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what now...

I’m not sure what I expected when I came home. I think I had a certain expectation that I would be released from the hospital like a dove from a wire cage, and I would feel free and fly into recovery.

It was not like that.

I was able to walk through the doors of Smilow Cancer Center and made it to a bench outside while waiting for valet to retrieve the car. I sat and shifted to find a comfortable seat. I leaned back on my hands and crossed my legs in front of me to try to alleviate some of the pressure from my abdomen. Sitting is hard. But the bruising on my arms from the IVs and shots made it difficult to keep my arms stretched out for too long. The IV on my hand had left a blister on my knuckle, and my hand began to throb before it quickly fell asleep. I began to cry.

My body is tired.

Our son was two weeks early. I didn’t have a bag packed. My husband hadn’t yet installed the car seat. I was not yet mentally prepared for birth, but contractions began at 5:15 in the morning and by 2pm I was on the phone with the midwife asking to come in. Shortly thereafter, I walked into the hospital nine centimeters dilated. I never thought bone structure mattered much outside cheeks and chins, but it does. The bones in my pelvis point in different directions than they should, and after a long battle without drugs and a short battle with them, our son arrived just after midnight by vacuum. My face was swollen for the next two days due to pushing, but the swelling went down enough for me to see normally by the next morning.

We weren’t ready when we were released three days later. And yet, we came home. We buckled down, and we did it. Our son never latched, so I spent every three hours hooked up to a pump because I refused to be told I couldn’t breastfeed. We hit a groove, my husband and I. We didn’t plot it, we didn’t plan it, we didn’t talk about it. We just did it. Because there was no other choice.

Yesterday was a hard day. There are five incisions on my abdomen that hurt, and my emotions are still fractured. I wasn’t ready to come home but I needed to.

I received a call from the surgeon this morning. She had removed 22 lymph nodes from my sigmoid colon, a very good amount for testing. None of the lymph nodes were cancerous. There is no more cancer in my body.

This is Stage I.

Our son came home today, and when he saw me, I kneeled on the ground and opened my arms. He didn’t run to me. He whispered Momma and walked slowly and carefully to me. He lifted his knees and gingerly curled his legs onto my thighs and fell into my chest. He held me. I held him. And for the first time in a month I felt like I could breathe.

Recovery will be gradual. I have to administer a shot into my abdomen every morning for the next 26 days. Standing up after sitting is difficult. My thighs are sore from squatting to pick things up. I am going to be on a limited diet for the foreseeable future, and I still need to meet with the oncologist to confirm the course of action. My husband and I will need to hit a groove. But I know we will. Our son is a testament of that.


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