Friday, November 25, 2011

The Road to this Decision part 2

I have some much to be thankful for: my supportive husband; my beautiful girls, our health and happiness, and all the caring family and friends surrounding us.  They are all a huge part of what made my decision to have prophylactic surgery. Here's another journal entry that helped me see what is important.  It's a very personal one.  I needed the box of tissue just rereading it. It's not neccessarily a happy holidays sort of a post, but it's been a big part of our lives for the last few months. 

July 4 2011
Wow, how quickly things can change. All of April and May, I was collecting my pee daily so that I could figure out my ovulation cycles. I printed out the Academic Calendar for the 2011-2012 school year and calculated all maternity leave options. I knew down to a t when I ovulated and even read up a bit on "how to make a boy," which was some interesting stuff.

June came around.  My cycle came, it was perfect timing. And…IT WORKED! I could tell within 3 days that I was pregnant. My boobs hurt like hell, crazy feelings going on down there, I was dizzy while working out, and I just could tell. The reality of three kids though was pretty scary! Would the car seats fit in our cars? Would the girls be able to share a room? Could we move? Will we ever be able to go on a family vacation?

I knew I was pregnant from what felt like the moment afterward, but you have to wait almost 2 weeks until it will show up on a pregnancy test. Those two weeks waiting was so hard. I was crazy about taking pregnancy tests. I remember that I was going teach in Marinette for the weekend. I was staying overnight and I thought about packing a pregnancy test for the morning, but didn’t. It would be a good was to break my ridiculous habit. It was hell sitting there alone in a hotel room feeling all of these pregnancy symptoms and wanting to know for sure but not having the test.

Immediately when I got home, I took one and within 30 seconds it was positive. I walked down stairs and showed Mitch—my classic style. Who needs to do something cute—just the shock of the positive test is enough and I can’t keep things like this in, especially from Mitch. So that moment it became real. Ready or not, we were about to have 3 children.

That didn’t last long. Less than 2 weeks later, I began to bleed. It started as just a bit of spotting, then after a workout there was a lot. I assigned myself to bed rest for the remainder of the day, which is incredibly hard when you are home with 2 kids. I woke up in the morning feeling hopeful, but after using the bathroom I knew that much blood wasn’t normal.

I called my doctor’s office. My regular ob/gyn, Dr. Megan Temp, was out on maternity leave and of course my least favorite doctor in the entire practice, the coldest, least emotional one with zero tact would be my substitute for the day. Based on what I described, he told me right then and there over the phone that the baby was probably already gone. I’d need to come in for blood tests to make sure over the next few days. I got the final results on June 30th confirming that my blood count levels were far too low. Happy 29th Birthday!

I put on a happy face for as long as I could, but alone at home I cried a good portion of the days. I knew that it would be hard emotionally; I’ve seen so many others go through the loss of a baby and the struggles they faces afterward. But I had no idea of the physical pain that goes with it. That was the worst part of it for me: the gnawing pain in your stomach all day long, the constant reminder every time you go to the bathroom that you lost it.

Then there was the guilt. Guilt because I thought it might be something that I did. Was it because we had sex the night right before the bleeding started? Was it because I pushed myself too hard in working out? I just felt so good working out those last two days. For the first time in 2 weeks I didn’t feel winded and worn out right away.

But the most guilt was because in a strange way, I felt relieved. The days after that positive test I had started to really freak out. The infant car seat expired; the seats wouldn’t fit in the car. What about our kitchen table? Where would a 3rd child sit? Was this really right for us? Everywhere I turned from the grocery store and target to the zoo and museum where mothers of 3+ looking stressed out and strung out.  One of my children nearly drowned at a friends pool party, while I was chatting at the table with friends.  A few days later while at my nephew's birthday party, we found my other daughter choking on a pretzel in the kitchen when neither Mitch or I knew she was in the kitchen or hand climbed up to reach the pretzels.  If we can't take care of these two, what on earth are we going to do with three?

Molly tried to assure me that this way just my brains way of trying to protect itself. That if I say that I don’t really want another, I won’t have to feel the pain emotionally. I’m sure she’s right, but if this isn’t how I’m going to feel forever, when will I know? I had it all planned out perfectly, why couldn’t everything just go as I had planned. Maybe it was because something was wrong. Wrong with the baby or wrong with me? Maybe it was because God was trying to tell me mastectomy first!

