By Stephanie Hodgson
26 Sep

Cycles of Life

Monday, September 26, 2011

Every month I order my congenital heart disease medicine. Every month I order my oxygen tanks. Every month, since taking this new CHD medicine, I have to get a pregnancy test. And, every month, since about the age of 13, Mother Nature orders my monthly cycle.

This month, however, when I called in to order my CHD medicine, I got past the normal questioning of setting up a delivery, etc., but then came the question asked every time I call in, "Stephanie, when was your last pregnancy test?"

Oh, no, I think to myself. I should have already had the test, but this month it got missed.

"I took it last month," I begin my explanation to the nurse on the phone, "But… this month I forgot."

Then, I go into my normal bargaining plea, "But, I know I'm not pregnant!"

How could I be? I'm not in any sexual relationship and I had just had my monthly period, but mainly I know because when I was first married, I had two ectopic pregnancies within four months of each other that required surgery and ligation of each fallopian tube.

So the chance that I could get pregnant is less than 1 percent. I think it's actually zero percent, but there's always hope for a miracle.

"I understand, Stephanie," the nurse goes on, "but it's important to get the test because of the government regulation on the medicine you are taking. Since the medicine can cause birth defects, it's required. So, you have to get the test before your order can be shipped."

I succumb, and I go get the blood work for the pregnancy test.

Anyway, these trips to the hospital lab provide an opportunity to view and enjoy some of the beautiful artwork that hangs along the corridors in the patient registration area and in the waiting rooms of the hospital.

I enter the lab waiting area, and a sign in the window of the lab says, "Please ring bell for service."

A young woman nurse comes to the window.

"I'm here for a pregnancy test."

The nurse gives me a look over and smiles. She then says for me to have a seat, and she would be with me soon.

As I wait, I notice two Impressionist paintings that hang on one of the walls of the waiting room. One painting is of a mother and her two young boys playing on the beach. One young boy has blond hair and the other boy has brown hair.

The other painting is of the same mother with the blond-headed boy. The mother is leaning over looking intrigued by something the boy has in his hands, perhaps a seashell or starfish.

I think of how things might have been different with my marriage if I had had children. I'd like to think we'd still be together. Children often bond a marriage union in a way nothing else can, especially if the two people love one another.

My twin sister had wanted, and even offered, to be a surrogate for me and my husband. She knew how much I wanted to have a child, and she knew it would put my life at high-risk for me to carry a child, due to my CHD. Things never worked out for the surrogacy though, sadly.

The nurse calls me back, and asks, "How far along are you?"

I start to give a long explanation, but I just say, "I don't know."

After my blood is drawn, I start to ask the nurse when the results will be back, but I stop in mid-sentence, because I already know what the results will be: Negative!

So, I just leave.

I walk down the long corridor to the lobby and entrance of the hospital. I stop to study one painting that reminds me of "Water Lilies" by my favorite artist Monet. As I get close up, I see that the painting is by a local artist, Bob Rankin, and is also called "Water Lilies."

Outside, the hot air hits my face, the lingering smoke of a few smokers standing outside the hospital stifles me, and I'm quickly brought back to my reality.

Although it's a hot day, summer is nearing its end. I know that fall will bring some cooler days, then winter will be here, and then spring again.

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