It seems an odd diagnosis, but that is just how it worked out in my life: My Diagnosis Attachment Parenting
When I was four months pregnant with my first child, I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. I hesitate to use the term cancer, because this particular type is non-aggressive and extremely slow moving. But it was cancer, nonetheless. Initially it was a scary diagnosis, particularly because there was a brand new life growing inside of me. I wanted to watch my baby grow, graduate, and fulfill his potential.
Those initial days of the diagnosis were overwhelming. I had no understanding of what it meant, what my treatment options were, or what my prognosis was. We quickly found out that I had the least aggressive type of this slow moving cancer, and that it was miraculously and mysteriously caught early, during a routine appointment with my allergist. It seemed that two simple surgeries (one while pregnant, one just a few weeks after delivery) and an easily ingestible treatment, would make it extremely unlikely that the cancer would ever come back. I counted my blessings.
After a vast amount of deliberation, research about the effect on my baby, and prayer, I had my first surgery at five months pregnant. It was successful, and removed half of my thyroid. To minimize the affects that anesthesia might have on my baby, the other half would be removed after he was born. I enjoyed the last few months of pregnancy, though they were overshadowed by the fact that having the second half of my thyroid removed would require me to leave my baby overnight, when he was just a few weeks old.
It was also recommended that I have a Radioactive Iodine Therapy treatment, which is not compatible with breastfeeding. Certainly, this was not how I envisioned my first pregnancy. Still, I kept it all in perspective, and truly counted my blessings that Thyroid, was the cancer with which I was diagnosed.
Calling the Shots
My son was born, and all of the clichés came true. My world changed in an instant. Nothing mattered to me except that he was happy, healthy and comfortable. All of my fears about not knowing how to care for him were unfounded. I knew that I could learn how to bathe him, feed him, and determine abnormal from normal.
What came intuitively for me, was the desire to make sure he was constantly soothed. Hearing Owen cry, or seeing him uncomfortable, caused such a strong physical reaction in me, that I was not able to allow it to happen.
Owen was content only when being held. Though everything I had read told me this was wrong, needed to be fixed, and gave me practical suggestions for how to make him less attached, I knew I would not stop.
My husband and I took four- hour shifts of holding Owen- around the clock- to ensure that he was always comfortable. If we tried to put him down in a crib, or co sleeper, or bassinet, or bouncy chair, or anything available that would free our hands, he would cry inconsolably.
When I told our very kind and sympathetic pediatrician our situation, she gently counseled that every child is special and wonderful. She wondered if because we had been through so much during our pregnancy, we might be overindulging Owen. If so, she suggested we make sure that we didn’t let him “call the shots.”
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It was scary at the time, but my story of Pregnancy, Cancer and Attachment Parenting has a happy ending.