Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How He Loved Me

It all started with a pimple.

Glaring and annoying and right there on my face, the pimple was when it all began.

It’s 8 p.m. and I’m sitting in the doctor’s office. He’s just arrived, limping in with the kindest smile on his face, even though we’ve been waiting for four hours. He’s like that, the Doc. Unpredictable. Appointments at the eleventh hour, patients waiting until the wee hours of the morning. I used to pass by halls like this, white-washed walls lined with gloomy faces and a lot of staring into space. I would pass by and think, “This is just sad.”

Here I am now, though, just as sad, just as gloomy, just as staring-into-space.

All this for a chance to wake up in the most ungodly hours of the night to calm a persistent crying that lasts until all the neighbors wake up. A chance to swap out stinky diapers for clean ones, a chance to get spit up on, a chance to catch some projectile vomiting.

A chance to hold that swaddling cloth and feel like the luckiest woman in the world.

A chance for a baby of my own.

I turn to the left and my husband is playing his game, nose buried in his tab, slouching in the cracked plastic seats. He’s hungry and tired and sleepy and I know it, but the bread is now stale and the Coke can is empty.

He looks up at me. I smile. He smiles.

And we wait.

The pimple.

I was staring at myself in the mirror, my red dress and my high heels and my stupid, stupid pimple.

“Nobody’s going to notice it. Trust me.” My future husband had a way of reassuring me to disregard the most mundane things I worry about.

I wasn't convinced.

It was a party. We were younger and naïve and boyfriend and girlfriend, and thoughts of making babies were farther into the future than what we were planning to have for dinner next week.

The pimple, though, it had always been there, a looming warning of what was about to come.


“It’s your hormones.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Hormones.” My future husband’s sister-in-law was writing a request form. Hormones and ovaries and pimples caused by PCOS, and in the bright lights of her clinic, I could feel myself fading away.

I left the dermatologist wing with the ultrasound request form in my hand. I came in to get the pimple checked and came out with something else entirely.

I had never done it, the ultrasound, the date with a stick. It was supposed to be funny, but the results were not.


Before I found out I had a cyst in my ovary the size of a fist, I wore bikinis. Tiny ones, cute ones, in different colors and designs. Whenever we’d go to the beach or a resort for the summer. I wasn’t going to be young forever, and I was twenty-five and that was the time of my life.

But there it was, on the crisp white paper with the hospital seal telling me everything was official and that I couldn’t change it even if I tried, the life-threatening cyst. In my right ovary. Three-headed, like a Hidden Mickey.

The recommended course of action: immediate excision.

Future husband took me to a science museum that day.

I had always wanted to go. He surprised me. We poked at dinosaur fossils and pushed buttons and learned new things and lay down on a mat under the dark planetarium dome to watch the beginning of the world and the stars in the sky.

Then in the car on the way home, he took the hospital results from my hand and replaced them with a tiny desk balloon, tacky and shaped like a heart. There was a small switch on the side, and the words lit up just like my face did that night.

“Happy Valentine’s Day.”


On the operating table, I couldn’t breathe. Just a few minutes ago, I was asked to curl up in a fetal position so that the anesthesiologist could inject the epidural into my spine. The anesthesia, right into my central nervous system. So I wouldn’t feel a thing.

But I did feel something. I felt fear and nausea and I couldn’t breathe and I was looking at the clock and when would I get to see my fiance again?

Everyone was walking all around me, handing out instruments and a passing joke here and there, their faces covered with surgical masks. Once in a while, my operating OB would say seemingly random words like knife and scalpel and scissors and something else completely terrifying.

I couldn’t tell if the jokes were for them or for me.

And because waiting just seemed like forever, I let my thoughts drift back to the night before, when future hubby came into my hospital room and waited with me until the sun went down, then with a kiss he told me he loved me and that he would see me tomorrow.

It was now 6 a.m. and my body was cut open and the steel table was cold and my arms were strapped on either side of me, like I was going to go rabid and start thrashing around like a crazed zombie. I had probably seen too many movies.

When was this going to end?


“Both your ovaries are polycystic, and you have Stage Two Endometriosis.”

When you’ve just been cut open and you can’t move your body and you’re in your hospital gown and you’ve just spent horrible hours after operation in the recovery room suffering from uncontrollable shaking and hypothermia as an unfortunate aftereffect of the anesthesia and it’s wearing off and your whole body feels like a bunch of Popeye arms just sucker-punched you in the gut, these are not the words you want to hear.

In the recovery room of the OB Ward a while back, I was surrounded by tears of joy and new mothers who were being handed their crying newborns. But there I was, shaking and aching and alone. And all I had to show for it was a C-section across my belly that's not really a C-section.

My obstetrician smiled at me. Like I would be reassured that I didn’t have bigger problems to worry about once I had recovered.

I remembered how she let me poke at the removed cysts after the operation a few hours earlier, in a stainless pan, all wet and murky and caked with my blood.

“It’s like pork fat,” was all I could say.

Now I was famished but nothing I ever ate would stay down. All due to my insides getting messed up, literally.

So really, pork fat was probably not the best thing I was supposed to be thinking about.


It’s 10 p.m. now.

The last patient has just exited the Doc’s room, and we’re up next. The Mickey Mouse cyst is gone, and all that’s left of it is a six-inch scar across my belly, a fat, flesh-colored wriggly worm that was an open wound just a year ago. Future husband is now my husband, and we’re waiting outside the immunology clinic because we know we have fertility issues, ever since the cyst, the PCOS, the Endometriosis, and the pimple.

That stupid pimple that actually saved my life. 

Thanks to my husband’s sister-in-law, we discovered the polycystic ovaries and the dermoid cyst and the Endometriosis, all of which can stop us from having a little bundle of joy of our own. Strike three, my husband likes to say.

And because of all these three, there is a high probability that I have a reproductive immunologic problem, too. And I do.

Medical terms. Heavy terms. All they really mean is that my immune system keeps fighting off foreign bodies, all foreign bodies. And that includes anything related to making a baby.

Life is a series of doctor’s appointments and disappointments, of slouching in waiting rooms and staring at empty hospital halls.

Strike three.

Still, I am blessed.

That was how he loved me.

More facts and info on How to Deal with Fertility Issues .


  1. I love it! Thanks for sharing :) Very proud on how grateful you still are! :)

    1. Aww thank you! How "he" loved me can have two meanings. :)

    2. Ooohhh... I hear you, sister. I hear you.



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