The day I wrote my last post felt like a low point for me. Everything felt hopelessly murky and unclear. After work, I went to my regular weekly therapy session and echoed many of the same sentiments I wrote here — that the pro and con list seemed impossibly balanced, that my logical and “go with your gut” approaches were both failing me, that I didn’t know what step 3 in my decision making process could possibly be since I’d never needed to go beyond step 2 before. And I cried. Which if you know me really says something.
After wiping tears and checking my mascara in the mirror by the door, I left her office. On my walk across the parking lot I mindlessly grabbed my phone and opened Facebook, probably subconsciously looking for something to distract me from the pain I was feeling. But that’s not what I got.
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:
Lately I feel like every time I catch up with people I haven’t seen in a week or two I have more bad news to share with them. Then yesterday I basically won the award for darkest conversation ever held at a bridal shower when a complete stranger and I talked for 30 mins about BRCA, cancer, and genetics. I also recently connected with a second cousin that I’ve never met, not for fun or for the sake of getting to know her…but to talk with her about this genetic mutation that she may be at risk for as well.
For the past couple of weeks the feelings of sadness, fear, and anger have been pervasive. This ectopic pregnancy has shaken me out of the place of peace it took me months to find after my BRCA+ diagnosis. It’s all of those same feelings all over again. That I’m broken, defective, a failure of a woman.
I’m riding on a pendulum swinging back and forth between two extremes.
It’s taken me a full week to process what’s been going on in my life and in my body enough to be able to write about it.
I’d didn’t think I’d be so impacted by this. I’ve been through pregnancy loss before, I know how it goes. But that was before I knew my BRCA status, and things feel so different now.
Last Monday afternoon I got a call from my doctor with my blood test results. Despite heavy, sustained bleeding my HCG levels were climbing slowly but steadily (117, 147, 170). Still WAY below what it would have been for a viable pregnancy at 6.5 weeks, but not dropping like it would with a “normal” miscarriage. All signs pointed to ectopic pregnancy.
My doctor and I talked through a plan of action. I’d go to her office after work, she’d write me out all of the orders and prescriptions I’d need, and then I’d hop across the street to the ER for treatment — an injection of methotrexate (a chemotherapy drug), that stops cell division, causes the embryo to basically disintegrate and abort through the tube.
From 6:30PM until 1AM my spouse and I sat in the hospital ER. Delay after delay kept us there while I waited for an injection that would ultimately take 30 seconds. First, blood tests & waiting for results (to see if my body was healthy enough for the drug). Then the OBGYN residents had two back to back emergency C-sections to attend to. Once I was finally cleared I had to wait for chemo nurses to be available to come administer the drug. Dinner from the vending machine. Hours upon hours of mindless TV. Oh, and the cherry on top…when they unhooked my IV for me to go to the bathroom they didn’t cap the port in my arm and I left a trail of blood down the hallway and leaked a grapefruit sized blood stain onto my dress before I realized it was even happening. After 6 hours of waiting, two quick shots, one to each butt cheek…and that was that.
I’ve really struggled with whether or not to share this but as I already wrote about TTC, I figured an update is order. But this is about to get pretty intimate…so if that’s not your thing, turn back now.
I didn’t think I’d find myself here — in a position where a miscarriage would be good news. But here I am.
The day after I wrote my prior post, I got a faint positive on a home pregnancy test. I was beyond shocked and overjoyed…although I tried to withhold my excitement. As my spouse said “we’ve been down this road before”…aka excitement for something that ends in disappointment. My first pregnancy, before I eventually conceived my son, resulted in an early miscarriage, and that left it’s emotional scars and lots of early pregnancy anxiety.
I tested again the next day, and then the next. That tell-tale line began to darken, and with it my hope began to expand. Then a few days later, the line was fainter — a sign that HCG was not increasing the way it should. I prepared myself for what would happen next, what happened the first time…the line would grow fainter and fainter and then the bleeding would start in a few days. But that didn’t quite happen.
I haven’t been writing here much in the past couple of weeks, because since I’ve gotten my current clean bill of health, BRCA-related things have not been on the forefront of my mind…thankfully. It’s always there, lurking somewhere, but I’m grateful to have been able to direct my focus elsewhere and feel almost like my usual self again.
One thing that has been on my mind? Babies. Specifically, is there going to be another one in our future? Or not?