Since the day my first son was born there have been many moments that have made me feel like a parent. I transitioned from a selfish, fun, not-tired, carefree woman to a mother. From the first night home with my son staring into his eyes, to the weeks of consoling I gave to my colicky second born daughter I have definitely felt like a mother.
But in the last three years of being a mother I had my defining moment a months ago. But lets go back to a few years ago to get this story told correctly.
After the birth of my 9.1lb son I had been diagnosed with internal hemorrhoids and decided to get an easy outpatient banding procedure done. The O’Reagan System was fabulous, but unfortunately before I could complete the procedure (You go a couple of times) I got pregnant with my second child and wasn’t able to finish it completely.
I then gave birth to my 9.4 lb daughter and the hemorrhoids came back with a vengeance. This time I just felt like something was a bit off so as disgusting as this sounds I took pictures of my hemorrhoids. When I went back to my doctor I told him I was back again to get banding and showed him the picture.
This is where it begins.
“Hmmmm that does not look like hemorrhoids, so lets get you a colonoscopy and set up for a surgery to remove it”
Thanks doc that is exactly what I wanted to hear at age 33. Shit, a god damn colonoscopy?!
So I get the procedure set up, and go meet with another doctor (GI) and again show them the picture.
The next response gets me more worried. As the physician cocks his face at the picture his facial expression gets me concerned.
“Well, that is not good”
What the fuck? What do you mean its not good? What the hell is it?
“Let’s not jump the gun and worry until we know more…”
This is when I begin my decent. I get into my own head and begin to think the worse. If it isn’t a hemorrhoid what is it? Some weird tumor, cancer, growth? So I get the colonoscopy (Actually wasn’t bad at all and I remember nothing) and go in for surgery to remove whatever this shit is out of my ass.
The surgery occurred with no issue and the specimen was sent out for biopsy. The doctor didn’t seem concern and said everything looked good. He was going on vacation but someone from the office will call for a follow up appointment to make sure I was healing properly. I felt better and went on with my life.
When I went in for my follow up appointment it was actually with a different surgeon and I sit down feeling good and healing just fine. He asks me how I am feeling and I smile and respond “Actually I feel fabulous!” Then the next sentence will stick in my brain forever.
“Well we found some adenocarcinoma (AKA CANCER) and will need to get you a follow up when your surgeon returns to figure out how to proceed and what the next steps are. I really do not have much more to tell you as I wasn’t your surgeon but we wanted to you know.”
I looked up at him in shock and basically felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. For anyone who knows me they know I have something to say all the time but at this moment I was left speechless. How is this happening? I was 33 with two young babies, a great life and I have CANCER.
I didn’t know what to say, or do. I couldn’t do much of anything at that moment since my surgeon wasn’t here. So as I started to well up I ran out to my car trying to process what was just told to me.
I HAVE FUCKING CANCER.
Even worse I have no idea what extent, what is next and what it all means. I rushed home and told my husband.
My husband is my rock, and he held me and told me it would be ok as our children climbed all over us not understanding the gravity of the situation. The next few days were my defining moment of being a parent. I literally realized at that moment I could die. Not abstract 60 years from now but sometime soon. The moment that I knew that I was a parent was because at that moment it wasn’t that I was going to die, it was that I wouldn’t be there for my kids. I wouldn’t see them grow up, ride a bike, first broken arm, hear them fight with each other, have any snuggles, see them fall in love the first time, graduate high school, proms, college, graduate, get married.
I wouldn’t be there to experience every precious moment. I held them each night and tried to not cry as I sang them their lullabies. I couldn’t help thinking “Oh my god how is having a dead mother going to affect them?”
The next few days dragged with me still working, cleaning diapers, bath times and other motherly duties but those days I cherished every moment. Every happy, miserable, wonderful, awful moments because those few days I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.
On the day of the appointment my husband and I walked hand in hand into the doctors office. It felt like we were going to be given a second chance on life or be placed in front of a firing squad. As we waited for what seems like hours in the patient room my husband looked at me and told me “Whatever happens we are going to get through it.”
My surgeon came in and as I was holding my breath he told us “Well I was really surprised with the diagnosis but you only had early stage one and I believe we got it all. It is a good thing you took that picture and we got it early. So you will have a follow up with an oncologist but besides getting a colonoscopy every year and watching you for reoccurrence I believe you will be fine”
A surge of relief came over me, and my husband was grinning from ear to ear. I WILL BE HERE FOR MY KIDS! I will get more time. Yes, it is never conclusive and I will have to be monitored closely but when it comes to a diagnosis of cancer this is the best one you can get. So as we walked out with a euphoric feeling of glee and relief I realized that I have never felt more like a mother than the last few days. I never once cared what was happening to me but rather how it would affect my kids. I was no longer that carefree, selfish, woman but a mother who would always want to be around for the craziness we call parenting.
This experience defined me.
It made me realize that I am a mother and I will try to appreciate every difficult moment I can because I had to learn firsthand that everyday is not promised.