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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Bittersweet Rose

I lie here under the warmth of the white halogen lights, breathing in the tasteless gas that will put me to sleep, I think about what brought me here. The clock ticks second by second, and I think to myself, it will just be a few short clicks until I wake up knowing the fate of what is to come. The blood has been drawn, my body has been prepped, and now it’s time. The doctors and nurses sit by my bedside, watching my vitals, turning the knobs, adjusting my mask, and making sure that my frail body is ready for the battle that is to come. Questions and thoughts flood my mind like a full pond that was dry just minutes prior to a raging storm. The conversation with my oncologist resonates in my head as I begin to fade. “You should terminate your pregnancy, you will at least have a chance at living for your other children.” How could I terminate? I have two kids, I know what is growing inside of me. Why on earth do I have to make this God awful decision? I never intended to play russian roulette with my life or the life of my child but here I lay, wondering if they will get it all? Will the image of the black and white heart beat of my third continue to beat? Or will this be the last time I see the blood pumping through my child’s heart? The sorrow on my pale face didn’t go unnoticed. The operating room nurse grabbed my hand, and looked into my bloodshot eyes and told me, “it will all be alright, even if it doesn’t seem that way.” Those were the last words I heard before the lights faded, and my thoughts ceased.

My eyes begin to open as I wake from the anesthesia, but everything was a blur and my head was in a fog. I could see the nurses scurrying around the recovery room tending to other patient needs. My vision is starting to come into focus and I notice a single red rose lying on my abdomen. My stomach sinks, as though I just flew down a steep roller coaster. Why would they put a rose there? At this point the nurse noticed that I was awake, she approached my bedside and grabbed my chart. She stared at the notes with a blank stare, and then checked my pulse, and the new twelve inch incision down my stomach. My face is pensive as I think to myself, why would they need to do such a large incision, and why is my baby’s heart rate not being monitored? Neither one of us wanted to talk about what she read in that chart. I finally spoke up but my mouth was as dry as flour, and my throat feels like I swallowed glass. I choked on the words that did not fall naturally from my tongue. I’m going to have to rip the bandaid off and ask the dreaded question I somehow already knew. My voice trembled, and my lips quivered, “Did the baby survive?” I wanted to plug my ears and close my eyes like I was a child watching a scary scene in a movie. “No mam, the doctor spoke with your husband and will come speak to you both shortly.”

The weight of my decisions have never felt as heavy as they do at this moment. I was David, up against Goliath. I gambled and I lost. The rose that lay on my belly is a bitter reminder of what just happened. The nurse helped me dress, gathered my belongings, and made sure I drank some soda water and crackers. She wheeled me out to where my husband was sitting, face in his hands. The grey hairs that were sprouting on his head, and the dark circles under his eyes were just some of the small reminders of what we had been through these past few months. His bright blue tear filled eyes met mine. His voice was soft and sincere as he spoke the words “I’m so sorry, I’m so very sorry.” It wasn’t a few seconds later that the doctor came in. For most of the conversation I just felt numb. His words were only a vibration in my ear drums. “We were not able to save the baby, but we were able to save you. Your cancer was isolated, and we were able to remove it all.” The words that came out of his mouth should have been the best news, but I can’t help but think, “at what cost?” At some point I know I will be okay, this may not make sense right now, but my husband will wheel me out of the surgery center today, broken but healed.

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