Day 42

Monday, July 16, 2012

I never understood why some Jews say "b'sha'ah tovah" to an expectant mother, rather than "mazal tov" or "congratulations."  The hebrew roughly translates to "all in good time."  It seemed to me a strange way to celebrate the mom and baby to be.  But over the last 6 weeks, I've come to understand this phrase in a new context.

At this point, there's nothing I can do to hide my almost 32-week pregnant belly and no matter how hard I try to ignore the constant somersaults inside me, I know something is growing in there and its arrival is inevitable.  When Ari was first diagnosed, I thought to myself, "My kid has cancer and I'm going to have a newborn baby.  This has to be the worst timing ever."  When someone would say "b'sha'ah tovah" I wanted to roll my eyes.  (I still try not to think about the not-so-distant future of sleepless nights, blowout poops, and crying/swaddling/spitting/feeding... combined with chemo and clinic visits and lumbar taps and radiation... oh and the pushing/delivery/bleeding/aching/not-fitting-in any clothes for 6 months til I shed the brownie weight)

But maybe, the timing is not only good, but life saving.  As it turns out, if Ari needs a bone marrow transplant, there is no chance a parent or grandparent or aunt, uncle, or cousin could be the donor match.  The only relative that has a good chance for being a perfect match is a sibling.  And, the easiest and safest way to harvest donor marrow from a sibling is through cord blood.  The odds of needing cord blood are ridiculously rare (less than getting childhood cancer) but in a situation like ours, it makes sense to spend the bucks to save the cells.  And, get this, Viacord pays 100% for cord blood banking if the baby has a sibling who has a diagnosed illness like Leukemia.

So this baby who, I hate to admit, I tried to pretend was never going to arrive, may end up saving Ari's life.  And even if Ari never needs a transplant, I believe the baby will be Ari's pride and joy.  She will provide him (and us) with an exciting distraction from medications and procedures.  She will give Ari an opportunity to feel successful as he pushes her in the stroller, feeds her a bottle, and helps to change her diapers.  And he is going to thrive as a big brother.  I know this feeling of importance and purpose will help him immensely over the next two years in treatment. 

Now-a-days, as I walk through the hospital and people look at my big round belly and say "congrats", I respond, "thanks, all in good time."  (And I'll just hope "good time" isn't any earlier than my due date!)
Daily update:

Again, I don't want to jinx it, but Ari's methotrexate level today was .07, down from 38 yesterday, and it needs to be 0 before we are cleared to go home.  We're basically there.  He has no side effects from the chemo, his blood counts are all really good, and he is feeling great.  They even took him off belly infection meds today.  And, I shouldn't say it, but they told us to prepare to be discharged... tomorrow.  We met with the home health care rep and the head nurse who prepped us for our release.  And we received another tutorial on how to flush Ari's IV at home.  He won't need any IV meds but we have to ensure the line stays open and clean.  This would mean we could all spend 2 weeks and 2 days at home before returning for the next phase (which should only be 5-8 days in the hospital... c'mon that's like nothing!).

I made a few calls to get the house cleaned and carpets washed.  Once we do a quick grocery and Target shopping for some basic necessities, we'll be ready to pack up and leave.  I'm both petrified and on-the-edge-of-my-seat excited.  It is very possible we will wake up tomorrow morning and Ari's counts will be low or the med level not yet at zero and we will be here for another day or two (or fourteen).  Of course this all happens the day after we schlep the air mattress in to the room...too bad we didn't bring it in weeks ago.

That's my update.  I'm gonna go make some microwave popcorn to watch during the Bachelorette tonight.  Obviously, I'm rooting for Arie. 


Anonymous,  July 16, 2012 at 10:20 PM  

Hi Julie
I took time to show your blog to my 7 and 6 year old yesterday. I check you blog each night before bed time and I can't remember exact reason as to why my conversation with my two kids led to Ari and his illness. My kids wanted to know why and how Ari got so sick and I simply explained it as "bad luck". I showed Ava and Tyler the photo of Ari in his blow up pool and riding on his car ride on toy. They both were curious and thought he was so "cute and little". I want to teach my kids to be grateful for all that they get to do, even taking a walk outdoors and/or getting to go to the pool on a hot hot day. Most importantly I want them to take a minute every now and then to think about other children who may not be able to do all that they get to do. They are going to make Ari a card and are so happy to hear Ari's medicine seems to be wORking. We are keeping our fingers crossed. I hope they get to send their card to Ari soon!

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