Growing up I was never the style of girl that visualized my wedding day, or prearranged how many children I would have. My yearnings were geared toward building a budding career, obtaining a respective education and exploring the world. When I met my husband, he had just gotten out of active duty with the United States Army after doing a 15-month tour in Afghanistan and I was still in school. It was pretty well acknowledged in the early days of our relationship that should we ever get married, we would wait to have children, revel in our marriage, travel and grow by getting everything out of our system before brining kids into depiction.
It’s funny how that works. It’s interesting how you can have a plan, a strategy if you will, on how you are going to navigate through life, relationships and your overall future. Just when things are officially on trajectory and you get somewhere, there is suddenly a roadblock. An incident occurred this past March before my cancer diagnosis, one that suddenly thrust us in the direction of feeling we were well equipped for becoming parents. In fact, we had to feel that way. Abruptly that particular situation didn’t work out. At the time I didn’t understand it. I had just accepted the fact that I was ready to be a mother and gave myself credit for once that I would be a good mom, much like my own and Steve’s Mom, as well. Steve and I suddenly became motivated and we even started trying to conceive. After a few months of not being able to get pregnant, we re-focused our energies and decided that it would happen when it was meant to happen. We were putting it in the hands of the universe and we were allowing our passageways to organically take place.
As I sit here now, I realize why things worked out the way they did. The thought of being pregnant while having cancer would make my situation go from bad to worse. It would tear me a part to know that my baby would be in jeopardy or moreover that I wouldn’t be able to get the proper treatment I need to cure me of this hypothetical deadly illness.
Being that I wanted a baby so badly, unbeknownst to most people, it became difficult for me to hear of friend’s, peers or even stranger’s pregnancies. Let me clarify, it wasn’t that I wasn’t thrilled for them. Babies are such a miracle and any person who is able to have children or bring life into this world is remarkable. But, I wanted a baby and my selfish arrogance guarded me from being whole-heartedly happy.
Having said that, I am sure you can imagine my gutting reaction when I found out that one of my ovaries could not be salvaged from the softball size tumor that destroyed it. I panicked and suddenly the importance of having a child became even greater than it was this past March. Suddenly, it wasn’t just a question of timing; it was being re-negotiated altogether and quite possibly, impossible. In the upmost-unexpected way, Steve and I realized how important having a family in the future was and this instantly became the second priority, aside from my getting healthier.
After much research and speaking with my Oncologist, it was recommended that due to only having one ovary and the chemo treatment that I am soon going to begin, that we freeze embryos and go through the IVF process. Knowing that millions of women have to go via the route of IVF, I just assumed that I would never have to. Again, this is a key factor into my obliviousness, pre-diagnosis, in thinking that I was deserving of everything and exempt from having to work hard for things; even a child.
Quickly, Steve and I undertook the hand we had been dealt and met with the Fertility Doctor just last week. The days and nights approaching the initial consultation left me in a tender place. What if the Doctor advises that I wouldn’t be able to bear the child, what if my remaining ovary did not have any “good eggs”? I found myself back at square one, asking daunting questions to myself in the middle of the night. The difference was, this time I knew what my purpose was and that I needed to live life each day to the fullest, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it with the bliss of a baby. I wouldn’t be able to share making a baby and bringing a life into this world with my partner. I felt like a complete failure and felt as though my body was denying Steve of having a “normal” marriage, one where first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby…and so on.
The reality of it all is that it couldn’t have been further from the reality. The truth is, Steve doesn’t care how we have children, just as long as we are able to raise someone as our own together and share one of life’s wondrous beauties; parenthood.
Once we finally met with the Fertility Doctor, all of my concerns came to a screeching halt. The Doctor recognized that I am a young woman, with a perfectly capable body to bear a child. Yes, we may have to take the scenic route, but we will be able to successfully freeze embryos and eventually bring a child into this world together.
The IVF will have to come before my chemo, of course, as well as the chemo port operation due to the anesthesia. We were rest assured that the process is about 10-14 days long, which requires that I take a certain type of medicine prior to the extraction. Fortunately, when a cancer patient is going through IVF, there is an organization called FertileHope.org, which provides all of the pre-extraction drugs free of charge. Fertility Hope also assists with grants and other forms of assistance to help the patients in ensuring that their dreams of having a child, no matter the cost, can be met.
Through all of this, I realize that women face the issue of infertility everyday and I am not the exception. I have known a few strong women who have undergone IVF, as well as had cancer and successfully had children to follow. I can’t help but be progressed at how everything truly works out. We are on this path and we are going to run into what we imagine to be speed bumps, but really it’s just the universe’s way of protecting you, having your back and picking you up to put you back where you belong. It all feels like it should for now and the story will continue in due time as long as we trust our path and embrace the journey.
If you or someone you know runs the risk of reproduction, please visit FertileHope.org. Fertile Hope is a LIVESTRONG initiative to assist cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility.