What the heart wants.

Indecision. It’s not something I usually count among my many character quirks and flaws.  I’m usually pretty clear on what I want and what my path forward is going to look like. But when I have faced dilemmas and conflicts in the past I utilize a system that typically allows me to reach a decision pretty easily.

First I approach things logically, weighing pros and cons of  various options…and if there’s not a clear answer there I go with my heart. Usually keying in to what my heart wants is pretty easy. I remember when I was choosing which doctoral program to attend, there were two that came up pretty evenly on the logical pro-con list. But when I sat and thought about how I felt when I got my acceptances from each of the schools there was one what carried an indescribable feeling of excitement that the other just lacked. My brain couldn’t label it with language, but my heart had felt something and knew which school was the right fit for me. And there has not been a day that I’ve looked back and felt I made the wrong choice.

But the dilemma I am facing now seems to have short circuited that system. Logic is failing me…but my heart/gut can’t come to a clear answer either. I really cannot think of another time in my life I’ve felt this stuck.

At the very simplest level this where I’m at:

Pros of going ahead with surgeries ASAP: I maximize my chances of avoiding cancer and staying a live.

Cons: I give up my chance of having another (biological) child.

It’s pretty black and white — and feels like potential life being pitted against potential death.

But there’s so much more complexity just beneath the surface. This is just a snippet of the thoughts swirling around my head, confusing me:

  • Getting preventive surgeries will not guarantee that I will live to an old age. It just drastically decreases the likelihood that I will get breast or ovarian cancer. I could still be hit by a drunk driver or have a brain aneurysm or something at any moment.  Is it worth sacrificing having another child for something that won’t come with any guarantees?
  • On the other hand, there is nothing I would hate more than putting these surgeries on hold, getting cancer, and making my children watch me go through chemo..or worse even worse dying, leaving my family behind to mourn.
  • If we don’t have another biological child we could always adopt. But what would that be like? Would we love an adopted child the same way we love our son? Would our families treat them as equals?
  • I love our family the way it is now, but when I think about the future I imagine it with another child it. A sibling for our son. A family of 4. It’s what I always envisioned when I thought about my future family. Some part of me feels like abandoning that vision would be a sort of failure and I do not want to give up on that dream.
  • If we decide not to grow our family, would our son be as unhappy and resentful about being an only child as I was?
  • I had really brutal end of pregnancy/postpartum anxiety.  Like REALLY brutal. It took me several weeks to get over the PTSD-like flashbacks and physical/emotional trauma of  my son’s delivery. I was near a panic attack every time I tried to sleep. Could I really put myself through that again? And with the added anxiety of wondering if this postponement of surgeries for a year is going to end with me diagnosed with cancer?
  • But becoming a mother was also the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. The love I have for my child is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before and it has made me a better human in so many ways. I know my life and heart would expand if there was a new child in our family. And my heart hurts when I think that those snugly infant moments, and the joy of all the firsts and milestones are something I may never experience again.
  • The points above are all assuming that I CAN even get pregnant again soon. With my recent ectopic pregnancy that’s not as certain, and the pain of another loss is NOT something I want to go through.

This truly feels like the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. And unfortunately, it’s one that only I can make. I sort of wish one of my doctors would firmly tell me “No. You should get the surgeries this year”.  That way I could just move on, mourn this vision I have of what I wanted our family to look like, and focus on what comes next. But this a decision that rests with me alone. I have the full support of my spouse, but I know he also very much wants another child. My family wants that too…although they would also support me regardless of my decision. I’m so grateful to have the support I do have…but no amount of support makes this any easier to figure out.

When I got that positive pregnancy test back in August…it felt like fate. Like everything was going to work out just fine. That the universe was cooperating with my timeline. But that pregnancy turned into something heartbreaking, (and something that could have become life threatening…had my doctor not caught it early). I can’t help but feel like that might be a sign to just let go of that dream. But the thought of making that call…making a choice…is something I just can’t bring myself to do right now.


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