What A Year It Has Been

2022. A huge year for me in many ways. My first full year of not living in London since I moved there in 2009.  My first calendar year off chemo. My first year as a mother.

It’s also been the year that I think I’ve cried the most in my life. End-of-pregnancy hormones and new-baby hormones are insane. And I wish you got warned a bit more about them. I’m normally a fairly chilled person, but I don’t think I’ve argued or shouted so much in my life. And there have been a couple of very satisfying glass smashes – at the floor. Not at anyone. Although it has been tempting….

And then there is my blood cancer

It's also been a year of health anxiety that I’ve never really had before. Worrying about my blood test results in the lead-up to them. The two weeks after. Until I get my result. Trying to talk myself out of the worry as all that does is create a stress response in my body which is anything but helpful. But with an increasing leukaemic rate it’s really hard not to.

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My next blood test is soon and I actually feel a bit sick thinking about it. If it’s jumped up at the same rate as the last result. Well. I don’t really want to think about it.

New mother worries

Yes my baby will be 1 in January.  Yes it’s then fine to replace breastmilk with cow's milk.  Yes so many have stopped breastfeeding by now. But it’s more than that. It’s her comfort. It’s her feeling safe. It’s her knowing I’m there for her. Day and night. It’s getting her back to sleep without a meltdown or walking around for hours trying to console an upset child who just wants to feed back to sleep. And I want to be able to do that for her. I couldn’t give a flying f**k about what so many parenting approaches or common thought is around this.

I was called a ‘naughty girl’ by my aunt over Christmas because I was honest and told her that my daughter doesn’t sleep through the night and she sleeps in bed with us. Because that’s what works. Safe co-sleeping is one of the best things in the world. And I know that part of the reason why she is such a social, happy and confident little girl, is because of this.

My leukemia may make me change my parenting style

And if my leukaemic rate has moved out of the ‘safe zone’ then my consultant really wants me back on chemo.  Then this all becomes a no. No more feeding her or comforting her in this way. I have mentioned that I would like to go back in interferon for a bit as it’s safe to breastfeed with. Even though it makes me feel f****ing horrific. And she has agreed. Well. In principle anyway.

So I hang on to that.  I will feel horrific and fight my way through the day to continue to offer what my baby needs. I will pray to all the gods that my leukaemic rate is stable and is still in the ‘safe zone’ and I will also hope that 2023 is a better year. Because a lot of this year hasn’t been. And I don’t want the bad bits to repeat themselves when I could prevent that.

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