It’s 7am, and I can hear Henry talking with Steve. “I want Mommy.” I feel like I have not just shadows under my eyes but canyons. Tears start running down my cheeks. At 7am, I have logged in exactly one and a half hours of sleep for the night. I don’t know what prevents me from sleeping. My body is dying for slumber. Is it the toll of chemotherapy? Being 8 months pregnant? The breathing issues? The light-headedness? Or is it the restless leg syndrome and the joint pain?
I get up to go to the bathroom for probably the 15th time this night and think maybe I should just go sit near Henry on a couch somewhere… since I’m not sleeping anyway. His two-year-old voice is so cute. But then Henry will start asking me for juice or a sword or who knows what and I’ll have about zero energy to get it. I stagger toward the bathroom, grasping to the walls and counters for balance, the question pops in mind again. How can I be so exhausted and not fall asleep?
I feel like every cell in my body answers that question: The baby needs to come out. An image of this sliding chart dangles in my mind that shows me getting weaker as Kilian gets stronger. Then the familiar chain of thoughts race through my head. It’s like my body has put on this doctor jacket and is briefing me while pointing to the sliding chart with a wooden-pointer.
The baby needs to come out.
I’m not sure how much longer I can take this.
Delivering Kilian will take care of most of these problems.
I know, I say to myself. I try to lay down one more time and fall asleep till 9:30am. When I get up, the kids are already gone at Steve’s aunt’s house. I try to find anyone’s experience online of going through cancer treatment during their third trimester. Is this normal? I wonder. The only brief stories I can find are on the Hope for Two Web site – a web site devoted to pregnant women with cancer. The stories are short. One woman had her 13th child full-term, an 8-lb baby. But she didn’t start therapy as early on in her pregnancy as I did. Another woman says she delivered her baby 5 weeks early, and he spent 16 days in the NICU. She doesn’t say why.
Yesterday I picked Thursday morning with my OB-gyn to be induced. That date will make Kilian 35 weeks old when he is born. Will he stay in the NICU for two weeks too?
I hope he won’t. I feel bad that he won’t get to nurse. The chemo will stay in my system for months after I finish so it’s out of the question. I’ve never really liked breast-feeding. But the babies seem so content when they’re eating, like they still need that attachment they got for the previous nine-months, that I do anyway.
I don’t like the idea of Kilian in the NICU. I keep thinking, he doesn’t get to nurse and now he gets to spend the first two weeks of his life in a glass box?
But then Dr. Body points back at the sliding chart – the one where I get weaker as Kilian gets stronger. Kilian is looking pretty strong on his curb chart. Then he starts to thump around in my stomach, making it visibly move. Last week, the ultrasound technician at Hopkins pegged him at 5lbs and 14 oz already. If he continued to grow that fast this last week, he’ll be well past 6 pounds by Thursday – even while being born 5 weeks early.
My mind clothed in the doctor jacket is back again. It points one more time to the chart and puts down the wooden-stick, like it’s finishing this long lecture. I think Kilian is strong enough, it says.
I hope so, I add. I need to stop talking to myself. People will think I'm crazy.