i've had a lot on my mind lately. one of those subjects is babies. it's always been so interesting to me the idea of "family planning." there are people out there who "plan" for a baby and it happens just as they plan it. there are people out there who try and ache and yearn for a baby, never to be able to get pregnant or experience loss after loss. there are people out there who don't try and get pregnant by surprise. we fall into that last category. we had been married less than 3 years when we got pregnant with Charis. and (AND) we were using a condom. (ps..no such thing as safe sex, kids). the pregnancy was a total surprise and really hard for me to process. my "plan" was to wait til we were married at least 5 years, after Adam was out of school and we were more financially and vocationally stable. so much for that plan. and as i soon found out God had another plan for us that has been a lot better than i could ever imagine.
about a year before i got pregnant i became real friends with Jen Hunt. in that year she shared a lot about her desire to have babies, her ache when friends got pregnant, and gave me a bit of a glimpse into what it was like to long and not have these longings met and in the midst of it watching others grow their families. i learned so much through this friendship. and when i got pregnant, she was my first thought. i was devastated to have to tell her. fortunately, at the time i was seeing an amazing counselor who knew Jen and was able to help me share our news with her. she was the first person we told and it was so hard. i mean, it can still bring tears to my eyes. i know that God is the one who is ultimately in control of the whole baby thing, but it's hard to tell a friend who has been longing and trying for years that you a) weren't trying and b) using a condom and still got pregnant. it's something that deepened our friendship. and i think through this i've developed a tenderness towards other women and friends who long for a baby and/or who experience the loss of miscarriage.
fast forward....after charis was born adam and i started talking "family planning." we kinda felt like now that we had a kid we should probably "plan" for the next ones. you know, how far apart do we want them? when should we "try" for the next one? how many kids do we want? and stuff like that. we hadn't made any decisions considering she was just a baby, but we got the conversation ball rolling. then, THEN, i was diagnosed with breast cancer. to say this tabled our baby/family planning discussion is an understatement. having more kids was clearly not an option as i began treatment. but it was something to think about...do we freeze eggs/embryos before treatment? timing didn't allow us to do this. do i consider getting my ovaries removed b/c i have the genetic mutation that increases my risk of BC recurrence and ovarian cancer? still got them and not ready to get rid of them yet. will my period ever come back if i even ever get off chemo? it did briefly when i finished my first chemo and this was glorious. but with back to back chemos there is a chance i will be thrown into early menopause. this would suck.
so, now charis is almost 2 1/2. i figured by now we'd either have a second or be on the way. this is not an option for us. fairly early on, maybe after my first round of treatments when we thought i was done, we'd get asked about wanting more kids. it still felt like something we couldn't know. of course we'd love to have more kids. but at that time i was waiting on my period and about to get reconstruction. then cancer struck again. the thought of babies or growing our family is beyond back-burner conversations. but it's on the forefront of my heart and mind. people who have kids charis' age are having their 2nd or 3rd child or planning to have more kids. that would be us. friends who are longing for kids are struggling to either get pregnant or have miscarried. this breaks my heart. the Hunts are weeks away from making the adoption of their girls official. this brings me such joy.
i am in a weird place. we clearly aren't trying to have kids. a) kind of impossible without a period and b) not smart during chemo. but i want more kids. i've never miscarried so i don't know that pain personally. i'm not technically infertile but i am because cancer/chemo has caused me to be in early menopause. so, i feel like i can relate to my friends who are trying and longing and not getting what they want...a baby. even though it's different. then, there is the whole cancer thing. even if i can't physically have a baby we know there is adoption. but is that even a wise decision considering i have stage 4 breast cancer? probably not. growing our family right now doesn't even seem like an option. but that doesn't take away the sadness i feel. we actually have a boy name picked out. i loved loved loved being pregnant and would do it a hundred times (like that one lady on tv...ick). i want charis to have siblings. recently she's been talking about brothers and sisters. so then i'm like, "maybe she knows something we don't." as if my kid has some intuition. that's just crazy. one thing that is really cool is that she will have unique sibling-type relationships with so many friends' kids b/c of what we are walking through now. she spends so much time with other families while we go to Duke and appts and other stuff. especially at my friend, Courtney's, who has 3 kids. adam often says that one day she'll talk of her memories of having two brothers and a sister. i think that's pretty cool. and i'm so thankful that she gets to be with these other families and experience sibling-hood.
minutes after birth...bliss
something i learned in counseling and through telling Jen about our pregnancy with Charis was that it's possible to be sad and feel joy at that same time. that's just crazy. and honestly, i've learned that more and more as i walk through cancer, said good-by to sydney, walk through miscarriages with friends, celebrate pregnancies with friends. it's becoming a part of my life. living in joy & pain simultaneously. i love love love the pregnant belly. i am beyond excited for my friends who are growing a baby. that is a gift to me. i ache for my friends who are trying and longing and experiencing the pain of loss. God is giving me unique perspective because of my experience. it's such a tough subject to talk about. it hurts a lot when all you want is to get pregnant and can't but it seems like everyone around you is (especially at our somewhat fertile church). :) i'm thankful for my friends who are tender towards my position as they tell me about their pregnancy. i'm thankful for my friends who are willing to share their pain of loss and longing with me. and if you want to know a secret, i'm holding onto a pretty big hope that i will be healed and able to get pregnant again one day. i'm serious. and i know it's possible. and i also know if it doesn't happen i will be okay with that. i am thankful for the surprise of Charis. it became evident pretty early on that she was so meant to be born into our family. she has brought us "grace" and "joy" in the midst of so much pain. i mean, she is just freaking awesome. i'm thankful i got to experience pregnancy and her birth too...both of which were amazing.
me @ 40 weeks...love this
so i'm navigating through some strange and lonely waters. i know i'm not totally alone. i'm just trying to process yet another thing that pops up in my heart. babies.