New Blog, New Display Name

I’m starting a new blog related to my breast cancer journey. If you’re interested in following me in this new phase of my life, you can find me here:

Cancer by Chance. Warrior by Choice.

I promise not to be depressing. Most of the time. If anything, I’m trying to find the funny in cancer (trust me, there’s funny… you just have to make it funny). I actually almost named my new blog “My Boobies are Trying to Kill Me” or “Real Boobs are just Overrated Serial Killers.”

I’ve also changed my overall display name from This Child’s Mom to Warrior by Choice, mostly because I’m going to open up this new blog to close family and friends, and I’d rather them not be led to this former blog by searching that display name if they see it in the corner. So if you see a comment on one of your blogs from “Warrior by Choice,” that’s still me. 🙂

My This Child’s Mom blog is just so much more private for me. It’s so much harder to get people to understand and fully appreciate the pain and isolation of miscarriage than it is cancer diagnosis and treatment – two totally different but equally hard things, but people don’t write off cancer the way they unknowingly, insensitively write off miscarriage (“you’ll have another”…”you lost it early, so it’s ok”…and so on — vs. “CANCER?! What can I do?!!”) And something in me really wants to be heard and understood by my close friends and family, after everything I’ve been through these past few years. Maybe because this new journey might break me if not. I can’t break. I won’t.

I may still post here occasionally. Like I said, this journey carries with it significant fertility risks. Having more children is something I still want, and miscarriage and infertility are very close to my heart…for myself and for many dear friends whom I know are still struggling.

Lots of love, and best wishes to you all. Thanks for your unconditional support and love over the past 3+ years.

Breast Cancer

So….a completely unexpected update on my life:

I was diagnosed with stage IIA breast cancer on August 2, and just started chemo treatments on September 9. At first I had a handle on things and even had a peace about my diagnosis, but now that I’ve started treatments, things are getting hard. Impossible, really.

This is a tough battle, and just as much a fight for your mind and heart as your body. It’s something I’m realizing is requiring more inner strength than I’ve ever exerted before. Fortunately, God has sent us overflowing love from so many people in our life, friends and family from all over, some we haven’t even seen in years. I’m floored by it, and it has helped more than anything.

This diagnosis, because it involves chemo treatment, also means our fertility is at risk. We opted not to freeze my eggs, as we didn’t feel God was leading us do to so. We did opt to have a Zoladex shot every month during my chemo to hopefully preserve my eggs. What that shot does is essentially put you in menopause during your treatment. The chances of regaining your fertility after treatments are completed, with this shot, are apparently 50/50, though I’ve heard of better outcomes than that. Chemo would have destroyed my eggs most likely, so this was the only option. We have a peace about it, but it is still hard. We were planning to start trying for another baby by the end of this year, originally. Now, if all goes well and we are still fertile when this is over, we will be allowed to start trying again around spring 2018. It is what it is, and right now, I haven’t been dwelling on the fertility aspect of this journey because everything else has been so difficult.

I’m sure I’ll be posting more, and probably beginning to use this blog as an outlet for this journey, but for now, that’s all.

In other news, Luke is two years old now and just darling. We love him so.

Updates

A few updates/thoughts, since it’s been almost a year since I’ve written here:

-Luke (my rainbow baby) will be 2 in August. Time has flown. He is PRECIOUS. He has such a personality, is so much fun. He has my sense of humor too, which of course I find hilarious and darling. Anyway…I’m always so fearful that something will happen to him, even when I’m right there. That I can’t truly protect him from harm. I think some of that stems from loss. Has anyone else experienced that in parenting after loss? I feel like I am so overprotective sometimes and need to back off. I feel a strong urge to control everything. It drives J crazy.

LUKE

 

My dad was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s this past January. He is 62. I am still reeling from the news. I come from a big, close family (family of 7) and it’s just weird to think that this is happening to us. I can tell with some things that he’s just not himself anymore (for example, he used to be a penny pincher — big time, now he wants to throw money at stuff…SO not like him). Knowing that the disease gets worse and that I’ll slowly lose more of my dad over time, and that Luke may not remember much about him when he’s older, I can’t think about that. It’s too hard. He’s now retired and on disability, but he’s so bored during the day, now that he’s not working. He must have all kinds of fears and confusing thoughts in his head. I just want to rescue him.

