Wednesday, January 30, 2008
So there is a good chance that Sadie will be my only child. What am I saying?! It isn't a 'chance' it's a reality. Just hard to really accept. Chemo will kick me in to early menopause and so there goes the idea of giving her a brother or sister. Side note to this which I think is really funny but rarely gets me any laughs is that Greg is 53 and I am 34. When we met almost 12 years ago people thought it was really weird and probably wouldn't last. Heck, even I thought it was weird and believe me we have gone through a lot to make it last. So the funny part is that now 12 years later even though I am 34, my cancer is kicking my butt up to be 'biologically' a 50 year old woman going through menopause. So, it's all even in the end. Funny? Ok, I guess not. Ironic? Maybe.
So anyway, the one bright spot is that my little sister Nina had a baby girl, Amara Jay, four months before I delivered Sadie Wren (bird middle names are purposeful--I'll explain some other time) and there is no doubt in my mind that they will grow up close, like sisters, and share their lives together and probably fight like sisters and love each other like sisters. At least I know Nina and I will do everything in our power to make this happen because with all we have gone through Hannah, Nina and I are so much more aware of the power of family and siblings and sisterhood (and not just biological--I have a whole group of friends I consider sisters too!). Today my friend Sara told me that she saw Nina crossing the street in San Rafael pushing Amara and she rolled down her window to shout out hello and Nina's response was, 'you are such a good friend'. I know why she said this. We are all aware that without my friend sisters and my real sisters there is no WAY I would be able to go through what I am going through. My friend Traci Terrick said that with all this support she was reminded of the way I would talk about the Farm where I was born. I did always sense from my mom when she would talk about it that it was the best situation for woman. Raising their kids together, relying on each other and supporting each other. With all the amazing people that are helping me out, I do feel that communal feeling. I just feel enveloped in it and I am really really grateful.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
OK, here's the funny thing about life--and a lesson in not worrying. When I got pregnant, I thought for sure it was going to be the worst thing ever on my body, my energy, my life. I was convinced because I was a bit chubby and had lupus I would have all the pregnancy problems a woman could possible have: diabetes, preeclampsia. I thought I was going to gain 50 pounds and be this sweaty waddling mess who constantly called in to work sick because I couldn't lug myself out of bed. I also thought my baby would suffer. Early on I found out I had anti-phospholipid syndrome (very common with pregnant lupus woman) which means my blood would coagulate and there was risk nourishment wouldn't get through the placenta to the baby. This was cured with a simple baby aspirin a day. Still I was sure one day I would get the sonogram results that my baby wasn't growing, that I didn't have enough amniotic fluid. I worried about this all the time. For no reason at all.
Through it all, being pregnant with Sadie has been the easiest, most natural thing my body has every done. I gained hardly any weight. She was always perfect and on track in development with how many weeks I was and though she was born early, was a total rock star right away sucking away at her first bottle of Nina's breast milk within minutes of being out of the womb. She's gone through two chemo treatments and had her first pediatrician appointment last week (picture above is when we were on the way--her first 'outing' which I would have blogged about earlier but it was also the day Frida went missing) and in the doctor's words, ' she's a keeper'. Perfect in every way.
So, for all those worried (including myself) about the chemo on Sadie. She is doing great. She's growing like crazy (she even has a little double chin). Her cheeks are filling out and she's got dimples.
All in all, it's the things we don't see coming (cancer) that can get you and rarely the things you waste so much time worrying about so the lesson I guess is to just stop worrying.
I know--easier to type than to actually do.
Friday, January 25, 2008
So I have been known to make faces since I was a little girl. My family has this great video taken a few months after we moved off The Farm when we lived at my Grandmother's house while we searched for a permanent place to live. I think my Aunt Robin or Great Grandmother asked me a question about eating my strawberries and I went in to a tourette's like fit of various faces and poses for no reason whatsoever other than just wanting to make faces. If I had a dollar for how many times my parent's said, 'if that face should freeze' then..blah blah you know the rest.
