Maybe it's the recent birth of Nicholas, the scary notion that I'm going to be 40 in a few weeks, or the fact that I'm facing what is probably the end of my reproductive years, but I sort of feel the need, finally, after several years of blogging, to share a story. It happened almost 10 years ago, and we've long since put it behind us in more than one way (actually, 3 ways!), I'm going to put it out there, mostly because it's a big part of our history as a family, but also because there are others facing this every day, and maybe I can be a help if they can find me.
The story goes like this: after almost a year of marriage, Mark and I decided to go ahead and start a family. We both wanted kids. And our first pregnancy happened really quickly. We were all smiles and wonderment and happy glows, but it wasn't long before things started to go downhill. 6 weeks into my pregnancy, we found out that the fetus wasn't viable, and at 8 weeks I had to have a D&C. And two weeks after that, we found out I had had a condition known as a molar pregnancy.
Without going into too much detail, a molar pregnancy, and in my case, a complete molar pregnancy is one where the chromosomes get all out of whack, and instead of a fetus, you grow a tumor. Fortunately, my tumor stayed confined to my uterus. Some don't. Some grow outside of the uterus, and the nature of a tumor is to metastasize, and these sometimes do, to brain, liver, lungs. I escaped that. But after the D&C, my tumor decided to come back and start growing again, turning my molar pregnancy into something called Gestational Trophoblastic Disease. All the sudden, the word "cancer" was being floated around, even though at this stage, it was only a possibility, an as yet to occur additional complication if the tumor was allowed to get any bigger.
So I had to go on a regiment of chemotherapy. For 6 weeks I got weekly injections and my blood was monitored. The disappointment and sorrow over losing what we thought was our first child was quickly replaced by the fear for my own health, and the nagging thought that we might not ever be able to have children.
But finally, the chemotherapy worked, and I was declared healthy, but only if I didn't go into a relapse, or if the tumor wasn't really gone...just hiding. My doctors prescribed another year of blood tests, all the while we would not be allowed to try to conceive again. After that year, if all was well, we could try again.
The rest, they say, is history. We survived that year, somehow. We traveled a lot. We got a puppy. Seemed like everywhere I looked I saw a pregnant woman, or a little baby. I cried a lot. I lived with more than a shadow of doubt; I lived with a black cloud hanging over my head. Wondering.
But soon the year was over. It was March, and we had already booked a June trip to Alaska. We put off our family for another few months, and in June, set out for our Alaskan adventure. Little did we know that by the time we returned home, our little family was already growing. Jonathan Denali Eanes was born 9 months later. My pregnancy with him wasn't without it's own issues, but none of them were related to my past problems, and none turned out to be a threat to my health or to Jonathan's.
The rest, they say, is history. First Matthew, then Nicholas. And now, facing the closure of a chapter in our lives. Would we have more children by now if we hadn't been set back 2 years? Hard to say. Are we done with the reproductive stage of our lives? Probably. More than likely. I was okay with 2 children, or as I used to say, I was "at peace" with 2 children. Mark says that sounded like I was "settling." I probably was. I always thought I'd have at least 3, but as my 40's approached with only 2, I was more than okay with it.
But now I've got 3. I wouldn't trade Nicholas for the world. And I hope my story reaches those who need it. Over the years I've "met", mostly online, a ton of great women who have gone through a similar ordeal, and I'm proud and honored to call them my true friends. And if there's one huge advantage I have, having gone through this, I think it has made me appreciate my children just a little more. There are days when I could run screaming for the hills. There are days I want to swat their little stubborn backsides and lock them in their rooms until the next morning. But more often than not, I have stopped and reminded myself how much I wanted them, and how sad I was when I was afraid I wouldn't be able to have any, and it helps. And it reminds me over and over again what little treasures they are.