April 15, 2010 was the 2nd anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy. It was also the day that our son, Veo Hieu Liam Worrall-Soriano was born and then died. Veo had a birth defect called anencephaly, which causes the skull to not form and therefore, the baby would never have a chance to survive. I was admitted to Women's hospital to give birth to Veo and to say goodbye. When labour was induced, I felt the familiar pains of childbirth, but with the added pain of knowing that all the dreams we had for Veo would never come true. Each contraction that passed through me was another permanent wound. I knew that before long, we would be able to hold Veo, but only for a little while.
Throughout our stay at Women's, the staff--from the nurses to the social worker to the spiritual counsellor--helped us in every single way they could, and we will always be so thankful for that support. But as we came home, we felt the immense sadness and void fill up the space around us. We spent time together, just the two of us, and we also thought about how we would help Chloe and Mylo deal with the loss of the baby brother they were so excited to have in their lives.
Even though they are only 5 and 6 years old, my children have gone through so much in terms of death and loss and illness, starting with my cancer diagnosis in 2007. When they were 2 and 3 years old, they watched me transform from a healthy young mom who could easily fulfill all their needs into a sick, bald woman who spent a lot of time in bed. They watched me give myself white blood cell booster injections, and they watched me recover from my surgery, with drains hanging out of me. They watched me get better again. Then they endured their father's and my separation, trying to cope with now living between two households and understanding why grown ups behave the way they do. Now this--a baby that they never saw but hugged through my belly, a baby whom they had all these plans to play with, a baby for whom they drew pictures and made up stories--this baby they wanted--he was dead. Why? My heart broke when Chloe asked me, "Mama, can we have a baby that doesn't get sick and die?"
It's been over a month since Veo's birth and death, and we're still feeling the loss. Chloe and Mylo have resumed their lives as usual, but now and then they ask me about Veo. They ask to see the tiny footprints the hospital gave us, they ask to burn some incense for him. The hospital gave us teddy bears to give to the kids, and the funeral home gave us a stuffed elephant--all as reminders of Veo. Every night the kids are with me, they hug those stuffies and remember their brother.
Now, I sit alone in my apartment. The kids are with their dad. Anton is going to be by his mother's side as she takes her final breath. It is quiet, but I'm feeling very unsettled.
Yesterday, I had a check-up with my oncologist. She wants to give me a full-body PET scan to make sure I am truly cancer-free. However, in order for me to have that done, I have to not be pregnant. And now, more than ever, Anton and I really want to have a baby. A fear struck me this morning as I thought about the PET scan: what if it shows I have cancer, and I have to go through chemo or whatever, and then I can never have kids again? I really want to say, forget the PET scan until we have the baby we want so much. But I know--I have to make sure I am good to go.
I fucking hate cancer. It keeps getting in my way.
Why can't we have this life we want so much--to be with Chloe and Mylo and their baby brother/sister, to live quietly and in the service of society? The last three years of my life have been devastation upon devastation. Yes, there has been so much that has gone right. I still have two amazing children, and I am in love with the most amazing man. Why, then, does life keep dishing out all these challenges that make me want to scream?