So it is with great joy that I discovered Sadie, at the ripe old age of 12 days likes making faces too! Especially because so far, I think she looks just like Greg and have been having a hard time seeing me in her. I did my best to capture them, but honestly, she can do like 10 in a split second--and then falls right back to sleep. Very entertaining.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
I am trying to concentrate on the good things I have: great friends, unbelievable support, amazing husband, family, beautiful daughter, sweet little pup-because chemo side effects suck. What's with this neuropathy on my feet? I am hobbling around like an old lady. The sea grass rug in Sadie's room has turned in to some kind of torture. It's also starting in my hands. And my mouth feels all cut up and dry and nothing tastes good. I can't eat it hurts to much anyway. I weigh less than I did at the start of my pregnancy--normally this would make me really happy, having always struggled with my weight, but this isn't how I wanted to lose it. Ugh.
Anyway, the above photo was taken last week when the side effects hadn't kicked in and I still had this sort of silly hope they never would and that my maternity leave would truly be just like a vacation with a baby. Hah. Not exactly.
Ok. Thanks for letting me vent, or for reading my venting. Going to gargle with salt water and put my feet up and kiss my baby and get some sleep while Greg watches political stuff in the living room (his favorite evening past time).
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Those who know me well know that Sadie is not my first child. My first foray in to the maternal was for my dog Frida Love. Yes, named after the artist, which I do love and also because she's Free to Love--get it? Doesn't cost anything. When I got pregnant my biggest worry was how Frida was going to handle the change. It wasn't my health (I have lupus too), it wasn't the fact that I have a pretty demanding career, or that Greg and I bought a house at the top of the market and have a hefty mortgage (stupid summer of 2005) or the change to our relationship--it was how my little dog would handle sharing my love because I just LOVE my dog. I would take calls from Greg at work in the middle of important meetings because I needed to know she had walked and pooped. When my friends would talk about their kids, with no shame whatsoever, I would join in with Frida stories. I would turn down after work invitations because I couldn't stand the idea of Frida being alone longer than she had to be.
The funniest part of all of this is the fact that for the first 32 years of my life I was a cat person. And not just a cat person who was cool with dogs, but a cat person who really didn't like dogs. They jumped up on you. They sniffed in the wrong places. You had to pick up their poop. They were loud, smelly, hairy and from my perspective, kind of stupid. We got Frida because our house has this huge back yard that sort of was begging for a dog. Also, out in Forest Knolls everyone seemed to have a dog and like a lot of couples I guess I thought it would help us prepare for an eventual baby. I didn't know she would be like my baby in all ways! I just fell in love with her. The way she followed me around, rested her chin on my knee while we watched TV, greeted me with the sweetest wagging tail, nested up against us at night and in the morning, crawled her way between us so that we eventually called it 'making a Frida sandwich'. I didn't mind her breath, the poo, the hair and I realized that dumb expression dogs make is only when a stranger is around making them nervous, excited or anxious. Most the the time Frida is like zen dog who looks at me with all knowing brown eyes.
Frida gets me out walking every day. There is not one neighbor I have met without the help of Frida. Most people don't just randomly strike up a conversation with another, but when you both have dogs, the conversation flows and soon you aren't talking breed and walking habits, but about your life and then you have made a friend. I have a lot of neighbors who I now consider family which is really important because Forest Knolls is kind of out there and having people you can call up and walk with or help out during the chemo has been invaluable. I have Frida to thank for all of them.
