Cancer, Yoga, and Becoming a Parent

I wrote this guest post on a friend’s blog in 2014 when I was pregnant with my first kiddo. It serves as a good reminder about how mindfulness and physical activity remain crucial elements of my mental health and self-care regimen.


NaBloPoMo Day 24

Crazy Good Parent

yoga

I started practicing yoga soon after I had surgery to treat ovarian cancer. The surgery was my only treatment, as my kind of cancer wouldn’t respond to chemo or radiation. The cancer had fully engulfed my left ovary, which they removed, and my right ovary remained, although my surgeon said they scraped cancerous growths off its surface.

“We can’t promise anything,” was the answer I got when I asked about my fertility status. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a mom, in this passive way of knowing – I didn’t have to think about it, I just knew. Well, nothing made me realize just how badly I wanted to be a mom until there was a distinct possibility that I couldn’t.

That was 11 years ago; I was 20 years old.

Now, at age 31, I am happily pregnant with my first child, and I am counting…

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Label Day

Today is Label Day!

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Here are the labels I’ve chosen for myself: Feminist Mama.

I feel like these labels have chosen me, really.

Feminism has gotten a bad rap.  Although, now that I think about it, there has always been (and most likely will always be) backlash against feminism…because if not, then there was no need for the label in the first place.  The definition of feminism is simple: the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.  That makes me a feminist.  In the words of Maya Angelou – “I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be on my own side.”  So there you have it.

Mama.  I’ve wanted to be one for as long as I can remember.  And then ovarian cancer made it so I might not be able to be (a biological) one.  I wish I could have known ahead of time that all that worrying about infertility was fruitless (excuse the pun), but such is life.  I am so, so grateful to be able to raise my sweet boy.  He brings the joy (and farts) into my world.

So those are my chosen labels.

Tell me, what are yours?

 


nanopoblano2015lightNaBloPoMo Day 21

It’s Alive!

Alright, Psychos.  It’s about to get a little crazier up in here.

I can barely believe it myself, but…I’m going to be a mother.

Even typing those words and then reading them back to myself was weird.  A mom?!  ME?!

I am incredibly thankful and blessed and in awe that my body is able to sustain a pregnancy, especially considering my medical history.  When we first found out, I wanted to call up my surgeon from 11 years ago to thank him for what an amazing job he did.  Not only did he make me healthy again, but he left my bits and pieces intact and working!  The Little Ovary That Could.  It’s because of my cancer history that I am especially not taking this for granted…except for the fact that this is all still very hard to believe for me.

I’ve pretty much always known I’ve wanted to be a mom.  I kind of grew up knowing it without really realizing it, and it wasn’t until that dream was threatened that I realized how desperately I wanted it.

For the past 11 years since my surgery and the prognosis from my doctors being, and I quote, “We can’t promise anything,” I’ve stared longingly at babies in the grocery store, making faces at them as they gaze at me over their parent’s shoulder.  I slowed to gawk at maternity store display windows, only to be pulled along past, wondering if I’d ever get to shop there.

We started trying for a baby quite soon after getting married because we knew we wanted to be parents and we anticipated having fertility issues.  We wanted to try and not get our hopes up so that we could start fertility treatments as soon as we needed to/could because we’re not getting any younger and I was told to expect to start menopause early and my egg count was cut in half and holy crap was any of this going to work?!

Imagine our surprise and complete shock when three months in, it worked!  We couldn’t believe it.  I’m actually tearing up just remembering the moment.  First there was pure joy (OH MY GOD!!!), then disbelief (oh…my…god…), and then sheer terror (omg…what have we done?!).  Brian had just accepted a kickass new job in Oregon, and we had signed a 9 month lease on a tiny apartment, to begin in January.  Doing that math means that we might have to squeeze a baby in amongst our boxes of wedding gifts we still haven’t opened.  Maybe fe can sleep in the salad bowl, or perhaps the new mixer.  Plus, I had just quit my job and didn’t have another lined up, and I’d need to figure out how to get relicensed in Oregon, effectively increasing our expenses while decreasing our income.  Our sense of timing is just peachy sometimes.  Of course, I know this will all work out in one way or another, it’s just tough standing at the bottom of a mountain and not knowing how the hell you’re going to climb to the top.

Another huge stressor for me/us was getting mysteriously dropped from Brian’s health insurance, having our coverage expire at the end of the year, and then having to scramble to get new coverage since his new job’s coverage won’t kick in until after a 90 day probationary period.  Those few weeks were incredibly depressing for me, as I was unable to see a doctor to even confirm the pregnancy, let alone reassure me that everything was going well.  Pair this with my relatively mild first trimester symptoms (meaning that I could hardly believe that I was actually, indeed pregnant), and I just felt like a tired, depressed wreck who cried on the phone to health insurance companies after being put on hold for 45 minutes or more.

I am happy to report that we slogged through our first month in Oregon fairly well, all considering.  We now have health insurance, we had our first ultrasound, and holy crap there’s a somersaulting little guppy in there!  I’m even starting to show a tiny bit, and I’m pretty sure it’s not just gas.

In conclusion, we’re still pretty shell-shocked.

We’re excited and terrified.  We’re excified!

…Territed?

All of the above.

Mood swings and naked babies

Hey Folks.

It’s been so long since my last post, that I really feel like I just need to post something for the sake of posting.  I’ve started to compose posts in my head only to have them fade from memory after a few hours.

The truth is, I haven’t been feeling the best.  I’ve been moody, I’ve had less energy than usual, I’ve been stressed.  I’ve had some extra responsibilities at work that I don’t normally have.  January was a very busy month in terms of wedding planning – a lot of appointments, some of which were fun, but they all take time away from normal routine and activities.  And…I am turning 30 this Sunday and then on Monday is my 10 year cancer-free anniversary.

I should feel happy, right?  I have tons to feel happy about.  I have a job that I like.  I am planning a wedding.  I have my health.  But I really just want to get in bed and pull the covers over my head.

The worst part for me, as a therapist, is that I don’t fully understand these mood swings.  I am a person who needs to know why, and I’ll ruminate until I figure it out or go crazy, whichever comes first (usually the latter).

But I totally get that I can sit in front of a client and understand what’s going on with ve.  It’s a hell of a lot harder to see with the same perspective into one’s self.

And maybe I don’t really need to know why, even though I have some good ideas.

I’m getting married, which means I am looking forward to starting a family.  After getting rid of the cancer issue, the lingering unknown was my fertility status.  I don’t have the luxury of getting to assume I’ll be able to have kids when the time comes.  Of course I don’t want to freak out until I have to, but the possibility of infertility saddens me probably more than anything in my entire life.

Needless to say, I feel extremely fragile and vulnerable right now and I am trying not to let my rapidly shifting emotions get in the way of me celebrating my birthday (which I hate is so close to Valentine’s Day, btw…impossible to get dinner reservations for an event that is far more important than a naked baby playing with sharp objects).

And now I’m off in search of some donuts.

Thanks for listening, bloggyworld.