cancer

The Extreme Highs & Lows of Having a Baby with Cancer

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Anyone with two little ones will tell you—life is crazy. It is hectic and chaotic, but also amazing and fun. Days are filled with highs and lows. People with older kids will tell you, “These are the days to remember. These are the best days.” But as families grow, there are periods of adjustment for everyone.

When we welcomed our second child, Stella, into the world, our family was no exception. There were moments I would look at my husband and I knew from his expression, he agreed—what were we thinking? We were crazy to have two kids in two years! There was a lot of crying during those first few months: an emotional Mommy, strong willed big sister Rosie, and beautiful new baby Stella. The tears were expected.

But when Stella was only 3 months old, things changed. Stella was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer, and the highs and lows became a whole lot higher and a whole lot lower for our family.

Good days are much more rare now, but when we have them, they are the best. When Stella hits milestones, or gets good test results, or just has a good day, our highs are as high as they come.

But our lows are pretty low these days, too. This week Stella’s blood counts were too low for her to get her treatment. While I know this is normal for chemo patients, the low counts pushed me into an even lower place. Despite the plethora of clichéd advice, I am not so great at taking it one day at a time, and instead, I would rather just get through these bad days, these low days, and put them all behind me and my family for good. I felt the low blood count was a blow to the progress Stella has been making.

This past Sunday, we held a fundraiser event to benefit The Cancer Center for Kids, where Stella gets her treatment. My family was surrounded by loved ones and strangers all showing support for our baby Stella. It was the first party or event we had been to since Stella was diagnosed. And while the day was a success, it was still bittersweet—a day full of both hope and heartache. We weren’t guests at this event, peering in from the outside, showing our support for a family going through a terrible journey. We WERE that family. And while I try to focus on the good, on the highs—our amazing family and friends, the money that will no doubt be put to great use, the palpable love in the room—WE were the family with the sick baby. It was a surreal experience to say the least.

It’s easy to get caught up in the lows when someone you love is sick. To focus on the bad days. I know it’s natural to still be scared when the doctors tell us the disease is still there, instead of focusing on the progress Stella is making. But as a mom to BOTH Rosie and Stella, I know it is my job to focus on the highs. To keep my head up. Does that make it easier? Of course not. The added responsibility of setting a good example to my girls seems impossible when I really just want to scream, WHY US?

So here is my plan (anyone who knows me knows I need a good plan): Focus on the good—on the progress, not the setbacks, on the hope, not the heartache. And when all else fails… fake it till we make it.

Friday, November 4th is the last day to be a Stella Superhero by donating here.


Read More:

Coming to Terms with Medical Termination

‘Do You Have Any Kids Yet?’ is a Question I Hope to Stop Hearing Soon

My ‘Invisible Illness’ Makes Me Feel Different from Other Moms


Becky Freedman

Becky Freedman is a mother to two beautiful girls, a wife and an attorney. Becky now adds Cancer Mom to the list. When she's not taking care of her family...oh wait.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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