This is all leading up to this: As if we weren't dealing with enough, on Monday a good friend of mine, Dedi, took Frida on a big hike up to Bolinas Ridge which made me so happy because of course now that we are home, Frida isn't getting the love she used to get and isn't getting the daily hikes we used to take together. So, I was so happy when Dedi offered and happier it was going to be a big hike--makes her nice and tired. Well, something happened on the trail. Frida was spooked by a family taking a rain hike in the hills all wearing hooded jackets (that's our theory) and ran so quickly and so far Dedi couldn't catch up. After an hour of calling her name, she had to let us know the news and it was like one of my worst fears had come true. You can't imagine the pain I was in and the anger at the idea that I had to deal with more. On top of everything else, I was going to lose my dog? It just didn't make sense. Greg gathered some friends and family that night and drove up to the last place she was seen and in the pouring ran called her name for hours until the rangers said we had to give up. The next day again Greg gathered an amazing group of people: my brother-in-law Dan, my friend Dennis, my neighbor David, Greg's boss Frank and searched the area for six hours without finding her. The nights were the worst. I couldn't feel anything. I felt like a robot caring for Sadie. It was horrible. We managed to muster some hope yesterday when Greg found an animal rescue guy up in Oregon and we contracted with him to come down and look for Frida. We also received an incredible amount of support and help through all our friends and our family. Nina went out alone and hiked White's Hill. My neighbor Andy did the same. My other neighbor Alex took a special mountain bike ride up Pine Ridge with his dog Vinny, who Frida loves, in search of her. Dedi worked the system with the rangers and posted flyers everywhere. Poor Dedi. I hated where I was, but I didn't envy what she was feeling either. But she never gave up and I am so grateful for that. Nina forwarded our Frida flyer to a friend who forwarded it to a bunch of her friends and I got calls from people I didn't even know saying they were taking a hike and looking for Frida. I don't know if it's because I have cancer and just had a baby, and frankly I don't care. People are amazing if you just ask for help.
So, whereas before I thought I would be posting a Please Help Find Frida blog, I am so happy to report that we have FOUND HER! Well, we didn't. A couple out on a hike looking for the supposed and reported on snow found her. They said she was in the middle of the road up where the hike she had been on started. I'd like to think this is because my friend Dennis (who is AMAZING in a crisis and a really good cook) took a spray bottle of my pee up to the trail head on the advice of the animal rescue guy from Oregon and spent the morning spraying it around to get Frida to come back to where she started. Now, there aren't many people that would do that, so THANK YOU Dennis. The people who found Frida said people were just driving by her, but they sensed she was lost. They tried to coax her in the car, but she again ran. So they followed her in the car at a slow pace for 2 miles and then let their own dog out who calmed Frida down or kept her interest enough for them to pull up and get her in the car. I was on the way home from a doctor appointment--where by the way I learned that my chemo would probably eradicate my lupus (we have to be grateful for small favors I guess)--with Linda my neighbor (and friend--thank you FRIDA!) when Greg called to tell me he had no news. Just then, the people called on his other phone and so we got the news together. We had our reunion at the Roasters in Fairfax. Then I realized the guy in the couple was Danny Martinez who I went to high school with ( I think he took my friend Amber to a prom?). It's a small world. Frida is covered with tics and a little damp, but still Frida. Two nights in the woods and she has been sleeping ever since we got home. A really deep sleep with a little snore. It's the best sound in the world.
Thank you Frank, Dan, Dennis, Dedi, Harry (the search and rescue dude), Nina, David, Linda, Alex, Andy, and all the strangers who were out up in the hills looking for my first child. I truly didn't think I could get through the next few months without my proverbial best friend, my loyal companion, my little predictable presence (except when a bunch of hooded strangers approach!).
