My name is Donna, I am 34, married with two young gorgeous - yet very cheeky - sons, Huxley 4yrs & Reeve 2yrs.
I’m currently writing this flying high above the Pacific Ocean (with my husband) en route to Cancun, Mexico - child free. This isn’t the first time we’ve been here, we came here 9 years ago, again with my husband (then boyfriend) and again, child free. Yet for a verydifferent purpose - the beginning of a world wide travelling adventure, living a completely carefree existence.
This time however, although it is child free. It’s definitely still a trip for them too. It’s to treat me, their mummy, for cancer. Yes I have the big “C”. Brain Cancer to be exact.
Almost 2.5yrs ago, just after putting our (then) 4mth & 2yr old sons to bed on Christmas Eve 2016. I suffered a seizure. A completely life altering event, which will forever haunt my husband who had to witness (from what I’m told) the terrifyingly disturbing grand mal seizure as he stood helpless, not knowing what was going on, nor what to do. All the while wondering if I was going to die. Whilst this was all going on, our beautiful boys slept soundly in their beds. Reevie in his bassinet within a arms reach of me - thankfully neither, none the wiser.
So I guess you can say my parenthood journey (especially with Reeve) has been rocked in epic proportions for the last two years. Definitely something you’d never imagine. But together as a family and with the tremendous support of our extended family and friends we’ve navigated our way through.
Before we brought our beautiful boys into this world via my “belly button” - as that’s how all babies come out according to Hux - my journey to become a mother took about a 6 months. After deciding we wanted to have a baby, going off the pill, waiting for my body to get itself back into a natural cycle. We finally conceived just prior to Christmas 2013. It’s safe to say we were thrilled and so excited to share our news with our family & friends. Making up a “Dry January, so I’m not drinking.......big Xmas & NY etc etc” excuse worked a treat, whilst we awaited our dating scan. Eventually that day came and our little baby was first seen at 6w6d with that teeny tiny heartbeat. We were in love. As the sonographer told us, “he/she’s the length of a long grain piece of rice” so he was affectionately known as ‘long grain’ up until the day he was born - 31st Aug 2014. 12 days early. A complete surprise as my waters broke while cooking breakfast. Completely unsure if I had peed my pants or “is this it”? Eventually after a trip into the hospital and being sent home again early in the day, Huxley was born that night at 8:25pm. A complete surprise to me was his dark hair! The one & only thing I said during my whole labour which my husband (and now I) found so hilarious, after the midwife taking a look to see how I was progressing. “You’re going great, I can see dark hair”. “Dark haaaaaair?!???!!!”.... was my response. Complete and utter shock and the one and only thing I said, in my 4.5hr labour. I guess I naturally assumed, like my husband and I (as kids) he’d have blonde hair too - that did come but a month or two into his life.
We were smitten with our 8lb2oz baby boy, even after the trauma he caused me entering the world. As everything was progressing so quickly there was no time for any drugs. However after a solid 2.5hrs pushing, an episiotomy was performed and we finally got to meet our baby. I’ve never seen Sean more proud, when he yelled out “it’s a boy Don, it’s a boy”!!!!
The early days were an....adjustment. No one ever tells you how hard it can really be becoming a mum. One minute I was happy, then tired, exhausted and (according to me) failing!! Waaaahhhhhhh. Learning your way around a baby for the first time is hard. Why is he crying? What’s wrong now? Is he hungry? Has he got wind? Why won’t he stop? What am I doing wrong? Heellllllp!
Our biggest struggle was breast feeding. It seemed so natural. Wasn’t it supposed to be easy?! When your brand new baby is dropping grams before your eyes you know you have to do something. For us, EBM bottle feeding was the way to go. I somehow (crazily) managed to keep this up for 6 months. Around the clock. Now I look back at it. It was insane. The noise of that pump in action haunted me for months afterwards.
Reeve was conceived much quicker, actually on our honeymoon in Bali in December 2015. When having a dating scan for him, we found out he was due one day before Huxleys 2nd birthday. We couldn’t believe it. Thankfully, he ended up coming earlier too, 6 days off two years separate the boys. He was a whopping 9lb2oz. A quicker labour again (3.5hrs), zero to hero here in the dilating stakes! The midwife couldn’t believe it. We were shocked upon his arrival as he for the first day or so he was absolutely undeniably identical to his big brother at birth. It was crazy. I did however think I was having a girl - possibly more hope? After already having a boy. His pink room with gold glitter & swans bedroom plans were quickly thrown out the window. However once Reevie was here and I saw his little face (Huxley 2.0) I was smitten.
He was a good baby, very chilled. He would sit for an hour happily in his high chair. Again we had feeding issues so I turned to my old friend ‘the pump’ to use EBM. I was devastated. I was determined the second time around I was going to breast feed my baby - however the universe had other plans for me - I did cut it much shorter though. 3 months. That was enough!! And thankfully I did, my diagnosis that followed the month later, would have been an added nightmare having to have to ween a baby who was solely breast fed - both for him and me.
Two years down the track my beautiful boys are healthy, happy and thriving. It made no difference what they were fed and that Reeve didn’t have as much as Hux. Realistically I could have stopped Hux earlier as once he tried formula there was no going back. Litres of “liquid gold” (aka breast milk) ended up wasted. But only the wonderful hindsight can tell you that.
The boys don’t know about my cancer, they’re too young. One day I’m sure they will ask questions, until then I am still mum. Whatever I look like. They, as they do, love me regardless without judgement.
I’ve gone from long blonde hair to short hair, to half bald, to short again and now finally almost shoulder length again. With a huge (well hidden) bald spot underneath a side part which I’ll sport for the rest of my life (thanks to radiation).
The boys often see photos and question the different hair or see my wig I wore for awhile and to them the photos of me with long hair is just days when I was wearing that wig “mummies long hair” as they call it.
To all you supermummas, new, old, struggling, winning or indifferent. You’re all wonderful and are doing a great job. The fact that we can grow a beautiful little perfect baby in our body is an absolutely amazing feat in itself.
To anyone out there on their own cancer journey just like me. Take it one day at a time, and take every advantage to marvel at your beautiful children YOU made. You’re amazing.
From one mother to another, Donna x
P.S. A thank you to Jacqui for asking me to write a piece for Supermumma & Co. It’s been a nice to take a little trip down memory lane.
You can follow Donna over at @lotusjournals and support her with her latest treatment via the HOLA MEXICO fundraiser and Silent Auction below 👇🏻https://www.32auctions.com/organizations/52946/auctions/65829