February 1, 2013

Curtain Call

These are your options.
My pregnancy with DD and SI was no cakewalk.

There was the IVF, first of all, which sucks. Then there was the sub-chorionic hematoma, then there was the SPD, then there was the gall bladder disease, and then there was the cancer.  And then there was waking up in the middle of the night, soaked in blood, and rushing to the hospital for an emergency c-section.

And despite all that, I knew I wanted to have more kids.  I was optimistic that my next pregnancies would be easier. That not using IVF would improve things, that only gestating one baby at a time would improve things. That it would be a cakewalk.

Oh, how wrong I was. I didn't have to deal with fertility hormones, or with a sub-chorionic hematoma, but everything else was worse. Worse SPD, because I was aggravating it by chasing children. Worse gall bladder disease. Worse skin cancer.

And then there was feeling a pain in my stomach as I laid in bed in the middle of the night, and realizing that it wasn't "normal" contractions- that it was my uterus about to split open. And rushing to the hospital in the middle of the night, and another, worse emergency c-section.

And despite that, the first time I held RH in my arms, I knew that I wasn't done. I knew that I wanted to have more kids.

But M was doubtful. He was scared. He was scared of all the pain I had suffered, he was scared of the cancer. His fears were legitimate and reasonable. But I held out hope.

Until my OB sat down to give the news. Because of the condition of my uterus, if I ever got pregnant again, we would have to plan on scheduling a premature c-section. We couldn't risk my having even one real contraction- it might immediately rupture. We would plan on taking a baby out early- earlier than the twins.

When my OB left the room, M looked at me and said he thought he ought to get a vasectomy.

I dithered. I hemmed and hawed. I didn't want him to get a vasectomy. I wanted to have more babies.

But... I knew. I knew that we had to be done. Did I want to take those risks? Risk more diseased internal organs, more months of not being able to walk- this time while chasing three kids? Did I want to risk the health of that baby to bring it into the world early, in order to keep me from a potentially fatal complication?

Did I want to risk worse skin cancer?

We got so lucky last time. The mole was so visible right there on my collar bone. The intern was so enthusiastic and thorough. The mole had just become cancerous.

If we'd waited until after the pregnancy, I might still be having chemo right now. I still have half a dozen moles that are funny but without the pregnancy effects to my immune system, remaining somewhat stable.

Melanoma... it's so aggressive. It's a very, very scary cancer. Was it worth it to me to risk a near certainty that it would start growing again, that I might start the engine of my own death machine, to make another baby?

It should be a simple answer. There should be no question. There should be no hesitation.

I should have started singing a Vasectomy Song every day, dancing a Vasectomy Dance, and withholding sex until it was all said and done. Instead, I kept thinking... what if we didn't?

But finally, we had to talk about it. I had a brief pregnancy scare, and let me tell you- you do not know what the words "pregnancy scare" can mean until it involves going over your life insurance to make sure that if it killed you your husband would be able to afford the child care so that he could continue working after you died. Weeping to yourself that the baby at your breast might not have a single memory of you that could last before you passed away. That is a pregnancy scare.

And so, I scheduled the vasectomy.

I tried to be happy about it. No more fear, no more worries. No more birth control- BIG hooray to that. I told myself over and over what a good thing it was, and I wrote M a goofy card, and I stuck it in his Christmas stocking for him to open under the tree- with his family. Because that's hilarious.

And part of me was so relieved. And so happy.

And part of me... wasn't.  I kept fighting these crazy impulses. Insane urges. I kept hearing this little voice in the back of my head, saying, "You could just go off the birth control now... just let things take their course. You probably wouldn't get pregnant... probably... but it's your last chance... last chance... last chance..."

The night before the vasectomy, we talked about it again. We agreed, if it wasn't for the health risks, we wouldn't do it. We'd have more. We'd both be happy just making babies until we couldn't take it anymore. Our children are so good, and we love them so much, why wouldn't we keep a good thing going? But it just wasn't worth it anymore. It just wasn't worth the risks, if another pregnancy would let the cancer run wild in my body for most of a year. By the end of the pregnancy, it could be anywhere. And it could be too late.

One week ago today, my husband got a vasectomy. It didn't go exactly right. When you've got a few rearranged neurological pathways (thank you brain cancer!) sometimes local anesthesia doesn't work quite right.

My poor, poor husband had a pretty rough vasectomy.

But I took him home and I hugged my children and kissed them. And I cried.

My children have never been replaceable. There is only one SI in the world, only one DD, only one RH. There will never be another. But suddenly they seemed even more so. They are my children, and I will never make another.

These are all I get.

I am still certain I want to adopt. I want more kids. M wants more kids. I've always felt compelled to adopt. Honestly, even without the vasectomy, we probably would have tried to adopt before trying another pregnancy. Honestly, we'd agreed to stop producing babies on our own by the time I was thirty. It was our previous standing arrangement. We haven't really changed much of anything.

But it's still a sad sort of thing, for me. Because I know I would love any child entrusted to my care. And I love the ones I have so much, it feels almost as though all the children I ever wanted were just waiting in the wings, and now... I've ended the show, and they'll never take the stage.

This is the end of my baby making. It's over.  But hopefully, so is the story of my melanoma. But stopping now, what we're truly doing is giving ourselves more time.

This is the right thing for our family, and I'm happy about it. But I am also sad.

It's a bittersweet thing. And now, it's over.


  1. With your history I can definitely see why you decided the way you did! I have decided on no more children even though I really really want another. But we have 3, one with suspected aspbergers, one with autism and one with fairly severe ADHD. I think it is all that I can handle and so even though the thought of another baby and breastfeeding and loving and holding and everything is so urgent for me.... we are done.

  2. Expect to grieve. Even though you and your husband made the responsible, the best, the right decision, it is a loss. You're letting go of your dream of bearing more children, and that is sad, because it is part of you. Don't be surprised if the grief returns later, as your baby grows. Be kind to yourselves.

  3. Your story made me cry. For you, for your husband,for the tears you will shed later on. I understand. I really, really do. It's hard to change the way you "thought" your family would be in your dreams as you look to the future. As I said, I understand. My son turned 2 a month ago, and I've been so sad about not having anymore children. The sadness is real but I live in the moment as not to miss any of the wonderful things happening in my life. Stay present. Enjoy. I loved your post and I cannot wait to read more. I visited from the JD Honest Link Up.

  4. Such a hard story to live and share. I said a little prayer for you all. Ellen

  5. It is hard when our plans have to change. I had three high risk pregnancies, the last one ending with the death of one of our identical twins and the other being born very premature. I knew that I didn't want any more pregnancies. I couldn't bear even the possibility of losing another child. This year was the first since my daughter was born (6 yrs) that I had the "twinge'. The wonderful thing is, that no matter how many children you have (versus how many you wanted) the children you do have are "enough" and fill our hearts completely. And if we want to stretch our hearts more - there are millions of children who would love to be adopted into a caring family. Although biology is the preferred way - thank God we live in a time where there is more than one way to 'have' a baby!

    Much love to you. Visiting from MBC




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