Monday, January 21, 2008
Ok--just like chemo, I clearly have been putting off the official details of my birth experience. It's something I still go over in my head and I still am conflicted. Again, the end result (Sadie!) is so wonderful it feels silly to complain about how she came in to the world. Sadie was induced at 36 weeks for reasons that I thought I understood, but then would shift and change depending on which doctor you talked to (everything shifts and changes depending on which doctor you talk to by the way). Reasons number one: wanting to control when she would come out in terms of my chemo treatment. So, farthest from the last and farthest from the next to give my body time to heal and recover as well as time to be with the baby before my next treatment. The fear was I would go in to premature labor the day after a treatment when there is no way I could muster up the energy to deliver. I had two treatments pregnant with Sadie and believe me, I don't understand how it was not OK to eat sushi and soft cheeses but OK to inject toxic chemicals in to my blood stream while pregnant. But, this is when you have to trust that doctors know what they are doing. But, nobody wanted to do more than two treatments so this was the second reason I was induced. Then there was the risk of caesarean. Nobody wanted me to have one because it's major surgery and major surgery on chemo with a low immune system was a serious risk in terms of healing and worry about infection. So, induce early, smaller baby, easier to push out--reason number three. So, at 36 weeks I go in to the hospital thinking we give me some inducing drugs in the afternoon, I wake up the next day and deliver. This didn't happen. I had a severe allergic reaction to one of the induction drugs which they insert directly up inside you on your cervix to soften it. It made it impossible for me to be checked for dilation because I was in so much pain. It also made it impossible for me to get more of the drug up inside me correctly because it felt like knives were shooting up inside me if anyone tried. This was pain I wasn't counting on. I was counting on dilation and contraction pain and working through that and I was counting on pushing pain. But a simple exam, two fingers, the same process as a simple pelvic exam is causing me to scream out in agony so much so my sisters were crying in the corner to tell the nurse to stop. So here we are at a standstill and it's been two days and I have been on and off pitocin and am in mild labor and can't sleep because I am on the most uncomfortable bed in the world, which makes sense because it wasn't a 'bed' but a delivery bed and I wasn't delivering. During this time, my sister Hannah and my husband Greg saved me from throwing in the towel and asking for a caesarean, well that and a little thing we call an epidural. Now, knowing how I was born, who my mom is, believe me it was hard to ask for this, but it truly saved my birth and made it possible for my to deliver vaginally, so I am eternally grateful for one Susan Maloney, who came in to the room late at night with her little epidural kit and not only took my pain away but brought a lot of grace and sensitivity to my birth experience. She also offered me her hair. Seriously, she had my exact hair, just a little more red. So now I am out of pain and there is hope. They start me on a new induction drug that isn't as harsh on my system and the next morning, I am on pitocin again and by mid-afternoon I am 10 cm dilated and ready to push. Pushing on an epidural is a trip. You know you are, but you don't at the same time. You feel the pressure but not the energy of a push. I did this for two hours and then I guess my blood pressure dropped and so did Sadie's and then right then my OB who had tracked my pregnancy with me showed up, and as Hannah says, 'like a mechanic under a car' used a vacuum suction and pulled my baby out. So, all in all, not the magical, spiritual journey I had been brought up hearing about through my mom. Though honestly I had given that up awhile ago, but I suppose was still hoping for something to have in my memories to connect me to her philosophy on birth. Something that I could say, 'Yeah, mom, I get it now. I see what you mean'.
So, really quick--because this is getting really long. In postpartum, that night, I get a fever and have to get blood cultures and they discover a bacteria in my blood I probably got through my catheter so I get hooked up to IV antibiotics and have to stay three more days in the postpartum floor. It started to feel like Greg and I were in jail. We just wanted to be set free.
However, not all is lost in this experience. I met the most wonderful nurses who offered me and Greg support and encouragement. They laughed at Greg's jokes, answered all our crazy questions. They soothed our worries, comforted us and gave us the strength to carry on through the ordeal. One of them, Linda, said they all raised their hands in victory at the nurse's station when they heard I had delivered vaginally. Within a few days, I felt they all had invested in me and it was a powerful feeling to have that many people instantly care, and not just care in the moment, but giving me their cell phone numbers, bringing my a gift of little pink booties (Nicka) and offering to walk our dog (Linda lives in Fairfax!) and answer questions any time. Susan even visited us the next morning on the postpartum floor with her beautiful daughter Lily to check in on us. And we did have questions (about formula) and we did call one of them (Lauren--so awesome) and she called right back even though it was 10 PM at night and she has two little kids of her own and talked to Greg for an hour and again soothed our worries, comforted and supported us.
So, all in all--I am grateful for EVERYONE, doctors, nurses, who helped me get my baby out successfully. Sure I wish it hadn't been as traumatic, but the end result is pretty great and so with this, I am going to let it all go and concentrate on moving on instead of looking back.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Sometimes we forget that the people who love someone going through a hard time are in almost the same pain as the people going through the hard time. Well, at least I forget. It all feels like it's just happening to me, but it's not. So, I just wanted to write a little about my husband Greg who has been so strong throughout all that is happening to me, us, and our little family that has just sprouted up.
