Best Laid Plans

When I married at age 30, I  knew I wanted two kids by the time I turned 35.

I’m a planner. During my full-time working years, my planning was mostly restricted to weekends and typically involved intricately jamming thousands of errands into my two days off.

In accordance with my post-marriage plan, I got pregnant at 32. We bought all of the baby stuff during the second trimester. I didn’t want to be unprepared. I always thought he’d come early, like I did. But in the end, Conor arrived two days late.

Now that I’m a Real Housewife of NJ, every day is full of errands and chores, some more annoying than others (Pouring fifty-pound bags of rock salt into the water softener is way up there). Each day plays out differently, depending on a ton of variables too numerous to list. According to what I need to accomplish, I mentally map out my plan the evening before. I like deciding exactly how my tomorrow will unfold.

I figured having my second and final baby a couple of years later would allow for several advantages. First, the two kids would be playmates. Second, who wants to go back to changing diapers after already being done? Third, by the time they both left for college, I’d still be reasonably young enough to have an entire life afterwards. 

It’s not that I always have to have a plan. I’m not an automaton. I love lazy plan-less days or evenings where I can do whatever I want. It’s just that when I have a plan, I get a little bent out of shape if the plan changes at the last minute. And of course, because I don’t have complete control of the universe, this happens fairly frequently.

When Conor was 18 months old, I suggested to Rich that we try for another, which is pretty much the best plan any husband has heard since the first baby was born.

Rich is not a planner. He doesn’t understand why it’s hard for me to get excited about going to a movie if we’ve already decided to go out for dinner. It can take me many many minutes to get on board with a change like that. It’s crazy, I know. Especially since I’m really pretty low-key about most things.

Shortly thereafter, I found a lump in my right breast. The first doctor thought it was benign

I want to be able to happily go with the flow when Rich spontaneously suggests an alternate plan, to not feel out of sorts.

But it was cancer. I needed surgery, four months of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation, five years of tamoxifen. After chemo, once I got over my dealth-panic and realized I’d probably live, I was left with this: No second baby any time soon, maybe no second baby ever, since my chances of recovering from chemo-induced menopause were fifty percent. Cancer didn’t give a damn about my baby plan. 

Because date night is supposed to be a de-stressor, and I do actually get, at least on some level, that it’s not that big of a deal to swap out dinner for a movie.

Note: We had our second son, Shane, the one we were meant to have, six years later. 

Other posts about my cancer experience:

Peace of Mind
Routine Tests
Numb Spot
The Red Death
The Green Bag
I Celebrate Another Birthday
Setting Her Free
Radiation Therapy

Check out yeah write! You won’t be sorry.


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38 Responses to “Best Laid Plans”

  1. Sam MerelMarch 18, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    Wow I love the way you meshed these two stories. I am really learning for myself these days that you can’t always plan for everything, and that things don’t always turn out the way you hoped or expected, especially the biggest things. But I’m also learning that if you roll with it when things go awry, things always turn out the way they are meant to, even if it wasn’t the way you thought it would.

    • StacieMarch 18, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

      Yes, so true! Of course I can’t imagine having any second baby other than Shane!

  2. LisaMarch 18, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    What a touching post. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • StacieMarch 18, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

      Thanks Lisa 🙂

  3. Erin M. ThrelfallMarch 18, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    Lovely way to merge the two tales. I am also a planner, and have be derailed many times. Learning to let go isn’t always easy, but sometimes necessary. Congrats on baby #2!

    • StacieMarch 18, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

      Thanks Erin! He’s 10 now 😉

  4. fatgirlinboxingglovesMarch 18, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    Wow, FIVE YEARS of Tamoxifen! I had no idea treatment was so long.

    I’m glad this story has a happy ending. xo

    • StacieMarch 18, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

      Thanks Karen! Five years is standard, and since it blocks estrogen, it’s not conducive to babies. BUT I went off after 3.5 years, against my oncologist’s advice because being a scientist and reading the medical journals, it was clear that 5 years was not more advantageous than 3.5. Doctors are always super-conservative.

  5. Andrea@WellnessNotesMarch 18, 2014 at 6:41 pm #

    Yes, plans don’t always work out…

    I love the way your write. And I’m very glad you got baby #2 after all!

    • StacieMarch 18, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

      Thanks Andrea! I was glad too, although I had totally prepared myself to just love and enjoy the one I had. I was lucky my body cooperated in the end.

  6. Vanessa D.March 18, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    I really love the way you had those two threads running right through to the end.

    My plan was to have a boy first, then a girl. I got my boy first – just as planned. Number two was not so co-operative. I think someone else looked at my plan and decided I would do better with two boys. Someone else was probably right.