-We have family drama going on right now. My sister-in-law, who has had narcissistic and toxic behaviors for years, physically pushed my mom to the point where she almost fell down…in front of my dad and my brother. All because my mom dared to show up at their house and say hello. (This just scratches the surface of what my sister-in-law does in her life, and to our family.) When this happened, my dad was scared and ran away (he actually turned around and ran), and my brother didn’t do anything. Actually, my brother defended my sister-in-law and to this day they both don’t think there was anything wrong with it (this happened about 6 weeks ago). Needless to say all the siblings know, none of us are happy about it, and the family is in an awkward state right now with my brother and sister-in-law. And the way my brother treats my mom (before this, because of this, after this…because of his loyalty to his crazy wife) really hurts her, and that makes us all incredibly angry at them. As if my mom doesn’t have enough to deal with, with my dad’s diagnosis.

-I’m having a crisis of faith. Not because of anything in particular… but just because. It started when Luke was an infant, so it’s been going on over a year now — mostly because I haven’t addressed it in a committed, focused way. I’m so confused about what’s real and what’s not, and I wonder if the emotions we feel about God and things we say about him are real, or just made up in our heads/just what we say. I start to think about galaxies and space, people and life, suffering, and what makes people the way they are, and just wonder what all this is, and why God doesn’t show himself, or that God should show himself to me. Major intellectual blockage here. Working on it. I know where I want to get (back to Him, absolutely and undeniably), but I feel the urge to find undebatable proof. Don’t I have my life experiences and His follow-through/provision/rescues as proof? Where did this come from? Why am I stuck? I feel so silly. But, it feels necessary for God to get me to a more real place with Him. I think a lot of contemporary Christians (especially in Western culture) just spout off things that sound right and good, and don’t examine their faith. Why do we believe what we believe, and what does that mean for the world? It is true? Because if it is, the stakes are truly high…so what are we doing with our lives? I think there is power in that. I think I’m grateful for this, as weird and unsettling as it is right now.

-We are not trying to get pregnant again right now, but decided we will start trying by the end of the year. I’m more excited than anything else. Maybe it’s the wistful nostalgia of trying to get pregnant, and being pregnant — I’m forgetting how scary both of those things were to me. I’m feeling butterflies about getting to initiate the whole process again. But isn’t the process hard? Scary? Why am I so excited? Maybe things going right with Luke gave me hope. Maybe only having one miscarriage makes it seem not so scary… I mean, I know so many people that have multiple losses (my friend had 4 miscarriages last year…and she’s the one who had 2 before with IVF). My successful pregnancy record is 50-50, and I don’t need medical intervention (that I know of yet)… so I have it pretty good, I know. Maybe I’ll feel different when December rolls around…more scared. Guess we’ll see.

-J got a job last May that he really likes. It is private sector (he used to be in non-profits like me), so the pay is better, and he is respected and appreciated, which is such a contrast from his last two jobs. We are so grateful. His commute is longer but he is so happy with everything else about this job that he doesn’t let that get to him. We know what it feels like to have a job you hate, and we are just so grateful for this one. He’s been there a year now!

-My long-time BFF (who I mentioned before was pregnant with me the first time and had her baby in October 2013) had a miscarriage earlier this year, around 7 weeks. It took them a few months but now she’s pregnant again, she’s around 8 weeks right now. She’s nervous but handling pregnancy after loss much better than I did. At least as far as I can tell. She did say she cried when she heard the heartbeat at the first scan last week, which I was touched by, because I remember doing the same thing in my 12w scan with Luke. (And she is not a crier.) Is there anyone who doesn’t experience miscarriage?? It is so prevalent.

I think that’s it for now. Got to get back to work. Or shower… I’ve got to shower. Haha 🙂

Planned Parenthood and Stones

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. Some faith stuff (a crisis of faith, really, but I don’t really want to share about that right now). Some “how do I get it all done” day-to-day stuff. But mostly this Planned Parenthood stuff.

I read (and watch, if excruciatingly) everything I can get my hands on related to the ongoing Planned Parenthood exposĂ©. And while I should have always known what happens, I am still finding myself overwhelmingly heartbroken, burdened, and outraged. These words don’t even begin to really describe how I feel about all of this. I sob as I watch and read, sometimes for hours and days afterwards, and my heart bursts with love and grief for those children (“tissue,” they barbarically call them) that we see in the videos.

I’ve always wanted to be a real part of the fight to save the unborn, but my passion has recently been re-lit. I am finding in myself the urge to truly DO something. Something tangible. Something that MATTERS.

Did you catch the tribute Kathie Lee Gifford gave to her late husband on national TV the other day? She talked about the primary “stone” we throw in our life. “What is your stone and where are you going to throw it?…Ask yourself, what is the gift that only [you] can do in this world to make it a better place,” she says. “…And then, spend the rest of your life trying to throw it well.”

Simple, yet profound. It makes you want to drop everything, re-evaluate where you are right at this moment, and re-direct your life towards throwing YOUR stone with your whole heart. The stone only *you* can throw.

I feel–no, I KNOW–that this is my stone.

