I remember the exact time I had my first anxiety attack 17 years ago. I remember the feelings explicitly, although at the time, I had no idea that’s what it was. I was physically and mentally aware that I was having a 4-week term miscarriage. What I did not know was that the heart racing, nausea, dizziness, out of control, barely able to breathe feeling was anxiety.
This miscarriage took place three years after delivering a healthy baby girl, with no pregnancy or delivery complications. Following my miscarriage, my obstetrician sent me for various tests. Not to determine why the miscarriage happened, but to determine if there was anything physical that could be found in order to move forward for another pregnancy. It was during that time that I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid cancer. It was a lucky find. Nothing anyone was looking for or anticipating finding. Of course, this did not happen overnight. There were ultrasounds, biopsies, specialists and many appointments before cancer was confirmed. I had my full thyroid surgically removed followed by two radioactive iodine therapy (RAI) sessions (to sum it up simply, I swallowed a radioactive iodine pill each time that absorbs healthy and cancerous thyroid cells). This all took place over a span of three years, during which time I was advised not to try and conceive. All baby-making plans were on hold especially after RAI.
I recall many moments of anxiousness during this time. I was worried for my daughter and my husband. I was lucky in the sense that I had a highly treatable cancer, found at a very early stage. However, removing your thyroid is not as simple as it sounds. Your thyroid produces hormones that control every aspect of your metabolism, from your heart rate to how quickly you burn calories. Needless to say, I was thankful for the cancer to be gone, but struggled tremendously with the symptoms of having no thyroid. My daughter was young at this time, 7 or 8 years old. My husband and I wanted to protect her from the worry, the scary bits, and generally just allow her to be a kid without dealing with big stuff. We now know that it should have been more carefully thought through. Children are extremely perceptive, and they usually sense when something of a serious nature is being hidden from them. She knew...not exactly what...but she knew something was up. We never intentionally set out to keep things a secret, we just wanted to protect her. Now we know that we were creating a false sense of reality for her, which we would never ever repeat.
Ultimately, after five years of navigating through this time in my life, we decided (lovingly, affirmatively and logically) to not have another child. We were comfortable with our decision. Enter the world and its opinions....and that all pretty much fell to shit for me. I was often asked questions such as “aren’t you having another child”, “don’t you want to give her a sibling”, “aren’t you worried that she will be alone”. And more. It took me a very long time (years) to finally move past all of this negative and toxic “advice” and knock it down one person at a time. There are a multitude of reasons why people have one child – check out @momof1anddone whom I adore for “squashing the stigma of being an only child parent.” We need more Amandas in this world. And for anyone who knows my daughter, she has definitely squashed the stigma of being an only child.
Today, I can affirmatively say that my daughter is my best friend. And vice versa. I only started calling her my best friend in the last year – she is now 20. I just don’t understand how I could have been her best friend before that since parenting involved being an authority and imparting guidance. Yes - I care, love and feel compassionate towards my friends and my daughter, but I don’t act authoritative with my friends. I was not afraid to discipline my daughter, nor did I feel the need to overcompensate by trying to be her friend. Today, my daughter is an adult. My daughter and I choose to spend time together, to talk daily and share what we want to share. She also has the confidence, trust and ability to tell me to back off if need be, because let’s face it, I am still her mom. And I’m ok with that. It’s not her job to fulfill my emotional needs.
Raising a child in the 00’s is hard, and it’s busy. Things go so fast. And there is so much to deal with all the time. As parents, we always made a point to talk to our daughter and there were no topics that were off limit, based on her age. We often went beyond levels of comfort and had conversations with her about sex, drugs, alcohol and mental health. We were never afraid to set boundaries with her. But we always made sure to explore why we were setting those boundaries. Everything was different from the way I grew up. Therefore, I chose to educate myself, to read, to research, to listen to podcasts. If I didn’t know, I researched, made notes. I felt the need to stay relevant and aware especially with help at my fingertips. And I am so grateful I did. Because when the time came for my daughter to tell us about her anxiety, her panic, her phobia and her overall mental health, we were so thankful that she felt comfortable enough to tell us and for us to know enough to validate her feelings and help her get the professional help she needed. This time, I did not protect her from the scary stuff. I openly and truthfully shared with her my journey with anxiety, medication and mental health. Today, my daughter and I openly and lovingly share resources, tools and therapies related to our mental health. We continue to learn every day.
My name is Beatriz. I am a proud mom of one. A wife. A daughter. A sister. I am an entrepreneur, a teacher and a mentor. I have had a full thyroidectomy, cancer, and a full hysterectomy including both ovaries. I have anxiety. I take daily medication. I am strong, loving and compassionate. I am smart, opiniated and tenacious. I am many things, but my favourite by far...I am a proud mom of one.
My daughter’s name is Madison – the creator of Speaking Truth Company.
She is not afraid to take chances. She is loving, yet strong willed. She is able to “put it all out there.” She is ready and able to fight stigmas. She knows when to ask for help. She knows how to help. She knows how to stand up for herself. She is smart, loving, empathetic, compassionate and well-rounded. She is Madison. And she is my daughter.
She just taught me how to “put it all out there.”
I'm Maddi and Im a full time student (studying Child and Youth Work), Here I have my blog and my shop, I hope you enjoy!