After talking to a friend tonight and filling them in on steamy health gossip and telling myself, “one foot in front of the other,” all I could think of was a vacation destination; someplace sunny and gluttoneous wheat-filled trays of non-gluten-free items. I couldn’t help a moment of feeling stupidly sorry for myself and the want to take a deep breath. Me, who never broke a bone was becoming one of those people you watch on, “Mystery Diagnosis,” and secretly wonder if they are making it all up. And in truth, some nights when Ava was asleep and I was alone I imagined that my hair was fine, I wasn’t sick and that I never had to go through cervical cancer. The past 6 months have taught me, perseverance at all costs. I know looking back, if I could handle a full-time client load, plus a full-time job, a child, a home, relationships and the want to change the world, I could do anything.
It started in April. I went in for a series of treatments for my cervix. I, had put off for months what needed to be done. I looked down when the doctor recommended a hysterectomy. I toiled and worried, fought my insurance and convinced myself that this too, would make me stronger. I imagined myself marching again on Capitol Hill this year and demanding change. Afterall, what I had tried so hard to save would be gone. Surely that was a platform that congress could understand. Planned Parenthood published my story and I felt stronger than before, but I ignored the advice and I went in for screenings and promised to eat healthier than already healthy. It wasn’t a risk because the threat wasn’t defined to me. I sat across from my parents and cried like a toddler that scraped her knee. I was angrier about what was going to be taken away then what was going to be left. I told myself, if I wanted something badly enough, I could make it happen.
September brought with it more tests and procedures and a doctor visit where I sat and for the first time in my life, the endocrinologist explained that waking up almost every morning and throwing up was not normal. He said, no more gluten, They took my blood, (lots of blood,) and they promised it would be better. No gluten for 2 months and then we’ll test you again. They were convinced it was Celiac’s disease. All I could think of was breadsticks and delicious, soggy ice cream cones and a stupid dream that wouldn’t go away.
October brought the diagnosis I had been dreading for 3 years. They didn’t have a reason that my hair was falling out. It wasn’t related to the thyroid, but it wasn’t inexplainable. The doctor looked in my eyes and said, “Sometimes, it just happens.” I thought of my hairbows at thirty post I tried on a wig and I pulled my chin up and said,”I’m alright,” because it was just hair.
And it was just a cervix. And it was just wheat. I had never broken a bone and for that, I was strangely thankful.
And then, like magic on a Saturday evening not long ago I looked over at J. sitting on the couch next to me and I said, “I feel about 92 months pregnant.” He laughed and I laughed and we had the normal discussion of, “Can you imagine a baby?” And then, I fell quiet and bitter and almost to prove to myself that maybe this was it, maybe after being told over and over that my chances of having another were so slim it wasn’t worth the birth control or the hope or whatever I feeling, I decided to take a pregnancy test. And the line was faint and holy and wonderful and scary and magnificent. And all I could think was, “I cannot believe after everything else that my hormones are this screwed up that it’s pretending to give me the one thing I’m not sure I could really handle.” I called the doctor and the doctor giggled and told me to take a few more. They were lined up like soldiers on the bathroom counter, all 8 of them filled with a blasphemous idea. I called J. in and he ran out for more.
I had long wondered about the day when I lost hope. If I could do it again, things would be different. I wouldn’t have hid at 25 out of shame or embarrassment to satisfy some patriarchal craving of wanting to make everyone happy. I would have worn tight shirts over my large, protruding and hobbit-like belly. I would have dared to go to the birthing class alone and proud. I would have literally, died to look into someone’s eyes and say, “We did it.” Or maybe even, “Mom, Dad, we have news.”
But you see, this isn’t a sad post, because it’s bittersweet. A little girl sleeps in the other room and my home keeps us warm. Sometimes she sings herself to sleep and I know it’ll only be a matter of months before she slowly loses all the little baby things that I cherish. J. sits beside me and I wonder what it might be like to not fight so hard to be a single mother anymore, and allow this all to happen. He runs out to the store to pick up malt cups, (with the little, wooden, spoons,) and I sit with my hand over my stomach not knowing what may happen but knowing that for 6 weeks and 4 days, I’ve been pregnant.
They tell me, “We need to watch you closely.” My chance of miscarriage is high and that with the other complications I need to be positive and hopeful, but reserved. They’ve already started me on Zofran, the wonderdrug of hyperemesis women everywhere. (God bless you, Zofran.) Because I’m not sure what might happen, tomorrow could bring a bus accident or a meteor shower that ends us all, and it could bring another horrendous and weird ailment for someone who’s never broken a bone. I’ll tell you that on July 30th, 2012, when this is all over I think this little person may have saved my idea of ‘hope’ in the first place. You may not believe it, because I still can’t. But I know one, single, thing. No matter what comes my way, I’ve pushed on, came up for air and marched through all because I don’t know another way. I don’t know how not to find success when everything else falls down. And frankly, I don’t know how NOT to hope for the best. Even if this is just a shooting star moment, it happened and I’m thankful.