It was exactly two months and one week ago when I climbed back into bed to ask Josh if he was ready for his life to change. Because at a ripe age of 43 and-a-half, I was pregnant. And that’s without any doctors involved. It was a miracle, and we were both elated; I’d say it was easily the happiest day in my life so far. With the wedding just a few months away, my biggest worry was that I now needed a new dress, one more suitable for a blushing knocked-up bride.
Today I’m in a hospital bed, typing this through a tramadol haze. I have a C-section scar, but no baby – the only thing that had come out was a 9cm (3.5 inches) uterine fibroid that had caused a miscarriage and more grief than I have ever experienced in my life so far. It was like boarding a flight, all giddy and happy, on your way to a new adventure, only to find yourself in a tailspin, with each new test or doctor delivering worse and worse news. I’d like to tell you that I was strong and brave through this ordeal, but it’s not true. When I was referred to an oncologist surgeon, because there was no way to confirm that the bastard is not malignant without cutting it out, I cried all day. When I got myself together enough to get a second opinion only to find out that I will need two surgeries because the bastard created a massive blood supply for itself, I pretty much lost it. There was an episode at home, when I screamed “I can’t do this!” and “Fuck you!” at the walls until I could barely breathe.
My family tried to help. I spoke with a psychologist. I took Valium. I went to work and tried to distract myself with strategic plans, or whatever. Still, I could not get a grip. Part of the reason was that I could not stop beating myself up for not doing something about it earlier. Cause, you see, I knew about the bastard for at least three years, and so did my doctors. It showed up on an ultrasound back then, but it was 4.5cm (2″) and I was told not to worry about it, because they are common, and they could shrink on their own. I did worry about it, because my mother and grandmother had enormous ones that almost killed them, but sighed with relief and put it out of my mind.
It turns out I had a lot of options back then, like laparoscopic surgery, medication, or embolization. I had very few options this time, and they were all bad, sort of comparing rotten apples to rotten oranges. I picked one which seemed to make more sense, took more Valium, and kept putting one foot in front of the other and filling one form after another, until I finally woke up from general anaesthesia for the second time.
It has now been four days in recovery, and the worst is behind me, I hope. I have also found that grip I was so desperately looking for earlier. As a self-proclaimed Queen of Silver Linings, I found a few even in this miserable shithole of a situation. I managed to fall pregnant naturally, so it could happen again. I found out about the bastard before it grew to a size of a baseball (yes, they can do that) and required a hysterectomy. I didn’t need blood transfusion and the nurses keep commenting on how quickly I’m healing. Josh and I are more in love than ever, and we are still getting married, only a few weeks later than originally planned. I have six weeks of paid sick leave, so I will finish my third novel. I’m alive. I can, actually, do “this” or whatever else life throws at me.
I have also learned a lesson, and this is the one I wanted to share with you: trust your gut and get three quotes or opinions on anything important. Bathroom remodel? Get three quotes. Manuscript edit? Well, I got about six quotes with sample pages. That persistent pain your doctor dismisses as “normal” and “nothing to worry about”? You get the point. You are the one who cares the most about your body, children, finances, and yes – your book. If you feel that something isn’t right, don’t let others dismiss you. Stand up for yourself. Be a brick wall – not aggressive or angry, just self assured and persistent.
I’d also like thank everyone who’d shown me so much support when I freaked out and asked for prayers on Twitter just minutes before the first surgery. It was amazing to see such an outpouring of support, well wishes, and even people contacting me privately, all worried about what was going on. Sadly, some of my real- life “friends” were not as caring. They will be fired. I needed to make some space for new friends, anyway.
Here’s looking at you, kid.