Greg made me laugh so much in the hospital that I had to tell him to stop because I was afraid my stitches would fall out (yeah, I tore--ugh). He made me laugh after spending five nights on a springy uncomfortable hospital bed while nurses come in and out to deliver me IV antibiotics. After watching his wife be strung along for three days in various stages of pain and labor while numerous nurses and doctors politicked about the best way to get my baby out. Well, actually he didn't just watch--the man joined in and even though I hate confrontation, I can honestly say, if he hadn't stepped up, I think I would still be on that birthing bed in excruciating pain while another on call OB came up with another 'plan'.
Since we have come home, he has taken night duty with Sadie, camping out on the couch, armed with his arsenal of filled bottles, orange tic tacs (slight addiction of his) and the remote control so I can sleep and heal from my chemo treatment.
But mainly, when I think I can't handle the fear of going through all this (probably severely compounded by postpartum hormones) and start to fall apart, he tells me he won't let anything happen to me. And I believe him.
Friday, January 18, 2008
You can tell by the photos, I really never wanted to write about chemotherapy. I still have hair. I am pregnant. I took these a while ago with the intent of writing about the experience, but clearly I really did not want to write about it because here I am with no hair and there is a sleeping infant in Greg's arm while he watches the political stuff in the living room. This was treatment number two. I have 8 in all. I will be done in April. And then it's on to surgery--a whole other journey.
The Breast Cancer Center at UCSF is probably the best place I could get treated for cancer. Hope Rugo, my oncologist, is probably the best doctor I could hope to have. She looks like she could be one of my aunts. She's strong and powerful and smart, but she still gives me hugs. Pauline, the woman in the picture, is probably the best nurse I could hope to get. She's Irish and has this great accent. In Ireland she was a midwife, so I ask her all kinds of baby pregnancy questions. She's so real and approachable it's like she's been part of my life forever and I have only spent just a few hours with her. Oh, and before I even got my first treatment, I get a call from the nurse who I have my chemo orientation with, Janine Figalo, and she's not only someone I grew up on The Farm with, but we took all our chemistry classes at College of Marin together when I was thinking of being a nurse myself. It was like I had family at this place already. I am grateful for all of this.
Here's how chemo works. I get lab work done right when I arrive. They need to check that all my blood levels are OK before they give me my next treatment. Then after they take my blood, I go upstairs and meet with a nurse practitioner or Hope. Hopefully my labs are back (all chemo patients get STAT on their labs) and we go over them. Then we talk about any side affects I may be having and then they measure my tumor. Originally my tumor was 7 cm. After the first treatment it had gone down to 4 and after the second it had gone down to 3. This is really great. It means my cancer is responding to the treatment. Honestly, if it wasn't I don't know what I would do.
Now I am ready for chemo and I go up to the fifth floor. This is the Idea Friend Infusion Center. I don't know who Ida Friend is. There is a plaque and a picture of Ida when you enter the Infusion Center (yes, it sounds like a spa, no, it is NOTHING like a spa) but I have never paused to read it because I am on a mission to get rid of cancer so I want to check in right away and get this stuff going. After I check in, I go in to the Infusion Center. Here is where it is hard. See when I first visited the center I was pregnant, I had this long hair. At the time, I felt the picture of health and life and vitality and I didn't understand how I belonged there. It's like I took a wrong turn. I was supposed to be on the floor with all the other pregnant ladies, talking about daycare and stretch marks. But, no, I am at the Infusion center. And all around me are these people in various rooms with panoramic windows looking out over the city sitting in what looks like first class airplane chairs hooked up to IVs. They all have various ways to hide their lack of hair: Hats, Scarves, Wigs. You feel the sickness all around, no matter how many photos or plants or friendly faces you see, you cannot deny that people are here to fight for their lives and that some of them just aren't going to make it.
