I cannot believe it, my baby boy just turned one! I still remember getting my breast cancer diagnosis in 2017 and going to all the appointments before starting chemo. The appointment to the fertility doctor was the hardest of all! I remember crying after leaving the office, while I was in the parking garage. My mother went to that appointment with me and she encouraged me to hold on to my believe that God is faithful and never fails. I had been told to cough up $20K in 24 hours, by the fertility doctor to freeze my eggs before starting chemotherapy for the breast cancer…..They said the treatment for my cancer would leave me infertile and since I was only 33 years old married with a 3-year-old and I had wanted to expand my family, freezing my eggs would be the only way to have a chance to do that. I started chemo without freezing my eggs and was given a glimmer of hope from my oncologist when she shared a study with me about young women who can pause their maintenance pill (tamoxifen….is mine) after completing two years of the medicine, to try naturally to have a child.
Fast forward to 2019 when I finally had a chance to PAUSE my tamoxifen, I had to do a 3-month washout period. Then, in walks the infamous “2020 panny…pandemonia…pandemic”….things got postponed, I couldn’t get my IUD removed because most non-life-threatening doctor visits became telehealth on zoom. Finally, in May of 2020, I was able to secure an in-person doctors visit and they removed the IUD and we were told to go practice and have FUN! The summer came and went and we were practicing (My husband’s favorite thing to do….lol), no pregnancy. The fall came and went and we were settling into celebrating the holidays. When finally, one day we order wings and pizza for family game night and it smelled awful, I actually almost threw up when my husband brought it home. If you know me, you know food is my THANG…and in the McGee’s’ household we LOVE to eat. It was weird to have such a visceral reaction, I then pieced it together the next day and bought a pregnancy test.
On Dec 28, 2020, we found out we were pregnant! The joy, the excitement, all the feeling that filled our heart was unreal! It was actually going to happen; the first trimester was filled with expectancy and a minor bleeding scare. The second semester was filled with “WHO THE HELL THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA!”. You see the last time I was pregnant; I was only 30, young and spry. This time I was 38 and I could feel every minor and major ache and pain. The third trimester, I was filled with shame and anxiety, I was filled with shame, because I prayed and believed for this baby but also felt like I should not have gotten pregnant. I was anxious cause SHIT was getting real AF! Remember to always feel all your feelings, two things can be true, shame and anxiety/ excitement can live in the same mind!
My induction day finally came, it was time to push the baby out, unfortunately his heart rate was through the roof and he was not doing well. I was told I would need to have an emergency C-section, something I had not wanted or anticipated since my first kid was vaginal. This threw me into a very dark place for the first six months of my miracle baby life. I had PTSD from the emergency C-section; it brought back memories of being in the operating room for my bilateral double mastectomy. Also since the baby was considered “septic” he required antibiotics on the first 3 days of his life, I felt completely miserable when they told me that they had to put an IV line in him to give him the antibiotics. All I could think about was his poor little veins, he was just born and now he has to go through all of THIS!
I noticed I was not in a good place quickly; thanks to my years of therapy and personal work I had done to become more self-aware. I got help, I joined weekly group therapy, started seeing my therapist one-on-one weekly. I also started seeing a psychiatrist and then started medications. The first six months post-partum was dark, I also lost my grandmother that lived with me for the last 7 years of her life, my mother who had been a great help had to travel out of the country to go bury my grandmother, her mother when baby boy was 2 months and my husband took 6 weeks unpaid leave that then turned into 8 weeks because I really needed him around. Fortunately, I was able to reach into my wellness tool box that I had built to get the help that I needed. I leaned into vulnerability and it helped me see my strength. The next six months, I reintegrated back to my full-time responsibilities and I really appreciated the privilege I had for my six months maternity leave.
I really struggled with feeding my child….not because I didn’t have breast due to breast cancer…. I truly believe all mothers who are survivors should have their health insurance pay for formula and when the country happens to experience a formula shortage, the emergency production act should be activated because new babies are born every day and it is a very scary feeling to think that you may not be able to feed your child, who only drinks formula because your breast have been removed because they tried to kill you….(Yes I know it’s a run-on sentence sis…this specific struggle really SUCKED!!!)
Reflecting back on my miracle baby turning one, I am in awe of God’s faithfulness. I am humbled by my strength from leaning into my vulnerability. I have more gray hairs for sure, but I marvel with joy every time I see my miracle baby and his 8-year-old brother. As I celebrate my baby boy, I also remind myself to celebrate my strength of leaning into vulnerability. It’s a great reminder to other survivor mammas post baby after breast cancer to give yourself grace, lean in and “ask for” and “get” help because the mamahood journey riding alongside this survivorship journey is one HECK of a ride. I will constantly remind myself that God gave me this baby and when I have a hard time, because we will all have hard times, I should continue to lean into vulnerability and trust God and my tribe to walk with me. Happy Birthday Myles da Milo like your grandma Grace calls you!