that's the gist of how I got diagnosed with cancer and pregnant in the same month.

It was a shock.

Followed by another shock.

It was awful timing.

I was tandem nursing my first two children --ohmigod-- and pregnant with my third.

How could I go back to work again, after my mat leave, pregnant again?

It is so far and away above and beyond the most financially irresponsible thing we have ever done. Like, way worse than that trip to the Mayan Riviera we took with the buy-out money the company my husband used to work for gave him when they laid him off.

That fateful day when my doctor said "I think you should get pregnant tomorrow" and I basically did was just over a year ago.

And now baby number three is here.

Our finances are a mess.

My libido has long since folded up the blankets neatly on the guest bed and left through the side door.

With three little ones, every little thing we do is an enormously taxing exercise in logistics and Zen.

But she is a cupcake with chocolate frosting and pink sprinkles on top. She is a pot of gold. Whenever I catch her eye she grins so wide my internal organs turn into marshmallows and spontaneously toast just so. She is a giggle laughing at a chuckle. She is so delightful.

I'm sure if this whole ordeal didn't shake us down we would have had number three at a perfectly reasonable time in our lives. Like when at least one of us was gainfully employed. And we'd love that other, much more reasonable baby very much. Just as much as we love our baby Josephine.
But that isn't how it is with your babies, is it?

They arrive and you meet them and you say, "Oh, you're exactly the one I wanted. You're perfect. I'm so glad it's you and not some other baby."

It's like she really needed to be born. And she seems so very glad to be here. She's the cherry on top of our happy pile.

Down the Rabbit Hole: An HPV Story
by Betsy B. Honest


  1. Wait... Is this the end? Did you/are you having a hysterectomy?

  2. I just want to say - this series has been awesome, and refreshing, and bracing. I love it! Except that of course, I wish you didn't have to go through this. But I am so glad you have decided to share your experiences!

    I'm a total lurker on your blog, by the way. Well, not anymore!

  3. Aw, what a little sweetheart.

    How are you now?

  4. The cute is overwhelming.

    I so have that same experience of "You were not what I was expecting, but you are exactly right." I did when my little brother was born (a very big surprise to my parents), and I did when my own baby came out. I looked down and thought, "Well, hello, stranger." And then, "I think I love you very much and want to eat you up."

    Still want to hear the Aftermath part of this adventure, but yea for a happy Josephine ending!

  5. I'm crying happy tears.

    And I think you made me want another baby.


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