Becoming a mother for the first time is a life-changing experience. Top that with a breast cancer diagnosis and it makes for a very challenging road. My path to motherhood was certainly not an easy one. But it has been one filled with miracles and joy.
Just a week after learning I was pregnant, I was diagnosed with an aggressive triple negative breast cancer. My treatment plan entailed a mastectomy and chemotherapy while pregnant. It was a tough pregnancy to say the least. But my daughter and I were tougher. On the day scheduled to be my final round of chemo, I instead went into labor at 32 weeks and delivered a baby girl. Born perfectly healthy and with a head full of hair (unlike me at the time), Serenity’s arrival signaled to me that we had won our fight. No matter what happened from that point, I had brought her into the world, shielded from the dreadful effects of chemo.
As a baby, Serenity was a new mom’s dream – she ate well, she slept through the night, and she rarely cried. She was nothing like any of stories I had read or heard while pregnant. Or maybe her newborn days just seemed like a breeze compared to breast cancer and chemo. Serenity was every bit of her name.
Three months after Serenity was born, as I recovered from treatment and was just learning how to be a mom, we signed up to temporarily care for my 4-week-old nephew JJ, due to another unfortunate family situation. In the blink of an eye, I became a mom to two infants.
Unlike Serenity, JJ had problems digesting milk, suffered from colic, and kept me up many delirious nights. As a temporary custody placement grew to longer term, my motherly bond with JJ grew stronger as well. We have raised JJ as our own for nearly 2 years now. He has truly been a blessing to us and is everything we could ask for in a son – rough, daring, yet fun-loving.
With Serenity and JJ so close in age, we often get asked if they are twins. To which our response is now usually a chuckle and then “yes.” Twins. Sigh. It’s sometimes hard to believe that this is even me – a mom to two toddlers. My road to motherhood has been anything but typical. Yet, I feel extremely blessed to have this unique experience. It has taught me so much about life, love and myself.
While I only have two years of motherhood under my belt, my advice to new moms is:
- Humor goes a long way. Sometimes laughter is the only cure for a sticky situation.
- Your children will quickly teach you who you really are. Note: you still have time to change.
- Recognize and appreciate your blessings. Some people would love to have what you’ve been blessed with.