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April 28, 2010

Wednesday afternoon. Toby is in school. Leo’s wrapped in the Moby. I’m perched on a stool at the counter typing on these keys while my baby sleeps on my chest. Every so often he stirs, readjusts, makes himself comfortable again. Wearing him wrapped up tight like this is the closest experience to pregnancy. Only now our “inside guy” is definitely an outside guy—and growing!

After dabbling in the world of alternative healers over the weekend and getting so much input about possible modalities and alternative cancer centers, I got pretty freaked out by Sunday night. I keep thinking: How am I supposed to do all of this when I hardly have an hour or two in the day with my hands and body free of a child? Cancer is a full-time job; at least, researching treatment options and getting clear about a healing path is a lot of work. I’m so sleep deprived that I doubt my command of English. In some way, this whole thing is so ridiculous as to be humorous.

But what I really wanted to say is that while I’m exhausted trying to take care of a newborn, not to mention a 3-year-old, the truth is that Leo’s taking care of me. So late on Sunday night, after nursing for what felt like at least an hour or more, I finally begged David for help. I’m exhausted! I proclaimed. I need to sleep! So David took Leo in the Ergo for a late-night bounce on the big red ball so that I could get some rest. Instead, I lay in bed, trying to calm my mind. For the first time since getting the diagnosis, I felt a flood of true anxiety. This is real. This isn’t just a research project that will end once I write up the report and send it off for publication. This is real and it’s happening ins my body. My body that feels healthy and strong, tired yes, but vital and happy to have created this beautiful boy and to now feed him milk so rich that his thighs have plumped up with that exquisite baby roll fat and his arms are pudgy and he’s sporting a double chin now too.

Lying in bed, I felt scared, caught. Which way to go? The medical route offers concrete percentages and smart doctors who genuinely want to help but their tools are so violent. Must my body really become so ravaged when the cancer is localized to one particular area? Shouldn’t there be a more enlightened and civilized way of treating cancer in 2010?

David finally came back to our bedroom, placed sleeping Leo in the crib and crawled into bed next to me. Not touching. Hugging his side of the bed, perhaps a condition from sleeping with Leo between us these last two months. But he was too far away. I needed his warmth. I told him I was scared. My hand reached out for him, but he was already asleep. My exhausted love. I envy his easy ability to fall asleep. I tried to calm my mind, but it was jumping everywhere. Finally, Leo started to stir in his crib. Normally, I cringe when I hear him wake up because it signals the end of my rest. But this night I jumped out of bed, happy to scoop him up and bring him close to me. I offered him my nipple and he latched on hungrily. I wrapped my arm around his warm, sure, little body and breathed in his sweet and slightly sour baby scent. Here was the perfect elixir. Immediately my mind calmed. My breathing slowed. I fell soundly asleep with him nuzzled up against me. Two bodies still so deeply connected.

So while this time of life has been a crazy, crazy juggle, having a baby to care for during this process has been such a gift. Leo is one of the big reasons I’m not totally falling apart. He keeps me grounded. He helps me feel safe and connected to a bigger purpose. It seems that a woman occupies the archetype of Mother most profoundly during pregnancy and the first year of the child’s life. Anyway, I’m so aware of occupying this role, of fulfilling this purpose. And nursing plays a big part. My prayer is that I will be able to nurse Leo with only the minor interruptions of the two surgeries ahead. This would mean that the cancer is contained within the rectal wall and that the nodes are negative. This is the prayer, the vision, the intention we are asking others to hold for me, and I am hopeful

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