what thoughts rattle around in your brain when you're a mom of a toddler and a breast cancer patient?

Friday, November 19, 2004

The 4am Philosopher

It's been awhile since I had a full night of sleep. To be more specific, let's define what I mean by that. 8 hours of sleep in a row, uninterrupted. I'm trying to think when that was, those blissful 8 hours of snooze time...somewhere in early pregnancy perhaps? At some point in my pregnancy I woke up all the time to pee or to change position or because my hip bones hurt.

Then of course, the baby was born and no one needs me to tell them that a newborn does not allow for an 8 hour snooze for her parents.

After only a few months of newborn baby sleepless nights came the cancer diagnosis. Lots of sleep lost there. Then stress from pending tests, treatments, surgery, etc. plus a baby that wakes up sometime between midnight and 4am to be taken to her parents' warm and lovely bed. Jennifer is spending more hours in her crib these days but to be honest, I don't mind a bit that she wants to come in with us. There is something so comforting about having her there cuddled up, sucking her thumb and making her little baby sounds. It's soothing for me to watch her sweet sleeping face or touch her soft little hands. She is such a gift.

I've read all kinds of books about insomnia. I've spoken to my therapist and a psychiatrist. I've taken sleep medication. Nothing really works. I think the thing that will work is being done with all treatment and all surgery (even the cosmetic stuff) so that I can start the next chapter of my life. And that's what I really think about when I wake up...what will I do with the time I have here on earth?

No one really knows how long she has here. Since having cancer, I have realized that. Before that I'd have to say I never really thought about it, and just assumed I'd live to be an old woman. Now I know differently -- I might live to be an old woman and that would be fabulous -- and I might not. It can all be taken away anytime by a million different things. Not just cancer or illness. Car accidents, deadly terrorist attacks, other kinds of freak accidents. I just saw on the news today that a person was critically injured because someone threw a frozen turkey out a car window and accidently hit this person with it. How do you plan for that? Now I know that you can't plan for any of it and you just need to make the time count every day.

I am not the person I was before the cancer diagnosis and there is no going back to her. I don't think of this as a loss, although to some extent it is a loss of innocence and that is always sad. I'm searching for what it is that will be meaningful to me and then I will pursue it relentlessly until I'm satisfied with the results. I don't mean the obvious stuff like spending time with my family and making sure to tell the important people in my life that I love them. I'm talking about finding the reason that I'm here on earth. Making some sort of small difference in how things happen here. I just don't know what that thing is yet. But believe me, I'll figure it out and give it everything I've got.