Baby, Family, Health, Life

Teleos and teratomata

03.25.11 | 1 Comment

We have a new niece, and she is gorgeous. 🙂 I got to hold her, and I suppose it’s safe from 271 miles away to admit that anyone other than family would have to fight me with a weapon to surrender her because holding newborns is definitely in my top three activities. Not sure what the other two are. Oh hell. It’s my favorite thing to do. Okay.

I’ve been thinking a lot about babies in general, new Moms, and our own little Zoe and how it seems like yesterday she was just joining us, yet she’s always been a part of me. Then I think about what babies go through to get here. It’s freaking amazing. I’m really glad I had Zoe before medical school because I worried PLENTY without all that extra information.

So that’s on my mind, plus I’m learning about cancer chemotherapeutic agents at the moment, so I’m taking a trip down memory lane to my first real consideration of my reproductive potential. I also feel the need to say that I am not – repeat: am NOT – considering producing another child at this time. Nor do I, or would I ever, steal children.

I had this conversation with my oncologist over the phone while standing in the hallway of the place where we had just moved my Granddad so he could receive the proper care after heart surgery and rehab. (I guess this part sticks in my mind because I have thought many times how odd it was to take that call about my newish problem during a visit to someone in a very different stage of illness.)

Among a series of much less personal questions one must ask when planning a surgery (do you have any drug allergies, have you had other surgeries), he asked, “In the event that we get in there [during surgery] and find the other ovary significantly affected, do you want us to be as conservative as possible to preserve fertility? Or should we take it out?”
I was quiet, just for a moment. I hadn’t thought about that. “Well, I’m not going to have a lot of kids if I’m dead. So yeah. Take it, if you must.”

About two weeks earlier, a family doctor I barely knew stared at my growing belly and said, “Oh yeah. You’re pregnant. About five months.” I knew I wasn’t. (But I don’t blame her. I did look pregnant sometimes. However, on the night before my surgery, my belly was flat, the tumor inside completely undetectable.) She took some blood to confirm and scheduled an ultrasound for the following Monday. (The Friday before that ultrasound is when I got scared and had back pain enough to visit the emergency room instead of waiting for the ultrasound, which would have been the thing to do, had I been more patient or less scared.)

I thought I didn’t want kids for a good portion of my young-adult life. Surely, I figured, if I were to change my mind, I’d adopt, since there are so many children who need a home. The longer Joel and I dated, the more I thought I did want kids, specifically with him. Cut to being a newlywed with a giant belly; we were not ready to be parents, but had more than come around to the idea. To hear that the blood test was negative was not a surprise. Nor was it welcome, given the alternative.
Instead of “boy or girl?”, apparently the big surprise after my surgery was whether or not I still had an ovary. (One of my favorite google image results for immature teratoma is a girl in the hospital pretending to hold her tumor in a baby blanket – hilarious. Because the ovary holds thousands of little potential babies.)

So we know the rest: half of Zoe was in the healthy one, and she’s perfection (not a monster – the word teratoma is from classical Greek for “monstrous tumor” – which most Moms fear at some point during their pregnancy; perhaps my fear was greater than some). I’m of the mind that when a baby makes it through all the harrowing obstacles inherent to the process and arrives outside the womb, in whatever condition, he or she is a fighter with much cause and purpose to be here. This may be hard to argue in the peaceful silence and stillness of the sleeping, adorable lump who seems to do little else.

1 Comment

have your say

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. Subscribe to these comments.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>