Like so many women, I have always wanted to be a mum. I just had the most amazing upbringing and I wanted to love someone as much as my parents love me. I wanted someone to need me as much as I need them.
My journey into motherhood began like most of you. I looked down at a pregnancy test and saw two lines. We were lucky enough to fall pregnant straight away and for that I will be forever grateful. We were on holiday with a group of our closest friends and I just wanted to reveal our beautiful news straight away. Instead, my husband, Cade and I drove to the shops and bought the local chemist out of pregnancy tests, because three positive tests were not enough. After the seventh test we were convinced. We were having a baby! We stayed up whispering about all the hopes and dreams we had for our little “squirt” and I remember taking a photo thinking I definitely had a little bump (at five weeks). Oh, those were the days!
The teacher in me loved creatively announcing our pregnancy to family and friends. It was such an exciting time. Memories I will treasure forever. I had the best pregnancy. Yes, sorry ladies, I am one of those women. No side effects apart from being absolutely exhausted for the first few weeks. I felt so good and I loved my body even more while growing a little human. A beautiful journey I could lead a thousand times over. Our due date was drawing near and we were counting down the weeks. We were living the dream.
Cade had been suffering from asthma like symptoms and had been to the medical centre five times over a period of three months. After the fifth time, when they suggested taking twelve puffs of this, five puffs of that and antibiotics, we decided to get a second opinion. Cade took himself off to our GP on the Saturday morning, she immediately suggested he get an x-ray Monday morning. We didn’t think anything of it. On Monday, Cade and I woke to raindrops on our rooftop and beautiful kicks from inside my belly. We went to work like every other Monday. We were so excited that we only had six weeks left before our beautiful baby was due. Little did we know, Monday the 24th August 2015, would turn our whole world upside down.
“I truly try to see the good in every day because no matter how hard your day is, you’re still here, your heart is still beating and you still get to live for one more day.”
The doctor wasn’t happy with Cade’s x-ray and organised a CT scan straight away. Cade called me at recess “don’t be alarmed if there is a $500 bill on the credit card. I am just heading back for a CT scan”. Of course my hormones go into overdrive. “Don’t care about the money, why do you need a CT scan?” to which he responded he wasn’t sure. Such a boy thing! Needless to say, I worried for the next few hours and worried even more when he wasn’t responding to my calls. Cade was called back to the doctor, ALONE, where he was given the news that the CT scan showed a large shadow on his lung. The doctor, knowing I was heavily pregnant, got on the phone to me. I asked if we should be worried to which she responded, yes, very! My poor class must of thought I was going into labour. My whole body went numb. I couldn’t function. We headed in to hospital to monitor our baby (and no I wasn’t in labour) and we were at the specialist that afternoon. At this stage, we were still optimistic. He was young, very fit and so healthy. I remember thinking or convincing myself that it was all going to be fine. It had to be, I was 34 weeks pregnant!
From Tuesday morning it was all systems go and by Tuesday afternoon Cade, his parents and myself were on a hospital bed at Royal North Shore Hospital shocked and devastated to hear that he had cancer. What kind of cancer, they didn’t know. It was a mass in his lung so as much as everyone was trying to be positive we could see in their eyes that they were worried for us! I didn’t google a thing but I knew lung cancer was the leading cause of death in Australia and my mind began to race. We will have to move out of our home, I can’t do this by myself. he is my whole world and so on. Needless to say we got very little sleep. The staff at Royal North Shore Hospital were amazing. Although it felt like a lifetime, a combination of Cade’s cancer being in the lung and me waddling around heavily pregnant meant we were not waiting very long for results. Thursday 28th August Cade had a PET scan to see if the cancer was contained or if it had spread through his body. That day was horrific! Thankfully, it was contained to his right lung and a week later Cade was diagnosed with Follicular Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which was potentially transforming to Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma. Both of which were treatable. I will never, ever forget the month of September. What was meant to be the most amazing time preparing to welcome our first child, turned into countless doctors appointments, endless tests and lots of terrifying panic, tears and fears.
Cade began prepping for chemotherapy immediately and treatment started on the 28th September 2015. Two weeks after Cade started treatment our beautiful girl, Piper, was born. Due to Cade starting chemo he had a limited window to be at the birth so I was induced at 40 weeks and four days. We went to hospital on Monday 5th October to be induced. I was given the gel and we stayed the night. I was so excited and nervous. I couldn’t sleep. I remember our midwife kindly suggesting I try to get some rest. Around 3am, my waters broke naturally. My labour was slow and didn’t progress. Piper knew it wasn’t the right time and I wasn’t ready but she needed to come anyway. After a long labour and a few hiccups, Piper was born at 11pm on Tuesday. A moment we will never forget. We were both mentally and physically exhausted but this beautiful little bundle seemed to make time stop. I knew from that moment on I needed to find an inner strength for this little person who now solely depended on us. Insert very high anxiety levels!
“Your kids don’t want a perfect mum, they want a happy one. It is something I try to live by everyday.”
My journey has not been how I envisioned. I had grand plans to put my feet up, go to the beach, read books, you know, the usual but it wasn’t the case. We have learnt so many life lessons from our experience and I truly believe that Piper was the world’s best baby because of it. She was and still is always so happy and relaxed. We had appointments to go to and treatments to attend and I wasn’t going to miss it for the world. Our little girl just had to come along for the ride. Her mama’s anxiety levels were second to none but taking a deep breath and counting to 10 can work miracles.
Cade spent the first six months of her life fighting for his! It has been one hell of a journey but it definitely reminds us daily that life is too short to wake up with regrets. Believe that everything happens for a reason. Love the people who treat you right and forget about those who don’t. Cade is still in treatment receiving an antibody which is meant to prolong the recurrence. From the day Piper was born, Cade and I question things daily. What should the children wear to bed? What’s the temperature? Fan on or off? What if the temperature drops over night? The list continues. One thing I have learnt is that you never stop worrying and that’s ok. It’s our job. If we don’t, who will? Being a mum is the most amazing gift and I truly try to see the good in every day because no matter how hard your day is, you’re still here, your heart is still beating and you still get to live for one more day. There is no greater gift than that. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it and that it is.
After Cade’s main treatment we discussed the prospect of having more children with his specialist, knowing that it would probably take a very long time to have any more kids. We got the all clear, however, were told it would probably take at least a couple of years. Miraculously, we fell pregnant the first time again. We have since had our beautiful baby boy called Hudson and Piper is the most amazing big sister. Hudson’s birth was so very different. I was ready and determined to have him naturally like I wanted to with Piper. I was induced at 40 weeks and eight days. No drugs, an amazing midwife and four hours later I delivered our boy. A moment we will treasure forever. Your mind truly is your greatest power. As hard as it is in the moment, try to enjoy every day. It is such a big change to all of a sudden put someone else’s happiness ahead of your own but someone once told me your kids don’t want a perfect mum, they want a happy one. It is something I try to live by everyday.