Some days go by and I feel fine. Some even feel good, peaceful. On those days I can imagine my revised future and feel hopeful and happy. I can feel grateful for the family I have and excited at the prospect of expanding it further through adoption.
Other days I am overcome with sadness intersected sharply with pangs of self-doubt. I mourn the two lives-in-the-making I lost via miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, and I mourn the future biological children I will not have. I feel like I have failed my spouse, my son, and my family. I have been so plagued by this feeling that I have not even had the guts to share this decision with my family yet (spouse excluded). I know they will be heartbroken.
But at the same time it feels good for there to be some progress in a forward direction. I have my first plastic surgery consultation about breast reconstruction next week, and in early December I am seeing my gyn-oncologist about scheduling my ovary/tube removal. His staff said I could probably schedule the surgery very soon after the office visit. In a perfect world that would mean I could do the surgery in mid to late January (which would be ideal with my work schedule and the two weddings we’re going to in early Jan). Then hopefully the mastectomy can happen over the summer. We are also going to an adoption info session in December, so we are beginning to explore that option in earnest. These all feel like good things…but I also recognized that my definition of “good” has changed dramatically in the last year.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about what I have “lost”. Not just in terms of BRCA or childbearing, but in terms of who I am in my core. I think back to previous versions of myself that felt happier and more authentic…back before grad school, before parenthood…and see a life much more centered around creativity, passion, wellness, and spirituality than my life is now. And I feel these absences much more acutely now as my stability has been so shaken this year.
I think much of what has changed is a product of becoming an adult with adult responsibilities and less “free” time, but I also acknowledge that I do have SOME control here. I do have choices in terms of how I prioritize my life and interact with my world. And I’ve been trying to take small actions to get back in touch with these parts of myself. I’ve meditated almost every day this month, I took a random mid-week vacation day to visit with a friend I love dearly, and I’ve been thinking long and hard about changes I can make in my work-life to make it more balanced and fulfilling. I think nurturing and reconnecting with these parts of myself will take a a lot effort (at least in the short-term)…when a major part of my brain just wants to hide under the covers and pretend that everything ok. But it also feels like my best bet for making in through the next year mentally and emotionally intact.