August 4, 2011
The weeping and bleeding did eventually stop thankfully, but the uncertainty definitely didn’t yet. I feel so torn and pressured to make a decision. If I am going to have a maternity leave timed out like I had wanted to, I need to make a decision now. If I wait too long, I’m going to be stuck with another maternity leave at the beginning of the school year which was so hard. If I wait too long, I’m just pushing back my mastectomy even farther. My goal was to have it done by the time I’m 31 because that was when my youngest aunt was diagnosed. Between 9 months of pregnancy and a year of nursing, there’s no way it’s possible to meet that goal. Plus how fair is it to choose to have a surgery that puts me out of commission for 4-6 weeks when I have a child that is only a year old. I have a hard time asking for and accepting help from others, can I really ask for other people to take care of my 3 children less than 4 for that long? Maybe I need to just make sure that I’m here and healthy for the 2 wonderful children that I have. I'm trying to be all zen about it and say whatever happens happens, but that's not true. We either have to use protection or not.

I posted about my indecision to some of the ladies on the message boards and got some great advice. One great lady said, “Having babies is the easy part. Raising good kids is tough.” Another friend said, “Just know that a family is beautiful when love is the center of it…no magic number or titles..just love.” My favorite was "you know you've had enough when you've already had too many."

Whether talking about kids or beer, I really think that last one makes sense and in a way best describes what I am feeling. People say that you’ll never regret another child once you meet it and immediately feel that love for it. But I feel like I got a second chance that no one else gets in regards to that. I thought 3 was for us, but then realized it was too many and got an easy out of it. But now I feel like a horrible mother for saying that.

People have told me that I can always have children after the mastectomy, but I think that my biggest problem is that I can't imagine having a child and not nursing. I'm such a breastfeeding advocate. It was so important to me with my girls. I nursed for 10 months, donated milk to a milkbank, and coached so many other friends and co-workers through it that if I had to change occupations, I could easily be a lactation consulant. I'm afraid that I might have a harder time bonding. I’m afraid of the financial impact. In all honesty, I’m just afraid in general. What if a miscarriage happens again? I don’t want to feel that pain again. I don’t want my heart broken again.

For now, my only decision is that I need to give myself more time for my hormones to get back to normal since the miscarriage and then maybe I'll be able to feel better about whatever choice we make.

August 2, 2011
This past weekend I was at my cousin wedding. It was a beautiful day, she was such a gorgeous bride, but I got crazy emotional. Her mom is my aunt and godmother who died. I was going through so many memories that I had with my aunt. I remember shopping with her at the Kohls in the East Town Mall. I remember going to the Farmer’s Market with her and my cousin. I remember the way she cut the hot dogs in the mac and cheese--don't you love how I remember the important stuff. :)

It made me so sad to think that cousin was just 4 when her mom died, that's just a little bit older than Aila. It was also so hard to see her in this big moment without her mom there. They did a prayer for her during the mass and there wasn't a dry in on her entire half of church. It wasn’t anything huge and didn’t need to be, because this was my cousin and her husband's day. It was a simple moment of silence for her, but that silence was very powerful. I just kept thinking how horrible I would feel if I had the power to change things but didn't do it and my kids ended up without me for these big moments.

It was a really helpful day though for Mitch and I. Seeing how much my entire family was affected helped him see why this is so important to me. He keeps saying I'm moving to fast, but I think no way...I've sat on this so long already.

September 25th
I made a pro/con list. Yes, a pro/con list about having another child. Make fun of me all you want, but I did. Rory Gilmore would have been proud. I’ll spare you from the details here (again for fear of being called a horrible parent for the things that I said as cons). I presented it to Mitch. He was accepting of all of my thoughts, but then added that in any other situation if the tables were turned and he was the one saying this is my final decision, I would try my hardest to change his mind. So he feels that it is his job, no his duty, to badger me about the decision as much as I would of him. You got me on that one, Mitch. Maybe I should have just let some of those things go in the past, oops!

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