Infancy (birth–12 months)
Infants live in the moment—they aren’t able to worry about the consequences of a parent’s illness. Try to do the same. Choose a book about infant development and read up on what to expect. Babies grow and develop so quickly that there will be something new to notice almost every week. Often, enjoying your infant’s rapid development is the best distraction from your worries or illness and treatment-related symptoms.
Additional caring adults helps
Babies come wired with their own temperaments. If you have an infant who has an uncommonly calm temperament or who is a good sleeper, you’re lucky. But infants of all temperamental types do not sleep for long enough stretches at night and go through phases in which they are difficult to soothe. This is hard for any parent, but when you or your partner have an illness that adds to your fatigue or is associated with nausea, pain, or irritability, it is even harder.
Parenting an infant and living with cancer means you will need to plan ahead and will need help. Luckily, babies thrive in many different caring relationships. You are likely to be more upset than your infant about the times that you have to be apart. Your treatment and your medical symptoms will most often make it important to have a few other caring adults to whom you can regularly turn or for unanticipated help.
In the first year of life, babies are learning how the world feels. Your baby is experiencing his own physical feelings such as the pleasant sensations of being held and having a full tummy, or the uncomfortable ones of gas pains and chilly bath water. It is not possible to keep an infant from ever having an uncomfortable feeling—and if it were possible, it would not be good for your infant’s healthy development. Babies in loving environments learn that enough of what is needed happens, and thus the world feels pretty good—inside and out, though life at any age is not perfect. Your baby is learning that people who love and care for him can be depended upon to respond to his cues and communications often enough and at the same time learning to communicate more effectively in order to get those loving responses.
© 2013 Marjorie E. Korff PACT Program/PACT Boston • • Back to top