So far, because of my pregnancy, I have been able to get a private room, which is where the photos were taken and I haven't had to join the people in the rooms. I am really afraid to. It's not about being afraid of them--they are just people, like me. But it will mean I am one of them, which I know I already am--but still, sitting in that chair as they all knit, read, watch TV, listen to ipods, type on their laptops, talk low with a friend--means I am a cancer patient, not a new mom. All I want to be is a new mom.
So, getting the treatment isn't that bad. First Pauline hooks me up to an IV on my hand. I am really getting used to being sticked by the way. Then she starts some anti-nausea meds through the IV. One of them is a steroid and it makes me feel like I have a lot of energy. It actually makes me feel pretty good--so I am super talkative and sort of hungry which is why I am downing spaghetti that Greg went and got me in one of those pictures. Then she does the first chemo drug which is adriomyacin. This one she does by hand in my IV with heavy gloves on because it is so toxic that if it dribbles out and gets on my skin, it could burn it. After that it's cyclophosphamide through the IV which takes about an hour. Then I am done and I can go home and I REALLY want to go home at this point. All in all the ordeal can last anywhere from 4 to 5 hours.
I had to have treatment yesterday, the day after I got home from the hospital with Sadie. It was so hard to leave in the morning. Thankfully my Aunt Karen is visiting from NY and drove all the way from Berkeley to be at my house at 6:45 AM. She was my chemo buddy for the day so Greg could stay home and be with Sadie with the help of my friend Sara, Amber and her mom Pearl. I am so grateful for all the help. When I got home, the house was all warm and cozy. Amber had tidied up, something she's really good at. Sara was still there watching Sadie and was gushing with that feeling of taking care of such a beautiful little being. We went and looked at her in her little crib, just a little pink bundle all sweet and perfect and I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I had again taken a wrong turn. I didn't belong there. I was chemo woman. I had toxic substances running through my veins, killing fast growing cells. I didn't match my life. It was horrible. I just wanted to leave. It was like I didn't belong there.
I am so grateful for my friend Sara who sat with me for hours while I went through the metamorphosis from chemo woman to new mom--which I am realizing now happened. Every time I would cry, she would slowly get up from the couch to come towards me just to touch me and then I would pull myself together and she would go back to the couch and we would start talking about something else and then I would start to cry again about the unfairness of it all and she would get back up. It was a funny sort of impulse she couldn't resist every time I started to cry. And with this, I shed my chemo skin and became new mom. Well that and a shower.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I think I will ramble longer on a future post about my entire birth because it was quite an experience as you might suspect since I haven't posted for a week. To be honest, the whole experience took a week, so you can imagine.
However, regardless, whatever, the point is and will always be no matter how many times I go over my birth experience in my head, I have the most beautiful little girl to show for it and so what does it matter?
Her name is Sadie Wren Moors (and that took so much much longer than the birth to decide on). She weighed 5 lbs and 15 ounces and is 19 inches long. She has the most delicate little face and the sweetest round head. She chirps like a little bird and it breaks my heart when she clasps her little hands up to her face because I have been looking at that silhouette for the past 8 months up on a sonogram monitor and now she is here and I have her and she is mine and it's the best feeling in the world.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Tomorrow is the big day. I feel pretty prepared. But, how can anyone feel totally prepared for something that is going to change their life forever? We had our house cleaned today--which feels great. I took Frida on a walk around the neighborhood with a new appreciation for sweatshirt hoods considering it wasn't before I glanced in the mirror on the way out I remembered I am bald! I ran in to another woman with a dog and a baby in a stroller and uncharacteristically stopped her to ask her how she got her dog to be so well behaved while walking with the stroller and within five minutes she knew I had cancer, was pregnant, being induced tomorrow and freaked out. Her name was Nicki, lives in Lagunitas and did not run screaming from my presence--she even gave me her cell number so we can take baby walks together. But, she also told me her dog slept outside the first week the baby came home. Yeah, if anyone knows me and my dog, Frida is NOT sleeping outside. Then I puttered and finally got my act together to get out of the house (found a nice black wool cap) and in to Fairfax where my dad installed a new battery in my car, gave me a greasy hug and an eyeful of tears. We danced around the horribleness of everything and he made jokes about the various people driving by his mechanic shop (I think he knows everyone who lives in the town of Fairfax) and that's about as deep as it got. Nina met me there with Amara and we went to that little hippy clothing store Culture Shock on the hunt for scarves--not good. And then, I had my first and unfortunately ONLY pre-natal massage by a wonderful woman, Lois Langevin-King. I am kicking myself for not doing that every week. Felt great. Room was warm, she had great energy and I sunk right in to it. And now I am home. And kind of freaking out. So I think I will take a shower, pack my hospital bag, and watch Project Runway and act like everything is like it is all the time. Except tomorrow I am having a baby. Above are photos of the baby's room (obviously). Note the dresser without knobs. Greg took care of that while I was at the massage. So we are good now. Phew! Those pictures on the wall are from a calendar Greg got me years ago (like 8 probably) that I have been saving for my 'baby's' room every since. It's weird to see them up there just like I always imagined. Now if I can just imagine a smooth labor, a speedy recovery, no more cancer for the rest of my life, a calm dog, world peace and make it happen in that same way....
