I Have a Newborn ... I Don't Have Time to Be Sick!

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.

More from The Stir: 7 Things a New Mom Battling Cancer Is Afraid Of

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

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Roxan... Roxanne71

I have to admit I lucked out for the first 2 years after my daughter was born.  I didn't have any serious illnesses.  I would sometimes get a mild cold that would last all but a few days.  This last year I'm making up for it though.  Tons of sick that include colds, sinus infections & stomach/intestinal bugs.   I'm in the middle of recovering from a sinus infection that turned into an ear infection.  Of course, this is the year DD started daycare.  She's turned into a walking plague and doesn't mind giving it to mamma every chance she gets. 


I can't even imagine what it's like to go through cancer treatment with a newborn.  I'm sure it sucks ass big time.  And you're daughter "losing her shit"...LOL.  Yeah, I remember those days.  :)

nonmember avatar Michelle

What a fantastically beautiful story, and 110% TRUE. Mine keeps me going through migraines several times a month, but I realize exactly what you pointed out: I am lucky too. I have a wonderful husband/co-parent, friends who adore her, and can also afford childcare. Children have a marvelous way of making us realize the important things in life. Congrats on your recovery! And your daughter is lovely :)

Littl... LittleManMama

It's not the same but I get migraines. And I don't have help. Hubby works lots of hours and family far away. And we moved to a new city right before my son was born. Prior to his birth I would never believe that I could function, let alone take care of a newborn during a migraine. But I did. Because I had to. Prayers for you mama--stay strong!

Young... YoungHold

I get migraines, and I tell you, having, as you put it, a "hands on co-parent" , can make all the difference.  I don't know what I'd do without my husband. 


The last few paragraphs of this article gave me that warm feeling in my chest.  She's beautiful motivation.  Good luck with treatment.

mamivon2 mamivon2

Lucky me I dont get sick that often cause my dh does shit around the house

lynge... lyngerdam

God bless you during this incredibly difficult time. Once when I had three boys under 5 I got the flu. The kind where it's coming out both ends and you don't always make it to the toilet. The kind where you can hear the fluid in your gut slosh from side to side. So there I am sitting on the toilet and the middle one comes in and sits in my lap. He just sat there and patted my back trying to help me. It makes me cry just thinking about it now. Besides that, my husband has always been a great father. Worked a lot of hours (mostly to keep us insured) but picked up the slack when I needed it.

kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

Hope u have a speedy recovery! I cant even imagine.

nonmember avatar stirguest

I got the stomach flu when my son was about 2 months old. I had to enlist the help of some good friends as my parents were out of town because if not, my poor baby would have had to be in his crib the entire day. I haven't been that sick in a long time but it was very hard with a newborn. I cannot even imagine going through chemo with a baby. Kudos.

nonmember avatar Sarah

I never comment on any Internet site, but had to on this. What a beautiful, real, article. And the last picture of your baby..made me smile.



U go girl!!!

nonmember avatar Cathy Speers

Jo, So very true...this is what Moms do. People can say how do you do it. The simple answer is, you just do. You go to bed exhausted at night and you wake up the next morning thinking, "How could I NOT be doing this." It is exhausting and wonderful and you are doing an AMAZING job of juggling it all. XO

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