Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Writober 10.2.19: Burying the Lede

he endometrial cancer was found during routine fertility tests. “Instead of a baby,” I sometimes say, “I got a tumor!” I usually laugh when I say this because what else is there to do?

When I received the call that Friday morning four years ago, the only question I asked the doctor was, “But what does this mean in terms of trying to have a baby.”

He didn’t answer that; he said the oncologist would be able to answer that for me. He went on to assure me that people with my diagnosis went on to live happy, healthy lives.

Yes, I thought. But childless lives so what’s the point? And no, I don’t mean that for everyone. I’m always quick to add that too, the rare times I express that sentiment because I know perfectly well one can have a full, happy life without children. But that’s not the life I envisioned for myself and yet, there I was.

For the entire month between diagnosis and treatment, I worked, I laughed, I interacted with people. But in the shower I cried. The water would drown out the tears, I thought and I didn’t want the roommates to hear because I was supposed to be happy to be alive. I was supposed to be grateful that they’d caught the cancer in time.

Mostly though I walked around convinced I was dreaming. This is a nightmare, I’d think. I’ll wake up soon. But it was real. The hysterectomy happened. All the cancer was caught and I was alive. Thank goodness, people said, that you were trying to get pregnant! Otherwise who knows what would have happened!

Yes. Thank goodness.

I was 42 that year. Then I was 43. Another year closer to 45 and the cut off age for trying to adopt a baby domestically. Why not internationally, people ask (and asked). Finances, mostly. But fun fact: I’m too fat to adopt a child from China. Yes, China has specific BMI requirements.

Year 44 was spent filling out forms. Oh, you’ll have that application done in no time knowing you!

Yes, that’s what I thought so too. But every form brought with it self reflection, questions, doubts. Can I do this? Do I really want to do this? Am I ready/willing to accept whatever comes? Sometimes that was a quick, decisive yes. Sometimes that was weeks of uncertainty. What I thought would be a three month process took 11 months. And then I waited, and waited and waited. At the 15 month mark I asked myself, “How long do you wait?” I did some math. “If you get a baby now, you’ll be 66 when it’s 20. If you get a baby when you’re 50, you’ll be 70!” At that age, what’s four years but somehow it was a sticking point. I decided I’d give it till 48 and then I’d make a decision.

And then life decided to mix things up.

On Tuesday, July 16th I received an email from a case worker at the adoption agency asking me if I had time to speak the following day. “Is this it?” I wondered. “Shit, this might be it.”

And it was. On Wednesday, July 17th I was told I’d been matched with a baby born in early July. By Monday, July 22nd, I was holding her in my arms.

And now, here we are. She’s been with me for a little over two months it feels as if she’s been with me forever. But that’s probably the sleep deprivation talking. I’m definitely dreaming now, but in the best way possible.

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