Friday, March 6, 2009
She's a Cancer Survivor Too
I think even more than the cancer diagnosis the biggest fear for my husband and I was if I AND the baby could both make it through the whole thing. Right after the initial diagnosis, only 2 weeks after learning I was pregnant, I really did not have a whole lot of faith. I have miscarried before. How in the world did I expect this pregnancy to last? I was very sick. I could barely breathe, or eat. I didn't even know how I would make it, much less my baby.
I talked to a specialist who did suggest a therapeutic abortion. I had already done a little research and even talked to the nurses and doctors in the ICU after my biopsy surgery and had learned that it was showing that chemo was safer than once expected in pregnancy. It shows to be safest in the 2nd and third trimester. I had yet to find a terrible conclusion from chemo being used in pregnancy. I am not saying it does not happen. I am saying it's rare first of all to have to have chemo at all in pregnancy. Most will be able to put it off. If you can't put it off you can usually push it to the 2nd trimester after all the major organs and such have formed. The risks continue to drop. I couldn't wait. I started chemo at 10 weeks because otherwise I would have died. The specialist flat out said I would not last 3 weeks. That is scary news to hear, though I hadn't much doubt about it in the first place. Breathing was a chore and it hurt. I didn't know how I would last a day, much less weeks.
I asked this specialist if my life was at risk in any way by holding on to this pregnancy. I knew without a doubt that if I were to lose this baby it would suck the life right out of me. I would sink into a depression and it would hinder my chances of getting better. I've lost a baby before, but losing one in this way was too much. She was the only positive thing in this whole situation. Her answer was there was no risk to my life. She thought it was better for my emotional and mental status to not have to deal with a baby who might possibly by some chance have problems. They have no idea what problems there could be. I later read cleft palate and clubbed feet have been seen. I thought...is that all? Should I abort a baby because it has a higher risk of cleft palate? No! I knew it was never an option and I looked at her and said no, I cannot do that because even if I got better, I would not be better. I would never be better. We needed to go through this thinking of it as saving both of our lives. I felt my baby had just as much right to beat cancer as I did.
And we did. Other than chemo triggering some contractions at 30 weeks and 32 weeks I had no side effects related to the pregnancy. Gabriella came out at 36 weeks along, 6 lbs. 3 oz and 18 inches long. She was crying before she was all the way out. She was healthy from day one. She was perfect...and beautiful. She needed no NICU. She was strong...and beat that cancer just like her mom did. She will always know it. We are forever bound by this cancer and honestly Gabriella got me through it. Each day instead of thinking "Whoa is me, I have cancer", I thought "I have to get through this for my baby." She helped me to beat it. I had something happy to look forward to and her birth was literally a symbol of me getting better. A new beginning. New life. So this post is for my little survivor, Gabriella Faith.