Having cancer while pregnant naturally makes one question a second pregnancy. One of the first questions most people ask is if being pregnant was somehow connected to the cancer, either causing it, or possibly making it grow faster or spread more quickly. The short answer is, no one really knows (at least with melanoma. It definitely can be connected to other cancers that are more hormone sensitive).
The only slightly longer answer is, maybe. My super-scientific hypothesis is given that: a) melanoma is one of the few cancers your body’s immune system recognizes and actively fights; and b) during pregnancy, the mother’s body is slightly immunosuppressed, so as to not reject the “alien” baby; therefore my hypothesis is that I might be more at risk during pregnancy for recurrence/incidence of melanoma.
The scary thing about a recurrence while I’m pregnant (other than recurrence being not what I want AT ALL. EVER), is that it would seriously limit treatment options and/or possibly bring up really tough decisions. I couldn’t have any imaging done while pregnant, so monitoring would be harder.
For these reasons, among others, we are possibly done with one, and if we do try again, it would be in five years or more, when the risk of recurrence is less.
This is hard for me. I’ve always wanted two kids. I loved being pregnant. While I was pregnant, I never, ever thought it would be my last time being pregnant. I think I would have tried to enjoy it more if I had known that was a possibility. Even when we were doing the hospital tour, smack in between my surgeries when we knew the cancer had spread, but didn’t know how far, all I could think of, in between my tears, was “This will be different next time. Next time I’ll just be happy about meeting my baby and not worried for my life, and I’ll be able to be carefree and excited like all these other moms-to-be.” Unfortunately, I now know that I’ll never be able to be carefree again, but I suppose there is a dim possibility that I could get pregnant again, have an easy and cancer-free pregnancy, and be able to deliver safely without any complications. But the worry will still be there.
It’s getting a littler harder now that so many of my friends are adding to their families, in exactly the way I had hoped to. I begrudge them not an ounce of their joy, and am thrilled for them and their growing, new little people inside, but I also feel a little sad and envious. I imagine it’s something like what people who struggle with infertility might feel, although my situation is different, of course. It’s looking at a life that you want, feel like you are worthy of, that you would choose if you could, but fate has sent you on a different path, wholly against your will.
I know it will get harder as Emmie’s babyhood gets further and further behind her and more and more of my friends make their happy announcements (including the many friends who were pregnant at the same time as I was). It’s already hard enough going through Emmie’s outgrown clothes and trying to decide if I should keep my favorite things “just in case” or if I should be more realistic and pass them along to someone else who can use them now. I hate thinking that I will never have another baby who will be that small again.
I know we are beyond blessed with Emmie, and I adore her with every ounce of my being, but I also wish the choice to have another (or not) was just that: a choice.
PS If you think I’m writing this post directed at you, I’m not. I promise you aren’t my only pregnant friend 😉 And I also promise that I’m thrilled that you are having another baby! Just let me snuggle him/her so I can get my baby fix, OK?