Motherhood After Breast Cancer: Pregnancy

Tonight as we were chowing down on burgers and shakes at the Choo Choo (our favorite birthday restaurant), Lily asked me to tell the story about the day that she was born.

My due date was November 20th, although when I first had gotten pregnant, I calculated my due date to be Nov. 10th. When I woke up on Nov. 5 (I always say my due date was more accurate than the one my doctor gave me) I started to feel cramps. I called my mom, Ed at work, and my doctor’s office in that order. Since I already had a doctor’s appointment at 11:00, the nurse told me I could wait until then to come in. I had told Ed to come home from work so he could drive me to the doctor’s office. It was a beautiful fall morning, and Ed spent the time waiting to rake the leaves into the street for the leaf truck. I usually went to doctor’s appointments by myself, but this time, I didn’t go home after my appointment. The doctor told me I was going to have a baby that day!

I’ve always thought of both of my daughters as little miracles from God. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get pregnant and have children after undergoing chemotherapy and taking Tamoxifen at such a young age. Many young women are pushed into menopause or become infertile due to cancer treatments. Before Ed and I got married, we talked about the possibility of adoption if we weren’t able to have children.

So it was unbelievable to me when it took only about three or four months for me to become pregnant with both Lily and Emmy. I was also quite fortunate to have healthy and happy pregnancies. Being pregnant was a wonderful experience for me, and the morning sickness I felt was nothing compared to the sickness of chemotherapy. My hair grew thicker instead of falling out and I was gaining weight due to a healthy baby growing inside of me. Ed and I felt truly blessed.

As we watch both our girls growing before our eyes, and celebrated Lily’s 11th birthday today, we still feel extremely blessed to be the parents of our miracle babies. Because as you know, our girls will always be our babies even as we celebrate birthdays and watch our little girls grow up.







Toyota Sienna

One of the girls yelled, “Turn the music up!”

“Did you say turn it up or turn it off?” I asked. It was kind of hard for me to hear her over the din of the other five girls.

“UP!” more than one of them said.

Every Tuesday for the past few weeks, it’s been my job to drive six fifth grade girls home from show choir practice. SIX TWEEN GIRLS. This carpooling job is not for the faint of heart. It takes all my concentration to pay attention to the road with my minivan full of giggling, gossiping girls.

Last week, I had an oldies radio station playing, “oldies” being a relative term, since I was listening to 80’s music and that’s certainly not “oldies” to me. I was asked immediately, however, to change the station to more current music. They prefer Bruno Mars over REO Speedwagon and I’m okay with that.

The back row of seats is the prime spot. Is it because those seats are the farthest away from me, the adult, or because the three girls that fit back there get to talk to most, and the other girls turn their heads to join into the conversation? Probably a little of both.

It is dinner time when I pick them up and they always ask me if I have a snack for them. I don’t, because then I’ll disappoint them when I forget to pack a snack next time. I feel a little guilty that I don’t have something for them.

While I’m driving, I listen to the girls sing along to the songs on the radio when a good one comes along. I don’t interrupt as they talk about crushes on boys. They are at that in-between age where they want to have crushes, but most boys still have cooties.

How well I remember being that age! I remember carpooling to my volleyball games, listening to Queen sing Another One Bites the Dust on the radio, not knowing the real meaning of the song and feeling so clever as we drove past cattle farms, changing the lyrics to “another cow bites the dust!”

The car grows quieter as each girl is dropped off. They wave a cheery “Thank you, Mrs. Grabske!” as they head for the warm lights of home. Finally, I drive to my house with my daughter, ready to eat the tortellini soup that is waiting in the crock pot.

This is motherhood. There is nothing more like the suburban mom stereotype than driving a minivan and carpooling. And I’m going to roll around in that stereotype like a puppy in stinky ol’ socks and make it stick, because I’m so lucky. Because I have THIS life, stereotypical as it may seem.

THIS is motherhood after breast cancer.
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