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Really, like LOVE rainy days. I would pray for them the way some pray for no rain. They were an excuse to stay inside and read all day. Or go outside and succumb to the elements because being wet and dealing with weather outside was always more interesting than your average ho hum sunny day. Me and my sister Hannah just reminisced on a shared happy day memory when we were in Junior High and the school was closed due to flooding. My best friend Amber came over to pass the day with us and we ended up taking an adventure hike up in to the hills behind our house. What started out as a way to pass the time (power was probably off --so no TV) became a mini Indiana Jones movie when I slipped on my butt and created the most awesome mud slide with my rain coat. We hiked up and slid down all afternoon and it didn't matter that we were girls, or that we were two 7th graders hanging with an 8th grader who usually teased us or ignored us. It was just plain fun. I loved the rain. But today, I really have had enough. Probably because today I had to shave my head. But first, before that, I had my last OB appointment and sonogram and non-stress test--the triumvirate of appointments that have taken up my Tuesday's for the past months. So, all is good with the baby and that in itself is a small miracle so I shouldn't pout about the hair...but I probably will anyway. My OB, who is fairly, how shall I say it? She is all business. She's smart. She knows her stuff. I chose her because I needed a high risk doctor for the lupus and in that, I feel I chose well. I feel safe in her hands. But, considering my background: Mom was a doula. I was born on a commune in a bus with I think some kerosene lamps and some hot water. The midwife at my birth is one of the nation's leaders in natural childbirth and the author of a book called 'Spiritual Midwifery'. Honestly, I couldn't have picked or more opposite OB to bring my baby in to the world than what my mother experienced and therefore what I always saw as my experience too. Anyway, today, this OB gave me a hug (!) and said to Greg, ' I love this woman'. So, either she really is impressed by my strength, or just eternally grateful I am not an hysterical puddle of confusion and fear making a mess of her exam room and causing her to be late to her next appointment. Then it was off to the perinatologist who looked at the baby who is now 5 and 1/2 pounds and gave me all sorts of hugs and caring looks and said he was praying for me and I am all good with that. So, the one good thing is that I have this small baby to push out, which is the only thing in my favor to not getting a cesarean which would be bad while I am on chemo--major surgery with no immune system is kind of a no no, which puts all kinds of pressure on me--but at least she's a little one. I can't wait to meet her.
Ugh, this blog is getting long. Sorry.
