See this look? This is the look on my daughter's face right before she, as my husband lovingly refers to it, "goes off the reservation." In other words, before she totally loses her shit.
One minute she is smiling and cooing and all is well with the world. The next, she is screaming bloody murder right in your ear.
Sometimes, when she's throwing a complete screaming hissy fit, I swear it smells like the top of her head is burning.
This makes me think ... as a new mom, how does one ever have time to be sick? I have trouble sometimes finding time to take a shower or even go to the bathroom. At least without a baby on my lap (come on, you know you've done it too).
I don't know what it's like to have a baby and not be going through cancer treatment. I had cancer surgery when my daughter was less than three weeks old, and started chemotherapy as soon as I had sufficiently recovered from surgery. I learned how to juggle a baby at the same time I learned to manage the side effects of chemo. And maybe that's a good thing. I don't know anything different.
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With a baby who has decided that she is hungry RIGHT NOW, I can't tell her that I really don't feel up to fixing a bottle for her. That I need a moment. That I'm a bit dizzy or feeling nauseated. I have to power through.
With five rounds (three treatments per round) of chemo now under my belt, the side effects are becoming cumulative. My body is starting to say, "Seriously ... you want me to take more?" It's getting more difficult to power through.
But it occurred to me, I'm really not that different than any other mother who has to power through stomach flus and migraines and illnesses that are way more debilitating. In fact, I'm more fortunate than many because I have help. I have a husband who is a hands on co-parent. I have friends and family who love our daughter as much as we do and would do anything for us. We can afford to pay for childcare. We're lucky.
And you know what else? If it weren't for our precious little bundle of joy and her immediate needs, I don't know that I'd be as motivated to power through. I might be tempted to spend a day on the couch watching marathons of Downton Abbey (okay, I confess ... I have done that). I might stay in bed more and do less.
She keeps me going, literally. I have no choice.
When we were told that those with my type and staging of cancer have a 50 percent survival rate, my doctor was quick to point out that those statistics do not factor in someone with a child, particularly a newborn. He said that me having a new baby increased my odds exponentially.
I'll take it. And I believe it.
When I look at her, and my amazing husband, I know I'll get through this. I have all of the motivation in the world. Plus, I'm a mom now, and that's what we do, isn't it?
We power through.
Images via Erica Montgomery