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Inked: Part 1

"Inked" is a five-part story about my journey bringing my son, Rowan, into the world.

On Saturday afternoon, I went to get my tattoo.

I actually already had a tattoo, prior to my newest piece I received on Saturday. It was, what I thought, a rebellious thing to do when I was 18 years old. I made the effort to prove that I wasn't everyone's favorite good-girl. I wasn't just a good-student, never-did-anything-wrong, teacher's-pet kinda girl. I could be bad if I wanted to! But, upon showing my mother my tattoo, she laughed and called it "cute." Apparently, the dime-sized blue star on the top of my foot wasn't exactly hardcore.

9 years later and almost a decade of life lived since the falsely rebellious incident, I decided that I wanted to get another tattoo. But, this one was different. It had meaning, memories and experience behind it.

Bringing Rowan into the world was no easy task for me. My friend Lisa actually said that I had the most difficult pregnancy ever witnessed.

My journey was a battle of epic proportion.

The first half of my pregnancy was pretty textbook. Morning sickness, fatigue, weight gain... the usual. Nothing out of the ordinary except a very small cyst on my right ovary that my doctor spotted during my first ultrasound. It was only about 8mm in size. It's not uncommon for women to have small ovarian cysts right after they become pregnant, due to the increased hormones that the body produces during that time.

Jump to 20 weeks, to our full-anatomy ultrasound. We were completely over the moon, we found out we were having a boy. A surprise, but not really. I think we both knew in our hearts that we would have a little boy. He was amazing on that little screen, growing perfectly and completely healthy. We saw his tiny hands, feet, spine and heartbeat. The ultrasound tech was frustrated because he wouldn't stop moving. It was overwhelmingly joyful. After the ultrasound, we went to see my doctor for the routine checkup.

She came in with a broad smile. "Good news, your baby boy is perfect! He looks great." Erik and I smiled. We beamed with excitement. It was all becoming real. We started imagining his little nose. His first pair of ski boots. His favorite bedtime stories.

Her smile faded. "Bad news, that cyst is now the size of a baseball." Erik and I didn't smile. We became very scared, very fast. This could NOT be real. I started imagining needles. Tubes. Monitors. Tests. Chemotherapy.

"This is serious, Nish. It's big, and we don't know what it is. It's now more dangerous to leave it than try to take it out. We need to get it out, and fast."

I met with a cancer surgeon. I was booked for emergency surgery on July 1st, our third wedding anniversary.

The plan was to go in with a scope... only three small incisions on my belly, minimally invasive, very low risk to the baby and to me. I was still scared. They wheeled me into the operating room and I was already somewhat drugged with a sedative to keep me calm. Both my OB and the surgeon were there, and they were reassuring women to see. I laid there on the cold table, terrified. The tears started to fall. I felt really cold. The anesthesiologist brought me a warm blanket. The oxygen mask was placed on my face. Both women entrusted to care for me & my unborn baby came to both sides of the table. They each grabbed a hand & squeezed. I saw their eyes crinkle from their reassuring & sympathetic smiles, which I couldn't see behind their masks. "We're going to take care of you & your little boy. We promise."

I nodded. I cried. I fell asleep.

The original plan failed. My ovary had lodged itself underneath my uterus, so they couldn't get to it safely with only the scope. So, they cut me open. Almost 8 inches vertically, right through my belly button. The surgeon had to reach in and move the baby over with her hand in order to get to the ovary. Close to the end of the removal, the cyst burst. They had to get all of it out, and quickly... they weren't sure if it was cancer or not yet, so there was a risk of having cancer cells all over my abdomen.

They sewed me up and wheeled me to recovery. The only thing I remember from the recovery room was both women on each side of my bed, holding my hands again. Dr. McClusky, the oncology surgeon, was smiling. Dr. Dion, my OB, leaned in close and said "It's not cancer. Your baby boy is doing beautifully."

I smiled. I cried. I fell asleep.

Recovery was awful. I had major pain complications. Even morphine didn't work. I was in the hospital for 5 days and I was at home for 5 weeks. For a normal, healthy woman, recovery time from this surgery is about 4-5 days. However, I was 20 weeks pregnant; all of my body's resources were being used to take care of the baby. So, my recovery was long, painful, and full of narcotics that I didn't want to take.

I pressed on, though I did it fairly drugged. I had a lot of help. My mom came to Portland from Texas for a week. She cooked and cleaned while I laid on the couch and watched the Tour de France. We had friends bring meals and movies. We were very loved through the whole healing process and we knew we had an army of people to call if we ever needed it.

The Lord sustained us. We were blessed by His people.


  1. What a story! I also had a sucky pregnancy (though nothing like yours) and was on bed rest for over 3 months. I'm so glad you are okay and your baby is a doll!

  2. Wow! So glad everything went well!