April 8, 2010

I guess I should begin writing this story. This story that dovetails with Leo’s birth story, which I’ve yet to complete. In that story I had only gotten as far as remembering Toby’s birth and C-section and all the negative feelings I had about myself and my body afterwards. I had been writing about how I felt that my body had failed me and was trying to prove to myself—again—that I was strong and healthy.

I was at that part of the narrative when I went for a sigmoidoscopy and saw on the monitor a jiggly mass that was the cause of the blood I had been seeing in my stools for the last 8 months or so. On my 39th birthday, last Thursday, I learned that the large polyp is actually a tumor. Dr. Barron, the GI doctor, said “It’s cancer.” To me. She said those words to me on the phone. It was late afternoon. A beautiful spring day, clear and unseasonably warm. I was sitting on the deck nursing Leo. David was hammering rocks for the wall he’s building just below the tree line in our backyard. Toby was still napping in his room. On the other end of the phone, Dr. Barron told me that I would need surgery and possibly treatment, she wasn’t sure. She told me all of this should happen soon. “We’re going to get you well, my dear,” she said in her Jewish New York accent.

But that’s the thing. I am well! Does it matter that I feel fine? Does it matter that I had a healthy pregnancy and delivered Leo naturally at home—a VBAC nevertheless? Does it matter that I went back to the gym only three weeks after giving birth? Does it matter that I don’t want this? What I want is to gaze into the face of my 5-week-old son and figure out how to be a mother to two boys. What I want is to take walks, nurse my baby, go to the playground, finish moving into the house…. I guess what I want doesn’t matter. This is what I’ve got.

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