Sunday, December 18, 2011

the firsts

the firsts of the holiday season have continued this weekend with building gingerbread houses and malena wrapping her first christmas presents...more about those firsts later this week.

during this holiday time of firsts, i have thought a lot about whether these will be our only firsts. last year the decision to be pregnant with our second baby was taken away from us with the diagnosis. pregnancy while doing treatments was not an option. had we not got that fatefull call, we would likely either be pregnant right now or would already have had our second child.

we always assumed that we would have two kids, and i hadn't really thought about not having two...until last year forced me to think about it. now the thought of being pregnant carries far more risks that it did before. could the changes in my immune system during pregnancy contribute to a recurrence? what risks come with getting pregnant and pushing out scans from my regular schedule? what would we do if cancer came back when i was pregnant and i couldn't do any treatments? what would we do if the cancer came back and we had malena and a newborn to take care of? if the cancer came back and i didn't beat it, what would life look like for barrett raising malena versus raising two children? how could i face leaving two children when i can't fathom leaving malena?

i am very scared that i will have a recurrence, the thought of having a recurrence and not being able to do everything i needed to scares me even more.

i think that i had always pictured a sibling for malena partly because i have two siblings that i completely adore. my brother and sister are two of most favorite people in the world. some of my best memories include them. i love to laugh with them. i talk with my sister every day. i can't imagine my life without them. i want that type of relationship for malena too.

it isn't like we have to make a decision today, and we will definitely not be making any decisions until after my scans in january. i haven't felt good enough since treatments stopped to even consider being pregnant. but, i need for us to make a decision soon. the decision about whether to have a second child weighs too heavy on my heart, i can't carry it around with me for too much longer. i can't have baby things in our house if there will not be another baby under our roof. when we took malena's crib down this fall, i couldn't watch as it was too hard because i didn't know whether we would ever put it up again. we will either need to put the risks aside and hope like crazy that life plays in our favor with a second pregnancy, or i will need to grieve the loss of what we thought our lives would look like. i think that the grief of the things that are forever changed will continue to play out for me in more ways - and for longer - than i can imagine.

all of this is not to say that i do not love every single second of all of these firsts with malena, i most certainly do. i have always been - but am more so now - thankful that we had her when i was healthy and that she is healthy. if we do not have a second child, i am already luckier than i could have asked for.

no matter what life gives or takes in the future, life brought me her.

she will always be my most favorite first.

*photo by nerd (aka denise hamilton)

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