Annabelle is now just over 8 weeks old. The first 5 weeks of her precious little life were pure bliss, plain and simple. I finally felt totally complete; there wasn't anything else on the face of the earth I could possibly want or need. We had it all. Little did we know that "all" was about to include cancer and our blissful, happy life was about to be turned upside down. It's now been exactly 3 weeks since we found out about Steve's kidney cancer. It also happened to be the exact same day that Annabelle smiled for the first time, at her Daddy, as I mentioned before. It seemed very unfair to have two such momentous occasions fall on the same day, and it still does. That same afternoon, Steve's surgeon left for South Africa, which is why we had to wait just over 2 weeks for the radical nephrectomy to get rid of what turned out to be a pineapple sized tumor. That 2 weeks was both the best and worst 2 weeks I have ever had. It was absolutely miserable to constantly worry that something might happen during surgery that would take away my incredible husband, Annabelle's wonderful Daddy. And to wonder if the surgeons would be able to remove that disgusting parasite and rid his body of the cancer. On the other hand, Annabelle started smiling more and more every day and making eye contact with us and just being the sweet, perfect little newborn that she is. Cue the emotional disorganization! Then, as if things couldn't possibly get any more upsetting or stressful, last Monday, my PawPaw had a stroke. (Yes, I realize I'm all grown up, but I'm still a huge PawPaw's girl, and proud of it). It really only affected the area of the brain responsible for speech, so he completely lost the ability to say anything at all. Anyone who knows him realizes that his favorite passtime is his mouth, whether it's singing, talking or laughing, that's what PawPaw loves. So, yet again, emotional disorganization in being so thankful that it wasn't worse than that, but so sad that it happened at all. Since that day, however, he has come a long way and his speech is returning and getting better every day. I would just like to take a moment to gloat that the first actual name he was able to say was "Heather". But anyway...
When we learned Steve would need surgery, there was an outpouring of love and support unlike anything we had ever known. It was incredible how many people offered any help we may need. I must admit that at the time, I was very grateful, but thought that we wouldn't really need anyone's help. I was wrong. (never expect that from me again) I'm so grateful to everyone who offered to take care of Annabelle for us. I'm so thankful for my life long friend Jana who came to our house at 4:30 AM on Thursday and stayed all day long with her and to Steve's (and now my) dear friend Laurie who stayed with her Monday so I could spend some time with my husband. And of course I don't know what we would've done without my mom and dad who filled in all the other spaces with her they could this weekend. So, now about the surgery. I already mentioned that the tumor was about the size of a pineapple, even bigger than we expected. The pathology report shows that it was a Grade 3 (not the same as Stage 3), but thankfully Steve had a fantastic surgical team on his side resulting in the complete removal of the cancer from his body. Ironically, the same surgeon who reversed his vasectomy, ultimately giving us Annabelle, performed the nephrectomy. This man has become one of my favorite people on the face of the Earth, for two very big reasons!
Mom, Dad, Kimmie & Clay were all at the hospital with me throughout the surgery, something else for which I'm very thankful. They were there when the doctor told us he had gotten rid of the cancer and that Steve was going to be just fine. And I know that they'll be there with us both during what is going to be a very long and difficult recovery. In case I don't mention it enough, I love our family. It's weird. It's unconventional. And it's wonderful.
All of this brings us to yesterday. I was never so happy to pull into Centennial Medical Center in my life as I was then. (Annabelle was born at the Women's Hospital, so technically, different!) After 5 looong nights in the hospital, Steve came home. I was obviously thrilled, but not quite as much as Annabelle, who spent just about all day laying on her Daddy's chest which is just her favorite place in the world. Actually, it's mine too.