But imagine going through pregnancy while you're also battling cancer. That's what Maria Crider did: The new mother was 11 weeks along when she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.
She fought hard, undergoing a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation while carrying her baby.
Women can—and do—safely receive cancer treatments during pregnancy. But we don’t have to tell you how common it is to worry about every little thing you do affects your baby. In April, Crider learned her doctor’s reassurances were right on the money: She welcomed a perfect, healthy baby boy whom she named Logan via planned C-section.
"I treated it (cancer) like an inconvenience. I get up every day to do what I needed to beat it and continue with being a mom, a wife, a friend," Crider told Parents.com. "It didn't affect the pregnancy at all, Logan is now 6 months, weighs 21 lbs., 8 oz. and is perfect. However, it did affect my prenatal and oncology care. At one point I had seven or eight people on my medical team...I saw my OB once a month, MFM [maternal fetal medicine specialist] every three weeks in the second trimester (usually the day after chemo) and weekly in the third trimester for non-stress tests. [My] MFM did 3D ultrasounds, so I got a lot of prints! MFM wanted me to deliver by 37 weeks so that there wouldn't be a delay to my treatment but my first priority was my baby. I spoke to my oncologist who said it was OK to wait until 39 weeks and the obstetrician agreed. We planned a c-section for 39 weeks and one day."
A story like Crider’s deserves to be told, and luckily photographer Bonnie Hussey was on hand to do just that. Hussey actually offered the shoot complimentary—she held a giveaway, and when she heard of Crider’s experience, she knew she wanted to shoot her birth.
“Working with Maria on documenting her birth story is an honor,” Hussey told Parents.com.
“[W]hen I took [Crider] on as a client earlier this year, I planned on not being able to share her images and story, simply because I wasn't doing this for anyone but her and her family... and after she birthed her baby boy she said to me, 'Share whatever you want. Sharing brings awareness.' And after that, I felt a deep responsibility to share her story and bring awareness to #triplenegativebreastcancer. I can only hope I've been able to do her and her story justice. She's an amazing young woman and I have no doubt she's going to kick cancer's ASS!” Hussey wrote in an Instagram post.
The photos Hussey captured are stunning—and, for Crider, a powerful reminder of the incredible journey women everywhere tackle.
"Unfortunately, my story isn't as unique as I would hope," Crider said. "Since starting treatment I found hundreds more who have gone through cancer treatment while pregnant. I found a really helpful group on Facebook with other women in similar situations some even living beyond treatment with beautiful babies. I had a wonderful support system and incredible medical team. They coordinated everything so well. I asked the same questions a hundred times to be sure I was making the right calls."