When I wake up in the morning, my husband has usually been up for an hour or so with our eldest, spunky, doesn’t-need-sleep daughter. Before I can greet anyone I have to take my first pill of the day. As I wash that down, I glance at the woman staring back at me. I am still getting to know this bald lady.
Sometimes it is still shocking that the bald lady is me, and the bald part wasn’t voluntary. I greet my three-year-old with her mermaid hair and bright blue eyes, she wraps her arms around my neck and asks me how my “sleeps” were. I love this girl more than life itself, she is exhausting and exhilarating all at once, demanding and darling, impossible and precious with every breath and zillion words she has to say by 9:00 a.m.
I stride into the kitchen and take the pill box out of our used to be empty medicine cabinet and pour the contents for Monday morning into my hand, I wash it down with my supplements. I cuddle with my oldest for a few minutes and then head upstairs to get my baby girl out of bed. My sweet girl is standing in her crib, speaking her own language and pointing on the ground to all contents of her crib, on the floor. This sweet pea, is easy going yet feisty, she hangs on every word that her older sister says and yet will yell in her own baby babble when a toy is clearly hers. I love that she sticks up for herself.
We mosey downstairs and after getting dressed, I put the girls in the stroller. By 8 a.m. we are on our way out the door for a walk. Our street has beautiful tall trees that transport me somewhere up north, and shockingly a fantastic breeze blows through the trees the whole 25 minutes we walk. Halen jumps in and out of the stroller, running to find acorns or wildflowers. Henley, enjoys the ride and the freeze dried bananas I put on her tray. We turn the corner and strut up a hill back to the house. It feels good to work my muscles after my hiatus this summer.
As we get back inside the house, beads of sweat start to drip down the back of my neck. By 10 a.m. I have experienced a good dozen or so hot flashes. It is incredibly frustrating and I am a complete prisoner to my hormonal chaos. Nighttime is the worst, I am constantly putting a hat on my head and pants on, burying under my duvet to five minutes later throwing everything off my body. I am quite the comical scene to my husband.
I shower while trying to entertain my one-year-old and not letting her fall into the shower with me. I shampoo and condition my 5% of hair on my bald head, in hopes that the hair will start to grow back. We get ready, lather on sunscreen and by then my mom has come to the door. On her days off we decide to go on adventures, now that I am feeling better on Taxol this is possible. This past summer, I was lucky to leave the house at all. We make the drive downtown to the Austin Nature and Science Center, we put my youngest in a stroller and walk our way to the building. The morning is spent looking at fossils, building with foam atoms, peering at various wildlife…as little as a salamander and as large as a bobcat. We find the dino pit and Halen pretends she is a paleontologist for 10 minutes, then we all get too hot and decide it’s time for lunch. I end up getting incredibly frustrated with downtown lunch hour and not having my kids fed, my mama lioness kicks in and I am one unhappy camper.
Finally after several failed kid-friendly restaurant attempts, we settle on Phil’s Icehouse. My oldest eats a corndog while bouncing off the walls and sticking the mustard and ketchup bottles into her nose. My youngest eats pieces of her mini cheeseburger out of a cup, because this fascinates her and keeps her busy. We try to hurry, so we can get them home to nap. I am sticky all over from the ridiculous Texas heat in August and know I have to shower again when we get home.
Minutes later both girls are completely asleep and my mom and I exhale. I get them into each of their beds and we collapse. My mom is a Godsend lately and able to come over about three times a week to help with the girls and chores around the house. Nap time is when I get to breathe. I put on Netflix, find a documentary or old faithful, Friends. I have my computer for blogging, and I just try to rest my body. My husband is constantly reminding me that my body is fighting and needs time to rest. Which is not natural for me to not be busy.
Hubby gets home and our lovely neighbors bring us dinner. Then the nightly circus begins, bath time with two little people…one pretending they’re in a pool and the other desperately trying to get out of the said pool. Trying to make sure they are both actually washed without me getting soaked is quite the feat. Then we have jammies… one who wants to pick out their pjs herself and the other who fights me with all she’s got. By the end of this charade I am exhausted, I get milk and rock our littlest and put her to bed. Praise Jesus she is easy at putting down. Then, I hand the baton off to my husband and go back to our bedroom.
Having cancer and being a mom is far from easy. Wrangling little ones is difficult without a crazy disease in the way. But I think they keep me going, I think they keep me distracted mentally and force my body to keep going on with life. At the end of the day when I cuddle with my oldest daughter and she says, “Mama I cuddle you, you’ll be okay.” My heart swells and believes her because I have no choice but to be okay.