After what seemed like years, but was actually only a couple of weeks, my consultant told me that because they had removed the tumour they felt I could postpone the second operation for a year and have my baby. I was now considered ‘low risk’. I felt relieved, but I had already distanced myself from this unborn child and found it hard to reconnect.
The pregnancy was hard. I suffered terribly with morning-noon-and-night sickness and the underlying Cancer concern meant that everything was that much more complicated. I had countless consultant appointments and scans. It was great that I got to see my baby so much, but it was also a constant reminder that once he was born there would be something else to focus on.
I had been told that once I had the operation to remove the remainder of my thyroid, I would need to have Radio Iodine Therapy, which would mean almost three weeks away from my newborn baby. I thought the best way to handle that was to accept that it was going to happen and prepare myself mentally. I knew it would be best for him not to be anywhere near his radioactive mother, but it didn’t make it any easier to accept.
So after a hectic labour (see my previous blog ‘So it begins…’) I finally had my child in my arms. I was in love. I knew this was the most important moment in my life, but part of me held back. I had to keep a part of me separate from my boy, ready to face the struggle ahead. This resulted in a certain detachment from him. I knew I would give my life for him because he was my son and that’s how I should feel but I felt like something was missing. Being the type of person I am I never let it show and I did everything I could for my baby those first few months…even if it felt like I was only playing a part.
He was almost 3 months old when I had my second operation. I recovered so much quicker that time around. I put it down to the fact that I had my little one to care for and so didn’t have the luxury of indulging in weeks of recovery. I had to be back to being super-mom within days. Of course I had the support of my significant other, and as I was no longer breastfeeding he could now be involved with every aspect of our boy’s care.
I had intended to continue breastfeeding after the 24-48 hours of pumping and dumping the milk, but as I anticipated I would be having radio therapy within a few weeks it seemed like the natural progression of things to let it fizzle out now. In hindsight (oh to do things over with what I know now!) I should’ve continued.
Months later – after more consultant visits, blood tests and checkups – I still had not had the radio iodine therapy and was given the option to take part in a Cancer Research Trial. This meant I would be randomly selected to either have the radio iodine therapy…or not…and in the process I’d be helping fight Cancer! I ended up in the ‘not’ group.
I received a phone call about 5 months after my operation to say which group I was in. I remember hanging up the phone and bursting into tears. My first thought being ‘thank God I don’t have to go through this’ and the second being so so angry at having spent the first 8 months of my baby’s life in this bubble of anxiety. A needless worry that had hung over me for the last year and a half.
After that I started to feel the bond with my boy deepen. I didn’t have to harden and protect myself from having to leave him. I didn’t have to worry that I would miss out on anything. I could finally stop playing a part…