    • StacieMarch 18, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

      Thanks Vanessa! I always wanted a girl but now I’m happy with two boys. I think girls are much harder!

  7. icescreammamaMarch 18, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    we plan, God laughs, right? that’s what my grandmother always said. but we can still try.

    • StacieMarch 18, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

      I just can’t help myself!

  8. Obed MedinaMarch 18, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

    Never give up planning. Plans are guidelines. 🙂

    • StacieMarch 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      Yes, I should really view them that way!

  9. AbdulMarch 19, 2014 at 4:50 am #

    I’m always late. Late in class, late at lab, late on yeahwrite grid too. 🙁 It’s really nice to have a plan to stay steady. I wish good health to you and your family. 🙂 So, when you are planning to visit China? Nanjing says welcome to all four of you! 😉

    • StacieMarch 19, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

      Haha. I’m usually early. And thanks Nanjing but you are very far away right now!

      • AbdulMarch 19, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

        😀 All the best of best anyway. Stay Happy!

  10. biz319March 19, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    I am the complete opposite of you Stacie – I am a completely go with the flow kind of person and hardly anything bothers me. My daughter?? Type A – she has lists of “things to do” for everything, but I love her it. And the fact that she started doing her own laundry at age 7 because I wasn’t doing it right. 😀

    So happy Shane came to you when he was supposed to and you are healthy!!

    • StacieMarch 19, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

      Wow Hannah is amazing! My 17yo says he’s never doing laundry (when I mention he’ll have to in college next year).

  11. 50peachMarch 19, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    Digging the way you wrote this and laughing WITH you about “getting excited” about change of plans… similar soul, here. 🙂 Amazing piece and thank you for sharing!

    • StacieMarch 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

      Thanks Peach! And great minds…;)

  12. JennMarch 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    Powerful post. I can relate–as I’m sure so many other women can–to the bast laid baby making plans going awry. I absolutely love the image that you chose to open this post with. It interacts with the writing so beautifully.

    • StacieMarch 19, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

      Thank you Jenn! That’s funny because I had no idea what to do about the photo and then ended up digging out one of the few baby outfits I saved. Glad you liked it!

  13. Cindy - The Reedster SpeaksMarch 19, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    Beautiful merging of the ordinary with the extraordinary (both the good and the bad). I too am a planner. Left-brainedness can be a burden no? I’m very bad at spontaneity, so I get this completely: “Rich doesn’t understand why it’s hard for me to get excited about going to a movie if we’ve already decided to go out for dinner. It can take me many many minutes to get on board with a change like that.”

    • StacieMarch 19, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

      Thanks so much Cindy! Planners unite! I keep thinking maybe some of Rich’s spontaneity will rub off. But it turns out, I’m only good at it when there is no plan already. So it’s spontaneous change that I have trouble with and so far I’m stuck with that.

  14. Natalie DeYoungMarch 19, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

    I did not see that turn. Every time you write about going through cancer, it makes me so glad you made it through, even if you didn’t plan for it.
    I’m a planner too, and did not plan for what actually happened in most of my life (NOBODY plans to be an alcoholic, except maybe Hunter S. Thompson). Although my current plan is to have a baby at 32/33. I am flexible like that.
    And I too love the line Cindy mentions, because SAME.

    • StacieMarch 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

      Yay, another planner! Being flexible about baby timing is a really good thing. There are so many things that can throw the timing off…

  15. abundance in the boondocksMarch 19, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

    Like the other readers, I like how this post weaved elements together. It fit your story very well (and I’m inspired to try this in my own writing or at least as a writing exercise). I liked the line “Cancer couldn’t give a damn about my baby plan.”

    • StacieMarch 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

      You should try it! It took me two weeks to publish this after the first draft (which did not weave two stories together). I initially wanted to write about cancer interfering with my baby plans. I am not sure why or how, but I ended up doing it this way. Sometimes I feel more creative if I sit longer on an idea. And? I don’t think cancer gives a damn about anything.

  16. that cynking feelingMarch 20, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    Even though you know things can work it, it’s hard to let go of that urge to plan. I guess it deludes us into thinking we are actually in control.
    Nicely woven tale.

    • StacieMarch 21, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

      Very true! And thank you 🙂

  17. That Unique* WeblogMarch 21, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    I am reminded, each time I visit one of your anecdotes, how much you have grown as a writer. You’ve far surpassed the potential I remember seeing in your first few posts. Incredibly well done, Stacie.

    • StacieMarch 21, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

      Aw thanks for such a sweet comment, Kristin! Coming from you, it means a lot.

  18. wcdameronMarch 25, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    How dare you punch me in the gut like that Stacie! Uh, this was so well written and beautiful.


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