Fighting for the unborn. Saving their lives. Returning to them their dignity and humanity. Helping women in crisis pregnancies to choose life–and offering them real help and solutions. Helping to heal those that regret their abortions and suffer from severe grief and (sometimes) lifelong trauma. Putting an end to this horrific “industry” altogether.

I keep thinking that my intensified emotions surrounding this Planned Parenthood news and abortion in general stem from my being a mother — in some ways as a mother of a living child, and in some ways as a mother of one forever lost. I know the deep love for both, but I also know the deep pain of losing a child in the womb. I actually felt like I was reliving my miscarriage when I saw the 11.6 week-gestated baby in the 3rd video. That was exactly when I miscarried William — between 11 and 12 weeks. Seeing that innocent, tiny baby, witnessing what was done to him (or her), my heart just exploded with grief, love, my own memories… so, so much.

I can’t think of anything I have ever been more passionate about in my life. I have an overwhelming desire to act. To not stay silent. To speak for those who cannot…those who deserve justice. I guess you know it’s your stone when there’s a seemingly unquenchable fire inside you that you can’t explain.

So… what’s your stone?

………………

More on all of this later I guess. Maybe even another blog.

My blog for Luke never really got off the ground, because well, it’s been a busy year to say the least!

…Along those lines, Luke just turned one. August 13th. So hard to believe…how fast time flies! I am actually more excited about the toddler stage than the baby stage. This kid is just awesome. I can’t wait to witness his personality unfold even more, to watch him discover new things, to experience the different stages of mother-and-son bonding with him. He’s my beautiful, beautiful boy.

Anyway, once I get my thoughts together on everything I will probably find some way to write again. Maybe on Luke’s blog. Maybe on this one. Maybe on a whole new one, one about my “stone.” Not sure yet, but stay tuned.

For now, here’s a recent photo of my not-so-baby boy. Happy 1st birthday, dear one. I can’t even imagine not choosing LIFE. We longed for you, we treasure you, and you are loved more than you know.

Luke

If we knew what was really going on…

Read this today and just had to share:

Something that has become clear in the last couple of weeks: so many people, I would even say most of us, are dealing with brokenness and crapstorms and situations and things falling apart, but we look fine on the outside. We know how to camouflage into a world that prefers everything on the rails. We know how to say “fine, thanks” and act normal enough to pass.

Sometimes we don’t know how to explain our truths, sometimes we are afraid of the inevitable reaction, sometimes we don’t want to admit where we are actually at.

If we knew what was really going on, we would be so much kinder, gentler, and more understanding with each other. We would understand that fear sometimes looks like anger, and that sadness sometimes looks like cool detachment, and that pain sometimes looks like cynicism. The exaggerated reaction usually belies something very raw underneath.

We would be less careless with our words and ideologies and blanket statements and casual judgments, because we would understand that the wounded are constantly among us. Sometimes they are sitting right next to us pretending to smile and nod while we nonchalantly pour salt into a hidden wound. Or we are the wounded, holding back tears and trying to blend into our environment.

Life is hard and people are struggling. We would do well to assume most folks are far more tender than they are letting on. We should treat people with a disproportionate amount of grace, because the worst thing that could happen ISN’T that they didn’t really need it when we offered it…but that they really did need it and we failed to notice.

–Jen Hatmaker, author

This made me think. If it’s one thing that has changed in me since having a miscarriage, and since getting to know so many others who have had a loss or fertility-related struggle of some kind, it’s becoming more and more aware that so many people are struggling with big things we don’t even know about. And most don’t even let on that it’s happening. It just is.

I hope I am reminded of the above constantly. I hope I will always remember why I went through my loss — to show empathy, kindness, gentleness, and love to other people, plain and simple. Especially to the ones that seem “fine.”

For what it’s worth, my “friends” on Facebook probably have always assumed I am just “fine.” I have only shown the good, for the most part. Think of how many other people do that.

April 20

A day late, but I couldn’t not honor William’s memory.

My precious William:
As long as I live, you will live.
As long as I live, you will be remembered.
As long as I live, you will be loved…

Thinking of you always,
Your mom

It Still Hurts

There are things that take me back. Take me to when the hurt was raw, the tears were fresh. Things that make me miss my first child so, so much.

Oh how I miss him. I heard this song while playing my iTunes on random today, and the memories flooded my mind of what is now almost 2 years ago. How has it been almost 2 years? What would he have been like now?

—————
Luke is 5 months old today. I wouldn’t trade my sweet Luke for a second. But it doesn’t and won’t ever take away the pain of not having William here.

He would’ve been 14 months old now.

Having Luke here and falling more and more in love with him just makes me realize how much I’m missing with William, and how I love him even more now, if that’s possible. Is it possible?