I will be the first to admit blogs have made it too easy for people to overshare information about their lives that is best kept private. I feel the need to say this since I’m about ready to share some very personal things with you. Why are you even going there, you ask? I suppose after months of publicly sharing our cancer journey (and now writing a book about the whole deal!) it doesn’t feel right to not share this big FUN part of the story.
The cancer journey is probably never fully over for the patient or those close to him/her. Jonathan thinks about cancer daily. So do I. We wonder if it will come back, and we pray it’s doesn’t. We flashback to crappy memories from last year or he feels a pain that causes panic and concern. A lot of days we turn to God for peace, but sometimes we are anxious and worried. And since diagnosis, we also wondered what it would look like to have more children.
A week or so after we heard the C news, we received several phone calls and e-mails from friends and family. All approached us with a sheepish tone. I’m not sure if you know this, they said, but I just want you to know chemo can cause infertility. Have you looked into your options?
I’m grateful people around us chose to speak up because to be honest, the last thing we wanted to think about at that time was infertility. Anna was three months old. We knew without a doubt we wanted more sweet newborns like her -desperately so -but the timing to think about such things was terrible. She was so young, still so needy. In the sleep deprived months I think few new moms would say they’re ready to plan for the next child.
Thanks to so many people lovingly asking us to consider our options, Jonathan did in fact bank sperm. I could say a lot more about that, but I’m not sure Jonathan or I are ready to go there yet. Maybe (if I’m brave enough and he gives me permission) I’ll save it for the book.
There are mixed opinions as to how long a couple should wait to try for children naturally after a man finishes chemo. Few studies have been done to determine the effects chemotherapy can have on a growing fetus, and since we were never given a solid answer to the conception question Jonathan and I decided it’d be best to wait a full year following treatment before attempting pregnancy. We planned to get Jonathan’s fertility tested this winter before embarking on a journey to baby #2 next summer. I told many friends that as much as we’d like to perfectly plan our next baby, it was out of our hands due to cancer. (But in my head I imagined our children would be 3 years apart.)
Turns out our baby plans were indeed fully out of our control because, surprise, I’m pregnant!
When we learned abou the pregnancy in early November we accepted it with very nervous excitement. At that point it had been only five months since Jonathan finished chemotherapy, and we were immediately concerned that our growing baby may have genetic problems because of potential exposure to lingering chemo drugs.
Let me remind you all a few lessons we already learned last year during cancer: DON’T GOOGLE MEDICAL STUFF. Also: God knows what He’s doing!
A friend of ours, a resident at Duke, was able to bring our concerns to five oncologists and we got connected to Kaiser’s Genetics department. Everyone agreed there hasn’t been a ton of long term research, but there is no reason to believe our baby is at higher risk of genetic problems. While we’d never consider aborting a child with developmental issues, we are planners by nature and decided to proceed with an extra ultrasound screening to help determine if we’re at higher risk for a child with Down’s syndrome. This screening took place yesterday, and showed a very healthy baby swimming happily in my body.
I am 13 weeks today and feel incredible. I have not felt incredible until today. I need to confess it’s been a hard first trimester but not for obvious reasons. Like with Anna, I haven’t experienced much physical sickness (although this baby has tested my stomach more than she did). Similar to her, I’ve also had difficulty connecting with the pregnancy. I experience a weight during my first trimesters that I can only describe as pre-baby blues. Much of this I believe is hormonal but some of it is a mental game I unintentionally play. Until I reach the 13 week mark I’m scared about miscarriage and have a hard time bonding until I see an actual baby image on the ultrasound machine. Yesterday when I saw our baby’s little heartbeat and wiggly limbs, the weight from the past three months began to fade.
We’ve had a crazy two years. We bought a house, remodeled a kitchen, Anna arrived, then cancer arrived, then he went through treatment, and then (finally) we had a small rest from so much change. When Jonathan and I first found out I was pregnant, I don’t think either of us felt ready for another life shift. Change is always hard for me, but particularly because we’ve had so much of it. And yet we also believe this baby to be a divine gift, and we can’t underestimate how thankful we are to receive this child with little planning especially knowing it could have easily been a challenge.
Our little ones will be almost exactly two years apart. Baby Numero Dos is due July 12, six days before Anna’s 2nd birthday. I can’t wait to share the journey with you and humbly ask for your prayers over this new precious life.