Ok, so then the next big thing is we have to get knobs for the dresser for the baby's room. It's like the right knobs, that fit, once I get them, will make everything OK with my life. But, I just can't seem to find them. I've gone twice to Anthropologie. Today we went to Restoration Hardware. Then we went to Jackson's hardware to get longer screws just in case and that's when my battery died, in the rain, with Greg about to lose it because he intuitively knows that it's not really about the knobs, but about feeling prepared for the baby and what I really need is to go home and take a nap, but I need the KNOBS. So now we are stuck in the parking lot and the car is dead and our cell phones are almost dead and thankfully Greg's boss Frank comes to our rescue with jumper cables and a really good sense of humor and the car starts up again and we are on the way home and it's been a pretty long day and I walk in after side stepping this HUGE puddle at the bottom of my stairs and SOMEONE (Mollee Franklin!) has totally cleaned my house and organized my baby's room and folded and washed all her clothes and organized them by age and brought up the bassinet with freshly washed sheets and kept my dog company and did the dishes and put gerber daisies in the baby's room and once again Greg and I are just so GRATEFUL and all seems to be OK and now I have the strength to shave my head because I have such awesome friends and the cutest house and the baby's room looks great and I am just so--really there is no other word--grateful.
Shaving was still hard. But it had to be done. I was starting to look like Gollum. My neighbor Dionne brought her husband's electric razor over this morning on the way to work, in all her long haired glory (sigh) so I knew it was something that could happen tonight. I was trying to put it off so that the first few pics of me and the baby, I had some hair. But, the pain was killing me and the shedding was irritating. Last night Frida got some of my hair stuck in her throat and gagged on the porch for twenty minutes. I knew it was imminent.
Thanks for reading.
ps: If you are wondering why there are so many photos of me in the shower, I don't have any reason. I do know that all the photos of me post shaved that Greg took are really really depressing and for some reason, I cracked my self up when I started to 'wash' my hair and so Greg got a the only one of me smiling and in the end, that's the one I would rather you all see.
pps: Happy Happy Birthday Sara Roditti. I love you and wish I was there eating cake with you, but I am here, typing out my day's saga and feeling a little bit naked in the neck area. Love you.
Monday, January 7, 2008
So I am starting a blog for some selfish reasons, but if there is ever a time I am allowed to be selfish, I am thinking that this is the right time. Selfish reason number one: I get to give updates to all my friends and families on the state of my health and the news with the baby without making individual phone calls or emails. Saves me a lot of time. Blogging is a timesaver! Secondly, I have found while writing the few emails I have sent to friends and family that typing out my experience is really cathartic. Sometimes rereading what I am going through turns the experience in to a 'story' and in a way it becomes a story about someone else that I can separate from and then I get a break from the emotion I am holding inside and I sometimes see the humor when before it wasn't there. And finally, I'll have a cyber record of all that I have gone through so I can look back and say, I did that. I fought cancer and had chemo and lost my hair and had a baby and a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery all while on maternity leave.
But that's all I have to say tonight because my husband Greg gave me an Atavan (sp?) to help me sleep and it's starting to kick in. Sleep has been elusive the last week. And the latest enemy to a good night sleep is my hair pain. Actually scalp pain. It's the follicles swelling up in reaction to the chemo as the cells on my scalp are dying. It feels like there are little hot bugs crawling under my head and it's the worst at night. I turned in to a little bit of a freak in front of my poor friend Sharen who bough over yummy persian rice, chicken, yogurt and cucumber tomato salad and best of all, her adorable son Spencer to cheer me up. I just couldn't stop pulling my hair out. Morbid fascination. Then I went in to the shower and had more of a psycho moment, but this time in the shower, and started to pull even more out. I couldn't stop. Good news is that my head feels a lot better and lighter. Bad news is I look like I am malnourished and a bit skanky for lack of a better word. I think it's the head buzz for me soon. I just so wanted to hold out so that the first few pictures of my baby and me, we weren't both bald. It's funny how vanity can just get in the way of the bigger picture which is that all that should matter is I get a healthy baby girl in a few days and this whole bald issue will dissolve in the background in comparison to how excited I am going to feel when I first hold her little body next to mine.
Photo above, which I wanted to show below was taken by my friend Dennis Sanner and made even more possible by his girlfriend/partner/mother of his baby Mollee. It was taken the night before my first chemo treatment and I thought pretty photos of my pregnant were going to be a waste of time since I felt freaked out and didn't get the purpose at all. But I am very grateful they urged me to do this because what I like best about these photos is that I look calm and that the only thing I am thinking about is this baby and getting her our safely and taking care of her which is all I really do want to think about.