My friend announced she is having a girl. It will be her third child. Third girl. She and her husband say it doesn’t matter, boy or girl, but deep down I think they were rooting for a boy.
“Will you quit trying if you have a boy?” I asked. There was a pause as if a writer inserted the words "a beat” in a teleplay. An awkward silence, at that. I don't know why I ask such insensitive things at times, but I had to ask. Would they continue to try until they had a boy?
The fourth time my brother and his wife tried; they had a boy. Three girls and one boy= four children. Four lively children to boot.
One never knows their fate. My friend sent me the announcement via text. She is 4 years my junior and I have yet to have a child of my own. Even with the pity talk, “You’re getting up there in years you know, but you’re still young” backtrack talk, I’ve managed to keep my sanity. I want children. I have a ticking time bomb inside me.
I've taken on the title of having an "honorary daughter" in lieu of an almost-step-daughter. I say almost because I was never married to her father. He called me wife on occasion so I suppose that makes me the almost wife. We were together for 8 years, which is more than most marriages but the little girl didn’t come from my womb.
I'm happy for my friend. I want her to know this, but the same day she had news of her child, I had news of something else. I'm facing my third ovarian tumour. This time, I am not so sure what is to become of it. Today is the day that I should have found out if I needed surgery; and instead, my feet swelled, body ached and the words escaped me. I played hooky from my visit, and prayed that I somehow escaped my impending doom. I feel silly thinking like this. I encourage regular follow ups and doctor visits, and if I didn't have the speed and flutter of my heart coupled with failing legs at the same time, I would have gone.
The initial doctor's visit was two days after Christmas. I lay on the table contemplating the wand that the ultrasound technician held in her hand. I watched as she slipped on the blue plastic condom and lubricated it with a giant tube of KY Jelly. How many vaginas has that wand been in? How is this different from sleeping with massive amounts of men, albeit protected?
I thought about skin on skin contact and how I prayed the wand wouldn't hit the innermost parts of my thighs. There are so many diseases one can catch from sex. Even protected; and I didn't want to catch anything from a plastic coated wand.
"My hands are cold," she said. Even with gloves on. I wasn't focusing on her hands. I quickly scanned the list of worst case scenarios in my brain to think of the most horrific things that could come from this situation. Do other people think like this? Only me!
The technician scanned my right ovary and said the cyst appeared to have disappeared. When I reminded her my cyst was in my LEFT ovary, she shifted the wand so it would go left. It was a long wand. I couldn't help but compare it to an over-sized male member. Skinny, but long.
I watched as she typed measurements on the screen, capturing images. Freezing them, copying them and then isolating them with graphs and numbers. I looked at her face to see if she was frowning.
"I like your bedside manner," I said, "You always have a smile on your face. Even if I am dying."
"You're not dying, it looks like a solid mass. Like a dermoid cyst; but the doctor will tell you the results."
"Looks like I'll need surgery, doesn't it?"
"I can't tell you for sure, the doctor would know, but to ease your mind this looks like it will need to be operated on soon."
In 2003 I was gifted my first dermoid. She had hair and teeth and was removed immediately. I went on a Wednesday and was prepped for surgery the same Friday. Bottles of over-the-counter ex-lax were administered along with gallons of liquid too disgusting to drink. "This cleans your system for surgery."
I managed to drink it even though I probably regurgitated every other ounce.
The power of a laxative is a pain I never want to renew. I don't know how people can use for weight loss? I was doubled over half the night due to cramping.
In "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," the aunt mentions something about having a "twin" on a lump in her neck. She mentions that the twin had eyes, hair and teeth. This must have been a dermoid cyst.
I often quote this whenever I think about my own cyst. The first one was removed after surgery only to return in 2007. It was reduced with a very strong and expensive drug called Lupron Depro. It was said to have many horrific side effects like loss of bone mass, low energy, low sex drive. Instead it did the opposite. For six months, I felt better than ever. I was doing cartwheels in Cabo San Lucas, making heavy with an ex-boyfriend. I blame it on the drug.
When I asked if I could take the medicine forever, I was told 6 months max is about the most a body can handle. The injections were slightly painful but I knew that I would feel a surge in energy, like 1000 times more than a B-12 injection. I was told no. My body couldn't handle it, my insurance wouldn't pay and some day there would be some sort of side effect.
The latter part of 2011 I felt the same familiar pain on my side. I knew the cyst was back. Or another grew in its place. While most people are having their first, second, third or even 8th child, I'm impregnated with a large mass. A cyst. A tumour. And at times, I feel like I am dying.
I asked the technician to print the sonogram out for me. I had a running joke with my mom and a few close friends. I'd call my cyst Derma. Is her hair like mine? Are her teeth straight? What colour eyes does she have?
For a minute the tech looked at me with a frown. "It's not cancer is it? I tend to read faces." I reiterated.
It was the first time anyone asked her for a print out of their cyst. It was the first time she saw a dermoid cyst that big without emergency surgery.
"I'll be fine." I mentioned under my breath. Somehow I felt like I needed to console the technician.
"Well, it is a solid mass. Most cancer has a bit of fluid."
It is hard for me to hear the "C" word. My heart speeds up, my blood pressure goes into an all-time high and I begin to sweat when I rarely do.
I look again at the sonogram of my friend's baby. It, or rather "she" appears to be in 3-D. You can see eyes and a forehead and a mouth.
The eyes are closed. It'd be kind of creepy if they were open. The baby has a lot more developing to do before she is ready to face the world.
I can't help but think about my sonogram, now hanging on the fridge. It's a big circular ball, but I know she has eyes, teeth and probably a head full of hair like me. And even if I don’t have a child yet; for now I have Derma, and I wonder... does she look like me?