I’ve been thinking a lot about Leo as his big day approaches. Mostly because I’m so thankful he’s here…because in so many ways he almost wasn’t.
The lump on my thyroid was discovered when Helen was a baby. My doctor at the time said not to biopsy then. We even tried to get a second opinion at that time, but a crazy chain of events prevented us from doing so. But I think about what if we had done the biopsy then and found cancer a whole year earlier then we actually did.
Leo wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t have been able to try to get pregnant for who knows how long (we’re still waiting!).
And then in so many ways Leo saved my life. When we found out we were expecting, I almost didn’t go to my thyroid check up since I had been feeling so good, but I thought I should go because I was pregnant and it would be good to make sure my thyroid levels were right for the baby (Leo). It was that appointment she recommended another ultrasound, and then a biopsy.
I think about the day we did find out about the cancer. I was 14 weeks pregnant, and having to weigh decisions about protecting Leo’s life and my life. But there was already a fierce love for my son that was indescribable, and I knew I had to fight for him, and he would help me fight, too.
I recovered from surgery on the maternity floor at the hospital since they would have the doppler to check Leo’s heartbeat. It always stayed so strong…teaching me that we were both in God’s hands, and we would always be okay. When a mom hears her baby’s heartbeat it is always a miraculous sound, but hearing it after fearing I might not, was something I will never forget.
And then there was the day Leo was born. It was the most perfect day…partly because I felt like a normal mom…not a mom who has cancer. It was a day defined by a perfect, healthy baby boy…not by the disease that would soon define so much of our next two years.
Looking back on the last two years, I sometimes am bitter that I missed out on so much of Leo’s babyhood – between surgeries, doctor’s visits, radiation, etc. But then I remember that he’s here, and that I get to be a mom to the most wonderful boy.
Leo also has given me stress over his developmental delays. At a year, he was severely behind in gross and fine motor abilities. I blamed myself, I blamed the cancer. Even though there was no way to know, I always felt guilt over my decision to do the surgery while pregnant, not being able to breastfeed for longer, and being slightly hypo-thyroid in early pregnancy. I knew somehow I had caused Leo to be behind. So even though I knew there was no way to know “who’s fault” this was, I resolved to focus on what we could do for Leo. I have spent A LOT of this year in therapy sessions with Leo, watching him get stronger and stronger.
And finally today, I was given another sign that everything is going to be okay. At his 2 year check up, Leo is finally caught up developmentally in ALL categories. He’s always been in the black area on the questionnaire they always have you fill out. But today, I could mark yes to nearly every question when it asked if Leo could do a certain activity! I was so proud, because I know how hard he’s had to work (okay, so most of his therapy consists of playing, but still! 🙂
I am so excited to be celebrating Leo’s 2nd birthday. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a precious child from God, but I am so happy he’s here, and he really was meant to be here. I will never forget how he almost wasn’t a part of our lives, and how because of him, these last two years will not be defined by cancer, but by a smiley, goofy, boy who makes everyday better.