Being a new mum is one of the most amazing, exhausting and fulfilling experiences you will ever have in your entire life.
Your little bundle of joy eventually enters the world and even those of us who read the 'what to expect when you are expecting' it's never what you expect. However the birth of your baby happens vaginally, c-section, via a surrogate, it's a physical and emotional rollercoaster!
Then you are in charge of this little human...who needs you for everything.
Our whole world is suddenly dedicated to the wellbeing of this little baby who you would do anything and everything for! As time goes by, most new mums will find they are so engrossed in the care of their little one that they have gone the entire day without brushing their teeth, not noticing the leaking from your boobs or wiping the baby sick from their shoulder. Even though you are going through such a physically demanding time in your life, we tend to neglect our well being and our own bodies. I was the worst at neglecting myself.
As long as my precious daughter was happy, I was happy and I didn't really focus what I looked like or how I felt.
I had thyroid cancer at the age of 24 and due to my treatment I had to have IVF to conceive my daughter.
She is a total miracle baby and as long as she was ok, I was ok too! I was an avid breast feeder and breastfed my daughter until she was 22 months old.
A month after I decided to stop, I was lying on the sofa and felt a lump in my left breast. It felt like a hard marble behind my nipple. 'Must be a blocked milk duct' I thought.
I reached over for my phone, rang my GP and made an appointment to see someone that day. I was referred to the breast clinic within two weeks and after seeing two doctors, having a scan and multiple biopsies, I was told the news I ever thought I'd hear AGAIN... 'you have cancer'.
They asked if I had been feeling tired or felt any lumps in my breasts. Well I was a mum of a just turned two year old who never sleeps and I work as a primary school teacher, I'm always tired! I breastfed for so long, feeling my breasts all day and they always felt a bit lumpy here and there. It how do you know if it's 'a bad lump'? I spent nearly two years breastfeeding and all you hear as a breastfeeding mum is how much it helps to reduce your chances of getting breast cancer. I never thought in a million years I'd be sitting here hearing this news, I breastfed for so long!
After a long week of waiting for results imagining the worst case scenario, crying holding my baby worried I wouldn't see her have her first day at school, I eventually got my results. They explained that my breast cancer was treatable and that it was oestrogen receptive. They explained it was probably triggered by my pregnancy due to the size of my tumour and it's type. I realised how after having my baby, my own well being and focus on my body had gone out of the window. I started to think how could I have lived with cancer for nearly three years and not know? Now I'm currently undergoing chemotherapy, due to have surgery, radiotherapy and hormone therapy to deal with my cancer. I'm so lucky that I accidentally bumped my boob and acted quickly to deal with my lump.
So mums, even though our babies are the most incredibly amazing little blessings who are extremely important, you are important too! You deserve to give yourself some TLC and make sure you take time to check in with yourself and have time to focus on your well being. Whether that is that much needed bath at the end of a long day, a glass of wine and a boxset or finding time to slick a bit of lipstick on in the car before you get on with your day to day business. Don't forget how much you have gone through physically to create and sustain a life.
During pregnancy, birth to and the months that follow your body will be changing constantly. Tune in to your changes, have confidence to tell your doctor if you find anything is not normal, you are concerned or you feel a lump. It will probably be nothing, but a trip to the doctors for peace of mind and a second opinion is definitely worth it, and so are you!