Recently, I was over the moon excited to announce to my family that I was pregnant with my first child. They were all coming over in a few hours for a 4th of July cookout at our newly purchased home in Fountain Square. My mind swam with kitschy ways to tell them. “Hey everyone, speaking of fireworks, we have our own little firecracker on the way!” or “Guess who else is about to be ‘Born in the USA’?! We are having a baby!
I shared these ideas with my ever-sensible husband. With a groan, he quickly described them as corny. But just as quickly, he assured me that he would participate in whatever corny announcement would make me happy. He understood the moment’s importance to me.
The phone rang. It was my sister. She told me that she had been at the ER with our mom since 4 am. She explained that our mom awoke around 3 am, went to the bathroom, and found that she was bleeding from her vagina. This was alarming, as she hadn’t bled from that area for well over a decade. She told me that the ER doctors weren’t sure what was going on. They discharged her with instructions to see a gynecologist as soon as possible.
In her true fashion, my mom was a trooper and still came to our party later that afternoon. At the party, my family and I gathered under our maple tree in our back yard for our 4th of July meal. I could feel the excitement rise from my heart to my throat. I was ready to tell them. My grandma asked my husband and me about our recent anniversary trip to the West Baden Springs Hotel. I snagged the opportunity. “Hey, one thing we didn’t know when we were on our anniversary trip,” I exclaimed, “was that I am pregnant!” Tears flowed, and a large number of hugs and kisses were passed around. My mom, of course, was the happiest of all. She had a grandchild on the way! Shock registered on the faces of everyone. This wasn’t exactly a planned pregnancy. This was an unexpected announcement in my life.
If I were to announce to my family that I was getting my Ph.D., sure, they would expect that. If I were to announce that I received a promotion at work or we were adopting a third dog, sure, sure, that would be expected by my family and by me. However, the fact that I was going to be a mom was unexpected to all of us. The job of mom is one I never thought I would have but feel so blessed to assume.
Two weeks after the party, my mom had her appointment with the gynecologist. The doctor offered her some assurance that she would likely be fine. However, she would need a dilation and curettage procedure completed to remove tissue from her uterus. Two long weeks later, the procedure was done. Mom received the results about a week after that. There was cancer in her uterus.
My uterus was full of a growing human. Hers was full of cancer. This bizarre turn of events for a mother and daughter really threw my already hormonal body into a tailspin. My head and heart were flooded with emotion. Foremost, in my mind was the thought that “I need my mom.” The thought repeated itself in my mind for days. “I can’t lose her like I lost my aunt after a two-decade fight against breast cancer.” “I can’t lose her like I lost my father to congestive heart failure.” These past losses each felt like an unexpected head-on collision with a semi-truck. In retrospect, I really should have seen them coming. More like a slow-moving– but still deadly–freight train.
I need my mom. I need her to continue to show me how to be a mom. I need her to be a grandma to this growing “peanut” growing inside me. I need my mom.