Mom Battling Breast Cancer Gives Birth in Breathtaking Photo Series

Jeanne Sager | Aug 10, 2017 Pregnancy
Mom Battling Breast Cancer Gives Birth in Breathtaking Photo Series

breast cancer mom gives birth
Bonnie Hussey Photography

Maria Crider was 11 weeks pregnant when she found the lump in her breast -- but her doctor assured her that she was fine. "It could be a number of things. Cancer at your age is unlikely," he told the Orlando, Florida, mom. But unfortunately, as it turns out, unlikely didn't mean impossible. In fact, while cancer during pregnancy is uncommon, breast cancer is one type of cancer most likely to pop up during pregnancy.

Three weeks later, Crider got the devestating diagnosis that she did indeed have breast cancer. She was 27, pregnant with her third child, and facing a battle with triple negative breast cancer, a form of the cancer that affects about 10 to 20 percent of all breast cancer sufferers and is most likely to show up in younger women.

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In hopes of raising awareness for pregnant moms battling against cancer, Crider spoke with CafeMom about what it was like to experience her third pregnancy while fighting against cancer at the same time. She and her photographer, Bonnie Hussey, shared these moving photos of Crider. The gorgeous images detail both the birth of baby Logan and the new mom's fight to breastfeed her baby boy as a cancer survivor. 

  • Waiting


    Maria was just 16 weeks pregnant when she underwent a unilateral mastectomy of her left breast. The doctors said that was the first step toward protecting her and her baby. Her pregnancy was automatically deemed high risk.

  • Tucking Her In


    "My midwife said she hadn't come across this situation before so she gave me a referral to the oncologist and maternal fetal medicine," Maria says. "The oncologist (who I met first) said that he sees no reason why I couldn't do chemo while pregnant, particularly the second trimester since all the major organs have developed."

    Four weeks later, Maria began chemotherapy.

  • The Team


    To keep track of Logan's development during cancer treatment, his mom saw a maternal fetal medicine specialist (MFM) -- first every three weeks, then weekly in the third trimester.

    "I had ultrasounds of baby Logan done at every MFM appointment and then non-stress tests weekly for the last two months," Crider says. "The baby was developing on track, growing steadily."

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  • Check Out My Socks


    This shot is one of photographer Bonnie Hussey's favorites from Maria's birth. "One of her nurses noticed how pretty her socks were, and she pointed out that they say, 'I'm a delicate f-cking flower.'"

  • A Closer Look


    "We all got a little giggle from the socks," Hussey said. They're funny, but they're also an apt description of their owner. Crider wasn't going to let cancer stop her from welcoming her baby boy.

  • Ready for Anything


    She wasn't just fighting for baby Logan. Crider also has two older sons at home. Tristan is almost 5 years old and Liam is 2 years old.

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  • Kisses


    "The first time I met Maria, she just radiated a kind of badassery I've never seen nor felt," Hussey said. "She just has this beautiful, strong determination, and you can't help but feel it."

  • On Her Way


    The maternal fetal specialists suggested Logan be born at 37 weeks, but his mom asked her oncologist if he thought waiting two more weeks would make a difference in her treatment. When he said no, she pushed her OB to let her hold off on a C-section.

  • One Last Touch


    "My goal was to deliver as close to full-term as possible," Crider says. "I hoped to avoid having him needing the NICU."

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  • Welcoming Logan


    Maria has a message for any mom out there fighting cancer: "The thought 'my babies need me' helps me get up every day, even on the days that I don't want to get up. I get up, get them breakfast, make my coffee, and get on with the day. Some days we hang out at home and watch movies all day. If I feel well enough I take the kids out, to the science center, a park, a friend's house, Target. ANYWHERE. Just out of our pj's and out of the house."

  • Fingers Crossed

    Maria was advised to stop chemo four weeks before her scheduled delivery to allow her blood count to come back up. "I got a second opinion from Moffitt Cancer Center. She agreed that chemo in the secpnd trimester is best [for chemo]," Maria says. "She also explained that the molecules of the drugs recommended are too large to pass the placenta."
  • He's Here!


    Baby Logan was born perfect, his mom says. He came into the world at 39 weeks and 1 day, just as she'd hoped.

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  • All Good Signs


     "He was perfectly healthy, came out screaming." Maria says. The ob-gyn then sent Maria's placenta to pathology for testing.

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  • Ready to Meet Mom


    Other than minor calcification, the placenta was good! Chemo did not pass the placenta.

  • Together at Last


    For Maria, the next step was breastfeeding. "I didn't expect to produce any milk. Not colostrum, nothing. The doctors told me not to get my hopes up because the drugs inhibit milk production."

  • Latching On


    Maria did her research and saw that some moms in her situation produce nothing, some produce a little, and some go on to nurse successfully. "As far as I was concerned, if I produced anything at all, I was successful," she says. "Logan latched and nursed in the OR." 

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  • We Can Do This


    Breastfeeding was bittersweet, Maria says.

    "I continued to nurse like normal (not producing much but I wanted the stimulation in hopes that it would help). I brought colostrum that my friend Bethany pumped when her baby was born to share with Logan. I supplemented from day one while continuing to nurse until the day I restarted chemo. I felt so proud of myself."

  • Latch on, Little Logan!


    "While I didn't produce enough to nurse full-time, I produced some, and I was quite proud of myself for that," Maria says. "Logan is now on 100 percent donor milk and doing wonderful. He's a healthy, chunky little guy. His milk mommas are the best! We're so grateful for them."

  • A Perfect Family


    Maria won this birth session from Bonnie Hussey, and she says she was excited for the chance in part because she couldn't afford a birth photographer with all the added expenses of treatment. But she also knew Bonnie would share the photos -- and that's exactly what Maria hoped would happen.

    "I wanted to share my story and journey with everyone. To raise awareness for breast cancer, treatment while pregnant, and hopefully education in earlier detection. Breast cancer isn't exclusive to women in their forties and beyond."

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