Imprints

Welcome to Week 26 (of this pregnancy), not the NFL season, which is currently trailing me by 11 weeks. :0) Unfortunately, I don’t have any really interesting pregnancy-related news to report, as, for once, I didn’t have any doctor’s appointments or ultrasounds this week. I did have my two IVIG infusions, taught my last class of the semester and am just trying my best to finish up my grades so that I can enjoy what I think will be the most memorable holiday season to date. Christmas has definitely taken on a new life now that I get to see it through the eyes of a two-year old. Clara is enchanted by Christmas trees, snowmen, Santa, twinkling lights and holiday music. It’s funny, the more she grows, the more I see myself in her — and I’m loving every single minute of it. For me, one of the most amazing things about being a parent is getting the opportunity to watch your child, who is an amalgamation of your partner and yourself, recreate your facial expressions and display those personality traits that you once thought were uniquely your own. There are times when I look at Clara and see Taylor (this definitely helps when he is out-of-town on business) and other times when I see myself. It’s beautiful, amazing and slightly intimidating all at the same time.

So, the subject of this week’s post is: Imprints. Originally, I was going to call it Scars, but Imprints just seems to have a nicer ring to it (no Christmas pun intended, of course). As you know, this semester I’ve had the challenging experience of teaching an 8 a.m. class in Bridgewater three times per week. In order for me to get to class on time (and with some time to spare), I had to leave my house around 6:30 a.m. (give or take a few minutes). I am not a morning person in the least, but began to enjoy my hour-long drives as they afforded me the opportunity to watch the sun rise (something I’ve seen more than I’d like to admit this semester) and to reflect on the chaos that had become my life since the first leaves of autumn appeared.

During one of my early morning drives this week, I began to think about the side effects that I’ve been experiencing from the IVIG, which, in turn, led to me to wonder what types of scars, or imprints, this treated pregnancy was going to leave behind. So far, the only side effects that I’ve experienced are a few dull headaches when I first started my treatments, extreme fatigue immediately following an infusion (this usually goes away by the next morning and could also be attributed to the Benadryl that I take pre-infusion), and some skin problems — mostly some fairly painful blisters/bumps in the joints of the fingers on my right hand (with just a few sprinkled on my left-hand thumb) and some dry itchy patches of skin on my upper chest and back. I’ve actually been pretty lucky that I’ve responded to the IVIG so well, and can definitely tolerate a little itching and discomfort for the next few months. I’ve also noticed that I have a nice little series of IV pinpricks on my inner arms. Each time I have a treatment, I rotate arms so that I don’t tax my veins too much. And since Nurse Jules has assured me that my veins are, “a nurse’s dream,” she does have quite a few to choose from each time to sets up my IV. But, the pinpricks take time to heal and, along with the bumps and rash, are just another visible sign that I’m not living the life of your average 6 months pregnant woman right now.

As far as imprints are concerned, I, like most of you, am burdened with plenty of mental and physical reminders of life’s harsh realities. Physically, my imprints range from minute ones — like the one I got on the top of my right hand during a run-in with my locker in 10th grade  to about a dozen medium-sized ones left over from various mole biopsies (some which revealed pre-cancerous moles, while others were benign) to the largest to date — the now 2-inch keloid on my right breast, which was the result of my melanoma surgery almost eight years ago. I also carry around my fair share of mental imprints — the most notable having resulted from my unborn son’s death and the events surrounding Clara’s birth. I know that there are more imprints coming in the near future — a lovely cesarean scar, along with the worry that accompanies parenting a potentially sick newborn — and am prepared to add these welcome additions to my burgeoning collection.

The funny thing about scars is that they can fade, but never completely go away. Sure, you can buy those over-the-counter creams to speed up the fading process, but even if they are physically removed from your person, those lasting imprints never really leave your memory. After I had my melanoma surgery in December of 2003, I was left with a 4-inch incision crisscrossed with about two dozen staples on my right breast. Once the staples were removed, only the disfigured skin remained. At the follow-up visit with my surgical oncologist, he informed me that after the surgical site had healed, I could have plastic surgery to reconstruct the area. I politely declined, explaining that the wound was now my battle scar — a reminder to myself of the dangers of the sun and ultraviolet radiation and how lucky I had been to have found the cancer before it could do further damage. Today, I am slightly saddened to see that the scar has now faded to join the rest of the surrounding skin tone, but the imprint left on my brain is as raw as ever. I often wonder whether three, five or ten years from now when I look down at the scar left over from the birth of this child if I’m going to feel the same way? Also, will this pregnancy leave me with more mental imprints than physical ones? I’m going to venture out a guess and say, yes, but that is still to be determined. In the meantime, I can look at the scar left from my 10th grade locker and smile and glance down at the keloid from my melanoma surgery and embrace my second chance at life. And for now, I can use the temporary imprints that this experience has provided me — bumps, rash and IV pinpricks in tow — as reminders that, although our lives don’t always take the paths we had determined for ourselves, the places where we do end up, the people we do meet and the outcomes that result are just the way things were intended to be…

Clara, the result of my unexpected and often tumultuous path to motherhood.

If you’d like to comment on this post, I’m curious to find out about your imprints (both physical and mental) and what they represent to you. So, dear readers, feel free to comment away!

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